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Could New York State Reform Health Care?

What would I say about Obamacare, compared with the health care finance problems I identified, and solutions I proposed, in early 2008 before President Obama was elected? (You can read my entire series on health care in the MS word document attached to this post). I would say that legislation makes reform possible, but it is not reform in itself. As I noted at the time, U.S. healthcare is mostly government financed, directly or indirectly, but with complicated flows of public money under a wide variety of deals, the distribution that money is horribly inequitable. The tie between government health insurance subsidies, via a tax break, and a particular place of employment is bad for workers, entrepreneurs, and the economy. The U.S. healthcare system is extremely expensive, and delivers poor value. From the point of view of consumer protection, it engages in abuses that would not be tolerated in any other industry. 

While Obamacare will reduce some of the inequities, it left the most of the complex and inequitable U.S. healthcare finance system in place, and punted much of the responsibility for further progress to the states. Which is not a good thing if you have a corrupt and poorly run state. The only reason New York will have a state health insurance exchange, as mandated by the Obamacare legislation, is that Governor Cuomo somehow was able to get around our parasitic legislature and create one by fiat. Yet there are many abuses that a state could get rid of, if it were not controlled by a legislature whose MO was to allow abuses in exchange for campaign contributions. In a major development, the federal government shined a light on one just last week. I’ll talk about it, and how a more “progressive” (the early 1900s version, not the self-interest group politics of so-called NY “progressives” today) state might respond, on Saying the Unsaid In New York.

What's in a Name? Debate Over "Redskins" as Team Name

I say if a team name offends Native Americans, change the name of name of the team. What do you think?

Hunt’s Point: Time for the Serfs To Pay Up Again?

Crain’s New York Business reports that negotiations between the City of New York and the existing food wholesalers at Hunts Point are at an impasse. The existing wholesalers, on public land they receive for nothing, want new, modernized buildings for their operations. There was supposedly a deal for the city, state and federal governments to pay half for their new buildings, but now that deal has supposedly fallen through. “With tensions high, the market could rekindle talks with New Jersey, which had been wooing the vendors with tax breaks and other incentives—though, according to Mr. D'Arrigo, the co-op has not talked to Garden State officials in two years. Complicating the negotiations is the fact that last month the produce vendors sued the city, naming as a defendant the Business Integrity Commission, a law-enforcement agency that regulates public food markets and haulers and carters, among other industries.”

I guess members of the general public have no leverage here. We’ll just have to pay more in taxes, and accept less in public services, to give them whatever subsidies they want, and then pay up because any competing food wholesalers seeking to enter the market would not benefit from those subsidies. Mayor Bloomberg would probably give away the store to seal a deal his successor would have to pay for, but the successor would be under even more pressure to show that he or she is not “against the middle class” by losing blue collar jobs. So those not in on any of these deals, I suppose, will have to accept being worse and worse off. Just as when the rich who sit on each other’s corporate boards enrich each other’s pay packages, then demanded a federal bailout when their house of cards collapses. Just as when the federal government had no choice but to run up the debt to prevent that collapse, but now those debts will force those age 55 and younger to lose federal old age benefits. Just as when the politicians and public employee unions cut deals to enrich their pensions, and then demand even more in taxes or service cuts to pay for it. Just as the Yankees demanded their empty parking garage or they would move to New Jersey, and rich threaten to leave town when taxes rise. They’ve got us. They’ve got our children. If you aren’t in the room, you are the victim, and we aren’t in the room. Does it have to be so? I’ll discuss further on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”

The Gateway (Presumption of Ignorance Edition)

Frank Bruni: "Had a Southern governor named Marcia Sanford been entangled with a Latin lover when reputedly hiking the Appalachian Trail, would she today be her part

Stop and Frisk

I normally don’t comment on topical, symbolic issues like this, preferring instead to write about issues that I myself raise, issues that I know more about. And I’ve pretty much given up writing about solutions, because I have come to realize that solutions based on my assumptions – that everyone has equal value and the future and those who will live in it matter, for example – are not what politicians are looking for. And yet so much nonsense is being tossed around on the subject of “stop and frisk” that I feel compelled to comment, because those throwing the nonsense are in effect pretending that their pandering is cost free and will not result in losses elsewhere. This is the usual free political free shot – pander to one constituency, and blame any responsible suckers for the associated consequences.

