So How Is France’s De Blasio Doing, Anyway? (Hint: Like Merde)

Progressivism standing tall. |||It's clear that Planet Progressive has a lot riding on new New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, who took control of Gotham yesterday. The Nation magazine has a dedicated blog to De Blasio's first 100 days, and is filled with excitable headlines like "How the rise of Occupy and decline of the neoliberal narrative helped shape the 'de Blasio moment.'" (Sample line: "It's far too soon, of course, to begin drawing comparisons between de Blasio's election and the epochal achievements of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery campaign....") 

De Blasio's ascension is already being touted as a victory for income-inequality politics; now his administration will be the nation's leading laboratory for progressive economic policy ideas, such as jacking up taxes on the rich, expanding paid sick leave, universalizing public pre-K education, and giving a hearty middle finger to the politics of austerity. If all that sounds vaguely familiar, it's because the same song was being sung (and greeted with the same hallelujah choruses from the same lefty pundits) when French Socialist Francois Hollande swept into power in May 2012. 

Here's how New York Times columnist Paul Krugman greeted the Hollande era:

What chaRAZma! |||The French are revolting....And it's about time. [...]

It's far from clear how soon the votes will lead to changes in actual policy, but time is clearly running out for the strategy of recovery through austerity — and that's a good thing. [...]

Europe's voters, it turns out, are wiser than the Continent’s best and brightest.

What’s wrong with the prescription of spending cuts as the remedy for Europe's ills? One answer is that the confidence fairy doesn't exist — that is, claims that slashing government spending would somehow encourage consumers and businesses to spend more have been overwhelmingly refuted by the experience of the past two years. So spending cuts in a depressed economy just make the depression deeper.

This is perfect in so many ways. ||| classwarfareexists.comclasswarfareexists.comFinally, we had an old-fashioned macroeconomic laboratory experiment on our hands. On one side, the misguided "austerians" in London and Berlin; on the other, a Paris-led campaign of growth through government spending and equality through taxing the rich. The New York Times understood the stakes:

"Austerity need not be Europe's fate," Mr. Hollande declared after his victory was announced. 

"You are much more than a people who want change," Mr. Hollande told a huge crowd in Paris gathered to celebrate his victory at the Place de la Bastille. "You are already a movement that is rising across all of Europe and maybe the world."

It's been 19 months since then. How's the experiment going? In honor of De Blasio's fondness for the tale-of-two-cities metaphor, here's a tale of two headlines:

* "French Unemployment Rises to 16-Year High"

* "UK unemployment rate at lowest since 2009"

Hollande's approval rating is lower than that of any president in the history of the Fifth Republic. Moody's has downgraded France's credit rating for the second time in two years. A "lost generation" of young French people have migrated to countries that actually provide opportunities for work. So ineffective has been Hollande's recipe of taxes and spending that he announced in his New Year's address a new program of tax and spending cuts.

So how will New York City's very own Hollande fare? Check back in 19 months. If history is any guide, the progressive commentariat will have moved on by then to the next shiny new populist. 

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  • Hugh Akston||

    The single greatest feature of big-government Progressivism is its unfalsifiablity. If it seems not to be working, it's because you're not doing it hard enough.

  • Brandybuck||

    That's true of just about any ideology. Even libertarianism.

    "The spending cuts do not seem to be jumpstarting the economy, we need more cuts!" -- Devil's Advocate

  • Mainer2||

    I don't think it's unfalsifiable. It's more of a no true scotsman. If it's not working, you're not doing it right. And progs willfully ignor contrary evidence. Wasn't there some spat between Krugman and one of the Baltic states (Estonia ?)when "austerity" was working in their country, contra Krugman.

  • robc||

    False! about libertarianism. At least its false for deontological libertarianism.

    Fuck utilitarianism.

  • kbolino||

    Which is a very good argument for keeping the arguments you make as precise and accurate as possible.

    For example, to consider your point, while all taxing is stealing, not all public spending is wasteful. If untaxed, most people would still spend some of their money on the necessary and beneficial goods and services that some of their stolen money is currently being used to pay for. If you stop the spending but maintain the stealing, then people will have to pay extra to keep getting what they already had, which will hardly do good things for the economy.

    Of course, every recipient of stolen money knows this fact, which is why the most useful things get hardest hit by generic spending cuts. If you cut the fire department first, people will sour on the idea of "cutting spending" before they get around to investigating why the mayor's office, which has ten times the budget, couldn't have taken the cut instead.

  • ||

    As much as I would like to think that the collapse of the once-great city of New York at the Progs' hands will make them wake up, I don't have much hope. I'll all be Giuliani's fault (even though he was in the dictionary next to RINO).

    And also what Hugh said.

  • Shirley Knott||

    If the failure of Detroit didn't do it, why do you suppose the failure of NY would?
    It didn't the last time it happened.

  • Mainer2||

    I've read that the bankruptcy of Detroit was a result of out of control libertarianism.

  • kbolino||

    Many liberals will argue until they are blue in the face that a minuscule tax cut in March caused a recession that began in February. They utterly fail to understand the correlation-is-not-causation principle.

    Detroit was broke in the 1940s; that it took another 70 years for everyone else to notice is not the fault of the people who were trying to save it on the way down.

