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Alev Ha-Sholem to The Father of Brooklyn Political Blogging


U.S. Healthcare: Money for Nothing?

I was intrigued by an article by a New York-based City Planner in the latest issue of Planning magazine (no link -- subscribers only). He was on a bicycle trip to Cuba when his friend dropped dead of a heart attack. “The experience, while traumatic, would take me into places difficult for a foreigner to reach.” Although Cuba has a reputation for excellent medical care he found “a country that was shockingly primitive. The medical attention my friend received was rudimentary, in a facilities that were skeletal.” He was “shocked at the worn, run down hospital corridors and the appearance of staff simply standing around, doing nothing.” He had to move his friend’s body into the hospital himself. “Parts of the hospital were dirty. To cite one vivid example: Directly across from the examining room where doctors tried to revive my friend was an overflowing toilet with a broken sink; there was no place for visitors to wash their hands.”

And yet, according to the article, "Cuba’s life expectancy matches the U.S., according to United Nations statistics.” Hmmm.

2013 Primary Analysis (Part Two): We Are Still a Tale of At Least Two Cities (and Probably More That That)

SHARPTON:  What the election showed the other night is that a lot of the identity politics of 20 years ago, 30 years ago, has now become identity politics of policy…You can no longer take yesterday’s maps for today’s politics…It’s a

New York City: Economic Refugee Camp

When the federal shutdown ends and monthly employment data is once again released, we will probably find that New York City’s unemployment rate is still high. What is interesting, however, is why it is so high. According to the survey of business establishments, the number of people working at payroll jobs in New York City (including those who commute in) is the highest it has ever been. And according to data based on the survey of households, the number of city residents who were employed in June 2013 was only slightly below the pre-recession level of June 2007, while for the U.S. as a whole the number employed was 1.8 million lower. New York City’s unemployment rate is high because the city’s labor force, including those looking for work but not employed, has soared. In a country that is suffering a far greater economic decline than New York City, the city has become an economic refugee camp with young workers trying to find some economic hope.

But they aren’t earning so much. Before shutting down, the U.S. Census Bureau released American Community Survey data for 2012. The data showed that New York City’s median household income fell 5.5% from 2008 to 2012 when adjusted for inflation. The median work earnings per household fell 6.9%, and since full-time full-year workers showed some modest gains in earnings, the share of workers able to maintain that status must have fallen significantly. Moreover, inflation adjusted mean household income, affected to a greater extent by earnings of the rich, fell 7.7% from 2008 to 2012, showing that even the one percent have not been spared. This is the case nationally as well, according to data cited by this article. Some spreadsheets and additional commentary may be found here on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”

How Adolfo Carrion Can Win My Vote

Unfortunately, the apathy of everyone else has left state and local politics to be dominated by the producers of public services, who want to force people to pay more for less, the wealthy, who do not require public services and benefits and do not want to pay for others to have them, and (to a lesser extent than in the past, fortunately) whackos obsessed by God, gays, guns and other issues of tribal and identity politics. These are the people and groups who donate the money and collect the signatures. And since the mainstream media uses endorsements, signatures and campaign contributions as the indicator of who is worth presenting to the broader public, their candidates are those who get the attention. Particularly since such candidates have flacks to do the work of the journalists for them.

Others are left with the valuable but unrewarding task of being protest candidates. As someone who lost nine months of income and ended my public service career to make a similar protest, they have my respect. I have previously written what the major party candidates for Mayor have to do to win my vote. If they fail to win do so, Adolfo Carrion can win that vote by showing, in the Mayoral debates, that he is prepared to speak for the rest of us, and for younger generations. Or by being excluded from those debates, which would really tick me off.

Big Issues in the Mayoral Race

In his 20s, Bill DeBlasio was interested in the Sandinistas and visited Nicaragua. Joe Lhota's wife was at fault in an auto accident five years ago. Next up, something Leonora Fulani said 20 or 30 or 40 years ago, and the candidates on twerking, whatever that is.

Not under discussion: the City of New York is broke. The State of New York is broke. The MTA is broke. The federal government is broke. People are increasingly broke, and younger generations are poorer than those who came before. Why? Who benefitted? Who should sacrifice, when and in what way, to stabilize things? It's joke.

How Joe Lhota Can Earn My Vote

I’ve noted that I don’t vote for Democrats at the local level, because they represent the producers of public services at the expense of increasingly less well off taxpayers and consumers of public services. And I don’t vote for Republicans at the federal level, on generational equity grounds and because they represent the unearned privileges of the wealthy in exchange for campaign contributions. In my post on Bill DeBlasio, I challenged him to earn my vote by separating himself from the public employee unions and contractors, to at least present the illusion that someone will be representing everyone else. In this post on Joe Lhota, I challenge him to separate himself from policies that shift costs to the future and disadvantage younger generations to make things easier for Generation Greed – and politicians today. Admit that the future will be tougher for younger generations, and they will have to settle for less as a result. And to break the seeming rule of Omerta with regard to what has gone on in the past by talking about it, saying it was wrong, and promising to try to reverse it or at least not make it worse.

In general Republican politicians have robbed the future from younger generations with debts and tax breaks for seniors, and Democratic politicians have done so with pension deals and senior services what will leave younger generations destitute when they reach old age themselves. But in bi-partisan New York State, both Democrats and Republicans work together to destroy the future of the city and state, and those who will live in it, both ways. Including the Giuliani Administration and those who have run the MTA. Let’s take a walk down memory lane with two examples of the policies Lhota would need to bring up, criticize, vow not to repeat, and admit that things will be worse – not better – to pay for going forward.

