Paul Krugman reveals NYC’s biggest problem — and it’s not crime

Paul Krugman reveals NYC’s biggest problem — and it’s not crime

One of the major ironies of right-wing media is the fact that although it is full of New York City-bashing, it is also full of NYC residents. A recurring theme among MAGA Republicans and their media allies is that urban coastal areas run by Democrats, unlike rural areas in red states, don't represent "the real America." Yet Fox News is headquartered in NYC, and many of its stars, past and present, live there.

Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo and Bill O'Reilly are native New Yorkers. Jesse Watters is from Philadelphia two hours away, and Jeanine Pirro was born in Elmira, New York. In other words, Fox News is full of the "eastern elites" that MAGA Republicans typically rail against.

In his April 24 column for the New York Times, liberal economist Paul Krugman takes a look at NYC-bashing by Republicans. And Krugman, himself an NYC resident, slams them for overlooking what he views as the Big Apple's biggest problem: a lack of affordable housing.

READ MORE: Rent is unaffordable for more than half the country

"Bashing New York City has long been a popular pastime on the right," Krugman observes. "Conservatives routinely portray the Big Apple as a dystopian wasteland. And the bashing has reached a fever pitch since Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, announced multiple charges against Donald Trump. How dare Bragg pursue these cases, Republicans ask, when crime is running out of control on his home turf?"

Krugman continues, "But New York crime isn't really out of control. As in many places, crime jumped during the pandemic, but it seems to be subsiding; although Republicans won't believe it, crime in America's safest big city remains much lower than crime in, say, Miami or Columbus, Ohio."

According to Krugman, the #1 reason for moving out of NYC isn't crime or taxes, but "the cost of housing."

"I know that Marjorie Taylor Greene, after a quick visit, called the city 'disgusting,' 'filthy,' 'repulsive' and 'a terrible place,'" Krugman argues. "And there are, of course, bad neighborhoods. But for most of us who actually live here, life looks, well, normal, and it's hard to believe that large numbers of people are fleeing an urban nightmare. In fact, in many ways, the quality of life in New York is high — if you can afford it."

READ MORE: 'Inequality kills': Author Naomi Klein explains why climate change is an 'economic justice' issue

Krugman adds, "But can you afford it?.... New York remains one of the world's favorite residences for the extremely wealthy. For the middle class, however, living in New York really is hard to afford — not so much because of taxes, but because of housing costs."

Figures on Zillow bear out what Krugman is saying. Homes in Flushing, Queens listed on Zillow's website on April 25, for example, include $698,000 for a two-bedroom condo and $880,000 for a three-bedroom house. And Flushing is much more affordable than Manhattan. Gentrification, however, isn't limited to NYC, and many other major U.S. cities have also become increasingly unaffordable.

Krugman points out that although high income taxes contribute to the cost of living in NYC, they aren't the main factor. Moreover, he notes, red states often have "regressive" taxes that Republicans don't like to talk about.

The columnist writes, "So, the cost of housing, not crime or taxes, is the biggest reason people might want to leave New York…. A major reason developers don’t build more housing in the New York area, and hence the reason living here is expensive, is that they aren't allowed to thanks to zoning, land-use restrictions and — especially in the suburbs — community opposition. In other words, never mind the lurid right-wing fantasies: NIMBYism, not crime or taxes, is the New York area's main problem."

READ MORE: Donald Trump proposes tent cities to combat homelessness

Read Paul Krugman's full New York Times column at this link (subscription required).

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