In response to a question from New York Magazine about whether de Blasio’s campaign represents “class-warfare,” Bloomberg piped in “class-warfare and racist.” Pressed to explain himself, Bloomberg said that though de Blasio himself is not racist, his “appeal” is such. Going in on the point, the mayor said that the public advocate was “using his family to gain support” and concluded, “I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s doing.”
To many New Yorkers, it seemed that de Blasio was doing what all political candidates do, and what Bloomberg himself did during three races for mayor: surround himself with loved ones at what is an inherently trying time. The current mayor campaigned extensively with his spry, elderly mother in 2001. His daughters have also been frequently by his side. As Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski noted, Bloomberg emphasized his Jewish heritage in order to appeal to that pivotal New York constituency. The mayor’s double standard on this matter is curious.
But what has truly set off the billionaire mayor is de Blasio’s emphasis on the city’s pervasive economic inequality, and that is where Bloomberg belabored his de Blasio comments to New York Magazine.
This “whole campaign that there are two different cities here … I’ve never liked that kind of division,” the mayor complained.
Though Bloomberg may not like the idea of economic divisions, the fault lines that have developed under his leadership are real and among the worst on the planet. As The New York Times reported last fall, the top 20 percent of the city’s income earners now make up to 40 times what the bottom 20 percent garner. This is a dubious distinction, according to the Times, “surpassed by a few developing countries, including Namibia and Sierra Leone.”
This almost unimaginable split between rich and poor in fact should not come as a surprise. It is the consequence of an economic policy in which the stated goal was to entice the world’s rich to live in New York by transforming the city into a luxury product. Bloomberg sums up his economic vision this way, “If we can find a bunch of billionaires around the world to move here, that would be a godsend, because that’s where the revenue comes in to take care of everybody else.”