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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Totalitarians of New York

New York City mayors excel at banning everything from salt to carriages, but they are not very good at cleaning up the streets and roads after a snowstorm.

There are two ways of looking at a major city; as a mechanical matter of buildings, streets and sewers to be maintained or as a social problem of misbehaving people. The mayors of the mechanical city understand that they need to clean the streets, but the mayors of the social problem think they have to fix the people.

Mayor Bloomberg flubbed the snow challenge badly. Instead of preparing road salt, he banned salt in restaurants. Instead of having a snow strategy for the winter, he had a Global Warming strategy for the next fifty years. Instead of doing his job, he kept trying to transform the people.

And his successor is no better.

Bill de Blasio's focus after his petty and mean-spirited inauguration was a ban on carriage horses in Central Park at the behest of a real estate developer who backed his campaign and has his eye on their stables, a tussle over who will get the credit for Pre-K with Governor Cuomo and the beating of Kang Wong, an 84-year-old man, over a jaywalking ticket.

The media had lavished praise on Bill de Blasio after his first photo op shoveling snow and celebrated his call to implement Vision Zero, a Swedish plan to cut traffic fatalities to zero, even though there was no remote possibility of reducing traffic fatalities to zero in a major city filled with cars, pedestrians, cyclists and even pedicabs.

Instead of preparing for the snow, Team De Blasio launched a crackdown on jaywalking in Manhattan where three-quarters of the residents don't own cars. And so the Upper East Side, which didn't vote for Bill de Blasio, became a snarled and unplowed mess and the jaywalking enforcers put an 84-year-old man in the hospital after arresting him for the tall order of "jaywalking, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct."

Jaywalking is as much a part of New York as salty pretzels and the carriage horses of Central Park. While Bill de Blasio claimed to be inspired by Mayor La Guardia, the latter had an entirely different view of the relationship between the people and the city government.

“I prefer the happiness of our unorganized imperfection to the organized perfection of other countries,” La Guardia said after vetoing a jaywalking bill, and added, referencing the growing fascism in Germany that was then admired by many progressives, “Broadway is not Unter den Linden.”

The happiness of unorganized imperfection is about as close to expressing the contrast between the American and the European way of life as any phrase can. It's also a foreign idea, not just to Bill de Blasio or Bloomberg, but to the larger political culture of urban progressives who are less interested in making the trains run on time, than in making the men and women run on time.

Mayor La Guardia was responsible for much of the city's network of roads, bridges and tunnels that were built around the social changes in how people lived. Modern progressives however don't understand infrastructure, but think that they do understand people. From the disastrous ObamaCare websites to California's light rail project, they squander billions on unworkable infrastructure that is supposed to fix social problems by changing how people live.

Modern progressives think that it is easier to change people than to change infrastructure. The classical city shaped infrastructure to accommodate how people lived, while progressives use infrastructure as a tool of social change to bully urban residents into changing how they live.

Bloomberg did this in blunt fashion by eliminating elevators to force people to get in shape by using the stairs and by blocking off streets to force people to abandon cars and use public transportation. Instead the number of cars in the city increased and so did the obesity rate.

Progressives are adept at politically manipulating people with propaganda, but this skill doesn't translate well at the policy level. Obama won over younger voters, but can't get them to enroll in ObamaCare. Politics is an abstract for most people. Policy is a reality.

Politics is the image they want to have. Policy is how much money they have in the bank.

Bill de Blasio unrolled his Vision Zero plan for eliminating traffic fatalities by the year 2024 surrounded by the grieving mothers of dead children. It was a shameless performance that would have made even Piers Morgan wince. No one in the media pointed out that Bill de Blasio, like Obama, was using human shields to silence questions about a result that he couldn't deliver.

Team De Blasio could have stopped far more accidents if it had prioritized the snowstorm. Instead there were dozens of accidents as cars slipped on sheets of ice. But the dirty business of cleaning the streets is never as appealing to progressives as glamorously rolling out a useless new policy.

Sweden's Vision Zero had mixed results and the majority of serious accidents in that country are caused by wild animals. Due to the lack of moose in Manhattan, Team De Blasio swapped out people for animals and insisted that the majority of pedestrian fatalities were caused by pedestrians. The claim doesn't accord with any of the existing data about pedestrian fatalities, but it's easier to hand out jaywalking tickets than it is to accept that the city's traffic fatality rates are fairly low and that there is only so much you can do about that when you pack a lot of cars, cyclists and people together.

Accepting unorganized imperfection is not a progressive trait. If Bloomberg was more circuitous about manipulating infrastructure to change human behavior, Bill de Blasio is going right for the throat and bullying ordinary people directly. People like Kang Wong, an 84-year-old man who woke up one day in a city whose police officers were dispatched to enforce an unenforceable law.

The assault on Kang Wong won't be the last collision between the new totalitarian at the helm of the city and the ordinary people who will have to live through four years of his incompetence and abuses. The victories of the left locally in California and New York and nationally in Washington D.C. are a master class in totalitarian tyranny and progressive failure, but too many voters disassociate politics from policy, judging candidates based on their media likability until they feel the effects of their policies.

