There are many possible contenders for the title of “Most Consummate Ass in Politics,” but the Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, is certainly in the running.
We won’t even talk about his personal life, which appears to be a long exercise in political advertising and virtue signalling. Let’s just look at three recent articles about him.
The first comes from Reason and contains his mindless ramblings on the evils of private property. I could not possibly summarize these in a more damming manner than de Blasio himself, so here is the full quote:
What’s been hardest is the way our legal system is structured to favor private property. I think people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be. I think there’s a socialistic impulse, which I hear every day, in every kind of community, that they would like things to be planned in accordance to their needs. And I would, too. Unfortunately, what stands in the way of that is hundreds of years of history that have elevated property rights and wealth to the point that that’s the reality that calls the tune on a lot of development….
Look, if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed. And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents. That’s a world I’d love to see, and I think what we have, in this city at least, are people who would love to have the New Deal back, on one level. They’d love to have a very, very powerful government, including a federal government, involved in directly addressing their day-to-day reality.
It’s not surprising that the editor of Reason calls de Blasio “a perfect Ayn Rand villain.”
The next comes from the New York Times and is entitled “New York’s Bad Teachers, Back on the Job.” This is written by the former principal of a high school in the Bronx, and deputy chancellor of the Department of Education in the administration of Mayor Bloomberg, who knows whereof he speaks.
In addition to being generally clueless, de Blasio is completely in the pocket of the public sector unions, prominent among my bêtes noires. And he doesn’t really care how much damage to, particularly, the underprivileged youth of New York City he has to do in order to feed the beast.
New York City runs something called an “Absent Teacher Reserve” pool. This is the type of exercise in surrealism that can only result from the collusive “negotiating” between politicians and their paymasters in the unions. The pool currently holds 800 non-working teachers who cannot simply be fired due to contract restrictions and seniority rules. They get paid as normal.
A third of these teachers have faced disciplinary or legal action at some point in their careers. Twenty percent have received poor performance ratings, versus an average of seven percent. Although they are supposed to be looking for a job in NYC’s 1,700 public schools, in the last year only about half mustered the ambition to do so.
The pool costs NYC $150 million per year. This is a pure dead-weight cost on which other cities put time limits. But not New York. Teachers can linger in the pool until retirement. Twenty-five percent have already been there for more than five years.
Still, in the Bloomberg administration, the decision was made to incur the cost rather than further demoralize principals, teaching colleagues and students by forcing incompetent and lazy instructors on them. This is a second-best solution that, just two weeks after the State Legislature returned control of the public school system to de Blasio, has been overturned. And, of course, the first-best solution, getting rid of the pool or greatly limiting it, is unthinkable.
Teacher vacancies are two to three times higher in the poor parts of NYC than in affluent neighborhoods, which means that these underperformers will be primarily inflicted on the poor and minorities. You know, the ones that de Blasio and his Democratic party claim to champion.
A decision like this might be pardonable if it were part of an overall program of financial discipline. This is where the third article comes in, alliteratively entitled “Bill de Blasio’s Budget Blowout.”
NYC is booming, thanks to 21% more jobs than the previous peak and a record 60.3 million tourists. Tax revenue follows, rising by about 11% since de Blasio took office in 2014. Rather than spending the money on NYC’s faltering infrastructure or its massive pension deficits, de Blasio has increased wages for city employees by over 20%, accounting for over half of the total increase in expenditure he has overseen. The average NYC employee will be paid $98,604 in 2017 versus $83,617 in 2014, an almost 18% increase. Both figures exclude very generous pension and healthcare benefits, which almost certainly make total compensation at least 25% higher.
The average income in NYC is currently $69,103. It has risen by about 5% since 2014.
Bill de Blasio stands 6’5” tall. Who would have thought that you could pile…?
The article, “An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates,” is written by a Jamaican immigrant to America who has become a Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University and author of several books. The theme of the article is how African-American victimhood, of the type apparently peddled by Coates in his book The Beautiful Struggle, is so destructive. Although the writing is sometimes overwrought, it mostly soars. Here’s the money quote:
In the 32 years I have lived in this great country, I have never once actively fought racism. I have simply used my own example as evidence of its utter stupidity and moved forward with absolute metaphysical confidence, knowing that the ability of other people to name or label me has no power over my self-esteem, my mind, my judgment, and—above all—my capacity to liberate myself through my own efforts.
