It’s too early to blame Mayor Bill de Blasio for New York City’s loss of industrial power and corporate headquarters. But his time will come. And we can blame his progressive policies, because they are the same ones espoused or tolerated by every mayor back to John “Red Mike” Hylan, who froze the five-cent fare in the 1920s and put the private transit companies on the road to bankruptcy.
In 24 years of fighting crime and grime under Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, New York City came a long way up. Under de Blasio, it stands a sorrowfully good chance of losing its way again.
A decade ago, Thomas Frank asked, “What’s the matter with Kansas?” in a book of that name. He said he thought Kansans supported right-wing policies that were bad for them: “Privatization. Deregulation. Monopolies in every industry from banking to radio to meatpacking. The destruction of the welfare state. The beatdown of the labor movement. The transformation of the Midwest into the rust belt. And, shimmering in the heavens above all this, the rise of a new plutocracy.”
Now, as de Blasio takes up arms against business, from finance to the Central Park horse-carriage drivers, it’s time to ask, “What’s the matter with New York?”
New Yorkers, or at least many of those who voted for de Blasio, support policies that are bad for them. Among them: public solutions for private problems financed with high taxes on high incomes; excessive regulation; monopolistic public services; the exaltation of the welfare state; and the uplift and preservation of unions, particularly public-employee unions. And, shimmering in the heavens above all this, a plutocracy of politicians, crony capitalists, and civil-service pensioners.