Obama's approval ratings did not implode until the voters  experienced ObamaCare for themselves. Every conservative warning and protest had fallen on deaf ears as Americans kept voting for and supporting a celebrity politician without paying any attention to his policies until the consequences of those policies caught up with them.

In Toronto, Rob Ford's approval ratings have lifted after a snowstorm and he is on track to win reelection despite admitting to drug and alcohol abuse. The voters are making their decision based not on his media profile, but on how well the snow got shoveled. It's something that Bill de Blasio, who is better at posing for the cameras with a snow shovel than actually managing a snowstorm, ought to keep in mind.

Progressives are only popular until the people realize that the men and women mirroring their anger and offering them everything for free can't clean up the snow, but can beat them bloody and can't fix their healthcare, but can destroy it. The left wins at politics, but fails at policies. It's learned to stop looking like Carter, but it hasn't figured out how to stop governing like him.

Americans want organized competence from their leaders and unorganized happiness for themselves. Instead progressives try to organize their happiness with their righteously ideological incompetence.

When Americans realize that the political choices they make are also policy choices between large sodas, salty pretzels, open market health care and open streets on the one hand or food fascism, DMV health care and bloody faces on the other; they will choose the unorganized happiness of freedom over the disorganized tyrannies of Bloomberg, De Blasio and Obama.

20 comments:

mushroom said...

What a great phrase "the happiness of unorganized imperfection". We know that a system like that works well when most of the "unorganized" are self-governing and self-controlled if not highly moral. Righteous and responsible people do not need a lot of external restrictions.

Sometimes it seems that politicians do their best to encourage individual irresponsibility to justify more intrusive government.

Anonymous said...

Daniel: All happiness is unorganized, just looking at the North Koreans chanting in unison for dear leader with their molded plastic faces tells us that. My only gig from now on is freedom and liberty, I will smile when needed to appease only the authorities!

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

"The happiness of unorganized imperfection" inspired this article.

tsiya said...

"The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure government, as sores do to the strength of the human body."
Thomas Jefferson

Anonymous said...

It's a very sad sight, an 84 year old man beaten and bloodied by police. A society's character is displayed by the way it treats the elderly. And we know how the elderly are valued today ; they are to be shipped off to the old folks home at the first sign of infirmity. Because we have busy, important lives and we don't need to be reminded that old age and mortality are just around the corner waiting for us.
Judith

Anonymous said...

"La Guardia said after vetoing a jaywalking bill, and added, referencing the growing fascism in Germany that was then admired by many progressives, “Broadway is not Unter den Linden.” '
Daniel, Do you have a source for the idea that many progressives admired German fascism under Hitler? Jerome

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1223

H. G. Wells, one of the most influential progressives of the 20th century, said in 1932 that progressives must become “liberal fascists” and “enlightened Nazis.” Regarding totalitarianism, he stated: “I have never been able to escape altogether from its relentless logic.” Calling for a “‘Phoenix Rebirth’ of Liberalism” under the umbrella of “Liberal Fascism,” Wells said: “I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti, for enlightened Nazis.”

NAACP co-founder W. E. B. DuBois saw National Socialism as a worthy model for economic organization. The establishment of the Nazi dictatorship in Germany, he wrote, had been “absolutely necessary to get the state in order.” In 1937 DuBois stated: “there is today, in some respects, more democracy in Germany than there has been in years past.”

New Republic editor George Soule, who avidly supported FDR, noted approvingly that the Roosevelt administration was “trying out the economics of fascism.”
Playwright George Bernard Shaw hailed Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini as the world’s great “progressive” leaders because they “did things,” unlike the leaders of those “putrefying corpses” called parliamentary democracies.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2329556/How-JFK-secretly-ADMIRED-Hitler-Explosive-book-reveals-Presidents-praise-Nazis-travelled-Germany-Second-World-War.html

'Fascism?' wrote JFK. 'The right thing for Germany.'

James Taber said...

Read up on Margaret Sanger; the darling of progressive-left and founder of Planned Parenthood. Read her book "Woman and the New Race". It wasn't just the progressive who admired the fascists, it was also the fascists who admired the progressives. The eugenics movement was not born in Nazi Germany, they merely imported the ideas espoused by the progressives and took them to their brutal, illogical conclusion.

mushroom said...

We often confuse fascism as an economic system with the authoritarian, militarized states of '30s Germany and Italy. A fascist economy is centrally-planned and government-controlled. Private ownership and profit are fine so long as corporations are "patriotic" and supportive of the government. Kind of sounds familiar doesn't it?

Francis W. Porretto said...

--- When Americans realize that the political choices they make are also policy choices between large sodas, salty pretzels, open market health care and open streets on the one hand or food fascism, DMV health care and bloody faces on the other; they will choose the unorganized happiness of freedom over the disorganized tyrannies of Bloomberg, De Blasio and Obama. ---

My great fear is that the Left's strategy is to make that choice impractical by enlisting too many Americans as clients of the welfare state, and to squelch dissent against it by systematic acts of intimidation against those who would condemn it.

