Originally published in Crain’s New York by Will Coggin on May 23, 2019:
Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City tried to act as the food police. Now the city is looking to become the fashion police.
City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Corey Johnson is pushing legislation that would ban the sale of natural fur. If passed, New York would join San Francisco and Los Angeles as the third major city to do so.
The ban would end the trade of an item so embedded in New York’s history that a beaver is emblazoned on the city’s crest. Even today, fur is a considerable part of the city’s economy.
According to an industry analysis, banning fur sales could mean the loss over 10 years of between $3.3 billion and $7 billion in revenue taxable by the city. The city is the largest fur marketplace in the country, occupying more than 100 storefronts. The analysis predicts the city would lose 7,500 jobs, many of which are held by older workers who have no other job training.
Fur sales are experiencing a decade high with no signs of slowing. Canada Goose, a retailer that uses invasive coyotes for coat linings, has seen its value triple since the company went public a little over two years ago.
So why would the second most powerful man in New York—who represents the Garment District—try to shutter his constituents’ businesses? It’s a political calculation by Johnson aimed at drawing support from animal rights activists for his mayoral run.
It’s a miscalculation. The agenda of animal-rights activists will only call for more and more government forays into the personal choices of regular New Yorkers and attacks on businesses.
Fur-ban proponent PETA, for instance, is also against leather and wool. If the City Council believes New Yorkers should buy synthetic instead of real fur—instead of letting shoppers make up their own mind—what’s to stop City Hall from telling people they have to buy pleather and fake wool rather than the real thing?
PETA’s anti-consumer-choice agenda doesn’t stop there. The organization doesn’t believe people should be allowed to eat a hamburger or ice cream. Should the city tell people they have to buy veggie burgers? And it’s not just food and clothing: PETA is even against pet ownership. If people want companionship, “they should seek it with their own kind,” PETA’s president has said.
No city leader should be aligning with such an extreme agenda.