April 22, 2010
New York. April in the Bagel is as good as it gets. The girls are back in their summer dresses, people are crowding the outdoor cafes, and Central Park is an explosion of greens and pinks. Spring, as the song says, is busting out all over. And the taxman cometh—but not for 41 percent of NYers. Last week, on tax day, it was revealed that an eye popping 41 percent of the state’s filers did not pay any federal income tax last year. I don’t know the London figures, but I’d guess it’s about the same. Being on the dole nowadays is good business, and being on the fiddle is the business of today. And the steady increase of people removed from income tax rolls is the best business of all. Having many children will get you off the list, and if you guess who is having the least children among blacks, Hispanics and whites I will lend you my boat for a week this summer. Which I cannot do unless I’m on board because EU regulations say so. Just imagine. I pay for the bloody thing 52 weeks a year and keep a crew year round who upkeeps the boat. Then one day I feel like lending the boat to a friend for a long weekend, which I did last year to a member of the Spectator family. Had we been found out, the fines that would have been imposed by the bureaucrooks in Brussels would have been close to the value of the boat, which is quite high, I may add. The rules say so because Italians and other types rent their boats out and don’t declare their profits to the taxman. So the crooks in Brussels decree that the poor little Greek boy cannot lend his boat to anyone, even to the deputy editor of the Speccie, or else.
Mind you, unless I’m on board, but knowing the deputy editor she might accept a cruise as long as I weren’t on board, which makes me hate Brussels a little less than I already do. But back to the Bagel and taxes. It’s been proved that it’s healthier for an economy to have everyone paying something than fewer people paying a lot of taxes. Has to do with having a stake in the game, the way to have everyone care a bit. Putting a heavier tax burden on the rich reduces investment and job growth, so say people who claim they know. All I know is that the clubs and restaurants are full, taxis are unavailable, theatre tickets ditto, and the lines of steel columns from the Upper East Side toward the Hamptons resemble Guderian’s panzers moving toward gay Paris seventy years ago, except the latter moved much faster. Yet all one reads is about the fiscal crisis and how the city is about to default.
Well, I’m not surprised. The Bagel is a luxury city, a place for the very rich and those who fiddle the system. Theaters and restaurants are filled by the rubes from the backwaters who come in and stare at the tall buildings. Working class people and the middle classes were marginalized long ago. Most of them have moved to the burbs. New businesses are hard to start because of punitive taxes. The ghastly midget mayor Bloomberg has cut 6000 cops, hence the crime rate has shot up by 28 percent. Still, the place is the only city I can have fun in nowadays. It’s a place where one can rub shoulders with crooks in fine suits—none of those gaudy, double breasted heavy striped ones favored by gangsters of old—as I did last week in the Boom Boom room after dining at the Waverly Inn. The Boom Boom was full of Goldman Sachs people, fresh from being indicted for something everyone but the government has known since a very long time: That Goldman Sachs is to fraud what Paris Hilton is to vulgarity. One thing is for sure. Heads must roll but they won’t. The small fry will get the axe, as is always the case.
Only a month ago, the Goldman fraudsters had some shyster London lawyer threaten the sainted editor because I had called them crooks for teaching the Greeks how to cheat even better than the Greeks already knew. The sainted one sent them to hell. Now the U.S. government has discovered what the Speccie and the poor little Greek boy knew since time immemorial. No one makes money investing with Goldman except those whose rooms are at the top. Goldman misled their investors and had them put their moolah in things they were shorting, taught the Greeks how to cook the books—like teaching Ali Baba how to steal—and now has their PR machine working overtime. The case will most likely be lost by underpaid government lawyers facing the crème de la crème defending the fraudsters.
Still, I’m batting a thousand this week. Last year I wrote about a rat, Steven Rattner, and how mayor Bloomberg’s close buddy and money manager did not belong in Washington as Obama’s “car czar” but in jail. Rattner might be a billionaire social climber but he’s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Rattner has been labeled “unethical” by his own firm for paying kickbacks to public officials in exchange for state pension funds. In Greece he’d go free, like most big crooks do. In the UK ditto. In the Bagel he remains a great friend of the mayor and the owner of the NY Times. Go figure.