A Few More Who Think The Poor Ought To Have Access To Cheap Energy

If you were asked to name the most immoral thing going on in the world today, you would be hard pressed to come up with a better candidate than the campaign to keep the world's poor in poverty.  This campaign usually goes under the banner of "saving the planet" or "sustainability" or something similar.  There are times when it feels very lonely out here in the small group pointing out the deep immorality of this campaign.  For example, one such time was last April, when some hundreds of thousands of spoiled, wealthy Americans conducted what they called the "March for Science," demanding that cheap and reliable energy be restricted and that the price of energy be increased to a level to make sure that the poor could never afford it.  The entire progressive press and media cheered these people on.

In the camp of people calling out the "sustainability" campaigners for their immorality, I particularly favor the ones who don't mince their words.  These campaigners need to be harshly condemned.  So today I'll give a shout out to a couple of voices that aren't afraid to say the obvious on this subject.

First, Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK participated in a debate at Cambridge University on October 26, where the question before the house was "This House would rather cool the planet than warm the economy."   Cambridge, like all elite universities these days, has become a center for advocacy of de-carbonization, of de-industrialization, and of making sure that poor countries cannot get energy that is cheap and reliable and that works.  Benny's full presentation can be found at the link.  Here are a few excerpts:

[T]he fact that stopping economic development is even being advocated by some of the world’s most privileged students in Cambridge reveals how far removed this green bubble is from the harsh reality of billions of people who are desperately trying to escape poverty.  Let’s not beat about the bush: If today’s motion would ever be implemented by some radical green government, it would lead to the death of millions of poor people in the developing world, astronomical mass unemployment and economic collapse.  That’s because poor nations without economic growth have no future and are unable to raise living standards for impoverished populations. . . .  

Climate and green energy policies have lead to is the biggest wealth transfer in the history of modern Europe — from the poor to the rich. . . .  The proponents of today’s motion argue that economic growth should be sacrificed or at least curtailed in order to cut global CO2 emissions.  Denying the world’s poor the very basis on which Britain and much of Europe became wealthy — largely due to cheap coal, oil and gas — amounts to an inhumane and atrocious attempt by green activists to sacrifice the needs of the world’s poor on the altar of climate alarmism.

"Inhumane" and "atrocious."  I could have come up with even more such words, but that's a pretty good start.  Good job, Benny!

And here is another one, this time from reader Mikko Paunio, who sent me a link to his recent (October 30) article discussing why restricting fossil fuels and requiring expensive and intermittent renewables threatens public health in poor countries.  The title is "Sustainability Threatens Public Health In The Developing World."   

Paunio points out that good public health requires large amounts of clean water, which in turn requires reliable and affordable power.

We take sanitary practices for granted in wealthier countries but hygienic practices require water in quantity and uninterrupted power to supply that water and related sewage systems.

And it's not just clean drinking water that is at issue.  Good hygiene and sanitation require water not only for drinking, but also for things like laundry, dishes, toilets and sewers.

Painstaking research has shown that the provision of clean drinking water brings down children’s diarrhoea risk by [only] around 20-25 per cent in a developing country setting (31,32). This is partly because purified water is a harsh environment for those enteric pathogenic microbes that would otherwise enter the system. However more importantly, it is because so many water washable diseases remain transmissible under unhygienic conditions. . . .   [H]ygienic practices include personal hygiene, household hygiene i.e. linen and other laundry, kitchen hygiene (utensils and food), cleanliness of suitable surface materials especially in bathrooms. These require water in substantial quantities for ensuring hygiene by de-contamination and human-waste disposal, in addition to providing solely drinking water.  

And then there's the question of air pollution, particularly the indoor variety.  In countries without cheap and reliable electricity, the people of necessity turn to indoor fires of wood or animal dung for heating and cooking.  The result:

Decentralized heating and cooking in homes in the urban areas of the developing world account for most ambient air pollution and perhaps 80-90 % of the WHO estimate of up to 6.5 million annual deaths linked to such air pollution.

So where are our national and international bureaucracies on addressing these critical issues?

Instead of addressing those [water and air pollution] issues in the most practical way possible, the US in 2013 declined multilateral (World Bank) aid to build centralized power plants in the poorest countries – because to be affordable they had to use coal. Instead, the US government sided with WHO and Dr. Margaret Chan and insisted on climate change mitigation for poor countries while giving China unlimited emissions until 2030.

