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Heather Mac Donald
Back to Welfare’s Future in New York « Back to Story

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Hey Jack, tell your friend from Chicago that I hope he's grown a pair since the 80's.

Greenwich Village to the Upper West Side at night? Walked it alone numerous times. The Upper East Side down to Grand Central? Ditto. Long Island City, Astoria and Jackson Heights? Yup. Washington Heights, the Lower East Side, East Harlem and Central Harlem. Uh-huh. Flushing? Too many times to count. There are neighborhoods this fat white guy wouldn't have felt safe walking in by myself in NYC, but I'm sure there are ones in Chicago, too. And that's not even counting the numbers of time lone black men or small groups of them were attacked and killed in white neighborhoods.
A comment on comments said: "It is interesting to note the ad hominem from the political Left in the comments."

"Ad hominem,' really?

References to the large chunk of their incomes that many renters must pay for housing and the recent city-union contracts is ad hominem? A factual note about when the crime rates began to fall (Thank you, Lee Brown!)? An admonition to do some research about the causes of falling crime rates is ad hominem?

Meanwhile, conservatives here say that Obama and the globalist bosses "WANT you on welfare," that New Yorkers will pay 80% of their income to support welfare recipients and liberals and left-wingers are lunatics and that's not ad hominem?

There are some reasonable comments from both sides here, and some pretty foolish ones, too, but neither side holds any kind of monopoly on good sense or stupidity.
Scott McConnell, in The American Conservative, once described David Dinkins as "an extremely decent, wrongfully underestimated mayor who served the city more than capably in an extremely difficult time." This set off a number of commentators who said pretty much the same thing as Heather MacDonald above, which elicited the following from another commentator quoting liberally from the footnoted Dinkins page at Wikipedia:

"Poor Dinkins, he was really the worst:

"'Under Dinkins’ Safe Streets, Safe Cities program, crime in New York City decreased more dramatically and more rapidly, both in terms of actual numbers and percentage, than at any time in modern New York City history.[17] The rates of most crimes, including all categories of violent crime, made consecutive declines during the last 36 months of his four-year term, ending a 30-year upward spiral and initiating a trend of falling rates that continued beyond his term.[18] Despite the actual abating of crime, Dinkins was hurt by the perception that crime was out of control during his administration.[19][20] Dinkins also initiated a hiring program that expanded the police department nearly 25%. The New York Times reported, 'He obtained the State Legislature’s permission to dedicate a tax to hire thousands of police officers, and he fought to preserve a portion of that anticrime money to keep schools open into the evening, an award-winning initiative that kept tens of thousands of teenagers off the street.'"[20][21]

"'Dinkins also signed a last-minute 99-year lease with the USTA National Tennis Center. By negotiating a fee for New York City based on the event’s gross income, the Dinkins administration made a deal with the US Open that brings more economic benefit to the City of New York each year than the New York Yankees, New York Mets, New York Knicks and New York Rangers combined.[1] The city’s revenue-producing events Fashion Week, Restaurant Week and Broadway on Broadway were all created under Dinkins.'"

To which Mr. Scott McConnell replied: "Appreciate your comments re David Dinkins. I didn’t trash him in my post; and his deep love of tennis a boon for New York."

So I'm supposed to trust Ms. MacDonald on Clinton-era welfare reform - which has helped increase extreme poverty, not reduce it - when she repeats tired shibboleths instead of dealing with hard data?
When Obama gutted the welfare reform law in July 2012, his administration downplayed the significance, calling it a “tweak” that would offer “greater flexibility”.

NYC, behold the result of Obama’s insignificant 2012 “tweak”.