New York Times Endorsements: NYC Democrats Are Different, and Worse

I’ve often noted that my general voting rules are: don’t vote for any Republicans at the federal level, don’t vote for any Democrats at the New York City local level, and don’t vote for any incumbents from either party in the New York State Legislature. Recently, I followed a link to a timeline of New York Times endorsements for Mayor of New York, and found I may not be the only person who thinks that way, at least for the first two rules. The timeline shows that in 32 mayoral elections going back to consolidation, the Times endorsed only 9 NYC Democrats. This includes two endorsements of Ed Koch in 1981 and 1985, when he was also the Republican candidate. I’m not sure that counts. And two endorsements of Jimmy Walker in the 1920s. I think they’d like to have those back. That brings it down to 5 out of 32. And 15 times the Times endorsed third party or fusion candidates, nearly half the total. This is the organization that opposed non-partisan elections?

This is the liberal, Democrat loving Times? Yes, if you are talking about Democrats from somewhere else. At the national level, in 33 elections since 1884 the Times has endorsed Republican candidates for President only six times. And one of those was a local, Thomas E. Dewey. I’m not sure that counts, given that Dewey was probably popular with the Times’ readers. That brings it down to 5 of 33. Heck, the Times didn’t even endorse New Yorker Teddy Roosevelt. The Times has not endorsed a Republican for President since Eisenhower in 1956. There was also one third party/fusion endorsement. The rest, 25 out of 33, were Democrats.

Ta Ta For Now

When I announced about five months ago that I was dialing it down, I never thought that the break would last much longer than half a year. But lately, I’ve found keeping up with my political reading to be a burden, and keeping up my political writing, even on only a semi-regular basis, to not be worth the schtuss.

Blogging The Unfathomable

Though I wear proudly my advanced degree (I am a Doctor of Jewish Prune Juice), I never expected that I myself would ever be the subject of any academic study by a Ph.D, unless those letters stood for “Pretty Hip Dude.’

How Bill DeBlasio Can Earn My Vote

It won’t be easy. For years – decades – I have generally stuck by a few simple voting rules. Don’t vote for any incumbent New York State legislators of either party, based on what the state has done for the past 20 years. Don’t vote for any Republicans at the federal level, on generational equity grounds among others. And don’t vote for any Democrats at the local level, because they represent the self-interest of producers of public services (the public sector unions and contractors) at the expense of the less well organized, generally less well off consumers of public services and taxpayers, in the city with among the highest tax burdens in the country. While being willing to cut a deal with wealthy business interests from time to time as well. I’ll certainly give Joe Lhota a hearing, though I have some big issues with the generational equity of certain financial policies of the Giuliani Administration, back when he was its budget director. And unlike many I’ll give Adolfo Carrion a hearing. He’s the only candidate I’ve actually had a conversation with, decades ago when we were both junior city planners with the NYC Department of City Planning.

As it happens, the public sector unions generally endorsed Bill DeBlasio’s rivals in the Democratic primary. Same with those in the financial and real estate sectors, and most of those in the private sector who make their living from government contracts. But they’ll rush to endorse DeBlasio now. If he wants to earn my vote, he can start by actively pursuing the support of private sector unions, who seem to be rushing to endorse him, but politely turning down the support of public sector unions, while promising to be fair to city workers. And turning down or even returning contributions from contractor organizations, real estate interests, and the financial sector. To send the message, or at least provide the illusion, that when labor contracts, development deals, and tax breaks are negotiated in the room, the people outside the room will be represented by someone too.

Hey Twentysomethings: My Clueless Daughters Will Not Be Voting in the Mayoral Primary, Will You?

What happens when you cross two carefree college students in their late teens and early 20s with the New York City Board of Elections? The loss of the ability to vote, in something as rare in New York City as the reappearance of as the 17-year cicada – a real election with a real choice. From the time they came from college in May, I pestered my daughters to send in a new absentee ballot form, but like most Americans that age they didn’t want to do something unless and until they had to. And when they finally got around to looking at the absentee ballot form, they decided they didn’t have to do anything at all. The form allows you to put in the dates when you will be away. They filled out the form last year, voted in last year’s election, and put in as the dates that they would be away all four years of college. That’s it, they decided, they were covered and didn’t need to fill out the form again. “That’s what the form says Dad,” followed by my least favorite phrase. “It’s fine.”

The Two Phases of the Mayoral Race

The Mayoral race has been a farce. The so-called policy books of the candidates provide all kinds of little giveaways, to you and you and you, with for the most part no idea where the money will come from. Meanwhile the mainstream media and the candidates point to a grave fiscal crisis that will later be used as an excuse. Here is the Times in its endorsement of Quinn. “The biggest challenge has not been talked about much — next year the new mayor will have to confront a budget crisis with no money to spare and all those expired municipal contracts to settle.”

Why? Why was it not talked about? Why is there a budget crisis? Employment is at a record high. Stock prices were at a record high and remain up for the year. The State of New York has raised income taxes on the rich, and MTA payroll taxes on everyone who earns a wage. The federal government has also raised income taxes on the rich, and payroll taxes on everyone else. The city has increased property taxes and fees. Services have been cut. What is going on, who has benefitted? Why is this fair? No one is willing to say. Because those who say will find themselves very unpopular with the limited number of self-interested people who matter.

How I Got the Pollsters To Leave Me Alone

I found that saying I'm not a Democrat or Republican makes them go away.