John Leo

As Siegel makes clear, virtually the entire political class in New York represents the public sector, which has a perverse stake in social breakdown because it generates more public spending and lots of new job opportunities.

Giuliani derided ?the compassion industry? that accounted for more than a million publicly funded jobs. The inefficiency was staggering. New York spent 21/2 times as much money per person administering welfare as other high-benefit states. The city routinely committed tons of money it didn?t have to social programs, constantly raised taxes, then went, hat in hand, to Albany and Washington for handouts. Giuliani refused to play the game, demanding efficiency and forcing the city to live within its budget.

He also took on what Siegel calls the city?s philosophy of ?dependent individualism??we will take care of you and ask nothing in return; you can do whatever you want, even if you threaten our future. A pre-Giuliani parks commissioner said: ?Vandalism is simply a way in which certain elements of my constituency used the parks. Some people liked to sit on the benches; others like to tear them up.? Whatever. Giuliani cracked down on quality-of-life offenses that liberal New York considered trivial, and he followed the ?broken window? theory, which says that disorder demoralizes residents and sets the stage for breakdown and crime. In addition, Bratton and Giuliani brilliantly reorganized the city?s outstanding police force, and the crime rate plummeted. The current pop bestseller Freakonomics breezily argues that Roe v. Wade brought crime down by keeping likely criminals from being born. Nonsense. Crime fell because New York drove the national reduction and inspired Giuliani-like tactics elsewhere. Nationally, crime fell just 5 percent between 1993 and 1996, while dropping 35 percent in New York. Philadelphia, a city much like New York, had very little decline in crime, presumably because it had no Giuliani, no Bratton, and no police force like New York?s. The old order still snipes at Giuliani and refers to him as Mussolini, but he was an inspiring figure even before 9/11, and certainly after.


John Leo

John Leo is editor of MindingTheCampus.com and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

Be the first to read John Leo's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.