Where did we go wrong? When guiding the "Our Common Future" report, Director General of the World Health Organization Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland chose to deny crucial infrastructural urban development, such as the provision of fresh water supplies and the installation of sewerage systems, unless it could be done "sustainably". But the countries that need such infrastructure are often unable to raise capital on their own and need multilateral assistance from rich countries. By mandating they could only have loans if they agreed to build things that would be too expensive, we doomed those countries to failure.

I guess I can understand how the bureaucracies can get involved in these efforts that lead to mass impoverishment and millions of deaths.  After all, bureaucracies have an internal dynamic that makes them only interested in increasing their own power and prerogatives; the poor are just collateral damage.  But how is it that the faculties and students of all elite universities, and the entire progressive media, have become part of this immoral endeavor?  It's impossible to understand.

The New York Times Screws Up Economic Policy Again: South Africa Edition

From the people who can't bring themselves to use the word "socialism" in articles covering the economic collapse in Venezuela, there now comes a big article on the economic problems in South Africa.  On Tuesday the big front page article in the New York Times was all about the economy in that country: "End of Apartheid in South Africa? Not in Economic Terms."  

It seems that now, some twenty-six years after the end of legal apartheid in South Africa, black South Africans just don't seem to be economically advancing much at all.  According to the NYT, South Africa has replaced the legal apartheid with "economic apartheid."

In the history of civil rights, South Africa lays claim to a momentous achievement — the demolition of apartheid and the construction of a democracy. But for black South Africans, who account for three-fourths of this nation of roughly 55 million people, political liberation has yet to translate into broad material gains.  Apartheid has essentially persisted in economic form.

But wait a minute!  Didn't the end of legal apartheid bring full democratic rights for black South Africans?  With blacks constituting a large majority of the citizens, isn't the government there now fully controlled by elected black officials?  Are you really suggesting that the black officials who now run the place are practicing something against members of their own race worthy of the highly charged term "apartheid"?

To be fair to the Times, they do mention government corruption as one of the reasons holding the economy back.  But then, if corruption is the main problem, wouldn't that affect all races, and not just blacks?  What's the thing that specifically holds blacks back?  We get this:

[There are] are deep-seated disparities in wealth. In the aftermath of apartheid, the government left land and other assets largely in the hands of a predominantly white elite. The government’s resistance to large-scale land transfers reflected its reluctance to rattle international investors. 

Aha!  Although the government is controlled by blacks, it's actually the evil white svengalis who hold the blacks back by clinging to the land, with the acquiescence of the corrupt government officials.  

Funny, but that's the exact same explanation for black failure to advance that has long been the favorite of Robert Mugabe and his political supporters in next-door Zimbabwe.  Over there, they took the opposite tack, and expropriated most of the land once held by whites, driving nearly all of the whites out of the country.  Surely then, all the blacks promptly became wealthy?

Unfortunately, no.  You may recall the first round of Zimbabwe's economic collapse back in the early 2000s, when Mugabe executed the first round of seizures of white-held land and handed it over to his supporters, mostly from his own tribe.  Among other things, tax revenues collapsed, so the government financed itself by printing money, leading to a huge hyperinflation.  Here is a report from NPR on where things were back in 2006:

Since the late 1990s, between four and five million Zimbabweans, or more than a third of the population, have fled the country. And the economy has shrunk by 40 percent. Last week, the City of Harare started rationing water because they can't afford to fix a pump by its municipal reservoir. . . .  The current economic crisis deepened dramatically in the year 2000, when Mugabe launched a chaotic and violent land reform program.  The program was supposed to return white-owned commercial farmland to poor blacks. But many of the farms ended up in the hands of Mugabe's friends, family and allies. And agricultural production, which used to be the backbone of the economy, collapsed.

And have things in Zimbabwe improved since then?  Actually, they're just going through another round of economic collapse now, as Mugabe, now 93, drives the last whites out of the country.  From Newsday (Zimbabwe), September 25:

President Robert Mugabe is expected in the country today, where he is set to be confronted by an economy literally on flames after a dramatic weekend that triggered scenes reminiscent of the 2008 hyperinflationary era. . . .  “In April, Mugabe made a pronouncement regarding the toxic indigenisation policy [i.e., taking land from whites and turning it over to blacks], but nothing has been done to align this to the Act. . . .  The economy has tanked. Everything that can go wrong has since gone wrong.

