City Journal Winter 2014

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Scott Winship
The “Two Cities” Myth « Back to Story

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Some claim it all started back in the 60’s – LBJ, the Great Society, extending a temporary helping hand to the poor as they climbed the economic ladder to their rightful place in the sun. But they would be wrong by almost 200 years – it actually started with Charles Dickens or more accurately with his Mr. Scrooge (boo, hiss).

What did old Ebenezer say: “Let them starve, Sir, and reduce the surplus population”. But Tiny Tim didn’t die thanks to 3 powerful ghosts who taught us the meaning of charity and the need to help the poor, those other Americans just struggling to get by. The teaching method was admittedly crude, heavy, clanking chains to be worn throughout eternity – in those simpler days people actually believed in an after-life and that individual actions in this life could bring reward or punishment in the Great Beyond.

But today, poverty statistics replace the heavy punishment chains we’ll be forced to wear for far longer than a wait in your doctor’s office under Obamacare - and the ghosts which, by the way, everyone enjoyed - have been replaced with dry lectures, even dryer numbers and official guilt trips which have remained unchanged over these past several generations.

Dickens realized quite clearly a Xmas ghost sporting a green eyeshade and bearing heavy tomes of statistics conclusively proving more Londoners were poor than were rich would never grab his readers’ deepest emotions. It was Tiny Tim’s angelic face versus Ebenezer’s wrinkled scowl which still convinces us each and every holiday season. And we do respond best to simple morality tales rather than meaningless numbers – and the delightful thought of amusing ghosts reminding us where our duty lies.

But what would Dickens think of our goevrnment’s version of A Christmas Carol? The rotund London businessmen begging Mr. Scrooge (boo, hiss) for a small donation to help the poor have been replaced by a Bill de Blasio type demanding that limousine riding New Yorkers cough up more in charity this year and even more in the coming year. Poor Bob Cratchit couldn’t provide his family with a holiday feast but at least he worked at it. Today, long suffering Bob would be on disability or public assistance living in public housing or unemployment and taxpayer money would provide the feast and not just during annual holidays. Old Fezziwig would be a recent mayoral appointee in charge of “helping” those deserving New Yorkers struggling to just get by and his austere counting house would be a richly appointed office within a municipal building.

And what’s our modern punishment for ignoring New York’s “other city” residents – no one can rightly say these days, clanking chains are a little melodramatic and out of fashion but thankfully the trite emotions which gave so much power and meaning to Dicken’s morality tale haven’t changed one bit - and for that lovely fact our modern politicians are perpetually grateful.
If as the saying goes about history repeating itself , Di Blasio ail be a farce . The Republic has not had a good farce for some time and even then never a pure farce . There was too much slapstick in the Three Stooges and the wit of the Marx Bros was too clever . So send in the clowns
de Blasio is using a Robin Hood platform with no knowledge of the intrinsic details presented in this article. He is getting away with it because the average voter will respond to him emotionally. It is a campaign that pits one group against another. In the televised debates none of the questioners can challenge him because they do not have the knowledge presented in this article. de Blasio is a man of compelling mediocrity, but the voter block is dumb enough to fall for his line. And he knows it. I only wish this author was one of the questioners in the upcoming debates
Of course "Two Cities" is a myth, much as 'Two America's" was under Edwards, that other sterling example of Democratic leadership, but it plays well. It's what rabble rousers do, they rouse the rabble - in New York City it's easy since major media is firmly in the hands of Democrats.

I would say that New Yorkers deserve whats coming for electing another Democrat, but prior experience shows that when things get bad people will simply up and leave. With the news media in the hands of those who never find fault with the Democrats, it will never become common knowledge that the reason why things went bad is that the people voted in a party that thrives off of corruption, and simply hasn't a clue as to how to govern. I can already see the 'analysis' in the Times blaming the coming awful economy in the City on the Republicans.

I mean, do people think that the prosperity and good government of the last 20 years was an accident? Shouldn't those that assisted in the unbelievable turnaround in the City be rewarded by continuing to be re-elected?

I guess what this all proves in the importance of control over the means of communication. As Michael Crichton said, the military industrial complex doesn't hold a candle to the monolithic entity that is the Democratic Party and its media arm (with less and less of adivide between the two). And in New York, of course, as well as other places, Democrats without a peep of protest from Republicans, get public funding of their campaigns through the funneling of taxpayer funds via public unions. Given all that, it is a miracle that Guiliani won - how did that happen?

And, as I've said before, Detroit shows that no matter how bad conditions become, the hold over the media is so importantt hat people will continue to re-elect the very people who are destroying them, even as it happens. The power over communication is that important. (it also doesn't help that Republicans seem unable to take advantage of Democratic corruption - there is no Republican strategy for the cities, other than to be Democrat lite, which is not a winning strategy).

What, after all, is a city? It is a place where people come together to exchange goods - a marketplace. Kill the marketplace and you kill the city - it becomes, as with New Jersey's cities, a drain on the surrounding areas, and never comes back, no matter how much money is poured in.

When everything starts to go bad, probably within months of Democratic control, look where the Democratic media points fingers. As with Obama, it will be at the predecessors, not anything done by Democrats - it is not possible for Democratic media like the NY Times to blame Democrats. If Christie is smart he should already be talking to leaders in New York's financial industry, as New Jersey has lots and lots of empty office space, just waiting for the City's business community to relocate. This was in process under Dinkins (i.e. Paine Webber to Weehawken) and will no doubt resume under De Blasio.
Wealthy people who call NY home pay for the bulk of what makes NYC such a unique and vibrant place. They also subsidize the poor by essentially supporting their lifestyles via transfer payments. Should Blasio engage in class warfare, these rich people on whom NY's well being depends can just pick up and move to a friendlier locale in Connecticut
The main point for middle incomers is that NYC has become unaffordable. The middle class who make NYC run, cops, sanitation, teachers, nurses and etc, can't afford decent housing let alone eat take advantage of the best of NYC.