The June, 2018 issue of Mindful magazine was dedicated to optimism. One of the articles relates the story of a woman whose cleaning service worker cut his finger on a broken coaster. Her husband suggested she give the man some money, but said husband protested when the writer went further and called the service the next day to inquire about the man’s cut finger. Apparently the cut was minor and a band-aid stopped the bleeding.
The husband worried that admitting error could bring legal charges, but our author claimed she was “optimistic” that the situation would resolve itself.
“Huh?” I wondered, after reading the article. “These people must live in New York.” The magazine is also based in New York. How many regular Americans have cleaning services, I wondered. Moreover, even if they have maids or help to clean their homes, how many Americans would worry about lawsuits from flesh wounds on index fingers?
This got me to thinking about how solipsistic New York is. In many ways, New York dominates the world. It is the publishing center, financial center, media center, entertainment center, and the advertising center of the world. I lived there for two years in the mid-1970s, and there’s a lot to like about it, like the public transportation system. But after two years, the noise, the dirt, the congestion, and the crowds got to me, so I escaped to the mountains of Colorado and re-captured my sense of balance.
Lately, though, I’ve become increasingly aware that New York provincialism has a far deeper impact than most people realize, and it’s not healthy. These people don’t know where their food comes from or where their garbage goes. They actually believe the propaganda they put out for the rest of the world to buy, consume, digest, and excrete.
It takes a lot of farm to feed a city, but the New York Whines and Gall Street Journal sneer at the rural rednecks who support New Yorker Donald Trump. The New York Times, especially, seems almost deranged in its attempts to discredit the president and everything he touches, including those idiot evangelicals who are willing to overlook his licentious past and foul mouth.
While I also have issues with the president, my issues with New York itself are of longer duration and go far deeper. New York has played a pivotal role in American history due, in part, to the machinations of the current Broadway hit Hamilton’s protagonist. The darling of George Washington and of New York, Alexander Hamilton single-handedly did more to set the course of this nation than anyone else, except, perhaps, Benjamin Franklin.
Hamilton was admittedly an Anglophile who hailed from the West Indies, a poor, illegitimate orphan who worked in his teen years for British mercantilist traders, including slave trading. His trip to the North American continent was financed and subsidized by his employers, who paid for his upkeep in barrels of slave-produced sugar. He attached himself to George Washington, but was a war agitator and enthusiast even before he left St. Croix. The only military command he ever held, after badgering Washington for years, was at the battle of Yorktown, in which he demonstrated extraordinary bravery, if his apologist/biographer, author Ron Chernow is to be believed.
Never mind that New York caved to the British three months after the Declaration of Independence was signed, on September 15, 1776, then remained in British hands for the next five years. Never mind that at the secret Constitutional Convention—which was held on false pretenses—he drove off New York’s other two representatives, then heavily influenced proceedings, ultimately going to enormous effort to get the Constitution ratified.
Hamilton planted the seeds for the thriving blood-sucking plant New York has become, so naturally he would be a hero in the Empire State.
It was Hamilton who linked government, the banking industry, and Wall Street in the enduring marriage so-called “capitalism” has become. After caving to the British, and maintaining an active trade with the Brits during the Revolutionary War, in 1787, the city threatened to secede from the state if it didn’t ratify the Constitution of the newly formed federal government. As it turned out, New York and Virginia were the last to ratify, thanks, in part to Hamilton’s barrage of anonymous newspaper articles collectively known as “The Federalist Papers.” Then New York City became the nation’s first capitol.
It was Hamilton who pushed the first central bank through Congress, and as the first Treasury Secretary, provided loans via the Bank of New York (which he started) to pay George Washington’s and Congress’ salaries. The first central bank, the First Bank of the United States, was 20% government and 80% privately owned, with most of the investors being foreigners. Members of Congress also bought shares. These two banks’ stocks were the among the first shares traded on the budding New York Stock Exchange and led to the first financial panic in US history, the Panic of 1792, thanks to wild debt-backed stock speculation by Hamilton’s erstwhile friend and Assistant Treasury Secretary, William Duer.
Now we have a case in which the government, banks, and stock market are so inter-dependent that the lines blur. Tax-deferred pension plans, largely public pension plans, IRAs, and 401(k)s are all invested on Wall Street, providing a major source of funding for fund managers, stock churners, and profiteers to gamble their way to riches on other people’s money.
New York City and Donald Trump deserve each other. Trump’s attitude is New York’s attitude, and it’s a gamble whether the nation will survive.