In an eyebrow-raising interview, Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed that residents of New York City are longing for a system of government in which every decision is centrally planned out for them to follow.
Speaking to New York Magazine in an interview published late Monday, the Democrat said that if he were able to, he would erect a “powerful government” in which landlords are told how much rent to charge and store-owners how much they can charge for wares.
The only thing blocking this, he lamented, was the “hundreds of years of history” that allows people to own private property.
“What’s been hardest is the way our legal system is structured to favor private property,” said de Blasio, who faces voters in two months for his first reelection bid. “I think people all over this city, of every background, 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.”
I think there’s a socialistic impulse, which I hear every day, in every kind of community,” he added, “that they would like things to be planned in accordance to their needs. And I would, too. Unfortunately, what stands in the way of that is hundreds of years of history that have elevated property rights and wealth to the point that that’s the reality that calls the tune on a lot of development.”
He said that signs hawking property sales for millions of dollars in Manhattan “just drives people stark raving mad in this city, because that kind of development is clearly not for everyday people. It’s almost like it’s being flaunted.”
De Blasio has sought repeatedly to raise taxes on wealthier city residents to transfer it to the poor — in 2014 to support free prekindergarten and recently to allow for free city buses.
“Look,” he said, “if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed. And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents. That’s a world I’d love to see, and I think what we have, in this city at least, are people who would love to have the New Deal back, on one level. They’d love to have a very, very powerful government, including a federal government, involved in directly addressing their day-to-day reality.”
However, he lamented, “it’s not reachable right now.”
He added that he was hoping for the state Senate to turn Democratic in elections this year, “and that’s going to open up the possibility of more fairness.”