New York City: Red Dawn or Red Yawn

The inauguration of New York mayor Bill DeBlasio began with a keynote address from imbecilic pro-Communist activist Harry Belafonte. Then it went downhill.

Bill Clinton tried to halt the descent. He praised retiring mayor Bloomberg for leaving New York “stronger and healthier” after twelve years in office. The response? Dead silence, according to John Fund.

As for the new mayor, he promised a new dawn of “equality.”

We are called to put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love. And so today, we commit to a new progressive direction in New York. And that same progressive impulse has written our city’s history….[The progressive] movement…sees the inequality crisis we face today, and resolves that it will not define our future.

Now I know there are those who think that what I said during the campaign was just rhetoric, just “political talk” in the interest of getting elected. There are some who think now, as we turn to governing – well, things will just continue pretty much like they always have.

So let me be clear. When I said we would take dead aim at the Tale of Two Cities, I meant it. And we will do it.

Peter Robinson offers a succinct reply, via Milton Friedman:

A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.

Peter also suggests that, although the New York mayor can restrict freedom, there’s not much he can do to remedy inequality. Quoting New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer, Peter notes that about 75 percent of the City’s budget is mandated or required by contract. This includes social services, pension and fringe benefits, debt service, and much of what is spent on education. An additional 15 percent is essentially untouchable: the services of the Police, Fire and Sanitation Departments. Thus, the mayor and the Council have real power over about 10 percent of what the city spends.

You can’t cure inequality with 10 percent of the budget.

As for tax hikes on the rich, they will have to receive the approval of the state legislature. As Peter observes, Governor Andrew Cuomo is unlikely to want to send rich New Yorkers scurrying to establish residency in Florida.

So this is not a Red dawn in New York. But neither is it a Red yawn. Although Mayor DeBlasio can’t cure, or even dent, “economic and social inequalities,” he can cause much mischief, as some of his lefty predecessors demonstrated. A higher crime rate, further deterioration of the public schools, and erosion of the tax base come to mind.

As my conservative cousin from New York has warned, it may be a long four years.

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