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For a while there, Mayor Bloomberg was on a role.

He thought that he was overseeing the transformation of New York City from a town radically diverse in terms of race, culture, religion and economics -- to an expansive, homogeneous luxury residential district whose most important denizens are members of the Saudi Royal family, deposed Latin American dictators and those few, fortunate native sons who are able to garner two million dollar yearly bonuses from Morgan Stanley and Goldman, Sachs.

In the view of Mayor Bloomberg, the way to solve the city's problems is to build enough luxury high-rises, enough sports arenas and enough elite shopping districts that the richest people in the world will come to live in New York City ... and the poorest people will come and spend their lives serving them.

And the middle class will slowly get pushed out, their salaries brought down to the poverty line, their benefits taken away one by one because the "city can't afford them."

Well ...

I got da' news for Mayor Mike.

Poor people are always oppressed.  They are always downtrodden.  They are always pissed on.  When they get mad, they turn to crime, because they are going to get what they feel they deserve out of the system, one way or another ... and crime is the only way they think they can get it.

Poor people aren't a threat to systems like the one that has been set up in New York City under the Giuliani and Bloomberg administration.  Poor people can be combatted using law enforcement, or by removing so many of their benefits that they relocate themselves to places where their meager dollars go a bit further.

The middle class, on the other hand ...

During the French Revolution, things only got bad for King Georges IV Pataquis Louis and Marie Antoinette when the middle classes turned against them.  The Sans Coulottes were not the raving poor of Paris, Marseille and Lyon.  They were members of the middle class who saw their world -- always tenuous -- slipping away from them under a system that made no space for them.

In the Paris of Louis XVI, you were either one of the super-rich, or one of the poor that served them.  It was a system -- like that of New York City today -- that really required no other class of people.

"Let them eat cake."

(It was a system doomed to fail for other reasons, one of which is that even the most debased class of hedonists cannot consume enough luxury goods to support the economic requirements of an entire nation.  A strong economy requires the largest possible base of consumers.)

Looking back over the transit union strike action of the last few days, it has become very apparent to me that what we are seeing here is a segment of New York's middle class -- albeit the lower middle class -- going into full panic mode.  They feel that if they do not take a stand now, it's basically a free fall from here on out.

If they don't take a stand, they are going to end up like the police and the teachers ...  With a steadily eroded base of salary and wages, taken from the bottom up where those with seniority are grandfathered in, but the rookies are excluded from the benefits that once made public employment a thing that you were glad to have.

Now, I know that Mayor Bloomberg is not in charge of the MTA.  George Pataki is.

But Mayor Bloomberg is in charge of a culture of governance that seeks to transform the city into a luxury playground for the super-wealthy -- and a teaming ghetto for their servant class.  Part of this culture is a steady erosion of the size and political power of the city's middle class.

What Mayor Bloomberg does not seem to understand is that his policies and programs won't turn New York into Paris or London.  If successful, he will turn this great city into another Bogota, Mexico City or Rio de Janeiro.  If he fails, it will be because middle class people -- especially public employees -- start to stand up and say, "No more!"

I have no idea at the moment how successful the union's strike action will be.  It appears now that union members are planning to retun to work within a short timeframe.  But even if this drive is not successful, I hope that public employees are emboldened to demand fair treatment by the city and state government.

For their own good and the good of New York.

Originally posted to bink on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:25 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Could there be a "Mikerie?" in store? (none)
    Comte de Bloumbourg (delicious, that) got me thinking of historical analogies.

    The French revolution is too Age of Reason for these guys - to do them justice you have to go back to the 1350s (I think) and the Jacquerie.........

    The Perfect is the Enemy of the Better

    by dabize on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 09:01:20 AM PST

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