Look, I don't want to get too deep here. There is no need for all that. Things are both simple and elementary. The stuff this column purports to be about is truly self-explanatory.
Politicians thrive on the combination of hypocrisy and amnesia, but some of us remember what was going on 20 years ago. Back than America’s economic problems, its social problems, its government fiscal problems, were being blamed exclusively on the dependent poor, particularly Blacks, Latinos, immigrants, and other poor people living in America’s older cities. That’s where all the money was going, we were told, in a decade-long propaganda campaign. And in a massive anti-welfare crusade, the programs and benefits for such people were cut across the country, and spending on them fell dramatically.
One of the arguments was fairness. What about the working poor? And sure enough, as many of the welfare dependent found jobs, money was shifted to the other American welfare system, the one for people who work. This includes the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), unemployment when you lose your job, food stamps if it doesn’t pay enough to get by, and disability insurance if your health or other problems mean (given the state of the labor market) no one wants to hire you. At one time this was thought of as a good thing. But now, as the country goes bankrupt as a result of the debts run up by Generation Greed and the promises it has made to itself but was unwilling to pay for, there is a new war on the working poor. An attempt to blame American’s economic, social and fiscal problems on, and find solutions that shift the sacrifices to, the sorts of people that bought into resentment of the dependent poor 20 years ago. Suckers.
There's a man who leads a life of danger.
I don’t allow myself the indulgence of saying I told you so. And frankly, showing that you were ignored as something you cared about was sold down the river is hardly satisfying, as the damage rolls on and on. But I am concerned that people won’t follow the link in my prior post. And with Eliot Spitzer back in the public’s eye (in our face?) I’m repeating the post from February 17th, 2008 on the decision that defined Eliot Spitzer as a public chief executive. Spitzer, the man who (like the rest of them) screwed the powerless young. This was written just before it happened. Last line: Make a stand here, and it will define you. Join the deal, and it will as well. The post follows.
It is here. For 50 years, powerful organized interests in collusion with New York’s elected officials have, in backroom deals without public discussion, without public disclosure, without any consideration of anyone else, walked off with large chunks of New York’s subsequently diminished future. The cost of these deals has generally been hidden for a year or two, and then described as the inevitable consequence of circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Or “uncontrollable expenses.” For example, at a time when most Americans, and most New Yorkers, have no retirement plan at all other than Social Security, public employee unions, again and again, have cut deals with elected officials for earlier retirement with richer pensions. The result, when the bills come due, has been higher taxes, diminished public services, diminished public benefits, and lower pay and benefits for future public employees. That is one of the reason we pay so much in taxes for police, yet starting police officers get $25,000 per year. The most recent deal would allow New York City’s teachers to work five fewer years, retire, and thus get paid to do nothing for five additional years. It has been sent to Governor Spitzer for his signature, after passing the legislature virtually overnight with virtually no dissent, just as everything like it passes. This, and not Joe Bruno’s helicopter rides, is the real moral issue, and the measure of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s values.
Although it is repetitive, let me set the stage again. Two groups of people have been getting richer: the executives who sit on each other’s boards and vote each other a rising share of private sector income, and retired public employees whose unions have cut political deals for retroactive pension increases. Everyone else is getting poorer. There is, in other words, the executive/financial class, the political/union class, and the serfs, with just about everyone in younger generations being left to be serfs as Generation Greed sells off the common future. This is not the result of anything like a free market, but rather is the result of political power and manipulation. The public employee unions and executives negotiate their pay and benefits in secret with their cronies, and then pass the bill on to powerless others who are made worse off, taxpayers/public service recipients and shareholders, with the cost generally deferred to a common future they don’t’ care about. Here in the U.S. they continue to take more and more, and express outrage at anyone who dares to question their entitlement, even in the wake of a Great Recession that made everyone else much worse off.
Might Eliot Spitzer be the man to put the spotlight on this? To ask questions, provide truthful information, call for fairness in allocating the losses in the future based on who has taken the lion’s share of the benefits in the sordid past? To let the serfs, younger generations, and younger and future public employees know exactly what has been done to them, and by (collectively) whom, and to demand fairness for ordinary people? The powerful interests seem to think so. Their passionate backing of Scott Stringer for Comptroller seems to have convinced Gatemouth they are right. Spitzer as the champion of the common person just living their lives, against those inside the room sucking the life out of our common institutions and common future? When you look back at Spitzer’s tenure as Governor, you see a different reality. A man whose primary concern is the greater glory of Eliot Spitzer.
