Mayor Mike's Panopticon


Over at The American Spectator, Former Reason intern Kerry Howley sticks it to Mike Bloomberg's vision of tidy, tightly controlled New York. After doing time at Bloomberg's plush media empire HQ at 499 Park Avenue, she started to observe a hidden agenda in the boss' generous offerings:

The free food keeps employees from staying home for breakfast or leaving for lunch. The single elevator forces everyone to come and go through the same doors -- no sneaking out the back when the boss leaves early. The cubicles foster an illusion of equality among employees, while keeping everyone in sight of the boss. Far from a haven of spontaneity, Bloomberg created a tightly ordered productivity machine….I had the uncomfortable feeling of being watched, monitored, and controlled in some sort of maximum security toy store.

Bloomberg may or may not be trying to turn New York into a sprawling version of 499 Park Avenue, but he certainly wants more power to monitor the activities of New Yorkers than any recent predecessor. Under Bloomberg, laws restricting the New York Police Department's right to spy on citizens have been eased considerably. As a result, the nation's largest police force no longer has to establish criminal activity before surveilling its constituents. …

It would be a mistake to characterize Bloomberg as a power-hungry tyrant or a weak-willed panderer. His desire for control is firmly rooted in child-like zeal for positive reform and the genuine belief that he can make the city a better place to raise a family. The best way to help his constituents, he assumes, is to watch them closely, to obtain ever-more control over their school system, and to keep the streets quiet at night. But his reforms demonstrate a profound lack of understanding about a city rooted in chaos. New York is a city where freaks blend in, sex shops abound, and people do crazy things simply because they can. The city that never sleeps isn't supposed to have silent nights. That's what the suburbs are for.

Whole thing here.