New York City & America: Still Capitalist?

Ronn Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and respected public relations experts. Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the 25 largest independent American PR firms, which was named PR Agency of the Year by the American Business Awards. He is the best-selling author of “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations,” a book known as an industry “must read.” Torossian is a featured op-ed columnist for The Huffington Post, Newsmax, Wired Magazine and others. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including PR Executive of the Year and is a past semi-finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. Torossian lives in Manhattan with his wife and children. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.


There is still so much damage in New York City after Hurricane Sandy, and while with time media attention goes away, the effects of Hurricane Sandy live on. As a 38-year-old, born-and-bred New Yorker I have never seen New York in these conditions — countless businesses, non-profit organizations and people are far from back to normal as a result of Sandy.

In the aftermath of this calamity it has never been more apparent that government can’t help business. To great fanfare over Thanksgiving weekend, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new grant program to aid small business. As he said: “Businesses that have been displaced for at least three weeks can apply for a grant of up to $10,000 to help with repairs, supplies and other storm-related expenses.”

With all due respect, after being out of their business for three weeks in New York City what is $10,000? In a city where the average rent is above $3000, how far does $10,000 go? How many small business owners have payrolls for three weeks less than that? Perhaps someone who owns 1 pizzeria can replace an oven with that – but does he have any employees left after being out for three weeks? It’s offensive to hold a press conference and laud this as an accomplishment. And after losing a month of income it has to be returned within 2 years. Of course, maybe indeed these business owners should expect nothing – as they are all “rich” in Obama’s America.

And as New Yorkers, we do business in the worst state in America to own a business. It is damn hard to own a business in the once-Empire State.  At 5WPR, my PR firm, we foot the bill for jury duty for our 100 employees; match Medicare tax rates (with little faith the system will exist when we will need it), and in NYC as we grow pay more commercial real estate tax. A new reward of post Hurricane-Sandy NYC is the nightmare called Obamacare which will increase costs for small businesses where we have to pay more for health insurance for employees.

Of course, that’s only for companies up to 50 employees.  A company with 46 employees – why would they want their business to grow above 50 people? And someone with 52, won’t they fire 3 people before year’s end?

As an entrepreneur, I am proud to give to charity so I can choose where my hard-earned money goes rather than into the black hole of government. As a board member of Russian American Jewish Experience (RAJE), we are dealing with the fact that our shorefront Brooklyn synagogue was destroyed by the Hurricane. Our board is trying to raise the $1 million, plus we need to rebuild – but it’s all private money and we don’t have government or FEMA money as one would think a non-profit would enjoy. It is a daunting task.

Every entrepreneur I know works harder than ever before – and New York’s governor wants to raise taxes another 4 percent and Obama is consumed with the popular tale of “taxing the rich.” People who work hard create jobs and sacrifice and no one is helping them. Government strains – and doesn’t help – the hardworking entrepreneur. It over-taxes energetic people who sacrifice every day to create opportunities for others as well as themselves.

Living in NYC, I pay nearly 50% taxes – class warfare at its finest. And when I die my kids will be taxed another 50 percent on my money.  Can the great country of America truly be considered a capitalist country in 2012?

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  • Mary Sue

    50%? Is that combined, or is that just state/local taxes alone? Ouch.

    New York has been run by idiots since time immemorial.

    • cassandra

      Hi Mary Sue. I agree with you. I still remember when New York went broke.

  • tagalog

    Wasn't it a Democrat Mayor who referred 'way back in the 1970s to New York City as a "slow-motion train wreck?" John V. Lindsay, that's the fella. Or was he a Republican? It took another 40 years for a relatively low-force hurricane, just a step above a tropical storm, to push NYC over the edge.

    While NYC is dithering about what government should do about putting the city back on its feet, make sure you don't drink any sodas larger than 16-ounce servings.

  • geoplaten

    "Can the great country of America truly be considered a capitalist country in 2012?"

    Hasn't been a capitalist country for quite awhile now, sorry you're just noticing. Easy to miss in NYC, I guess.

  • Bob Avakian

    Why stay and complain – move out!.

    I am an ex-New Yorker fortunate enough to be in a red state. I guess you folks up there suffer from the frog in the pot where the water is slowly increased in temperature syndrome and have no idea of how bad things have gotten.

    C'mon out to flyover country and see what you can do in an area where we still honor American values. We don't tax the s_ _ _ out of someone just because they make some money. Nor do we regulate things to death – heck you can even buy a 64 oz. soda out here if you want. And we even have a pretty passable opera and symphony.

    You want to stay in New York? What are you thinking, boy?

    • Max

      Excellent point, Bob. True to the last word. People need to start voting with their money. When enough taxpayers move out of the 5 boroughs and the Big Apple's coffers shrink, the city fathers may rethink their socialist ways. Not sure about that smurf Bloomberg guy, though. He spends most of his days fighting the 2nd Amendment. This *****ing moron refused to allow the National Guard into Brooklyn to help with the rescue efforts after hurricane Sandy… because our troops carry guns, and guns, as you may know, are a bad, bad thing in the mind of this midget. Of course, he is above the law. His bodyguards are always heavily armed, because theyare tasked with protecting this "precious commodity". He must be Soros's twin billionnaire brother hell bent on destroying our country.

  • Roxanne

    I have never posted a comment on someone's opinion before but this one really has my blood boiling. Who are you to complain about how much you are taxed and where the money goes when you sit up there in your ivory tower complaining about how you will only get $10,000 for a business that was closed due to a natural disaster? You don't have insurance? You feel as if you are owed even more? If you are so unhappy about where you live and how much you pay, then shut your mouth and move. If you choose to live in one of the busiest cities in the world, then you are going to pay for that. Or are you so wrapped up in your PR businesses, that you forget (or maybe you never even knew) what it is to truly be one of the little people. One of the people that have gone to college and pay student loans and make $50,000 a year and raise 3 children. You are going to complain about how you are going to be taxed because you make over $400,000. How about you join reality and be thankful for what you have instead of groaning about how you make too much money.