New York is on the verge of sealing that deal. If we go by the numbers on unemployment, food stamps, and such, the rest of the country isn't that far away.

Anonymous said...

Does it not seem strange that DeBlasio can accept campaign contributions from a developer who wants the carriage house in NYC, and then do that developer's bidding by outlawing the carriages, and the media is essentially silent while that same media stoked the embers of Bob McDonnell's perfectly legal gift acceptance, with no quid pro quo involved, resulting in, eventually, McDonnell's indictment on federal charges (even after he was cleared by two independent investigations)?

And does it not seem strange that DeBlasio can hurt his political enemies by ensuring the Upper East Side is not plowed, and suffer little or no media attacks, while Chris Christie absorbs media blow after media blow, and several federal investigations, because his staff may have done the same sort of thing with respect to a bridge?

I am no fan of either Bob McDonnell or Chris Christie. Both are simply politicians doing what they do. Neither is principled, respect liberty and private property, or would cross the street to save my life. It is now very clear, however, that the radical Statist Left (truly a Fascist cabal, but also with Marxist tendencies) is executing a common game plan across the nation--find ANY misdeed by a Republican or Independent, and use the vast array of mainstream media sources to destroy anyone near it, doing everything possible to ensure that Eric Holder's Domestic Political Enemies Department uses the facade of the law to label them all criminals. This appears, more every day, to be a concerted effort by a lawless administration to do, as its leader said it would, "punish [their] enemies."

It is a world turned upside down. Criminals like Obama, Holder, Reid, Pelosi, Carney, Emmanuel, and Podesta are in charge, and exercise extra-Constitutional power to destroy their political enemies. The inmates are running the asylum folks, and WE are letting them.

Anonymous said...

So, I start checking today's news and lo and behold:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/2016-obamas-america-filmmaker-indicted-673670

They have used "Justice," the IRS, NSA, EPA, and every other agency possible to lawlessly destroy ordered liberty. Totalitarian Fascism is here.

Johnny said...

The way to get zero traffic fatalities is to eliminate vehicles, another lefty goal.

XisDshizL said...

Daniel,

How can you say totalitarians fail? Just look at Cuba! All the social engineering anyone could ask for, and my how they thrive:

http://generacionyen.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/alchemy-and-lies/

Cuba coffee harvest in 1956 reached 60,000 tons and was capable of exporting 20,000 tons valued at $20 million. In 2012, coffee production reached only 4.0 tons. Coffee production has suffered the huge reduction of 93.3% in comparison with 1956, and imports of coffee amounted to $50 million. Coffee production per capita in 1956 with a population of 6.3 million was 21 pounds, and in 2012 with a population of 11.2 million of only 0.79 lbs

And look how creative they've become. Here is their recipe for tomato sauce:

beets, boiled sweet potatoes, spices, cornstarch and red hair dye.

When a curious observer asks, “And the tomato?” the inventors respond, almost scolding, “No, there’s no tomato.”

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Xis, Communism did for Cuban coffee what it did for Russian wheat.

Johnny, true. Public transport uber alles.

Francis, indeed. That's the open goal of the gang.

Anon, it's only strange if you think of the media or the justice department as non-partisan and ethical organizations.

Kol Bo Gary said...

Nice conclusion. Let's check back after the 2014/2016 elections. Unfortunately, optimism does not abound in the common sense of the American electorate. Shabbat Shalom.

Empress Trudy said...

To be fair though Fidel de Blasio inherited Mao Tse Bloomberg's New York where the middle class had already been driven off. There are now three groups of people in NYC for the most part - the hyper wealthy who exist in a bubble and don't care, the poor and working poor who are trapped there and all the people who work FOR the city. It's not as if anyone's actually going to vote any other way. This is what they chose because the hyper wealthy can play at being Marxists, the poor are desperate for any suggestion of a handout and the city workers pretty much HAVE to vote for whomever will expand or at least maintain their jobs. Anyone who plausibly could have a stake in things getting better either left the city or is keeping that option open.

Theranter said...

Another very sad sight, mistreatment of an old priest by a totalitarianish admin. At least ff to 2:30:
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iiz4tfjSuPc&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Diiz4tfjSuPc

Class factotum said...

My husband and I were in Munich, waiting to cross the street. There were no cars coming, so we finally just crossed against the light. An old German man scolded us for doing so. I wanted to tell him, "It's this blind adherence to rules that got you guys in trouble 70 years ago."

Wombat said...

There is no more left or right. For decades or more this has been a con game to divide and conquer. Fascism wrapped in Socialism or vice versa, then wrapped in Democracy, itself a system where the stupid masses can be duped into enslaving themselves and everyone else at the whim of the ruthless few.

I no longer fear the collapse. I fear an absence of it. Western society has become one giant gulag with pretty pictures placed afront the barbed wire and guard towers.

Burn it all to the ground.
Burn it all to the ground.
Burn it all to the ground.

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