New York, I Love You, but We Can’t Go On Like This

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I happen to love New York.

Born in Brooklyn, I grew up on Long Island. My first summer job was as an office boy at a Midtown Manhattan brokerage during the 1965 bull market. I went to Columbia University. I met my wife, who is Chinese, at a Japanese investment conference in Manhattan. After working for AT&T and a private investment firm (both in New York), I started a hedge fund 37 years ago and have run it from four successive locations in the city. Following a rough patch for New York in the 1970s, I was able to enjoy the renaissance under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.

Besides the obvious pleasures of living in New York—Broadway, the opera, art, dance, great restaurants, Central Park—I’ve been fortunate to be involved with organizations that make a difference in people’s lives, including Harlem Children’s Zone, United Jewish Appeal, the New York City Police Foundation, City Center and my alma mater. Many diverse friendships have grown out of work and community service. I always thought the high cost of living, erratic public services and high tax rates were a necessary and reasonable price to pay for the city’s many virtues.

Until now.

New York once had two competing political parties, which provided checks on extreme populist ideas. Not anymore. Reducing the use of cash bail to avoid discriminating against the poor was understandable, and the New York City Police Department’s decision to reduce the use of stop and frisk was a good one. But sharply limiting judges’ discretion to keep dangerous criminals in jail was not. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and his predecessor, James O’Neill, both warned that this measure, and releasing more than 2,000 “hardened criminals” from Rikers Island, would significantly degrade the quality of life in the city, particularly in poor neighborhoods. They were right. Crime rates have reversed a long decline. The number of shootings in the city rose by 97% in 2020.

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