Status Report On Bill de Blasio's Efforts To End Income Inequality In New York

Bill de Blasio — the guy currently languishing at the bottom of the polls among the Democratic candidates for President — was first elected Mayor of New York City on November 5, 2013. In a post on November 11, 2013, a few days after that election, I congratulated Mr. de Blasio on winning the office; but I had this comment:

[H]e seems to think he can solve problems that have defeated all of his predecessors and that are very likely beyond the competence of any government, let alone local government, to solve.

At the top of the list of such problems “very likely beyond the competence of any government to solve” was the problem of income inequality. It may be fading from memory today, but de Blasio had made addressing income inequality in New York City the most important focus of his campaign. During the campaign, he had frequently called income inequality “the defining challenge of our time,” and had claimed that life in New York under his two (Republican) predecessors (Giuliani and Bloomberg) had degenerated into a “Tale of two cities,” one rich and the other poor. In his victory speech on the night of his election, de Blasio re-emphasized his theme of ending income inequality:

That inequality, that feeling of a few doing very well while so many slip further behind — that is the defining challenge of our time. . . . But the challenge today is different. The creeping specter of inequality must be confronted, and will not weaken our resolve.

So, in my November 2013 post I posed the basic question to the new Mayor: “What exactly do you propose to do about income inequality?”

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Add Rent Control To The List Of Progressive Policies That Are Sure To Increase Income Inequality

The list of progressive policy proposals supposedly designed to increase fairness and justice in the world just keeps getting longer and longer. Medicare for all. Free college. Higher minimum wages. Every kind of “climate justice” prescription. Reparations for slavery. And here’s one that seemed to have faded away in disgrace decades ago, but now is making a revival: rent control. Rent control is currently getting expanded and strengthened in numerous progressive jurisdictions, from New York to California, with new proposals now on the table in places like Minnesota and Illinois.

A recurring topic in this blog has been the extent to which progressive policies reduce — or instead, actually increase — income inequality. You will not be surprised to hear that there is a very close relationship between jurisdictions with more progressive and redistributive policies and higher income inequality. In an article I wrote in the City Journal in 2015 I pointed out the close relationship:

[In 2014] Bloomberg Rankings published a national study on income inequality, using U.S. Census Bureau income data to rank each of the 435 congressional districts by economists’ standard measure of inequality, the Gini coefficient. The study found high levels of income inequality in areas of the country known for their political progressivism. Topping the inequality list was New York’s tenth congressional district, which covers the West Side of Manhattan and Wall Street—including City Hall. Of the top 25 spots, 23 went to Democratic districts—and not just any Democratic districts. The five congressional districts covering some part of Manhattan earned the first, sixth, ninth, 13th, and 20th positions. Congressional districts in solidly liberal Chicago, Cambridge, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Berkeley placed in the Top 25. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district ranked 14th on the list . . . . And how about rent control? . . .

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It's About Time Someone Pushed Back About The Disaster Of Democrat-Controlled Cities

On Sunday, after taking some criticism from Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore about conditions on the Southern border, President Trump unleashed a series of tweets excoriating Cummings about conditions in his own district. Some excerpts:

If racist Elijah Cummings would focus more of his energy on helping the good people of his district, and Baltimore itself, perhaps progress could be made in fixing the mess that he has helped to create over many years of incompetent leadership. His radical “oversight” is a joke! . . . Baltimore’s numbers are the worst in the United States on Crime and the Economy. Billions of dollars have been pumped in over the years, but to no avail. The money was stolen or wasted. Ask Elijah Cummings where it went. He should investigate himself with his Oversight Committee!

All I can say is, I can’t believe that it has taken so long to get some serious push-back going about the abject failure of any Democrat-controlled city to alleviate poverty and improve the lives of its citizens. Although in these tweets President Trump focused on Baltimore, it’s not just Baltimore. Other examples include Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Gary, Camden, and even Chicago and Philadelphia. And there are many others. All share the characteristics of massive spending by governments at all levels on “programs” to alleviate poverty — welfare, food stamps, housing, Medicaid, clothing assistance, phones, energy assistance, and on and on. (One list has some 76 categories of federal “anti-poverty” programs.) All those cities also share the characteristic of unbroken rule by Democrats for decades on end. And poverty that only worsens, particularly relative to what is going on in the rest of the country.

