The New York Times editorial page writers have been promoting the notion that the high cost of housing is New York’s most pressing problem and the key reason why people are moving to the South and Southwest.
For example, Times columnist Paul Krugman, in an April essay titled “What’s the Matter with New York,” dismissed Big Apple bashing, insisting crime is not out of control and that the city is not a terrible place to live.
New York housing, he argues, is too costly for the middle class, and “homelessness is in large part a result of expensive and unavailable housing,” — not drug addiction or mental illness.
Krugman concludes his tirade saying, “never mind right-wing fantasies, housing NIMBYism [Not In My Backyard], not crime or taxes, is the New York area’s main problem.”
No doubt the cost of housing is a contributing factor for those rushing to the state’s exit roads. It is not, however, the primary reason.
A recent poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute indicated that 30% of New Yorkers want to flee because of “inept political leadership and soaring taxes.”
As for crime, 49% said they considered New York only fair or poor when asked if they feel safe.
Thirty-three percent rated New York’s quality of life negatively, 57% said the political system doesn’t work for them, and 40% said it “is not a safe place to raise children.”
Sixty-seven percent did say New York wasn’t affordable and 60% said it is a lousy place to retire.
Obviously, the problem is not just housing.
The highest combined state and local taxes in the nation, lousy schools, drug addicts and the mentally ill wandering neighborhood streets, job-killing regulations, high energy costs and pro-crime policies — all these factors help explain why 27% of the Empire State’s residents said they want to move within the next few years.
This polling data is bolstered by an IRS report, released in late April, that reveals 486,634 tax filers moved from New York while only 261,785 moved in.
The net drop of 261,785 tops the previous year record of 248,305.
Most of those fleeing — about 90% — left New York City and the five Northern Suburban counties, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, and Dutchess.
And contrary to Krugman’s claims, most leaving are pretty wealthy and can afford to own a house in New York.
E.J. McMahon of Albany’s Empire Center for Public Policy, did an excellent job of analyzing the IRS data. Here’s a summary of his findings:
The average income of the 58,552 New Yorkers who moved to Florida was $223,245 — a 64% jump from 2019-2020.
As for the 31,485 highest earners who left the state, the average income was $571,832.
The 8,841 filers who now live in Miami-Dade County have an average income of $671,000.
The 3,644 higher earning migrants from Manhattan have an average income of $4.2 million.
Sixty-four households that moved to St. Lucie County, Florida have an average annual income of $6,666,667.
Overall, the average adjusted gross income of those who moved out of the state was $130,000 while for new residents it is $90,000.
Considering that merely 1% of New York’s 7,652,000 households pay almost 50% of state and New York City income taxes, if this exodus continues at the present rate, the income tax base will collapse.
Testifying before Albany’s Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee, E.J. McMahon noted that because New York “does in fact tax the rich to a far greater extent than almost any other state ... there are clear signs that the state’s heavy reliance on its highest earners, already at record levels before 2020, is both unstable and unsustainable.”
Which brings me back to Krugman.
The data shows his claim that taxation is not “a big reason to leave” New York is wrong.
And his claim that “crime isn’t really out of control” is not exactly right.
Granted, crime is not as bad as it was in the 1970s and 1980s. As someone who grew up in New York City during that period and is the son and grandson of city cops, I witnessed the out-of-control crime wave that was taking the lives of more than 2,000 annually.
But thanks to the great work of the Giuliani and Bloomberg police forces, crime hit all-time lows in the 21st century.
As a result, most of today’s City residents did not experience how bad it was in the late 20th century.
So, when the Progressive’s lax law enforcement polices caused overall crime to skyrocket by double digits the past three years, and murders to jump from 319 in 2019 to 462 in 2020, and 479 in 2021 — people panicked. From their prospective, “crime is out of control.”
Like most left-wingers, Paul Krugman gets it wrong because he wears rose-colored ideological glasses that do not perceive reality.
That’s why I always take Krugman’s commentaries with a grain of salt. Remember, it was Krugman who foolishly proclaimed after the election of Donald Trump in November 2016, “That we are probably looking at a global recession with no end in sight.”
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." Read George J. Marlin's Reports — More Here.
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