Several facts need to be considered. According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, New York City’s overall crime rate, once well above the U.S. average, is now well below U.S. average, although the city remains above average in the one crime that it seems to specialize in – robbery. In March 2002, according the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of New York City police officers was 2.9 times the U.S. average relative to population, and in FY 2011 it was still 2.81 times the U.S. average. In 2010, according to the 2012 financial report of the New York City Police Pension fund, there were 34,600 active members working, earning an average of $100,127. And 44,630 retired members, receiving an average of $40,200, free of state and local income taxes, with automatic increases each year. In the January 2006 Financial Plan from the NYC Office of Management and Budget, FY 2006 judgments and claims against the NYPD were projected to total $101 million. In the February 2013 Financial Plan, the estimate for this fiscal year is $180 million. I’ll discuss these facts and others at “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”

Yes or No in Debates.

It's my contention that "Yes or No" questions can be quite effective in debates.  

It proved to be a tough night a few years ago for Gifford Miller when he stalled on a question of whether he would send his kids to public school.  Another Weiner showed he could hit such questions out the ballpark. 

Then there was a few years ago when such questions showed Bloomberg's personality. 

Might he be the next mayor: Joe Lhota

This week on RNN-TV, we went one-one-one with Republican Candidate for Mayor Joe Lhota.  

Here is part one  and here is part two for viewing

The Gateway (Post Card From a Mental Health Break Edition)

So, here’s the story. I’m no longer getting up every morning looking for a couple of items (I set six as a minimum awhile ago) for filler for the Gateway, so the real items don’t go stale before I get a piece up, and I’m no longer looking to have an on the record remark about every little thing.

Has Andrew Cuomo Stopped The Pataki Local Government Boom?

One of the ironies of recent history is that although politicians from the rest of the New York State routinely accused New York City of draining their communities through wasteful government spending and a welfare culture, a charge dating back to the administration of Mayor Lindsay and the annual tin cup pilgrimage to Albany, the reality has been nearly the reverse. During the Pataki Administration and after, in fact, local government employment in the rest of the state soared. Even as the independent economic base of Upstate New York, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley – in manufacturing, corporate headquarters and high tech companies such as IBM and Grumman, withered away. During the darkest days of the New York City economy, someone like Bella Abzug might have suggested making up for lost private sector jobs by just giving people more government jobs, so they could have unlimited health insurance and early retirement pensions, and making someone else pay for it. But the rest of New York State has seemingly tried to actually pull that off, burdening the remaining private sector employers there, New York City, and – through debts and deferred pension costs – the future. This trend was relentless and seemed to go on and on regardless of economic cycles.

Starting in 2009, however, it shuddered to a halt and began to reverse. Have the policies of Governor Andrew Cuomo stopped the trend? Has the burden on the private sector in the rest of the state reached breaking point? Or have the costs from the past finally caught up with the local government growth machine? You can review the data on "Saying the Unsaid in New York."

The Gateway (Dialing It Down Edition)

It sometimes seems as if Mike Bloomberg is actually a conspiracy, put on earth as proof that the preposterous right wing fantasies about liberals wanting to create a mommy-state, which impairs all our personal freedoms, are really true.

From Bristol to Brooklyn Heights

I really did not intend for the Levin/Pierson Council race to become a cause célèbre in this department.

The Gateway (Kangaroo Court Edition)

Because even a stopped clock is right twice a day, Andrea Peyser's whine about left opposition to Quinn is not without an occasional salient point,  but to assert as Peyser does that "Quinn...once enjoyed the uniform support of the city’s vast left-wing cabal," is to indulge in Bizarro-world delusional revisionism.