How does per capita GDP in Zimbabwe -- where they expropriated the white-held land and redistributed it to blacks -- compare to per capita GDP in South Africa?  The answer is, even after a couple of recent years of severe recession, South Africa remains many times as wealthy as Zimbabwe, for both blacks and whites.  Trading Economics has 2016 per capita GDP for South Africa as $7504; for Zimbabwe it's $908.  $7504 represents a middle-income country; $908 represents deep poverty for everybody (except Mugabe and his close henchmen). 

So is there any other explanation for why blacks may be failing to advance economically in South Africa?  Well, there is the fact that the government thinks the way to "help" the poor is to build millions of inexpensive homes and pass them out in a public ownership model.  See my post on this subject from April 2016 here.  It would be difficult to conceive of a better way to keep poor people trapped in poverty for life.  You will not find this subject discussed in the New York Times article.

In Politics, There's Corruption, And Then There's Really Serious Corruption

The U.S. Department of Justice seems to get a lot of its kicks these days from prosecutions of state and federal officials for alleged political corruption.  The typical case involves the pol who seems to have done a little too much to help his friends and contributors.  Among such cases that I have covered during the past couple of years have been those of former Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, ex-Speaker of the New York State Assembly Sheldon Silver, ex-Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Joe Bruno, and another ex-Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Dean Skelos.  If you've been following this, you will recognize that all of those individuals got convicted by juries, but then all of the convictions have been reversed or vacated on appeal.  Similar cases involving federal pols include those of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska and of Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey.  In the Menendez matter, the trial is still ongoing; but this time the smart money is betting that he will get acquitted by the jury on most if not all charges, without need for intervention by an appeals court.

All of these cases involve at least some level of distasteful conduct, some worse than others.  Read about them if you want to get an understanding of how much better constituent service you might get from your local representative or governor if you should just toss a couple of hundred K his way.  (For more details, go to the links.)  But, as the string of reversals suggests, the conduct in question in these cases was of a type that doesn't go to the heart of the integrity of the political process, and may even be impossible to effectively criminalize at all.  Let alone that the amounts of money in question were relatively small (only the Silver case of those mentioned involved more than $1 million; at the low end, the Stevens case involved alleged underpayment of less than $100K for services as to which Stevens claimed that he had paid full value); and in some of the cases the money at issue did not even go to the defendant personally.

But is there any corruption out there that is really serious, in the sense that it fundamentally goes go to the heart of the integrity of the political process?  I would have in mind something involving use the power of political office itself to attack and handicap the political opposition so that those in power can remain in power themselves and keep the opponents out.  Such a thing, if it occurred, would be far more serious and far more fundamental than anything involved in the DOJ prosecutions listed above.

Actually there are two examples of such fundamental and serious corruption in the news just today.  In both of these cases, it is none other than the Department of Justice itself that is the perpetrator of the corruption.

The first example involves a program of the Obama Justice Department known as "Access to Justice."  Under that program, banks and other institutions paying big settlement amounts in cases arising out of the financial crisis could get credit by directing some portion of the settlement funds to "charitable" organizations in the game of providing legal services.  Turns out that the recipients of the grants all happened to be left-wing friends and political supporters of the then-administration.  To its credit, the Wall Street Journal was on top of this story back in August 2016 ("Look Who's Getting That Bank Settlement Cash"), and I covered the matter in June 2017 ("Corruption In The Eye Of The Beholder").  

The story returns to today's news because Chairman Bob Goodlatte of the House Judiciary Committee released some emails explicitly showing Obama Justice officials rigging the allocation of the slush fund to be sure that no conservative-oriented group could get any of the money.  The Daily Signal has the story ("Obama Justice Department’s $1 Billion ‘Slush Fund’ Boosted Liberal Groups").  

Tony West, an associate attorney general during the Obama administration who is now a top official at PepsiCo Inc., figures prominently in a chain of email messages involving his staff members, the records show. . . .  Justice Department documents show that West’s staff went to great lengths to prevent conservative organizations from receiving any of the settlement funds.  In one email dated July 9, 2014, a senior Justice official on West’s team explains how the draft of a mandatory donation provision was rephrased for the purpose of  “not allowing Citi to pick a statewide intermediary like the Pacific Legal Foundation [PLF].” The official identified the foundation as a group that “does conservative property-rights free legal services.”

