10 Questions with Mayor Michael Bloomberg

The New York City mayor is now serving his third term. Michael Bloomberg talks about money, guns and beer on the rocks

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Marco Grob for TIME

What lessons did you learn from the recent snowstorm that paralyzed New York City?
I'm sorry that it happened. Can we do it better? Yes. But we have done nine years of cleaning the snow. You don't define all the hard work that our sanitation department does based on one snowstorm.

Where will the economy be a year from now? Will the unemployment rate get better?
The economy will have improved, but it's not going to be better for everybody. The [gap] between the requirements of the workplace and the skill sets that our workforce has is growing, not declining.

Is there room for a candid, non-ideological big-city mayor to step onto the national stage and fix problems?
There's room for people like me to influence the dialogue, but I do not believe there is room for an independent candidate. In any case, I have 1,050 days from today left to go, and I've told the public I would fill out my term. I'm going to serve the four years.

I meant Rahm Emanuel.
He sent me an e-mail yesterday saying happy birthday. I wrote back and said, "I assume you don't need any help, but if you do, call." This is going to be a different Rahm Emanuel. He's going to be a good mayor, and we'll work well together. Much better than when he was in the White House and I was a wise-ass who might run against his boss.

Have bankers gotten an unfair rap in the past few years?
Yes. They get a very unfair rap. Not that they didn't speculate, but we had an expansion in this country that any rational person should have known was not sustainable. You can't have everybody making money in the stock market every day. But we all wanted the party to continue. How [else] can you explain the Bernie Madoff phenomenon?

How do you explain it, then?
Nobody cared. Everybody just thought, Where did Madoff get the idea? A cynic would say Social Security, [though] I would never say that. But it's exactly the same thing, isn't it? I also think people should have asked why he could outperform like that. There's no free lunch.

You've been outspoken lately on gun control. What are you trying to achieve?
Guns kill people. I'm not opposed to the Second Amendment. I'm not opposed to hunters. I don't understand why we have to sell magazines with 33 bullets. If it takes you 33 bullets to kill a deer, you're not a sportsman. And armor-piercing bullets — the last time I saw a deer with a bulletproof vest was a long time ago. Guns are one of the biggest killers in the country, and it's an easy problem to solve if we had the courage to [do so].

What can't the mayor of New York City say?
One of the measures of maturity of our city is that you can address social issues that are uncomfortable. It's just a matter of how you address them. Sometimes people will take offense. Sometimes they won't.

You have been made fun of recently for the way you drink beer. So, for the record, you like ice in your beer?
Yeah. Incidentally, don't put it in and let it sit there. You have the ice, pour in a little beer, drink it. Pour in a little beer, drink it.

Reader question: You've been so successful in business. What's the point of doing one of the all-time hard-to-please-everyone jobs? Gerardo Valero, Mexico City
Because it's an all-time hard-to-please-everyone job. It's a great challenge, and it's the world I'm going to leave my kids. They will do a lot better if the world is better than if they inherit [all of] my money.