San Francisco is the latest American city to try to solve the problem of “homelessness” by throwing more and yet more taxpayer cash at it. Should we check in on how it’s going?
You may recall that I last visited the issue of homelessness in San Francisco about a year ago, October 2018, in a post titled “The Morality Of Our Progressive Elite.” At that time, the number of “homeless” in San Francisco was estimated at about 7000, but there was an initiative on the November 2018 ballot, known as Proposition C, calling for a new payroll tax on large employers in San Francisco, intended to raise some $300 million per year to solve this homelessness problem once and for all.
On October 25, 2018, one Marc Benioff, co-CEO of Salesforce, had an op-ed in the New York Times supporting Proposition C. My post noted that Benioff was only too happy to advocate that others should be forced to spend hundreds of millions on this project through a new tax, while he himself offered to put up none of his own personal fortune, estimated at $6 billion, for the purpose.
So where are we now, a year later?
By the time you read this, you almost certainly already know that the New York Times chose this past Saturday to publish an op-ed by authors of a new book about Brett Kavanaugh, raising a new allegation of alleged improper sexual conduct by Kavanaugh from his days at Yale more than 30 years ago. By the next day, the Times had been force to concede that the op-ed had omitted to state that the alleged victim of the event had told her friends that she did not remember such a thing. Moreover, the authors of the book and op-ed had not even interviewed the alleged victim. Would you have ever thought that the august New York Times would have stooped to that kind of level?
I don’t know what your first thought was on learning of this, but mine was, they must have information that Justice Ginsburg’s medical prognosis is not very good. You may also have seen the Supreme Court’s statement issued on August 23, announcing that Justice Ginsburg had just completed a three-week course of radiation therapy for a new tumor on her pancreas. The statement says that the Justice’s treatment was “definitive” — a term seemingly selected to convey upbeat confidence while clearly not being the equivalent of a clean bill of health. It would be rather surprising if the Times doesn’t have some sources with more particularized information on this one.
Could control of the Supreme Court really be worth the damage that the Times (and others, including multiple contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination) are now inflicting on themselves? . . .Read More
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? . . .Read More
It’s the defining characteristic of today’s progressive left: Anger. And it’s not just the rioters like Antifa, or the unspeakably rude people who confront administration figures in restaurants and gratuitously yell at them. Take a look at any of the new icons of the Democratic Party when they are speaking — for example Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or Ilhan Omar — and you see them seething with barely controllable anger, if not outright fury. Same with essentially every left-wing commenter on CNN or MSNBC.
And I’m just getting to the Democratic presidential candidates. Bernie Sanders. Is there anybody angrier? Always, and about everything. For that matter, all the contenders who have broken out of the less-than-1% category (and most of those who haven’t) are putting on a show of trying to out-angry all the others. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris. Anger must be what sells these days to the categories of voters they are pursuing.
But how about Joe Biden, you say? Certainly he is not as angry as these others. You must have missed Biden’s July 5 interview with Chris Cuomo of CNN. Having just been outmaneuvered by Kamala Harris at the first Democratic debate, Biden decided that it was time to show that he can do anger with the best of them. According to that New York Post report of the interview, “throughout it all, Biden was angry.” It reached the boiling point when Cuomo raised the issue of Russian election interference, drawing this response from Biden:
“You think that would happen on my watch, on Barack’s watch? You can’t answer that, but I promise you it wouldn’t have. And it didn’t.”
My observation is that, at least for those of the progressive mindset, the less they have to be angry about, the angrier they become. . . .Read More
In the run-up to tonight’s first debate among the 2020 Democratic candidates, many have noted the outbreak of what is being called the “bidding war.” In this war, the “bids” consist of proposals for new government spending, handout and giveaway programs. Among both the candidates and those covering the process, the assumption appears to be that the game will be won by the candidate who bids the biggest collection of the most expensive and extravagant such new programs. With time running out to get bids on the table before the debates begin, the last few weeks have seen a blizzard of new and ever-more-expensive proposals for buying the votes of the electorate. After all, when you get hit at one of these debates with a question about some human problem, you certainly don’t want to be caught without having already proposed a program or handout to “solve” that particular problem.
Meanwhile, don’t worry, none of these moderators will bother to ask you how you plan to pay for your various proposals. Obviously, we all know that payment can come from the infinite pile of free government loot. In the off chance that somebody tries to press you, you can always refer to your plan for a new “billionaire’s tax.” No details required.
A funny thing about this process is how piecemeal it is. One day one candidate comes out with a proposal for Medicare for All, and another day another candidate comes out with a proposal for a universal childcare system, and on yet another day another candidate comes out with a proposal for a renters’ tax credit. Can anybody give us a complete list of all the proposed new programs? How else are we ever going to get an idea of what kind of country these people intend to leave us with when all their programs get enacted?
Well, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but I don’t think it’s possible. . . .Read More
My posts of May 27 and of June 17 have taken note of the tremendous excitement being felt in New York now that our newly-fully-progressive-controlled state legislature has finally tightened up the rent regulation system to make sure that a select group of Manhattan millionaires can keep their way-below-market regulated rents for life. Take that, evil Republicans! But believe it or not, the excitement emanating from the great rent regulation “victory” is nothing compared to the fervor now being generated by the latest bill, just passed yesterday by the state legislature. You can get a sense of the ecstasy from the all-caps New York Times headline appearing over its lead story in this morning’s edition: “BIG CLIMATE PLAN SETS UP NEW YORK AS GLOBAL LEADER.” (The headline in the online version of the story is different, although the story is the same.)
Yes, finally (now that those evil Republicans are gone from their former majority in the state Senate) New York is getting serious on “climate.” And not just a little serious. It is going to become the climate’s “global leader.” What exactly does that entail?
The [Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act] requires New York to get 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar and hydropower by 2030 and shift entirely to carbon-free power a decade later.
[T]he . . . Act would require the state to slash its planet-warming pollution 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and offset the remaining 15 percent, possibly through measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If the state manages to hit those targets, it would effectively create a so-called net-zero economy, the ultimate goal of environmentalists and others seeking to slow the pace of global warming.
Before getting into the subject of whether there is any reality to this at all, we ought perhaps to have a review of the last time the New York Times declared a world “climate leader.” That would be back in March 2017, when Pravda in a big front-page spread awarded the mantle of “climate leader” to none other than the country of China. . . .Read More