So who did get in on the money?  The WSJ identified a number of the beneficiaries in that linked article:  La Raza, the National Urban League, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and more . . .  In other words, various foot soldiers of the progressive movement.  To the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.  This makes Sheldon Silver and all those other guys look so small time!

And is there yet another example of deep and fundamental Justice Department corruption in the news just today?  Yes!  Of course it's the scandal of the Trump/Russia "dossier."  And yes, this story has also been around for months -- at least the part about the existence of the dossier and its use by the FBI to obtain FISA warrants targeting members of the Trump campaign while the campaign was in progress.  From CNN, April 18, 2017:

The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification to win approval to secretly monitor a Trump associate, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.  The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks, as one of the sources of information the bureau has used to bolster its investigation, according to US officials briefed on the probe.

But now we learn that this "dossier" was actually Democratic Party opposition research funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC.  From the Washington Post, October 24:

The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump's connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.

So the Justice Department under Obama took opposition research funded by the campaign of the candidate of the President's party and used that opposition research to obtain FISA warrants to spy on the campaign of the opponent?  Now we have taken corruption to another whole new level.  Oh, and then some of the same people who committed those acts are actually now the ones conducting a supposedly "independent" investigation of the President himself?

Don't worry, the Justice Department does not prosecute its own, no matter how serious and how fundamental the corruption.

UPDATE, October 27:  Let the spinning begin!  From Bloomberg News today:

A former U.S. intelligence official is denying Republican suggestions that a salacious dossier funded in part by opponents of President Donald Trumpcould have been used to justify surveillance as part of an investigation into him and his associates. 

"Republican suggestions"?  Oh, those nasty Republicans!  But wait!  It looks like that "suggestion" comes not from any Republican, but rather from CNN, April 18, 2017.  Check my link and see if I quoted it correctly.  CNN in turn cites "US officials briefed on the investigation."  So, good try Bloomberg.  What's your next excuse?

There's lots more to come on this story.  It should keep us entertained throughout the winter.  

The "Social Cost Of Carbon" Becomes A Little Less Fraudulent

Back in 2015 -- when the Obama EPA put out regulations, euphemistically called the "Clean Power Plan," intended to extirpate fossil fuels from the generation of electricity in the United States -- they justified that initiative with a concoction called the "Social Cost of Carbon."  Here is something titled the "Regulatory Impact Analysis for the Clean Power Plan Final Rule," dated October 23, 2015, that was the document that accompanied the CPP and attempted to prove that it was a net financial positive.  Basically the idea was to use phony climate models to predict catastrophe some time in the very distant future; then put some arbitrary monetary cost on the catastrophe; and then discount that cost back to the present at a low interest rate to claim a present-value "saving" from forcibly transforming electricity generation today.  If we force you to shut your perfectly good power plant today, then Manhattan won't flood in the year 2106!  That'll "save" $1 trillion!  Count it as a $200 billion "saving" today!  Or something like that.

Anyway, I would definitely not recommend reading that 2015 RIA.  It's well over 200 pages of bureaucratic double-speak.  The bottom line was that they calculated this so-called Social Cost of Carbon thing at around $51 per ton of CO2 emissions.  At about 7 billion tons of CO2 emissions in the U.S. per year, that would make around $350 billion of annual SCC.  So just think about how much we could "save" by forcing you to freeze in the dark!  In a post in June 2016 titled "Annals Of Government Fraud: The 'Social Cost Of Carbon,'" I had a good time making fun of the absurdity.  Here are some excerpts from that post:

Suppose that you even believe some of the worst case scenarios projected by the most alarmist of the climate models, and you are then given the task of doing a cost-benefit analysis for the use of fossil fuels by mankind. . . .  I hope that your . . . reaction would be, this is not even remotely close.  On any conceivable scale of measurement, the benefits to mankind from the use of fossil fuels have to outweigh the negatives by a factor of hundreds if not thousands.  The benefits so wildly exceed the costs that the whole effort to try to quantify and weigh the two can't really even be justified.  Even if you hugely minimize the benefits and exaggerate the costs, there couldn't possibly be any way to make the use of fossil fuels by mankind into a net negative.  Indeed, if you need a reasonable proxy for the positive benefits of carbon-based energy, a pretty good start would be 100% of GDP.  For the U.S. that's around $17 trillion per year.  After all, without carbon-based energy GDP would be a very small fraction of what it is.  Maybe you could knock off a couple of tril for the part produced by nuclear and hydro, the infinitesimal part produced by wind and solar, and the even more infinitesimal part that you could produce by your own backbreaking human labor in the absence of an energy boost from something else.  So a good estimate of what we might call the Social Benefit of Carbon, or alternatively the Negative Social Cost of Carbon, would be around $15 trillion per year. 