  • optimusratiostultum||

    personally I can't wait for NY to go the way of Detroit, I always wanted to live there but its too expensive. But once the property values are not so high cuz its a shit-hole (like Detroit and its abandoned buildings) I will finally be able to afford to go there.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Yup. The fact that the same policies yielded the disaster that he (among others) turned around will have no bearing on the fact that readopting those policies produced the same disaster.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing, this clown says makes any sense at all. And yet, I see educated people acting like he's some sort of savior. That's only true if you consider destruction salvation.

  • Free Society||

    "educated" people

  • Mike M.||

    The French are revolting

    Krugman actually got this one correct, albeit not exactly in the way he meant it.

  • Mainer2||

    The French are revolting

    No kidding, they stink on ice.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Haven't we written the Big Apple off yet? Or France, for that matter?

  • Drake||

    This is a rerun. François Mitterrand's government was raising taxes and nationalizing industries in 80's while Thatcher was doing the opposite. Guess which turned out better.

  • Mike M.||

    Every 25 years or so, a new generation of fools has to relearn all the same hard lessons the previous generations did.

  • Mainer2||

    We will never maker progress until those lessons are taught in our government run schools, which they never will, of course. Thus the genius of the progs in controlling our childrens' education. Long term, that control has to be broken.

  • some guy||

    A Dune style "Scattering" is our only hope.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    It goes back at least to the Puritans, who mandated public schools for that very purpose, and which was resisted for the very same reason.

  • tarran||

    ..... and here we see the utter intellectual bankruptcy of Keynesianism in full force.

    The fucking purpose of an economy isn't to encourage people to spend money, but to provide them with goods and services to satisfy their needs!

    To do that producers have to figure out what people want and what resources are available to satisfy those wants. High public spending takes resources away from the pool and directs it towards producing shit that people don't want to consume (at the free market price anyway). It deprives people of the chance to amass the savings needed to explore starting up a new productive venture.

    You know, in a century, nobody is going to remember Krugman. Because most of what he has written on the subject is such risible shit.

  • Mainer2||

    Maybe he will be remembered as someone who hastened the collapse with his deliberately mis-leading writing.

  • some guy||

    You know, in a century, nobody is going to remember Krugman. Because most of what he has written on the subject is such risible shit.

    His record will persist in some online archive, though. Every few years some economics graduate student will stumble upon it and read a few articles for derisive entertainment value alone.

  • optimusratiostultum||

    no they will read it and think they just found the cure for all the world's problems, and become the next Krugman.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Markets and economies don't have a purpose, they simply ARE. They exist as much as gravity exists, and all attempts at controlling them are like damming rivers. Yes, they affect things, but with side effects, and only temporarily.

    You may as well say evolution has a purpose, or weather, or tides.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    progressive economic policy ideas, such as jacking up taxes on the rich

    I must not be very bright, because I quite honestly do see how anybody with even the most rudimentary understanding of economics ANYTHING can believe taking a bunch of money from rich people and giving it the fucking government will usher in a glorious new world of egalitarian plenty.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Particularly when talking about a city government and the most mobile segment of the population.

  • PapayaSF||

    Indeed. But the lure of living in NYC is strong, if you're rich. What are they going to do, move to New Jersey? But it will be interesting to see if nearby areas get any economic refugees.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "What are they going to do, move to New Jersey?"

    Or Westchester or Suffolk or Nassau or Connecticut. All of which can put you in midtown quicker than some folks in the outer boroughs. Or leave the tri-state area all together.

    "But it will be interesting to see if nearby areas get any economic refugees."

    I can't imagine some enterprising town supervisor in the suburbs isn't already gearing up a strategy to set themselves up as a haven for New York's wealthiest.

  • PapayaSF||

    You have to think it terms of what's obvious and emotional, and prioritize intentions. So: rich people have too much money, poor people not enough, and government is supposed to help people. Everything else follows logically.

  • RightNut||

    will have moved on by then to the next shiny new populist.

    I read that as "shitty new populist" at first.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    That's about right.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    As I wrote in a previous post, productive people are fleeing France.

    It's a shithole of shitholes.

    And NYC is bent on copying its model? Shit, all they have to do is examine Quebec to see what progressive economics gets you. It's a disaster. They have no excuse to force something like 'universal pre-k' when the example of it in Quebec shows just how corrupt, wasteful, inefficient and unfair it becomes when something becomes POLITICIZED.

  • ||

    As I wrote in a previous post, productive people are fleeing France.

    You totally need to read Caesar's "Campaign in Gaul" to really put this into perspective.

  • Jon Lester||

    I have a song for this.

  • optimusratiostultum||

    unfortunately I don't speak unpatriotic

  • Canman||

    It's been 19 months since then. How's the experiment going? In honor of De Blasio's fondness for the tale-of-two-cities metaphor, here's a tale of two headlines:

    * "French Unemployment Rises to 16-Year High"

    * "UK unemployment rate at lowest since 2009"

    This is what I love about reason. Nobody does this kind of thing better!

  • PapayaSF||

    Yes, nice bit.

  • ||

    So how will New York City's very own Hollande fare?

    I am betting on the Detroitification of New York.

  • Response||

    Prepare to have the US gov bailout NY... too big to fail.

  • Rob J||

    The sheer beauty of being a progressive statist is that you never have to say you are sorry.

    Mayor Ed Koch (No relationshiop to the brothers) said after many an election, "the people have spoken. Now they are to be punished for it" De Blasio is going to beat thecrap out of the city with his avant progressivism

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