Jewish World Review June 13, 2005 / 6 Sivan,
A Guy With Gumption
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Since I am going to say some nice things here about Rudy Giuliani, you may think this column is an early Rudy-for-president effort. It isn't. I don't think he has much of a chance to win the Republican nomination. He is a defender of gay rights and abortion and has remarried twice, once after a messy divorce. He is thin-skinned and self-absorbed, as historian Fred Siegel makes clear in his impressive new book, The Prince of the City (the reference is to Machiavelli, not Prince Charming). Most people think Giuliani fired Bill Bratton, the best police commissioner in the country (now in Los Angeles) because Bratton, and not Rudy, made the cover of Time.
Giuliani changed all that. He marginalized the city's racial arsonists, like Al Sharpton, by simply ignoring them and refusing to reward them for disturbances and threats. He ended Mafia control of the Fulton Fish Market and the private trash-hauling industry, two achievements long regarded by nearly everyone in New York as impossible.
He told New Yorkers it's time to rejoin America, to celebrate middle-class values, and to promote aspiration and work, not to keep sedating the poor with welfare. He refused to play the game of group rights and group payoffs. "We're all the same," he said at a service commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. He meant all New Yorkers are in this together, and instead of the usual truckling to identity groups, there would be only one payoff for alla better city.
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.
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