City Journal Autumn 2014

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Autumn 2014
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Paul Starobin
A Tale of Two Mayors—and Two Exits « Back to Story

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Dear Paul, you finally get to the truth at the end of your penultimate paragraph, then return to deTocqueville quoting, WSJ opinion page class warfare for the finale. Bloomberg's reputation suffered FAIRLY because he steamrolled the city council into waiving term limits. He was, in some ways, an excellent mayor, but this Putinesque nonsense was too ugly to forget.
Kudos, though for connecting Menino's popularity to his lack of refinement. After Weld (whose family'd been here 350 years) and Romney trashed us ex post facto, we were ready for a leader unelectable anywhere else
Understandably in America there is growing disquiet over the skewing of wealth away from the bottom category to the top category income earners.
It is said that in America, the top 400 earn more than the bottom 30 million in any given year,in recent times.
Mind you this is only annual income, not accumulated wealth.
I can understand why there is general dissatisfaction, and why this might be reflected negatively on Bloomberg, despite his good record in public service.
The argument for "behind every great fortune there is crime" stems from the idea that most fortunes are made by stretching rules and practices. Who doesn't try to cheat on their taxes? The crime may not be great, but squeaky clean fortunes are rare.
It should be remembered that Wall Sreet firms have paid over 50 billion to avoid criminal responsibility since 2007.
I am not entirely sympathetic with this take. While I do not share the current obsession with income inequality, I do not think it is fair to characterize the populist reaction against the excesses of the rich as based mainly on envy. I do not envy Bloomberg his 6000-sq.ft. mansion, I am astounded and completely mystified as to why anyone would want to live in a museum of that sort. In fact, it seems downright pathetic to me to be that obsessed with size and the needless consumption of vast wealth. I think one can be critical of that without secretly wanting it. I know I do not want it.

Secondly, I think Bloomberg is an example of something other than the rich man in politics. He is an example of a disconnect between rich and poor that did not exist in as grating a way in the past. Today's rich - and I include the top 15% or so, not 1%, in this - are growing more arrogant in fact than the aristocracies of old, to say nothing of past bourgeois elites. In that they very confidently and smugly think they merit their wealth through the vast educational and cultural pinnacles they often believe they have reached on their own efforts. In the past, they had to accept more that birth and/or luck had more to do with it. The meritocratic conceit is an illusion and a lot of the unwashed see right through it.

The relevance of all this is that conservatives do themselves in by defending some libertarian ideal about how the rest of us should just admire and accept the legitimacy of the life styles of the wealthy. Those styles raise real moral issues about waste and ostentation. Also, the lazy legitimizing of them by reference to an ethic of meritocracy is rapidly generating an increasingly rigid caste structure to the highly successful in relation to the rest of us. I think people are understandably disturbed by this.
So New York elected an avowed communista. Way to go!
Actually, it was Governor Patrick who gave the "shelter in place" order after the Boston Marathon bombing ..
Bloomie was sich a clod-hearted in your face do it my way or suffer the consequences guy, he rightly earned the distaste of millions all across the country. WHY does he insist on pumping his money into local politics all across this land, trying to firce HIS values and ways on people who otherwise have naught to do with him? This earns him a well-deserved place amongst the bullies of the world. He has no regard for the laws in other places, sending his crews to Texas to violate their local gunlaws to prove "how easy it is", then crows about it, and faces no consequences for what would land anyone else in jail. I've little respect for any man who holds himself not only above the laws duly enacted, but of local standards as well. What is it to him how the people of the State of Texas can/cannot buy or carry guns? If he'd look in his own backyard he'd observe a serious problem with crime that simply does not exist in Texas... or most other states where he's meddled, including my own. He denies citizens their rights as guaranteed under the Constitution, then travels across this land attempting to foist the same everywhere else. Meanwhile, Menino is no saint in this regard, he has presided over some serious rights-stripping in his own sandbox, including imposing martial law in the door to door search for the bomber the lockdown and Stasi-style invasion failed to find. Who did find the target? A private citizen finally "free" to go into his own backyard, outside the search zone, when the lockdown was ended. Had he been "allowed" to be outside earlier, perhaps a few thousand Bostonians molested and violated by Menino's troops might not have been.. the perp sould easily have been spotted hours sooner. But at least Menino is an approachable guy, and seems to listen. And consider. Two things Bloomie simply never does. He is always on the telling side, and is always right. His money says so. Good riddance to them both, though I fear for the Big Apple's future under the new guy they bought..... but that's yet another tale.
First paragraph, last sentence: typo -> 'Time'
'The crime' by Bloomberg is lying about term limits. Mr Starobin asked, that is the best SINGLE answer. Not knowing Menino well, my guess is he actually believed in a few values, not merely how to mechanically make people do what he wanted, however healthy that may be. I don't hold Bloomberg's wealth against him, he did some good things, especially in his first terms, but by his flawed 3d term victory, he was over-reaching everywhere. He won primarily due to the expected horror of leftist opposition, which is now in control. We will soon learn how much better was Bloomberg than what we got, but that will be a left-handed complement.
"If one is accepted as authentically part of Boston, as born-and-bred-there Menino was unreservedly, then the fan base will root for you. Boston is parochial that way."

The piece gets a little superficial here. Those "born-and-bred" in the city proper -- the mayoral voters -- are a vanishingly small proportion of adults. The city is essentially transient, more like SF. The author is relying on some old boston stereotype.

Menino's success in the 2000s was, to the contrary, in large part because he pandered to a "new Boston" that was younger more well-heeled, less triple-decker/Catholic/family-oriented. His social-business-real estate policies in the 2000s reflect that. He knew where power in Boston was heading.
Both mayors are born leaders and gave their
constituents what their cities needed at that
time. The media always will favor the individual that is perceived as the common
man, although both came from middle class
background. We need more leaders, at all levels, like them.