Rich Man, Poor People

The Billionaire Mayor and the Income Gap

"It's going to be a lot harder for the mayor to convince the wealthy to contribute to the city of New York," says Edward Wolff, professor of economics at New York University and author of Top Heavy: The Increasing Inequality of Wealth in American and What Can Be Done About It. "The very wealthy typically don't like the public sector, so to ask them to not only pay taxes but also contribute is more difficult than the Met Opera asking for $10,000."

As Wolff sees it, even the slightest progress toward closing the gap between wealthy and poor in New York will require a paradigm shift for the mayor. "Once you run a business, your goal is to minimize costs—and wages are viewed as costs," he says. "I think it's going to be very hard to break out of that mentality."

Sylvia Rosado at home: $1.43 less per hour means "goodbye, couch."
photograph by Sylvia Plachy
Sylvia Rosado at home: $1.43 less per hour means "goodbye, couch."

Research assistance: Joshua LeSieur

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