When asked by his boss, Michael Scott, what the most inspirational thing that he had ever told him was, Dwight Schrute responded with, “Don’t be an idiot. It changed my life.” Truly an awesome piece of advice, and its relevance lies in its simplicity. Of course, people will always have differing views on what stupid is, but for me, as a history major, refusing to learn from past mistakes is the epitome of idiocy.
The new mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, is the poster child for such idiocy. De Blasio represents the cliched socialist and progressive that we have seen time and time again. He uses phrases such as ‘income inequality’ and ‘social justice’ as well as other bottomless and meaningless sayings to enrage the population against those who have been successful.
His supposed hatred for the wealthy, an ideal he based his campaign around, came into full view throughout the recent snowstorms along the northeast, which of course included New York City, the socialistic paradise I call home. The Upper East Side, considered by many to be the home of the wealthiest of New York, was almost completely ignored by the NYC government agencies that carry out snow plowing. This was an obvious example of punishing the well-off for the audacity they possess for being successful. Of course, de Blasio, would never take the blame for such an obvious socialistic move (blaming it instead on bad GPS signals), but he doesn’t need to. His policies and agenda speak for themselves.
The level of liberalism that de Blasio confidently expresses is, frankly, amazing. He has, as planned, announced a deal to drop former Mayor Bloomberg’s appeal of the court ruling that the NYPD overstepped its authority and appointed an independent inspector to oversee NYPD reform in the attempt to end the “era of stop-and-frisk,” as this policy is said to disrespect the “dignity and rights of young men of color.” Crime rates however, have been falling steadily since 1990. As the NYPD loses its ability to do its job, crime rates will reverse, and past accomplishments will be undone.
While his opponent in the mayoral election, Joe Lhota, had planned to double the amount of charter schools in NYC, de Blasio will instead focus his efforts on fixing the numerous failing public schools and even charge rent to charter schools using public school facilities–something even the soda czar himself, Michael Bloomberg, was against. Charter schools in NYC have increasingly better academic records than traditional public schools, while providing choice and freedom to both parents and students. More often than not, these schools are located in low-income areas, giving children in less fortunate situations a solid opportunity to learn. Charging rent to these schools will accomplish nothing except making it more difficult for them to be successful. De Blasio simply wishes for the government, rather than the parent and student, to make decisions.
While these aspects of de Blasio’s agenda are quite displeasing, it is his effort to accomplish progressive “equality” that is truly scary. Here is how de Blasio explained his income tax increase:
We will ask the very wealthy to pay a little more in taxes so that we can offer full-day universal pre-K and after school programs…And when we say ‘a little more,’ we can rightly emphasize the ‘little.’ Those earning between $500,000 and $1 million a year, for instance, would see their taxes increase by an average of $973 a year. That’s less than three bucks a day – about the cost of a small soy latte at your local Starbucks.
Admittedly, a $973 tax increase on such high earners does seem small, but, of course, one must not take the words from a politician’s mouth literally. As this New York Post article explains quite clearly, when adding into the equation the tax increases on those making over one million dollars, the percentage increase of the tax rate is closer to about 13.8 percent, or $12,038, for those making above $500,000.
“Equality,” therefore, means inequality, as we will once again see a select few targeted to make up the majority amount of tax revenues. What will come of this? We’ve seen it before. Such policies discourage economic growth and job creation. Rather than helping the poor and unemployed, it drives employers away and results in more poverty and unemployment.
The scary thing is, that is exactly what’s going to happen. De Blasio plans to require big developers to build more affordable housing, but he cannot require them to build in New York. They will leave. FreshDirect, an online grocery store that delivers food all around NYC, is a real-life example. When Michael Bloomberg was mayor, FreshDirect threatened to move to New Jersey because of a lack of incentive to stay in New York. In a panicked attempt to keep the company within New York’s borders, Bloomberg approved a $128 million tax subsidy to the company for building a larger headquarters in The Bronx.
When de Blasio makes these tax hikes final, will he be offering subsidies to every employer (or evil rich person) that wishes to no longer be a victim of New York’s government thievery? Of course not. And they will leave.
Ignorance is not bliss when history is involved. Let’s take a look at Detroit. From 1962 onward, every single Detroit mayor has been a liberal Democrat. Detroit is also in ruins. Is there a correlation between Detroit and the potential future of New York City?
The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average. It takes an average of 58 minutes for the Detroit police to respond to a distress call. Over the past decade, the size of the Detroit police force has been cut by about 40 percent. Are such horrible numbers like these possible in NYC if de Blasio continues to tie the hands of the NYPD? Absolutely.
Similarly, 47 percent of Detroit residents are functionally illiterate, while 60 percent of Detroit children are living in poverty. Does de Blasio’s rejection of successful charter schools deny children in poverty access to a good education? Does his refusal to deviate from a failing public school system have the potential to yield Detroit-like numbers in in New York City? Absolutely.
The trend is obvious. What about fiscal policy? (Drumroll, please!) Every one of the seven Democrat mayors of Detroit from 1962 to 2012 implemented tax increases. The Detroit Free Press explained it as follows:
City Leaders tried repeatedly to reverse sliding revenue through new taxes. Despite a new income tax in 1962, a new utility tax in 1971, and a new casino revenue tax in 1999–not to mention several tax increases along the way–revenue in today’s dollars fell 40% from 1962 to 2012. Higher taxes helped drive residents to the suburbs and drove away business. Today, Detroit still doesn’t take in as much tax revenue as it did just from property taxes in 1963.
What a surprise. Tax increases, which I can confidently assume were concentrated on the wealthier Detroiters, drove businesses and people away.
These eerie similarities between what has happened in Detroit and what is currently happening is NYC should not be taken lightly. De Blasio is carrying out the idiocy that I spoke so poorly of earlier in this article. He wishes to commit to a new progressive direction in New York, yet seems to completely ignore what that very direction has done to once-beautiful Detroit. People, businesses, and other employers will leave New York just as they did in Detroit. Detroit’s population has fallen 63 percent in the last 60 years. With de Blasio giving many New Yorkers no choice but to escape, is it possible that people and business begin to seek safe haven in more money friendly states like Florida? Absolutely.
Though I may hate my city’s government, I love my city. I’d really hate to see it become the next Detroit. New York’s leaders need to study history, as history grants us the opportunity to examine the mistakes of those who have come before us and simply learn when their actions were, indeed, mistakes. To ignore this great gift, as I said, is idiotic.
I beg you, Mr. de Blasio, take Dwight Schrute’s advice: “Whenever I’m about to do something, I think, ‘Would an idiot do that?’ And if he would, I do not do that thing.”
Daniel Pellegrino | Franklin and Marshall College | @dannpellegrino