Rather than reinventing the wheel today, I just want to point out that the Manhattan Contrarian was way ahead of the world on this issue, with two posts on April 28 and 29, 2015, titled “Do You Think That The Government Can Fix Poverty? Look At Baltimore” and “Can The Government Fix Poverty? — Part II.” . . .

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Who Are The Racists Here?

You can be forgiven if you have the impression that the entire argument of the Democratic party to voters at this point in time consists of yelling at the opposition, “You’re racists!” Or maybe sometimes it’s “You’re white supremacists!” But is there any substance to these charges?

The last few days have seen a near total meltdown, after President Trump tweeted (on July 14):

Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!

No mention of race there, of course. Sounds to me like an invitation to the radical Congresswomen to start behaving like grown-ups and taking some responsibility for the absurd policy proposals that they throw around so recklessly. The Green New Deal for Somalia? I can only think it would take the impoverished Somalis from mere poverty to total destitution and starvation. But the “squad” thinks the Green New Deal is imperative for the U.S. Then why shouldn’t it also be the right policy path for Somalia? And if this plan is the route to a perfected world, what’s wrong with suggesting that its leading advocates bring some influence to bear on Somalia (or Palestine or Mexico) to implement their prescriptions? The backdrop of proposing Somalia for the GND seems to me like an excellent basis for an intelligent conversation about what policies might actually work in the real world.

So let’s get the reaction of Ilhan Omar . . .

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Income Inequality Comes Roaring Back Into The News

With the demise of the Russian collusion hoax, you knew that something would have to emerge to fill the giant hole in the newspapers and the TV news shows. It looks like the old perennial of “income inequality,” after some time mostly off the front pages, is now the first mantra to be found rushing in to fill the vacuum.

So there we had Ray Dalio — serious mega-billionaire and Co-Chairman of the country’s biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates — showing up on CBS’s “60 Minutes” yesterday to proclaim that income inequality is a “national emergency”:

“If I was the president of the United States,” Dalio said, “what I would do is recognize that this is a national emergency. . . .” “The American dream is lost,” he said. “For the most part we don’t even talk about what is the American dream. And it’s very different from when I was growing up.”

Simultaneously, Mr. Progressive himself, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, turned up in Nevada (of all places) to promote his self-delusional presidential campaign, and chose income inequality as his theme. From today’s New York Post:

[T]here needs to be a “bigger discussion about income inequality and oppression of other groups including Latinos, Native Americans, Asian and women,” he said at the event organized by the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road.

And, somewhat to my surprise, the income inequality drum beaters seem to have enlisted Tucker Carlson of Fox News as one of their spokespeople. Carlson has made statements on this subject several times, but here is an example quoted by Forbes (last November):

The biggest problem this country faces is income inequality, and neither the liberals nor the conservatives see it.

Here’s the problem I have with this: The “income inequality” mantra in the United States is almost as big a hoax as the Trump/Russia collusion scam. . . .

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April Fools Day Hoax Roundup

Does it seem to you that there have been a lot of big-time hoaxes lately? In late February the most widely-publicized alleged “hate crime” in years — the Jussie Smollett caper — was revealed as a hoax; and then just a few weeks after that the Mueller Report was completed, and it turned out that the single most intensely covered news event of my entire lifetime — the “Trump/Russia collusion” story — was also a hoax.

These were not minor or insignificant hoaxes. Both were a huge focus of mainstream press and media coverage and commentary, in the first case for several weeks, and in the second for over two years. Both fed the dominant media narrative of opposition to President Trump and hatred of him and his supporters. Both hoaxes were accepted uncritically and without a hint of skepticism by essentially all of the progressive press and media, who repeated and amplified them at great extent right up until they suddenly unraveled.

But with the extreme focus on these two hoaxes, perhaps you are losing track of the fact that these are just two of some dozens of similar hoaxes perpetrated by the same press and media players in recent years. Today, in honor of April Fools Day, the Manhattan Contrarian performs the public service of reminding you of the extent to which you are subject to a constant barrage of hoaxes originating from the mainstream press, media (including social media), and often also the government; hoaxes that are then endlessly repeated and amplified, all in the service of increased political power for the left.

Hate Crime Hoaxes

If you search the recesses of your memory, you will likely be able to come up with at least a few prior hate crime hoaxes that got big media play before the truth came out. One of the biggest was the University of Virginia fraternity gang rape hoax of 2014, originally perpetrated upon the world by Rolling Stone magazine. Going back several more years, there was the Duke lacrosse team gang rape hoax of 2006. If you follow this issue, you may also remember some others, . . .

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