Dear Mayor de Blasio: Don’t Condemn New York to Detroit’s Fate

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

In your inaugural address you called for an end to economic and social inequality in New York. You said you wanted to improve education and build a strong economy, taking dead aim at the “Tale of Two Cities” of New York. The antidote for the ailments you say plague this city is to follow progressive principles not seen since the Dinkins administration. However, such a path will inevitably lead to greater inequity and economic deterioration in New York, harming most those who can afford it least.

More instructive than the rhetorical fiction found in the “Tale of Two Cities” is the real-life tale of two countries (Hoppe, 48-52). There were once two countries that sat side by side. Their people shared the same ethnic background, language, history and culture. Many of their citizens were not only related by a shared heritage, but by blood. In fact, the two countries were once one big country.

One country practiced what you referred to as “trickle-down” economics, which is less pejoratively referred to as free market or laissez-faire capitalism. In this country all people were guaranteed freedom of movement, trade and profession; existing price controls were abolished with a single pen stroke. The other country instituted a full slate of progressive policies, consisting of governmental control of all sectors of the economy, and driven by an underlying devotion to egalitarianism – i.e. a focus on reducing economic and social inequality, as you intend to do.

The wall between East and West Berlin was heavily guarded from the 1940s until 1991. Photo Credit: www.boston.com

The country that practiced free market capitalism in the ensuing decades developed the highest standard of living on its continent. Its progressive neighbor lagged behind – so far behind in fact that despite wealth transfers from the free market country to the progressive country, people sought to flee the progressive country. They did so to such a degree that the leaders of the progressive country had to establish strict border controls just to keep their citizens from emigrating en masse. When border policies failed to stem the exodus of citizens, the progressive country ended emigration altogether by building a physical barrier between the two countries, consisting of walls, barbed wire fences and even land mines.

The ending to this tale of two countries is bittersweet: East Germany did ultimately shed the yoke of socialist control imposed by the Soviet Union, but more than two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, its denizens have yet to recover from this experiment with progressivism. And West Germany, the country whose citizens miraculously recovered from and prospered under a free market system following the Second World War has, to its own detriment, increasingly implemented progressive policies over the years that have retarded its growth. Yet by practically every economic measure, the gap between East Germany and West Germany persists.

So my question is this: Why will it be different this time? Have not little “East Germany’s” sprung up all over the United States in recent decades, with cities implementing progressive policies with the same disastrous results over and over again — failed education systems, mass unemployment, sky-high crime rates, bankrupt governments, and perhaps most cripplingly, the destruction of nuclear families? If the progressive policies you support have consistently wrought destruction from Detroit to Newark to Chicago, why are you so dead-set on condemning New York’s most at-risk citizens — minorities, single mothers and the poor — to the same tragic fate?

Mayor de Blasio would bring an end to a divided New York with economic equality. Photo Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Perhaps you believe New York is different, being the financial capital of the world; that it is immune to these issues, and that it has more wealthy from whom to draw funding to support your progressive agenda than other cities. After all, what’s an extra soy latte a day to them? Yet even if this were true, which is at best dubious given the ease with which the wealthy can vote with their feet, can taking wealth from a person who earned it and giving it to someone who did not really make the recipient of government largess better off? Is not teaching a man to fish superior than giving him a fish? In terms of morality, is it just for you as Mayor to take from one person and give to another in the first place? You say that “trickle-down” advocates want to “give more to the most fortunate.” Well from whom does the “more” come from? Is it not those who create wealth? And why should not wealth belong to the person who earned it? Why should you have first claim on what was earned by another? Should I reap what my neighbor sows?

Why is it that in spite of the results of progressivism in every city and nation where it has been implemented, it will work in New York City? Is it that you are surrounded by men and women of superior intellect, virtue and good faith? Have you discovered the golden formula for organizing a society? Are you and your colleagues omniscient, with the ability to make all the “right” economic decisions, and think it morally right to do so instead of leaving it to democracy – i.e. the people – in a free market system in which individuals are left to their own voluntary economic decisions as consenting adults? Do you believe that people are unable to make decisions for themselves? Moreover, are there negative long-term effects to government treating its citizens as children? Do you think it is moral and just, in essence, for you to play G-d?

Yet leaving aside morality, let’s assume that the people who create wealth in Manhattan will be just fine if they are forced to sacrifice a bit more of the money they earn, and choose not to leave for places where they will earn a better return on their capital. Let’s say that New York’s primary industry of finance continues to boom and there are no “black swan” events during your administration, so that those who are doing well today continue to do so. Even then, since progressivism has been shown to disproportionately harm those of lesser means everywhere else it has been practiced, will not your policies not only crystallize but increase the disparities in quality of life – the inequality of outcomes – in New York? In other words, under a best-case scenario, won’t the wealthy stay wealthy while the poor get poorer? In your travels through Nicaragua, where you attempted to aid the Soviet-backed Sandinistas, was not there an even more extreme differential in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens?

A homeless man rests in a pew at a Times Square church, where some area homeless take refuge from the cold on December 12, 2013 in New York City. Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

If you really want to champion the “little guy” in this city, might it not be better to incentivize the “little guys” with dreams – from entrepreneurs to single moms trying to make ends meet – and to induce the “big guys” with capital to invest in the businesses and build the communities that make New York the greatest city in the world? Do the people who build enterprises and thus create wealth not only do so by in the process hiring countless others, improving the lives of their employees, while re-investing their profits back into their companies thereby providing increasingly superior goods and services at decreasing prices from which all of society benefits? You say you do not wish to punish the wealthy, and even if you don’t, by implementing a slew of progressive policies you will ultimately punish the poor. You see, they are the very people who will be injured by harassing current job creators, stunting the growth of future job creators and attacking those who provide them with the capital to do business in New York. For the millions seeking the American dream in this city can only achieve it through working together to help make the visions of a small number of creative, risk-taking individuals a reality, whether we like it or not. Do you want to live in a world without Walt Disneys, Henry Fords or Ray Krocs, Steve Jobs’ or Jeff Bezos’? In fact, the great strength of our system lies in the fact that because under our Constitution we are all to be treated equally under the law, and no group is to be granted special privileges, it enables everyone – rich and poor alike – to make the most of their unequal, uniquely individual skills, interests and aspirations. And what minority is more important than the individual?

Aside from these economic disparities, before committing hundreds of millions of dollars to Pre-K schooling, on top of the billions already being committed to our struggling public education system, can you objectively explain why such a policy is superior to more market-oriented solutions such as non-union run charter and voucher-based schools? Can you explain why altering policies like “Stop-and-Frisk” will make the city safer, and the reasoning behind why your transition team felt it beneficial to public safety to solicit policing recommendations from ex-convicts? If in fact such policies have a negative impact on education and crime rates, again, the wealthy may be just fine, able to send their children to superior private schools, and live in safe neighborhoods. But what of the poor?

Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So I humbly ask Mr. Mayor, in spite of all logic and evidence, why do you wish to subject New Yorkers to the insanity that is progressivism? You are an intelligent man, so if you can refute what I have written here, please do so. If in fact you agree that the results of progressivism have hurt most the very people it has been purported to help everywhere it has been tried, then please explain why you wish to inflict such pain upon your fellow New Yorkers.

Sincerely,
A “little guy” seriously contemplating fleeing your city

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