With the rising influence of socialism in the Democratic Party, and the real power and influence of groups like the Democratic Socialists of America, it’s hardly outlandish to suggest that the ideology is playing an increasingly important role on the national stage. Bernie Sanders, who won 43% of the vote in the 2016 Democratic Party primary, has long openly identified as a socialist, while maintaining close ties with socialist regimes like Fidel Castro’s Cuba and Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another socialist politician, has become the rising star of the party, skyrocketing to Twitter fame, where she currently ranks only behind Donald Trump in terms of popularity on Twitter. Some Democrats have embraced her, while others have shunned her. You get the sense that Pelosi and Schumer understand all too well that the more AOC crafts the party’s public policy and image, the more their electoral prospects in 2020 decline.
Bernie and AOC may be socialists working within the Democratic Party to erode our free-market capitalist system, but even they have not called for the measures that New York City’s socialist mayor Bill de Blasio recently championed. In a recent public address, he promoted expropriation of private property as a tool of social justice to crack down on problem landlords:
“When a landlord tries to push out a tenant by making their home unlivable, a team of inspectors and law enforcement agents will be on the ground to stop it in time…If the fines and the penalties don’t cut it, we will seize their buildings and we will put them in the hands of a community nonprofit that will treat tenants with the respect they deserve.”
So, to play the devil’s advocate for a moment, one might suggest: well, yes expropriation of private property is a dangerous precedent, but De Blasio and the city of New York would of course be very judicious and responsible (and selective) with their use of this new power. After all, he has only discussed expropriation of private property for derelict landlords who are not taking proper care of their buildings.
Are we really expected to believe, however, that the expropriation of private property is going to end with ramshackle buildings in New York City? This after all is the mayor who recently said that he wished the city of New York could have control over the real estate market, determining such things as rents and prices.
“Our legal system is structured to favor private property,” he lamented. Oh really? So, this is not Khmer Rouge-era Cambodia? This is not 1959 Cuba? This is not today’s Venezuela? A legal system that favors private property?
I would expect this for the mayor of the largest city in Cuba or North Korea. I certainly would not expect if from the United States. And where is the mainstream media, where are the real estate developers, where are the business leaders of New York City, up in arms about this? Are they too afraid of Mayor De Blasio and his reign of tyranny to do anything about this?
De Blasio continued: “people would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be.”
Yes, there have been zoning codes and height restrictions in cities for centuries, Mayor De Blasio. We are aware of that. No one is suggesting that you should be able to put a meat-packing plant or a leather tannery in the middle of the quiet upper-class Park Slope neighborhood that you live in. No one is suggesting that someone who owns a plot of land has a natural god-given right to build a 300 story building.
Not even the most ardent economic libertarian would say there should be no zoning or height restrictions in urban areas.
But suggesting that the city of New York should be able to determine who gets to live in buildings, and how much the rent will be?
Now, how exactly would that work? De Blasio would like to see a new NYC bureaucracy: the Bureau of Housing Assignment?
I can see it now: annual budget of USD $600,000,000, 1,200 employees (most of them former volunteers on the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren presidential campaigns), all there to perform a valuable public service to the city of New York.
Their maxim: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
It would be ever so delightful. You don’t have enough money to afford the rent in Manhattan, but you’ve always wanted to live within walking distance of central park? You’re in luck, because Mayor De Blasio and his crack team at the Bureau of Housing Assignment just expropriated a building from a greedy, capitalist landlord, and we are looking for the neediest people to put in a neighborhood where studio apartments rent for USD $3,000 a month.
You don’t have a job? Well, that’s just fine. We will put you on every government program available for the next five or ten years…or hell, maybe just for the rest of your life. Just remember, when it comes time to vote…who gave you that nice expropriated apartment. Dear Leader Bill de Blasio.
This has all been done before. Fidel Castro expropriated virtually every piece of private property on the entire island and determined who would live there and what they would have to pay.
Hugo Chavez routinely expropriated the property of his political opponents and “redistributed” it to “needy” people, who just happened to be his biggest political supporters.
Socialism in America is here, and it’s being pushed by autocratic mayor De Blasio and his social justice allies.
But we can’t be silent. De Blasio and his expropriation program must be stopped at all costs.