- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2014


I am afraid that fewer than 1 million out of the 4.3 million registered voters of New York City have settled upon the Big Apple a bad apple for mayor, the Honorable Bill de Blasio. What some 3 million registered New Yorkers were doing when 752,604 of their fellow citizens elected this bad apple to the mayor’s mansion I do not know. New York City embraces a very sophisticated citizenry, possibly the most sophisticated of any city in America. So perhaps they were all at a museum on Election Day or writing poetry or learning ancient Greek. While they were indulging themselves, the moron vote brought from obscurity to Gracie Mansion a clod.

He worked for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in 1988. He honeymooned in Cuba in 1991. He claims he never saw any Sandinista brutality in Nicaragua, and that “it’s well known that there’s been some good things that happened in” Cuba. He might be referring to the Cuban gulag. From now on, I am traveling to New York incognito. I suggest you do, too.

This bad apple is the epitome of a demagogue, but he is also only semiliterate. In his inaugural address, he said things like “Big dreams are not a luxury of the privileged few.” Actually a luxury is “an inessential, desirable item that is expensive or difficult to obtain.” So says the New Oxford American Dictionary, and all other American dictionaries pretty much agree. A dream is not a luxury. He ranted on, the city “is not the exclusive domain of the 1 percent.” This is the cant of the radicals who, in recent years, were taking over parks and other public places, fouling them with their bodily discharges and committing petty crimes — and some not so petty; for instance, rape and mayhem. If Mr. de Blasio were more careful with his rhetoric, he would refrain from using the language of barbarians.

Yet he cannot resist such demagogic urge, because he thinks he has been raised to the mayorship of a Third World metropolis. Actually, New York City includes — along with its 1 percent, a prosperous middle class and an industrious working class — an impoverished minority. The impoverished are the unfortunates of the city, but things are being done to help them, and the most promising things being done are in education, where the lucky ones go to charter schools. Many of the very poor rely on these charter schools. Now with the complicity of the teachers unions, Mr. de Blasio wants to make the challenges of the charter schools even greater. He will, if he has his way, have all students enrolled in the city’s failing schools.

Mr. de Blasio shares with another so-called “progressive” the ill-informed view that income inequality is a grave problem in America. His fellow progressive, President Obama, said on Dec. 4 that “a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility” is “the defining challenge of our time.” However, inequality is “growing” only if you listen to the tendentious left. Truth be known, according to a scholarly study conducted by Lee Ohanian and Kip Hagopian for Policy Review, “inequality actually declined 1.8 percent between 1993 and 2009 .” Even the president conceded in his December speech that the rate of poverty has declined by nearly 40 percent since 1967 from 26 percent to 16 percent, but ignored this passage’s import in his speech. Other studies — for instance, one released by the Congressional Budget Office in October 2011 — have come to similar conclusions.

The reason these demagogues overstate income inequality is that they rely on studies that ignore taxes (for instance, the progressive income tax) and transfer payments to the poor (for instance, nutrition assistance, housing assistance, Medicaid and Medicare). Also, they ignore the Earned Income Tax Credit, and in the months ahead, the transfer payments from Obamacare that the better off and the young will pay out. When you add these up, the poor have been doing rather well.

Yet the poor are not doing as well as they could be doing from a faster-growing economy and better jobs. The problem in New York is the same as the problem in America as a whole. The economy is growing too slowly, and nothing the Honorable Bill de Blasio or the president prescribes will fix it.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator and the author of “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson, 2012).

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