I distinctly remember asking my mother what capitalism was when I was a young child.
Her response means more to me now than it did then: “It’s when the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” This sentiment is exemplified in, of course, New York City.
The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development approved a high-rise on the Upper West Side with separate entrances for low-income and wealthy tenants last July.
If that alone doesn’t make your skin crawl, the application for the 55 affordable apartments closed Monday, and in total, almost 90,000 tenants applied. People are so desperate for affordable housing in New York they don’t care that they’ll be treated like second-class citizens in their own homes.
But the really sad thing is that I don’t blame them. The average price of a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is $3,000 a month.
The one bedrooms in the affordable section of the high-rise are around $900 a month. And of course, in Bloomington, $900 a month will get you a seven-bedroom, five-bathroom Colonial mansion complete with a live-in butler, but that’s beside ?the point.
The point is that you can’t ask for a better symbol of income inequality than the Upper West Side high-rise.
It’s like something out of an Upton Sinclair novel.
The rich people condos are priced as high as $25 million, how’s that ?for symbolism?
The incredible demand for the 55 affordable units with the “poor-door” entrance shows real estate developers that middle-class people living in places like New York don’t really care if they have to use the back door. You can expect more developments like this in the future.
How would something like this operate in Bloomington? After all, Business Insider did name us the “Most Unequal City in America” in 2011, based on real census data, I promise.
I imagine a red-bricked, fully furnished “high-rise” in the center of town — a block from the square.
In front: revolving doors, an atrium, doorman — but only for the kids with the richest parents.
Yes, the rest of us would theoretically be “allowed” to live there — even ?encouraged, because of the tax breaks — but our entrance would be around back. Down a dark, rat-infested alley, past the dumpsters on either side, over the craters in the pavement (potholes), to a creaky, metal door. Welcome home! This is not how we’re meant to live, people.
But what’s the solution? A higher minimum wage, maybe.
If only it were that simple. Tighter regulation on banks? I don’t even know what that means.
Something has to be done. Something more than politics.