De Blasio’s even appointed Maya Wiley, daughter of 1960’s “National Welfare Rights” founder George Wiley, to serve as NYC Counsel to the Mayor. Fun City, here we come!
A comment on comments May 16, 2014 at 11:38 PM
It is interesting to note the ad hominem from the political Left in the comments. Of course the article has a partisan tone, because -- duh -- it has an opinion. But the Left pretends their opinions are enlightenment. When one looks to the historical record of the political Left across the last century and around the world, one finds error, violence and collapse. And once one links the Sino-Socialists of Mao, Soviet-Socialists of Lenin and Marx to the National Socialists of Hitler and Fascists of Mussolini, one finds the common element -- socialism. Moreover, the modern Left is desperate to ignore that the Baath Party of Iraq and Syria is grounded on a socialist rhetoric, as were many various Pan-Arab parties and, lest one forget, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia. Thus it proves imperative for the Left to lash out at this opinion piece, because the basic challenge comes down to an experiment. Let us see -- yet again -- which version of society prospers best. The Left wants greater welfare dependency, as it wanted victims throughout the 20th century as noted above, and as it wants control and -- as the history of the early Democrats illustrate -- slaves. Thus the modern Left is gasping for breath, calling all the ideological errors of the last century "right wing" or, in the case of announced socialists and communists as mentioned above, "errors." But never forget, even Hitler opined that they might have called themselves "liberal." Words can be rather fumbling, while counting victims is simple arithmetic. The welfare state as envisioned by the modern and postmodern socialists is bankrupting whole nations, as one watches broken families try to cope. The answer from the Left is as always: more of the same. Oddly and sadly, simple freedom is on the opposite poll from today's Left. As Mussolini opined, everything in the state and nothing outside. This is the goal of nanny state thinking, as it is of redistribution which ignores the trillions already waged and lost in the "war on poverty." If so many wars are to be lost, perhaps they have been fighting on the wrong side. So, today's Left excuses themselves, separates themselves from their history, and promises a better world. Yet again.... Meanwhile one notes that the new mayor is paid handsomely as are his assistants, a welfare class of entitlement which cannot falter if they are to remain atop the social heap. Fat cats might talk like populists, but they seek an elite status with all the trimmings. And then they rage against such an opinion article as is this, because someone dare to have an opinion not their own. How fascist, in the end.
Well, we see a few De Blasio voters among the commenters.

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

H. L. Mencken

The New York Times was right to fire Jill Abramson as executive editor. It was wrong to replace her with Dean Baquet. The right choice was Heather MacDonald, who could focus the paper's resources on the city's decline before it becomes unstoppable.
You are making a lot of assumptions that are not true...the stop and frisk policy is not the cause of the drop in crime some research.
Marxists believe that stealing money from Peter to buy Paul's vote is perfectly OK.

It is not and no great nation/city has ever survived based on legalized larceny

Detroit is the prime example of too much welfare....
A neighbor of mine in Chicago described his move from New York to Chicago in the mid-80s. He said you could not walk the streets of New York without safety in numbers then, and that he found Chicago to be a "paradise" (eyebrows raised, on my part) because of its cleanliness and safety.

In the 90s and 00s, New York's gain was Chicago's loss, as Chicago never had a governance revival of the same scale as New York's. Now that Mayor Emanuel is one of the last holdouts of liberal centrism and reform I expect the tide to reverse.

Maybe in the future a job in the "Chicago office" will be as desirable as it once was, offering more disposable income and a better, safer quality of life along with lesser but still respectable urban amenities.
The author hits the nail squarely on its head: the Giuliani-Bloomberg administrations were far TOO successful in that they made it appear to most of the electorate that responsible governance--living within the City's means, maintaining crime at minimal levels, etc.--is easy, and that anyone can do it. It should be quite obvious to many, and most educated observers by now that it is not. Of the approximately three-quarters of the electorate who didn't bother to vote, I strongly suspect that there is much remorse for having stayed at home. It bears repeating here: elections have very real consequences.
Unlike California elites who are isolated in gated and privately guarded communities, whose only exposure to the people is handing the keys to a valet, New York elites walk the same streets and take the same taxis. If things go downhill liberal elites will be on the frontline like everyone else
The liberals continue to prove that this is a lesson that will have to be learned time and time again.
The primary reason for New York's success is, of course, that it's the home of the banks who have most benefited from the Federal Reserve's deliberate policy of destroying the middle class to enrich the financial elite.
Another Santa Claus tale in the 21st century. The story is the same, the con is the same, and sadly, the outcome is the same. New York as the Detroit of the East Coast. What was saved in the 70s will now go under as there is little to no margin for success in the traditional sense of the word. I say traditional because we now punish successful people and reward failures.
Gotta love the critics here. Their "compassion" would rather see poverty grow and crime skyrocket than seeing more people contribute.

