The story of Amazon’s selection of Long Island City for the company’s second headquarters stoked the hopes and dreams of many New Yorkers living within the Five Boroughs, with the company’s promise to bring up to 40,000 new jobs averaging $100,000 per year to Queens, by 2033. Unfortunately, due to the actions of a few elected Democrats, these hopes and dreams have now been squashed, as Amazon has now pulled out of Long Island City. Despite petitions and basic organizing advocating for the new HQ2, the combined Twitter presence of a rabid horde of regressive leftists led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez generated sufficient outrage for cancellation.
On the surface, the argument was apparently about the $3 billion in subsidies Amazon would have received for relocating up to 40,000 new jobs to the Five boroughs. However, Cortez also celebrated the
announcement on Twitter as a call to action against perceived gentrification. In either case, 40,000 jobs bringing in $100,000 per year apiece would have yielded almost $400 million in local and state tax revenue each year, more than equaling any subsidies by 2030, and offering a potent revenue stream for both state and local coffers in the decades beyond.
Unfortunately, it appears the outrage politics that have proliferated since the advent of social media are now on the verge of consuming New York City’s future. Following the cancellation of HQ2, Cortez took to
Twitter to celebrate depriving 40,000 New Yorkers of prospective employment. Cortez was joined half-heartedly by Mayor Bill De Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, both of whom deemed Amazon “unfit” to compete in New York City due to the breakdown in negotiations.
While the Twitter outrage machine may be cranking out propaganda in full force, the reality on the ground is that New Yorkers are extremely upset by the loss of a prospective major national headquarters with all its accompanying opportunities and benefits. Reflecting the dire reality of living within NYCHA, which is still falling apart despite promises for fixes from elected politicians, the Queensbridge, Astoria, Woodside and Ravenswood NYCHA houses’ tenant associations released the following statement.
“From the beginning, grandstanding politicians who refused to be at the table dismissed the work of those of us who were. They put petty politics above true public service and they spread misinformation to
whip up the small band of opponents. Jim Van Bramer and Mike Gianaris used to be the politicians we came to when we needed help. This time, they didn’t even talk to us. They never asked what we, the people of NYCHA, actually wanted. They put their own political interests above their constituents and did not meet with us or even listen to us. The grandstanding politicians will try and blame Amazon and anyone but themselves for this disaster. Nobody should believe them – they let us down.”
Middle class and low-income New Yorkers would have been the primary benefactors of Amazon’s second headquarters, with benefits extending from tens of thousands of new salaried jobs down to the externalities derived from the tax dollars paid by those same jobs, a large portion of which would have helped fix the subway and maintain NYCHA. Instead of generating an abundance of opportunities, Long Island City is now left with a gaping hole and a reputation as a location that is hostile to new business, which may have an impact even more lasting than what would have happened had Amazon actually relocated to the neighborhood.
While the decision on Amazon is certainly disturbing, it is not the only assault on the middle and lower classes currently being mounted by New York City’s elected regressives.
YIMBY recently analyzed the issue of mechanical voids, which will soon wind its way through City Planning thanks to an ill-conceived text amendment proposed by opponents of high-density development. Beyond depriving New York City of the daring architecture which should characterize a world-class city, the amendment would also make it substantially more difficult for developers to reach heights that achieve absurdly high prices per square foot. Despite the hyperbole of their moneyed opponents, these kinds of towers actually do benefit New York’s middle class and poor, through eventual absurd property taxes that are based on the valuations achieved through sky-high positioning. Any loss of height in this instance is an eventual hit on the bottom line of New York’s local government, which depends on tax dollars to function, as well as the programs supported by property taxes.
Beyond the mechanical voids and Amazon, New York’s regressives have also proposed legislation to limit the security deposits New Yorkers are required to pay when renting prospective apartments. Without large security deposits, tenants with no credit or bad credit would be outright prevented from achieving housing security. On the surface, the cause may seem benevolent, but in actuality, it would prevent the
flexibility many landlords now enjoy in requiring larger deposits for financially insecure tenants, leaving them out in the cold entirely.
These are three major issues now being actively advocated by a tiny minority of outraged Democrats that will have major repercussions for all New Yorkers in one way or another, but they will be especially
damaging to New York’s most vulnerable. Reducing property taxes is damaging to schools, infrastructure, and local government itself. Eliminating landlords’ flexibility in requiring large security
deposits would actually reduce the ability of low-income tenants to find housing security. And the implosion of Amazon’s HQ2 deal has now deprived these same groups of up to 40,000 job opportunities, and all of their ancillary benefits, including what would have been an additional $400 million in annual state and local tax revenues derived from those new salaries alone.
Outside observers may say that these wounds are self-inflicted, as these officials were indeed elected. But New York City’s local elections are also a complete farce, with participation generally struggling to surpass 20% of registered voters. With non-competitive local elections and races usually deprived of any competent opposing candidate, the Five Boroughs have effectively become the equivalent of Caracas or Pyongyang, and its denizens are now paying the price wrought by a well-organized but tiny minority of overall voters, who would gladly see New York City fail under the tried-and-failed politics that generally typify repressive regimes rather than American democracy.
New York City is the beating heart of global capitalism. At over 400 years old, that beating heart is now showing signs of wear and tear, just as any organ of substantial age would. Instead of allowing what amounts to reconstructive surgery, i.e. Amazon HQ2, to help fund additional infrastructure and the government itself, New York City’s regressives would rather choke off the blood-flow completely, without rhyme or reason, and only for the benefit of a select group of wealthy donors. There are literally no words to truly express how insanely stupid the actions against Amazon have been, but worse, there is no way to remove the elected officials responsible for these actions, as New York City has essentially devolved into a one-party state, with no viable checks and balances remaining to prevent the situation that has now unfolded in Long Island City.