New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's Year Against Inequality

17:35Ciaran McCormick

This is a guest post by George Reeves, a Politics student at Birmingham University.

Could 2014 be the year where the issue of inequality is finally tackled by the great and the good? New York Mayor Bill de Blasio seems to think so, and since being sworn in on New Year’s Day he has made it quite clear that social justice will be at the forefront of his agenda. By his own admission, de Blasio is not religious, but he is a self-confessed fan of Pope Francis, and indeed appears to have borrowed some of his poverty-busting rhetoric straight from the Holy Father himself. However, there is a gulf between the Pope’s theology and de Blasio’s shallow political posturing.

Flickr: @KevinCase
Undoubtedly, de Blasio wants to reduce the gap between rich and poor; this was the driving force behind his recent mayoral campaign, and he skilfully used such issues to position himself firmly on the left wing of the Democrat Party, and to distinguish himself from his centre-right predecessor Michael Bloomberg. However, in reality all that de Blasio can offer is more of the same failed socialism that has been rejected across the globe – as the Republican former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani points out, de Blasio is not a progressive, but rather a ‘retrogressive.’ By dismissing the ‘Workfare’ policies implemented under Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg, de Blasio seems quite content to allow the poor to stumble into a welfare trap instead of grappling with the overarching problems that unemployment so often brings to an individual’s work ethic, and in using his inauguration speech to bitterly criticise the legacy of Mayor Bloomberg, de Blasio has already polarised opinion and made New York politics deeply personal.

Contrast that with the approach favoured by the Pope. Whilst his criticisms of capitalism and free markets are at best naive, Pope Francis has used his position as head of the world’s largest religious organisation to set a new agenda of compassion and love. Whilst de Blasio issues edicts from the safety of his Mayoral office seeking to limit school choice and increase taxation in the name of social justice, Pope Francis is taking real compassion out onto the streets, embracing the poor, the sick and the marginalised. If politicians such as de Blasio really admire this man so much, they need to stop worshipping at the altar of secular socialism and realise that tax-and-spend policies provide no real sustenance to those at the bottom of society. 

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