On this matter, you have done your son—to whom you address your book—an injustice. You write: “The fact of history is that black people have not—probably no people ever have—liberated themselves strictly by their own efforts. In every great change in the lives of African Americans we see the hands of events that were beyond our individual control, events that were not unalloyed goods.”
I do not believe you intended to mislead your son, but in imparting this credo, you have potentially paralyzed him, unless he reappraises your philosophy and rejects it. In your misreading of America, you’ve communicated precisely why many blacks in this country have been alienated from their own agency and emancipatory capabilities. The most beleaguered people on the planet, the Jews, who have faced persecution since their birth as a people, are a living refutation of your claim. When they labored in slavery in Egypt, clamored in Palestine, made magnificent contributions to human civilization in European capitals, sojourned in Africa and Asia, and founded the modern State of Israel, no one gave these heroic people an affirmative-action plan to work anywhere. In spite of vitriol and invidious comparisons to vermin and pigs, and despite being subjected to countless pogroms and mandated ghettos, they thrived and flourished because not for one moment did they ever believe that their struggle for liberation lay in any hands other than their own.
Do read the whole thing. It is long and a bit rambling, but worth it.
In the category of “Like Saturn, The PC Revolution Devours Its Young,” there is this Economist article entitled “Blue on blue.” It tells the story of the travails of Lucia Martinez Valdivia, an assistant professor at ultra-liberal Reed College who describes herself as mixed race and queer. Valdivia has run afoul of the social justice warriors for having the audacity to try to lecture – on Sappho, the ancient Greek poetess laureate of lesbianism, to boot – as part of the school’s mandatory Humanities 110 class, which the SJWs have condemned as “Eurocentric.” This has earned her epithets of “race traitor,” “anti-black,” “ableist” and “gaslighter.” The money quote here, from a blog written by Valdivia, is:
I am scared to teach courses on race, gender or sexuality or even texts that bring these issues up in any way…I’m at a loss as to how to begin to address it, especially since many of these students don’t believe in historicity or objective facts (they denounce the latter as being a tool of the white cisheteropatriarchy).
The word “cisheteropatriarchy” will definitely make it into my Twitter profile. As in “a fully paid up member of the….”
Back in May, when I gave up commenting on Trump – a pledge to which I have, at best, only partially adhered – I pointed my good readers in the direction of George F. Will and Bret Stephens for an ongoing evisceration of The Donald. However, thanks to the sharp eye of @montanaskeptic, a cyber friend and fellow critic of all things Trump and Elon Musk, I am very pleased to add Kevin Williamson to this list. He writes for National Review and proves once again that only the #NeverTrump crowd from the Right really understands their target. The Left hates Trump, but usually for the wrong reasons (see Trump Inc. here).
Here is Williamson’s latest article, written as Trump, in his agony, thrashes around for allies and ideas in a desperate attempt to put something in the “W” column. I can only stare in awe as Williamson reaches into the collective memory of my generation and equates Trump to the character Wimpy from Popeye: “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
This is to whet your appetites, but you really must read the whole thing:
Donald J. Trump sold himself to voters as a masterful practitioner of the art of the deal. He presented himself as a tribune of the plebs, who through the democratic process deputized him to make deals on their behalf. Perhaps it did not occur to them that they were making a deal with Trump, too — and a pretty poor one at that. They never asked themselves what it was that Trump wanted out of his electoral transaction with them.
What Trump wanted was to be president of these United States and to be seen as successful in that endeavor. Once you’ve gold-plated all your toilets and married the Slovenian model and hosted a game show but still have not earned the respect of the people whose good opinion you desperately crave, that’s what you do: run for office.
Cato reports that, at Harvard, the class “Economics 1017, A Libertarian Perspective on Economic and Social Policy,” is the fourth most popular class at the school, with attendance doubling over the last year. It is taught by Jeffrey Miron, who, in addition to his professorship, is Cato’s Director of Economic Studies. Most propitious of all: he is also from Detroit!
Weybridge, United Kingdom
I Wish I Had Said That…
“This cat had one fuck to give, and that fuck is gone” from this Nobel Prize-winning tweet.
 His ranking depends a little bit on whether you classify the current occupant of the White House as being “in politics.”