That's how you would approach the problem if you were honest, or if you had even a smidgeon of integrity.  But remember, this is the government, and their power is at stake.

Now fast forward to the new Trump administration.  You probably know that a couple of weeks ago the restaffed EPA announced the impending repeal of the CPP.  What you may not know is that the announcement of the proposed repeal was accompanied and supported by a new Regulatory Impact Analysis that, among other things, re-analyzed this "Social Cost of Carbon" gizmo.  Here is a link to the new RIA.  By the way, it's not a lot shorter than the previous version.

What's remarkable to me about the new RIA is that it fails to take direct aim at the core absurdity of the prior RIA, namely the whole idea that use of fossil fuels -- what we used to call "fire" -- by mankind could possibly be a net negative in any conceivable rational calculation.  Instead, what the new RIA does is to make just a couple of relatively minor tweaks to the prior version.  An article from yesterday's S&P Global pinpoints the tweaks:

The new value has been narrowed to only consider the domestic impacts of carbon, while the Obama administration's version also took into account the global impacts. . . . And in contrast to the Obama administration, which assumed a 3% discount rate, the new value assumes a 7% discount rate. . . .  

Both of those two tweaks are eminently justifiable, although perhaps they could be debated.  But with just those two tweaks, the SCC suddenly goes from $51 per ton of emissions to -- $1!  And at a lousy $1 per ton, you will quickly see that virtually any cost that you are going to incur to shut down existing power plants and build new wind turbines or solar collectors is going to far exceed any supposed "benefits" from the reduced carbon emissions.  A chart at page 21 of the new RIA gives "avoided compliance costs" from undoing the CPP for the year 2030 of $14.4 billion, while "forgone domestic climate benefits" are only a lousy $400 million, leading to a net benefit from getting rid of the CPP of $14 billion.

I guess this is OK as far as it goes, but the central absurdity -- really, "fraud" is probably a more accurate word -- of the whole Social Cost of Carbon construct remains.  For God's sake look at the big picture, guys!  You haven't even started to consider the most important points.  For example:

  • You have ridiculously low estimates for how much it will cost to replace existing fossil fuel power plants with so-called "renewables" like wind and solar.  Where do you possibly get the idea that you can just build wind turbines or solar panels of equivalent capacity (or even a multiple of the capacity) of your dispatchable coal or natural gas plants and get an equivalent amount of usable power for a functional electrical grid?  How much excess capacity will you have to build?  How much back-up fossil fuel power capacity will you need to keep around for times of dark and calm?  What are you going to do with all the excess power when the wind and sun are at full strength?  What are the costs for these things?
  • How much storage will you need?  Where are the hundreds of billions of dollars that you will need for batteries if you think you can obviate or forbid the fossil fuel backup?
  • What about the environmental costs of wind and solar energy?  What have you included for the millions of birds that get chopped by wind turbines or fried by solar collectors?  What are the costs for the millions of acres that get occupied by these hideous things?  How about the health effects from the powerful low-frequency vibrations put out by wind turbines?  What about the environmental impacts of disposing of millions of these massive things when their useful lives run out in maybe 15 years (or less)?
  • And what have you included for the environmental benefits of increased CO2 in the atmosphere, particularly, particularly improved plant growth from the fertilization effect?

And all of these questions only relate to the Social Cost of Carbon as it applies to the electrical sector.  The majority of the use of fossil fuels does not occur in the electrical sector, but rather in areas like transportation (automobiles, planes), industry (farms, manufacturing) and home heating.  

