The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Opening Feint

New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, is much like his father—a past governor of New York. He's a thoughtful left of center politician who recognizes that government is not the solution to every problem and taxes are not the only way to get things done in a blue state as complex as New York. Cuomo has stated that he is in favor of universal pre-K schooling, but believes this can be accomplished without additional taxes. Setting aside the simple reality that universal Pre-K is an expensive, albeit noble proposition and that it must be intelligently funded, Cuomo's heart is in the right place. In an era of ridiculously heavy taxation, he recognizes that piling on still more taxes will hurt the already crippled economic climate in New York. Cuomo is also in favor of continuing funding for Charter schools, allowing kids in the inner city to have an alternative to demonstrably failing public schools in their cities.

New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, is a hard left ideologue who Peggy Noonan correctly describes as a "small and politically vicious man ..." In what appears to be a multi-decade cycle in NYC, the leftist de Blasio was elected after the successful stewardship of two competent NYC mayors, Rudy Guiliani and Michael Bloomberg. It was time to wreck havoc once again on a city that had come back from the damage (e.g., deficits, high taxes, crime) that occurred under Democratic mayors that preceded them.

It's interesting to ask why de Blasio was elected. The answer is complex, but I believe that Barack Obama, a more subtle leftist himself, set the tone that made it okay for New Yorkers to elect a left-wing ideologue. Obama made class warfare a winning strategy. He repeatedly and viciously (in political terms) demonized "the rich," using class warfare as a wedge that endeared him to those that are dependent (via entitlements, pensions, or government work) on the government. He viewed taxation as retribution, and acted accordingly. More moderate democrats, many of whom felt uncomfortable with Obama's class warfare meme, remained silent and voted their party. New York City democrats, many of whom recognized that de Blasio was, in fact, a"small and politically vicious man ..." did the same—holding their nose and voting for a man uniquely unqualified to lead America's largest city.

Today, de Blasio wants to eliminate charter schools in NYC and implement universal pre-K funded solely by increased taxes on the wealthy. Peggy Noonan comments:
Bill de Blasio doesn't like charter schools. They are too successful to be tolerated. Last week he announced he will drop the ax on three planned Success Academy schools. (You know Success Academy: It was chronicled in the film "Waiting for Superman." It's one of the charter schools the disadvantaged kids are desperate to get into.) Mr. de Blasio has also cut and redirected the entire allotment for charter facility funding from the city's capitol budget. An official associated with a small, independent charter school in the South Bronx told me the decision will siphon money from his school's operations. He summed up his feelings with two words: "It's dispiriting."

Some 70,000 of the city's one million students, most black or Hispanic, attend charter schools, mostly in poorer neighborhoods. Charter schools are privately run but largely publicly financed. Their teachers are not unionized. Their students usually outscore their counterparts at conventional public schools on state tests. Success Academy does particularly well. Last year 82% of its students passed citywide math exams. Citywide the figure was 30%.
Recalling the old communist Russian proverb about the farmer and the goat, de Blasio would prefer to kill the goat (Charter schools) than allow the farmer (school kids) to prosper. Is anyone really surprised?

Universal pre-K is even more illuminating. De Blasio wants it, but only if it is funded by taxing "the rich." He has been informed that it can be achieved without punitive taxes on a small percentage of New Yorkers, but he refuses. After all, class retribution is what this is all about, isn't it?

Noonan comments on the man and the reaction of NYC Democrats to the man:
Nice liberals who back school reform are saying some very strange things about what Mr. de Blasio is doing. They're being awfully understanding. They're saying you have to appreciate that compared with his political base, the mayor is really staking out a middle ground. He is not going as far as the progressive left wants him to. They want to block all charters. They're disappointed! The teachers union doesn't want any charter expansion. And they're his base!

It is not the job of nice liberals to make excuses for pols who take a good thing from kids just to satisfy a political agenda. It is not the job of nice liberals to forgive a politician acting in a brutish way, throwing poor children from hard circumstances out of good schools.

It's not the job of liberals to explain that away. It's their job to oppose it, because this move against charter schools is an opening feint, a showing of mood, and a sign of things to come

The nice liberals of New York are sounding on this very much like frightened French aristocrats in 1792: "You have to understand, Marat is pretty ideological and we're lucky he's only cutting off our ears and nose and not our heads." No, he came for their heads later.

You say,: "He's not Marat, he's just a slob." That's true. But even slobs need to be opposed now and then.

In this move more than any so far, Mr. de Blasio shows signs he is what his critics warned he would be—a destructive force in the city of New York. When a man says he will raise taxes to achieve a program like pre-K education, and is quickly informed that that program can be achieved without raising taxes, and his answer is that he wants to raise taxes anyway, that man is an ideologue.

And ideologues will sacrifice anything to their ideology. Even children.
If Obama and de Blasio are, in fact, an "opening feint" for the political direction of the country as a whole, we are in deep trouble.