26 March – 26 June 2019
“Here’s the truth, Brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of money in the world. There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands.” [So said New York City’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, in his State of the City address on 10 January 2019]. American politics is in part an eternal battle between those who prize freedom and those who demand equality, between the forces of income growth and those of income redistribution, and in 2019 the redistributors are on the march. For the purest distillation of the socialist impulse, look no further than Mayor de Blasio’s statement of raw political purpose that we quote above from his annual address last week.
The mayor says New York’s—and America’s—money is “in the wrong hands,” and his duty is to put it in the right ones. The right hands are presumably his own, by which he can pass that money out to those he and the City Council believe to be more deserving. But when he says the “wrong hands,” who does he mean exactly? Who are these undeserving malefactors? Presuma-bly he means the wealthy, so let’s mention a few of the New Yorkers he might have in mind … Perhaps the mayor is thinking of Ken Langone, the Home Depot founder, who has donated hun-dreds of millions of dollars to the New York University Medical Center that treats patients of all incomes and social strata. Mr. Langone’s most recent $100 million gift, made last year, will go to provide cost-free tuition for every NYU medical student. Wrong hands?
Here’s the real truth, brothers and sisters. Without the “wrong hands” that Mr. de Blasio des-pises, there would be no wealth or income to redistribute. Without the fruits of capitalist inven-tion and business success, there would be no philanthropists to preserve the parks, to rebuild crumbling public spaces, to donate to the museums that give the non-rich a glimpse of great art and history, or to provide an alternative to failing public schools that cheat poor children of opportunity.
As for Mr. de Blasio’s right hands, there are those failing schools. And don’t forget the New York City Housing Authority, which last year had to sign a consent decree with the federal government for lying about its failure to provide safe and sanitary conditions. “Somewhat rem-iniscent of the biblical plagues of Egypt, these conditions include toxic lead paint, asthma-inducing mold, lack of heat, frequent elevator outages, and vermin infestations,” federal Judge William Pauley III wrote last year, adding that the authority “whitewashed these deficiencies for years.” Perhaps those are the hands Mr. de Blasio should do something about.
“Money ‘in the Wrong Hands’”
The Wall Street Journal (14 January 2019)
Which Australian Households’ Finances Are Most Vulnerable?
According to the bullish mainstream, Australian households’ finances have long been strong and in the future will be able to withstand any conceivable headwind. The assessment of Shane Oliver, the chief economist at AMP Capital, is typical: “the trigger for major problems remains hard to see.” Like lawyers who compile prospectuses, he dutifully – and reasonably thoroughly – lists the risks from households’ low (and falling) savings and high (and rising) debt. And like stockbrokers who tout IPOs, he heavily discounts these risks. Oliver concedes that “there are several threats.” Individually, he reckons, they’re unlikely – and collectively, he implies, they’re miniscule …
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