Because You Never Asked

by Jerome Grapel

Although I have not lived there for almost 50 years, I was born and raised in New York City and almost all my extended family still lives there. Anyone hearing the way I speak English can attest to the fact I still carry some of this place around with me — and always will.

Bill De Blasio is the Mayor of New York City. People like him used to be considered a fairly normal strain of center-left Democrat, but since the appearance of my favorite “axis of evil,” Ronald Reagan and Rupert Murdoch, the “center” in American politics has been pushed so far to the right, he is now considered the “far left” bordering on “radical.” A few other American politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders could also be lumped in this dwindling group of true progressive office holders.

De Blasio came out of nowhere to easily win the mayoral election. He won because he truly does represent the city’s open minded, progressive, forward thinking spirit. You don’t get to be New York City without being in the vanguard of what the future can be, and De Blasio lives in that space. But, surprisingly, the marriage between the great metropolis and its new Mayor has been a stormy one. One could even say there was never a honeymoon. Why?

The answer is simple: De Blasio is not to the liking of the plutocrats who have the most hegemony over our culture. They are using the apparatus of the “Military-Industrial- Media-Complex,” which they have great sway over, to bring him down. He was not “their” candidate, but his message resonated with a city in tune with it. He slipped through the cracks. Shit happens. “We’ll have to fix it.”

What is it about De Blasio that gets under the skin of the plutocrats? Didn’t he make his success in real estate? What could be more plutocratic than that? Sure, he married a black woman and engendered some mulatto offspring, but this is the 21st century, this is New York City, we can live with that. So what is it?

De Blasio is a native New Yorker whose emotional attachment to his place runs deep. Before he ran for Mayor, I’m sure he looked out at his city and saw, like the rest of us, the sheer wonder of it all. He saw one of the most successful places on the face of the Earth. He saw this immense hive of creativity, innovation, and, above all else, life and energy. He saw a place where people “want to be a part of it,” a place where the entire rainbow of human variation flocked to. He saw that sierra-like skyline of skylines that still amazes the first time viewer. He saw a view of Manhattan from Hoboken or the Queensborough Bridge that generational New Yorkers have never grown bored with. He saw a 24 hour pulsation of the human heartbeat, where a Broadway baby said good night “early in the morning.” That’s right, New York, New York, “it’s a wonderful town,” and whatever was up and whatever was down, Bill De Blasio saw the ambition of human expression in its maximum form, a place where “dreams are made of, now you’re in New York, New York, New Yooorrkk —.” And he could not help but see what could be considered, at this juncture in human evolution, the most coveted item for sale in the Macy’s of our dreams — wealth! New York, the financial capitol of the world churning out wealth in almost obscene amounts. A wealth creation uber machine of abstract immensity, an ATM of behemoth proportions grinding it out from hour to hour, day to day, year to year, in an unconscionable display of material excess. K-ching!!

But De Blasio also saw something else. In the midst of all this victorious success and ostentatious luxury, a large segment of the city’s inhabitants — not a small, out-of-sight-out-of-mind sampling of anomalous “losers,” but a substantial part of the city — were living in sub-standard conditions, both materially and intellectually. This not only gnawed at his sensitivities as a human being, he also understood this was not, in the long run, a healthy model for the future success of society in general. He wanted to do something about this “tale of 2 cities.”

At the heart of his plan was to provide free pre-school to any child in the city that wanted it. For this writer, that is a spot on place to start in the Herculean task of improving conditions at the lowest laminations of our society. I say this because the children most in need of this service — for reasons lost in the countless generations of their historical DNA — are not getting what they need at home. To give these children an early start in a structured, educational environment, when their emotional makeup has still not been trashed by the mean streets they live in, is a gambit well worth the investment.

Did somebody say “investment?” Like dude, who’s going to pay for this?

De Blasio had a plan. He saw all this wealth and success piling up in his city and thought, gee, it’s time to get some of this back. It’s time to use some of this wealth overflow to improve the conditions of the millions who provide the most tedious, obnoxious, mind numbing mass of labor that is the foundation of any wealth making machine. And we can pay for it. All we have to do is marginally raise some taxes on the most wealthy amongst us —

“Hold it!! Get real. No, no, we do not want —“

“But we are only talking about a marginal increase; you’d hardly know it was gone.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s what they all say. Sorry, that’s a bad precedent, don’t come to me —“

“But it is good for all of us —“

“Not me —“

“But we can’t go on having fewer and fewer people controlling more and more wealth, it’s bad for our society in general —“

“It’s good for me.”

“We need to do something about this.”

“No we don’t.”

And now you know why Bill De Blasio has become a target for plutocratic vengeance. And that is why they are trying to jab-jab-jab him to death with the huge informational arsenal they are possessed of.

All that has just been said above cannot be proven with a slide rule or an algebraic equation. If I claim “they” are out to get Bill De Blasio, I am only doing so with the use of the ambiguous data that bombards me every day of my life. If the reader needs further convincing, let’s move on to how the previous Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was treated.

We can all agree that Michael Bloomberg, after 8 years as Mayor, is considered an iconic success in New York politics. Sure, there were some scrapes and bruises along the way, but I can never remember him being maligned or denigrated in any kind of sustained frontal attack by anyone’s means of communication. He was always portrayed as a dignified, competent leader herding his flock with confidence. Was it because he was such a better Mayor than Bill De Blasio?

Bloomberg found his traction in New York City politics by goose stepping in synchronization with the city’s open minded tolerance on social issues. He has never been the usual conservative troglodyte against gay marriage or a woman’s right to choose. Quite laudably, he’s been a leader in the fight to bring some sanity into the realm of gun proliferation. He is not a climate change denier. He has even insinuated his influence into the idea of healthy eating, cigarette control and noise pollution. All this has helped to ingratiate him in the general mindset of the “Big Apple.” But is all this just his sheep’s clothing? Isn’t he really a wolf with regard to what really matters most in our society?

All of the issues enunciated above have one thing in common: none of them are directly related to wealth, finance, business, Wall Street, and the economic games and subterfuges that have the most impact on how a society functions. None of the above is directly related to social mobility and opportunity. None of the above is directly related to where the pitcher toes the rubber in our society, that is, who makes the money, who’s got the money, who keeps the money. With regard to these issues — the ones most relevant to one’s ability to be fulfilled in our society — Michael Bloomberg is a prototypical supply side, neo-liberal capitalist. He does not want to be taxed fairly, he does not want to be regulated, and he looks upon the idea of a citizen’s Social Contract with the same fondness he’d have for an outbreak of hemorrhoids. Bloomberg is that rare politician who has not had to endear himself to the plutocrats because he is a plutocrat — and he’s been loyal to his family. He has used his liberality on social issues to protect his own interests.

As a result, he’s gotten a free ride from the media moguls who adore him.

Bill De Blasio, on the other hand, has had the gall to voice some empathy for those most humble amongst us, not just because of his “bleeding heart,” but because he realizes improving the conditions in our society’s most desperate places is good for us all. How dare he propagate such an incendiary idea!

And just like the most famous of all the crucified, his mission will probably be defeated.


To purchase a copy of Jerome Grapel’s book, Because You Never Asked click here.

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