Literacy Program Funded by Taxing Wall Street Banks
Bill de Blasio announced today a plan to purchase every citizen of New York a free Amazon Kindle.
In an interview on MSNBC, the mayor-elect of the nation's largest city said the $940 million program would promote education and culture for everyone, rich and poor alike.
"In the 19th and 20th centuries, municipalities around the country invested heavily in public libraries," De Blasio explained to host Chris Hayes. "I believe that 21st century municipalities have an obligation to bring this service into the digital era by providing access to e-readers and tablets to everyone.
"When I take office on Jan. 1 my first priority will be instituting a program whereby every New Yorker will receive one free Amazon Kindle so that they can educate themselves about literature, science, the arts and anything else which might catch their interest.
"Now I know this will be expensive. And I want New Yorkers to know that I'm not a fiscally irresponsible Democrat who's going to run up the city's debt on pet spending projects. So I'm also happy to announce plans for a new one-time 25 percent tax on investment banks, hedge funds and asset managers based in the city so that this vital program is properly paid for."
White, Black, Read All Over
De Blasio won election as mayor of New York City this week, and will be the first Democrat in two decades to hold that office. His campaign relied heavily on a rejection of the centrist, business-friendly policies of outgoing mayor Mike Bloomberg and his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani.
Although most observers credit that duo with reducing the city's crime rate and reviving its economy, de Blasio blamed their policies for exacerbating the divide between rich and poor. That focus on inequality has endeared him to the city's liberal elites, who have immediately embraced the free Kindle program as a partial remedy.
"Clearly this is a brilliant idea," Hayes opined. "The thought of poor African-American children reading Derrida and Heidegger literally takes my breath away. My only question is, what kind of Kindle are you going to be distributing? Regular? Paperwhite? DX?"
"We've thought long and hard about this and we've decided to go with the Paperwhite," De Blasio responded. "The regular Kindle just doesn't have the display resolution and battery life that New Yorkers have come to expect. It's going to be twice as expensive, but I think it will be worth it."
"Speaking of the expense, what do you say to those critics who say that taxing Wall Street is a risky strategy," Hayes asked. "Are you afraid that new taxes might drive the financial services industry out of the city?"
"Chris, you have to ask yourself, what has the financial services industry ever done for New York?" de Blasio replied contemptuously. "These bankers and hedge fund people are the reason why this city has such problems with wealth inequality in the first place. You ever been to West Virginia? Everyone there earns more or less the same. It's wonderful."
"These guys want to move to London? They want to move to Singapore, Geneva or Greenwich? I say good riddance. I don't need a bunch of cocaine-addled sliver-spoon douchebags in my city. Go use mommy and daddy's money to drive rents up someplace else. I'm focused on real New Yorkers."
Pending approval from the New York City Council, the new Kindles are expected to begin arriving by April 2014.