When you start considering those things, you quickly realize that my prior statement that the majority of the whole economy depends on fossil fuels is not far off the mark.  First, let's stop calling it the Social Cost of Carbon, and recognize that it is the opposite, the Social Benefit of Carbon.  What is a realistic estimate of the Social Benefit of Carbon for the U.S.?  If you figure that about two-thirds of the economy depends on fossil fuels with no reasonable alternative on the horizon, that's around $14 trillion per year.  Annual emissions of CO2 are around 7 billion tons per year.  Dividing, you get about $2000 per ton, Social Benefit of Carbon.  Sounds about right to me.

So the new Social Cost of Carbon is a little improved, a little less fraudulent than it used to be.  But come on, can't we do a real and honest estimate and recognize the huge benefits here?        

How's de Blasio Doing? -- Income Inequality

With the mayoral election coming up in New York in just a couple of weeks, it's time to look in a little on how our super-progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio has done during his first four year term.  For today's issue, let's consider income inequality.

If you were around for the last election in 2013, you will not be able to help remembering that income inequality was de Blasio's big issue.  In the famous and oft-repeated turn of phrase, income inequality was said to be "the defining challenge of our time."  In this post on November 11, 2013 -- immediately after de Blasio was elected -- I included quotes on the subject both from his campaign and from his election-night victory speech.  For example, from the victory speech:

That inequality, that feeling of a few doing very well while so many slip further behind — that is the defining challenge of our time. …. But the challenge today is different. The creeping specter of inequality must be confronted, and will not weaken our resolve.

And, to be fair to de Blasio, it wasn't just him.  Plenty of others on the progressive side of things were also regularly mouthing the same line, not the least among them being then-recently-re-elected President Barack Obama.  For example, in this speech delivered on December 4, 2013, Obama used the same formulation that had been repeated endlessly by de Blasio:

[There is a] relentless, decades-long trend that I want to spend some time talking about today.  And that is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain -- that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.  I believe this is the defining challenge of our time. . . .  

Of course, being ever the contrarian, I went over all the policies that de Blasio was proposing to address income inequality, and expressed extreme skepticism that any of them would have the desired effect.  Higher taxes on high earners; universal "pre-K" education; higher minimum wage; more construction of "affordable housing" -- none of these had any real potential to move the published statistics by which income inequality is generally measured.  Only one prospective policy offered any real hope:

In the end, there's really only one thing de Blasio can do to reduce measured income inequality, and that is to drive the high earners away. . . .  Is that really where de Blasio wants to go?

Now, four years in, where are we?  First, on the policy side:  Most but not all of de Blasio's main proposals got enacted.  The main exception was the proposal for higher taxes on high earners, which got blocked by the state legislature and the governor.  (But the usual measures of income inequality are calculated on a pre-tax basis, so higher taxes on high earners would definitely not move the income inequality numbers.)  Meanwhile, universal pre-K went through, a higher minimum wage was passed, and at least some "affordable housing" got built.  Of course, if you understand how the measure of inequality are put together, none of these had any real potential to move the numbers either.  (For example, the implicit rent subsidy of "affordable housing" does not count as "income" in measuring income inequality; and recipients of pre-K education will not see their incomes raised (if ever) until they enter the labor force in the late 2030s.)

So, have the measures of income inequality in fact moved?  Alex Armlovich of the Manhattan Institute is out with a new study that analyzes the numbers for 2014 (when de Blasio took office) through 2016 (latest numbers available).  Result:  no change!

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio assumed office in January 2014, promising to “take dead aim at the Tale of Two Cities ... [and] put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love.” As the de Blasio administration nears the end of its four-year term, income inequality in 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, stood at the same level it was when former mayor Michael Bloomberg left office. During the interim, income inequality has fluctuated—at one point becoming even greater than it was when de Blasio entered office—and only more recently reverted to the Bloomberg-era level. 

And the results are even worse for de Blasio's policies than even that summary would indicate.  The fluctuations in the metrics had almost entirely to do with changes in pay among high earners, and thus nothing to do with de Blasio's programs directed to the low earners:

A transitory increase in compensation for finance professionals (as a group, the city’s highest paid) led the gap between New York’s rich and poor to increase in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, a modest decline in the concentration of compensation in that sector reduced income inequality to about the same level as when Mayor de Blasio took office. 

The good news is that de Blasio is talking a lot less about income inequality this time around.  Undoubtedly, he'd like to avoid as much as possible getting confronted with the statistics that prove that his policies have thus far been more or less completely ineffective in achieving the stated goal, even as they make things worse for all by raising the expense of government, complicating the process of housing development, and so forth.