mad in pursuit: greed & arrogance

2004 political season

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greed & arrogance index


6.24.04 The Empire State Has No Clothes

Even outside of The Big Apple, New Yorkers are an arrogant bunch. At one time (apparently) we were rich and progressive. Industry was strong, Wall St. was cooking, and poor people got lots of benefits from welfare and from Medicaid. Taxes were the highest in the union, but who cared? Back in those days, we even thought it was progressive to have a zero tolerance policy for dope peddling.

Maybe back in those days of strong federal government, state legislatures had the luxury of getting silly. Lack of term limits and rifts between downstate Democrats and upstate Republicans created a system of strong-man partisan governance rivaled only by the Mafia. If you are an idealistic young legislator who decides to speak up against your party boss, suddenly you find yourself in a smaller office, without staff, and without further voice.

The only way a budget got passed was through the "three men in a room" system: annual jawboning between the Governor, Assembly Speaker (downstate Democrat), and Senate Leader (upstate Republican).

Apparently there was a time when this all worked.

But it has finally stalled out. For the 20th year the state budget agreement is not in sight 2 months after the start of the fiscal year. State government was court-ordered to revise the formula for state aid to schools, and yet they've done nothing. They swore that this year they would rescind the obsolete drug laws that keep the prison system so overstuffed with minor offenders that there's no room left for murderers -- but no action. With some good legislative work, we could access more federal funds and reform our Medicaid money pit. But no... they prefer to bicker.

The word "bi-partisan" is unknown. If a Democrat proposes something, Republicans automatically reject it as wrong-headed, and vice-versa. If anyone breaks rank, they are punished by the leadership.

We worry so much about our Iraqi and Afghani colonies having elections. Yet here in New York we are proof that the ability to vote has nothing to do with getting a government "for the people."






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