"People have a right to housing!" So we give them free housing. Then we're surprised when within a generation the houses are uninhabitable due to crime and dereliction. "People have a right to food!" So we give them free food, they learn they don't have to work for it and use their uncommitted money to to buy electronics, booze and porn.

At what point does this fight for justice look behind at its victories and think "Wait, maybe we had a good desire, but went about it wrong?"
This is sloppy partisan hack. Not because of the ideas, but because of the rhetorical style. The first paragraph promises that "We will see which approach works better" and then MacDonald proceeds to tell us which IS better before even offering a shred of evidence. She gets to some evidence later, but her bias is front-loaded.

Sloppy, sloppy writing City Journal....
So So. glad I left NY so many years ago. Hope die hard NY'rs enjoy shelling out 80% of ther pay in taxes to support the welfare population. You build it they will come from every corner and every country legal or otherwise. Any smart person and business owner should pack up and get out while you still can!
Trying to figure out how submitting a finger image is stigmatizing. Nurses, doctors, school teachers, accountants that hold a CPA license, applicants for handgun permits, and persons entering the United States from another country have to provide a finger scan.
I didn't think a city could match my home state of California in the lunacy of it's left wing elites. What are the the people of New York going to do when their quality of life takes a nosedive? The elites are usually immune from the effects of the policies they support. But this time it may get so bad that even a few of the media moral preeners will have a story about looking down the barrel of an unfriendly gun. Then the furious spinning, excuse making, and finger-pointing will really make for an interesting show.

Another good piece of social commentary. You have a distinctively good sense for noting trends and providing context.

You're one of the best commentators writing in the US.
Don't you get it? DeBlasio works for Obama and the globalist bosses.

They WANT you on welfare- the better to control you; and remember, the economy is going to blow anyway, so per their thinking, load up that welfare line!

Welfare makes fine slaves and mindless voters for the DEMS.
Quit your bitching...the people voted for this future, and what the people vote for, let the people have.
OMG. Delusions replace "conservative" logical thinking. After an near End Times claim that crime must explode from librul impotence, there's this:

"In fact, the only reason that de Blasio can indulge his and the voters’ progressive fantasies is that the conservative leadership of the past 20 years was so successful. This is a quite different situation from 1993, when Rudolph Giuliani rode into City Hall on the inability of Democratic mayor David Dinkins to stem the anarchy then engulfing New York. "

Crime was already falling during Dinkins's last two years. So we know that's a crap line.

The seriously mentally ill are rarely able to "work for a living." So maybe a few more will end up on welfare with de Blasio, rather than thinking that running the poorer half of them out homeless is "Christian love."

Govern by the numbers ??? Get the welfare number to absolute minimum is the only thing. Pray your sorry words to Ayn Rand Jesus, honey.
Ben W. Dickinson May 09, 2014 at 6:56 AM
Around a third of renters in New York City pay more than half of their income in rent and utilities. But Ms. MacDonald thinks that people who are eligible for food stamps ought to be left in the dark about that fact, and that whatever existing barriers and confusion contribute to this phenomenon are just fine and dandy. This is perhaps an intellectually titillating idea to some, but it is also morally repugnant, particularly in the wealthiest city in the wealthiest commonwealth that has ever existed. Meanwhile, in what seemed like about five minutes, Mayor de Blasio just solved the gargantuan union-contract problem that his predecessor couldn't solve for five years and longer, dumping it in his lap with a "good luck with that" budgetary smirk. It's been a while since I've read something so demonstratively clueless as Ms. MacDonald's uncivil stab at putting a hex on City Hall. Truly shameful.
I believe CCCP should have won the cold war but its inventions were used by the KGB and not to make the country great.

Freedom to make or lose money in the persuit of happyness is test of a vision not a breaucrat view.

And as NYNY in Lindsay's tenure the freeloaders come out of the wood work.

Great Call!
welcome to California. where government unions and their dependents control the votes, taxpayers duck and cover and business run.
To paraphrase Boss Jim Gettys, from Citizen Kane, "(New York)... is going to need more than one lesson, and (its)... going to get more than one lesson."
Jacqueline O'Connor May 08, 2014 at 5:47 PM
This was not only interesting, but enlightening. And it makes sense. What got DeBlasio elected?
This history helps explain why 8 out of 10 black babies are born to single women.