Utopia Now! in New York City
As a conservative, my first reaction to the election of Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York was one of horror, though not disbelief. Why should we expect New Yorkers to learn from a mere village like Detroit? New Yorkers are smarter, richer, wiser, more deserving, more important, and by gosh, more lovable than ordinary Americans. Progressivism is inevitable. The sooner we all realize that, the sooner Utopia will be upon us.
Of course, everybody must make sacrifices. To whom much is given -- and all that. But most importantly, we must nurture a well-educated (read Ivy League) ruling class. New York, by dint of great personal sacrifice by all residents of million dollar and up apartments, has done just that. Never in the history of the world have so many civic-minded, well educated, darn nice people come to live together on a small island, Manhattan. Woody Allen has taught us with his important movies that Manhattan is heaven on earth, populated by the wisest, and most fashionable (hat tip to the gals from Sex and the City), people on Earth
I fear that there may yet be skeptics. After all, acknowledging the obvious superiority of one’s self-evident betters has never come easily to Americans. With that in mind, I have a few progressive suggestions for Mayor de Blasio. He is quite correct that the income disparities among Manhattan and other borough residents are scandalous. It is quite the paradox. You can’t really live a decent life in Manhattan on under $500,000 a year, yet so many manage on under $50,000. Rents are outrageous. Prices to buy apartments are insane.
Good Progressives have always been willing to sacrifice the property rights of others via eminent domain. Surely, they remember Susan Kelo, an old lady who had lived in a Connecticut house. A big drug company coveted that land and kind of offered to take it at below market price and accept tax breaks if the village board would play ball. For some reason, Progressives loved the idea of siding with a large corporation in bullying a decent little old lady. The Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to uphold this taking, with Progressives supplying the 5 votes. No doubt, it crossed their minds that they were on the wrong side morally, but the precedent for all takings, all the time was just too important to tinker with.
Enter Mayor de Blasio. He has an ambitious agenda. The goal seems to be to equalize the economic status of the poorest residents of NY with that of the next poorest ones. I say that is far too timid. You have to break eggs to make an omelet. He must call upon his constituency of the progressive rich to step up to the plate. The first year, ten percent of them, via a lottery, should forfeit, via eminent domain, their valuable Manhattan apartments to poor people, also chosen by lottery. Thanks to Kelo, we can pay the current owners substantially below market prices for their homes. The progressive NY judges should rubberstamp it in the name of social justice. Then lend poor people money on good terms to pay even less to buy these places.
That would be a great first step toward equality. But the city won’t get much money out of it. So, before exercising the eminent domain power, they must raise transaction taxes on real estate to maybe 20% of the proceeds. Even that may not be enough, so in the interest of fairness, all real estate taxes in NY should be tripled. Nobody who owns anything in today’s corrupt economy really earned it by themselves anyway. This might not work in duck country, but nobody who owns property in Manhattan also owns a gun or knows anyone who does.
By year two, when it is time to hit another 10% of the progressive rich, property values are likely to be much lower. It will be harder to raise as much money just through real estate confiscation. Only a highly progressive city income tax will do. I think a 25% city bracket for incomes over $100,000 should be just fine. Even with Federal and State taxes added in, that should keep NY almost competitive with Paris. Would a ceiling of 80% on total federal, state, and city taxes be too big a subsidy to the rich? Now that is a debate worth having!
By year three, Trump Towers will be a ghost building, but not to worry. Nobody will be allowed to move out of NY without paying an exit tax of half their net worth. The new mayor may need a helpful executive order or two from his friend in the White House to pull that off and to suppress the angry mobs of women in four inch Manolo stilletos. (Is that redundant? Perhaps a fashion-conscious female reader at AT can help me out.) Wall Street will relocate to Tennessee. Executive orders will abound. But there will be no violence by the progressive rich. The gun-clinging hicks will stay well outside NY. Occupy Wall Streeters will protect the politicians even as they claim credit for driving the banksters from the vicinity of Wall and Broad. The poor and recently poor can rely on themselves. After all, they have been forced to do so for years by police who are afraid to enforce the law in their old communities.
Curiously, one of the mayor’s first moves, after screwing up snow removal, appears to be a crackdown on charter schools. Some progressive special interest groups are more equal than others. The teachers’ union is top dog. Eva Moskowitz, the champion of charter schools for poor children, is the devil incarnate. Ambitious black and Hispanic children from poor homes are puppy chow. Besides why bother to teach them math and science? Those are imperialist subjects. We don’t need any more Tios Thomases.
But there is something unfair about the upper West-siders sending their own kids to private schools while the charter schools are put out of business. The mayor/messiah will have to tread carefully here. It is rumored that some rich Progressives love their children even more than they love peer approval. It is hard to say if that is really true, but after all, they do spend six figures a year to send a couple of kids to pre-ivy training camps in the swamps of Manhattan, where they are force-fed some actual learning to complement their promiscuous, drug-riddled teen culture. Probably, a tax of as little as 100% on private school tuition will help the process of equalizing incomes in New York City, as well as enriching the public unions’ coffers.
It may be that if my progressive social justice program is implemented, some formerly rich Progressives will find themselves forced to leave the paradise that is Manhattan Island. Where will the no longer so rich, now merely well-to- do Progressives go? Well, I hear high quality homes are available for a song in Detroit.
What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now! For whom do we want it? Everyone but me! I hope my many NY progressive friends -- and I truly love them -- will please report back to me on how much they are enjoying Utopia before the next mayoralty election.