Politics in New York is driven by two groups of people. Producers of public services, the public employee unions and contractors, who are always looking to provide less in exchange for more. And wealthy people and interests who do not require public services themselves, and do not want to pay for others to have them. The wealthy dominate the federal government, using it to profit at the expense of the rest of us, but the public employee unions and contractors dominate New York State government, using the power of the state legislature to cheat the less well off and the common future. That’s why we have the highest state and local tax burden in the country, but also have declining public services.
The state’s politicians don’t want to admit, to us or even themselves, that they are cheating less powerful ordinary people to benefit the interests that back them. So they seek to separate in time the sacrifices they impose from the deals they do, postponing the pain to a future they don’t care about, when they can lie and claim that it is “due to circumstances beyond our control.” And they seek with rage and desperation to ensure that the consequences of their deals and favors, for the ordinary people and the future, are kept quiet. That is why the special interests try so hard to keep control of the Office of the Comptroller, city and state. Because it is the purported job of those offices to tell the truth, loudly and passionately, and defend the future in order to force elected officials to admit, or at least consider, the consequences of their actions. Neither of the current candidates for New York City Comptroller is likely to do. Based on what Scott Stringer has done and more importantly has not done, and Eliot Spitzer has done and has not done, I fear the former is just another Albany legislator sent to the Comptroller’s office to cover things up, and the latter is a megalomaniac.
Thanks to a former Governor, anyone reading this knows that Thursday was the deadline for candidates to file designating petitions for the Democratic, Republican, Conservative, Working Families, Green & Independence Parties.
Candidates in their OWN words. Thursday night, we hosted an hour- long special on the NYC Race for Mayor on RNN-TV.
Most readers believe that Greek literature is in its entirety an exercise in the glory of war with a great deal of violent anguish and death. But a close reading reveals that the ancient texts may for the most part be an anti war message disguised as action stories.
Eliot Spitzer may be the only man in the history of Albany ever to pay for it, but compared to Anthony Weiner that doesn't seem pathetic at all.
The other day I saw a couple of guys with a Weiner sign carrying nominating petitions in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall.
Over enabling Term number Three for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, back in late April Anthony Weiner declared war on City Council Speaker Christine Quinn saying term limits was the deal breaker, he can't support Quinn in any capacity, even as the Democratic Nominee in the Race for Mayor. So much for party unity! Well Quinn is shooting back. Just the other day, here was herresponse to Weiner:
Quite often in politics seemingly insignificant endorsements eventually bear lots of surprising fruit. In this year’s NYC mayoral race, such an occurrence could be shaping up. There are five top candidates in the democrat’s September primary, and the consensus amongst political pundits appears to be that the winner of this primary will be the next mayor of New York City. I suspect that this view is being propagated by voter-registration numbers which suggest that democrats dominate the rolls; and also because a democrat hasn’t won the mayoralty since 1989.
High local spending on health and welfare functions has long differentiated New York City from local governments in the suburbs and elsewhere in the United States. Much of that money is not paid for by city taxpayers, but merely passes through the city’s after being collected by the federal and state governments, which also set the rules. There are huge issues and possibly huge changes in health care finance, but most of these involve the federal and state governments, not the city and not the Mayor.
Even leaving aside required local contributions to New York State’s Medicaid program and the Health and Hospitals Corporation, which I discussed in the initial post in this series, New York City’s health and social services infrastructure is huge. As proposed for FY 2014, the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, Department of Homeless Services, Department of Health and Mental Hygene, and Department of Social Services (excluding welfare and Medicaid payments) combined are expected to spend $7.9 billion. Of this amount, less than one-third is to be spent on city personnel, with the rest going to health and social service contractors, generally in the non-profit sectors. Given that we have just been through a national economic calamity, and given that the City of New York is facing an ongoing fiscal crisis, one might expect that spending on programs for the poor would have increased strongly. But did it?