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A Round and a Roundy: Rich Manhattanites Aren’t the Problem (Just Ask Them!)

12:01 AM EDT on October 6, 2021

Cartoon: Bill Roundy

Editorial cartoon of Bill Roundy by editorial cartoonist Bill Roundy.
Editorial cartoon of Bill Roundy by editorial cartoonist Bill Roundy.

Every time there's another bitch session about congestion pricing, the narrative hardens: Every person who drives a car thinks everyone else is the reason Manhattan is such a traffic-choked, sclerotic, pollution-filled mess.

Our national treasure cartoonist Bill Roundy listened closely to the Manhattan session and couldn't believe the entitlement masquerading as grievance: A retired couple complaining that they don't want to pay when they return from trips to see their grandkids in the suburbs. A well-off woman complaining of having to pay a toll to drive her kids (drive her kids?!) from Chelsea to a rec center on the Upper East Side (the Upper East Side?!). A Manhattan plumber who claims the toll makes him "the enemy" because he'd have to raise his prices (sorry, Joe the Plumber, but at an estimated once-a-day charge of $9-$23, we're pretty sure you'll find a way to hide a few bucks in the invoices from the three or four jobs a day that you're likely doing in Manhattan).

And here's the bottom line: Households that own cars in Manhattan are twice as wealthy as households that don't — meaning most of the whining against a congestion toll is being played (at least in the Post and the Times) as populism when it is, in fact, elitism. Especially when you consider that residents who earn less than $60,000 — presumably the working-class people who allegedly need their car, even though they live in one of the most transit-rich urban areas in the world — are already getting a tax credit to recover their congestion fees.

Hence today's appearance of Rich Uncle Pennybags in today's cartoon — our contribution to calling out the privilege of those who would seek to avoid paying a small portion of the cost that their driving takes on the rest of us.

The last two public meetings are at 6 p.m. on Tuesday (for the northern suburbs) and Wednesday (for Manhattan outside the central business district). To watch, click on the links at the appointed time.

All of Bill Roundy's cartoons are archived here. Trade 'em with your friends!

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