The Real Underground

New York is two cities, one run by bureaucrats who are slowly strangling the life of the city and the 99 percent no one talks about and the producers responsible for keeping the city alive. Forget Zuccotti Park, the real 99 percent who deserve our thanks are those who struggle everyday against a stagnating economy, government edicts, high local and state taxes, as well bureaucratic mandates.

It is the owner of a diner on the corner of 39th and 5th Ave, Brooklyn Sunset Park, or the small café owner entertaining guests post-Thanksgiving with a Santa Claus Cap while serving coffee, or the Turkish immigrant who started his own little café featuring Turkish food and coffee. Throughout Brooklyn and New York proper, small businesses provide the stability of many neighborhoods.

Often owned by immigrants, small grocers, restaurant owners, small cafe masters, and small hardware store owners generate opportunities for those who live while offering services needed. Any morning or afternoon these stores allow the locals to talk and communicate the latest news of the neighborhood: who’s getting married, who got the new job or who needs a little help. It is those small shop owners and those who work for them that provide the economic activity that a community depends upon. We often associate workers with unions but the average worker is not a union member but a book seller at Barnes and Noble, a restaurateur, a lawyer, the copywriter or a small business owner, who works 15 hour days just to keep the shop open. These individuals may even sympathize with those living Zuccotti Park, but they have little in common, not the least they actually work and pay the taxes that keep the city alive.

Those in Zuccotti Park rail against the Wall Street bankers who often ally themselves with the public sector unions and the left while providing the resources for those who live in the Park and their political allies. They rob opportunities from those who live on the main street of the big city, often forgotten but abused. The irony of the modern left is that they have managed to get city workers and Wall Street to fund the transformation of American as the most powerful makes their deal with the agents of the transformation. As WHO once sang, “The new boss the same as the old boss” but many still get fooled again.

The Turkish owner regaled me stories of the steps and cost needed to get his restaurant open and how he is unable to provide full services like a glass of wine with meal due to the cost to obtain a liquor license. New York is typical of many cities, a city at war with itself as one sector of the population battles with the other for limited resources. The real tragedy is that economics is not a zero sum game and the entrepreneurs understand that but his counterpart, the government bureaucrats, do not. The entrepreneur creates the wealth and city official confiscates it. The fate of the city lies in who wins the battle: the business owner, large and small, who expands the growth of the city and the city officials who worry less about growing the economy than about maintaining the status quo.

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