What happens when the Democratic party gets to realize all its deepest fantasies, with gushers of money to fund them, judges to rubber-stamp them, and the political opposition having melted away? Affix your gaze to the city of New York. In Joker, Arthur Fleck inquires, “Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” Arthur was referring to bedlam in the streets. Today the people of Gotham are well-behaved, but it’s the Joker in City Hall who is firing nutty schemes at those of us who live here.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s many press conferences trumpeting his hideous new plans would make more sense if they were punctuated with long, sustained episodes of harsh and deranged laughter. Consider the city’s stance toward illegal immigrants. De Blasio has for years been issuing official government ID cards to them. Lately de Blasio decided that this wasn’t enough, and he announced that he, or rather we, would be footing the bill for housing for illegal immigrants. Because de Blasio instructed New York’s public-housing system to ditch the requirement that applicants for subsidized housing present their Social Security numbers, an illegal immigrant who arrived yesterday, a legal immigrant who did everything by the book, and a native-born New Yorker all have an equal shot at one of the coveted cheap apartments, which are awarded by lottery. The New York City Housing Authority cannot even house all New Yorkers, as anyone who has ever stepped over a sleeping wino on the way to the ATM has noticed, but now it is in the business of trying to house the world.
Or even to heal it. “You will hear some critics who say we can’t afford to give everyone health care,” de Blasio said at a noteworthy press conference announcing the city would start funding health care for illegal immigrants. He added there’s “plenty of money in this world; there’s plenty of money in this country; it’s just in the wrong hands.” Cue deranged giggling. The taxpayer is also funding the undocumented when it comes time to try to deport him for, say, committing an egregious crime. Sneak into the country illegally, make your way to New York City, and you’ll be treated better than anybody except maybe the mayor’s son, whom he ordered police to drive to Yale when young Dante de Blasio was a student there.
De Blasio started out his mayoralty doing small-time stuff like publicly insulting his own police (that didn’t last long) and attacking small businesses by forcing mom-and-pop shops with as few as 15 employees to take on an expense big businesses can easily afford — paid time off to those who call in sick. That kind of nuisance legislating didn’t capture the imagination of his activist base of professional demonstrators, food fascists, and criminal-justice reformers who mostly sound like fans of criminals.
De Blasio’s response to reports of abuses at the city’s main jail, Rikers Island, has been to blame the jail. Bad building! Nefarious cinder blocks! Rikers has its problems, but one hard-to-top aspect is that it is conveniently located off-shore, not near your kids’ school. The rapists and murderers are properly kept across the river from polite citizenry. De Blasio’s plan is Joker-ishly to empty out Rikers. He has already reduced the inmate population by 4,000 and intends to reduce it by 3,500 more. He says he will build smaller jails in four of the five boroughs (maybe even one in your neighborhood!), which will “cost $9 billion.” (Cue Joker laugh. The actual cost of any New York project is a multiple of its anticipated cost.) Even in New York City, $9 billion is a breathtaking chunk of change. By comparison, the state-of-the-art 95-story Shard, in London, cost $1.5 billion. Six Shards, plus overruns, is what De Blasio will spend to solve a problem of his own making, which is what to do after he blows up our own Arkham Asylum.
The Rikers debacle typifies de Blasio’s political approach, which is eagerly to assent to whatever a tiny core of committed progressive hysterics is clamoring for, to the detriment of ordinary New Yorkers. At times de Blasio and his allies on the City Council simply attack their constituents out of naked political hackery. New Yorkers who might like to, say, get a car ride home in the rain or rent out their apartments while they’re out of town found themselves targeted by de Blasio and fellow Democrats who cracked down on Uber and Airbnb. By coincidence, the new firms’ old competitors in the taxi and hotel industry are major donors to the Democratic party in New York. (Some 30 percent of the money de Blasio raised for his foolhardy presidential campaign came from the New York hotel industry.)
Allying with frenzied animal-rights lobbyists, de Blasio has started banning food. First up: foie gras. This week a new law banned its sale in the city, starting in 2022. If foie gras is to be outlawed because of alleged cruelty to animals, lots of other animal products on New York tables are going to be scrutinized. As is usually the case with policies meant to spit on those “wrong hands” that supposedly have too much money, ordinary workers get penalized. Three farms in the Catskills are the city’s primary providers of foie gras. Marcus Henley, a farmer in Ferndale, N.Y., who employs 400 people and says one-third of his profits come from foie gras sales, told the New York Post that he may have to close when the ban goes into effect. Some 1,000 New York City restaurants serve foie gras, and many of them are barely profitable in that notoriously dicey industry, but servers stand to lose their jobs to pacify a handful of militant vegans from Brooklyn.
Will they be happy, though? Seems more likely they’ll just move on to making war on some other food. “What’s next? No more veal?” one chef asked the New York Times. Probably. Oh, and buried in the foie-gras bill was a new law against capturing or killing pigeons. No, really. It’s illegal now to even “harry” them. Pigeons are henceforth a protected class of New Yorkers. The highest class of citizen in New York City these days is an illegal-immigrant pigeon with an enlarged liver.