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 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?