The former NYC mayor’s Greenwood Initiative is not feasible but its goals are admirable.
In his recent visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma, presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg announced a new plan to increase the amount of wealth in historically impoverished neighborhoods, focusing on black Americans. While it seems to be a net positive for the nation, Bloomberg’s Greenwood Initiative raises some old questions, such as where the $70 billion he wants will come from or the sheer possibility of this project. His proposal encompasses a multitude of impressively progressive actions, like providing assistance through free financial aid classes, monetary aid in the purchase of property and the rollout of a program that would advise students from their first day of pre-k to their last day of college.
However, something feels off about the entire plan. The immense density of changes, investments, new program creations, one-stop entrepreneur training shops, justice reforms, loan market regulations and the list seems to go on and on. His plan seems less like a concrete policy initiative and more like a list of things his advisors told him to include to sound more woke. On his campaign website, Bloomberg’s dedicated webpage to the Greenwood Initiative is half proposed objectives and half humble brag on his time spent as mayor of New York City.
With how it revolves around the massive amount of commercial guidelines meticulously limiting the opportunities of black Americans, as well as the systemic racism forcing young men and women into gangs and prisons over classrooms and board meetings — it doesn’t take a genius to identify the issues. Neither does it take a super savvy economist to come up with potential solutions, but it does take one to come up with an economically feasible plan that wouldn’t backfire like Bloomberg’s time in New York City.
Bloomberg’s plan only seems to say that he understands there is a problem with poverty and how it unequally affects minority groups, but even without any concrete idea on how he would pay for these various plans and bureaus and regulation audits, his plan isn’t a plan. Instead, his remarks focus on his campaign, attempting to lend his presidential bid credibility after the miserable stop and frisk scandal, a practice he implemented and eventually tried to reduce, attempting to limit his culpability by saying he didn’t understand how many innocent minority members would be stopped. Yes, this practice that involves ostensibly random searches won’t disproportionately affect minorities. It’s not like there’s a history of implicit bias against minorities in police forces or anything. Even if he didn’t intend to push this program against minorities, he’s foolish and generally incompetent for implementing it.
It’s frustrating to see this businessman exploiting the hopes and dreams of the nation’s most destitute individuals by listing off a multitude of potential strategies, then providing nothing in the way answers on where funding will come from. To make matters worse, he then spends a portion of his speech trying to prove how woke and progressive he is by talking about his reforms in one of the richest parts of the country. None of his campaign material mentions the time period in which he was mayor. From 2002, through the 2008 housing market crash and into the 2010s, Bloomberg held office, running for a controversial third term by rewriting the legislation surrounding mayoral term limits. This specific window implies that any growth or accomplishment he claims to have achieved cannot be truly verified as a result of his actions, because the massive ballooning of the housing market would statistically look like an increase in homeownership, but the reality is that it only set up more people to fall. The policies and loan forgiveness opportunities he so courageously espouses were economic necessities in order to preserve the stability of the city. If they were necessary and unavoidable, then why should he take credit for their implementation?
His proposal is also such a glass cannon that whatever executive order he concocts —because there is no way this monstrosity will make it through Congress — will be exceedingly fragile and easy to manipulate. He talks about adding $1.5 trillion to the national economy through the expansion of Black-owned businesses, but where will all of this mystery capital come from? Economic systems are not infinite, and just shoving money at it won’t work like it did when he was mayor. Bloomberg takes special care to mention that in his announcement, but neglects to inform the audience that he had about $10 million worth of equity in his former company.
It doesn’t help that he’s a moderate Republican in disguise, siding with the Democratic Party only to attain their coveted presidential candidate title and poach the portion of their base that sees the party affiliation and votes. His website is a codified version of his trophy shelf, talking about how Mike did this and Mike did that, and it gives me revolting flashbacks to the times I went to work with my dad and saw the clean looking CEO while my dad’s hands were covered in grease and problems the CEO was too important for. There’s nothing of substance behind these actions because he would turn and burn you as long as it gave him an advantage; just ask those Guantanamo Bay sources imprisoned by that Patriot Act he so loves.
These tactics are disingenuous and predatory, and while I agree with the goals and potentially the ways he intends to reach them, I don’t trust him to do it. This could be a potential back pocket plan for the Democratic Party in general, and I believe that’s where this plan should stay. Let’s, uh, not elect another individual who has held enough money that it has no consequence to them, shall we?