Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tune Up Your Fiddles - The Fire's Begun

There is a fiscal crisis. Yeah yeah yeah. You're sick to death of hearing about it.

But really. There is.

Today's news was that the brand new MTA payroll tax New York's governor imposed on the Hudson Valley service area has come up 200 million dollars short. And the state's cutting its aid to the MTA by 143 million dollars as well.

What happened? No one's sure yet. Maybe people just haven't paid up yet. Maybe they can't. But the MTA is now scrambling to create its legally mandated balanced budget with a huge, nasty surprise hole in its revenue.

That's just the beginning, according to the governor's budget office. There are hard choices ahead, a spokesman says.

There's a three billion dollar deficit this year. Next year it's seven billion. And the next year, when the stimulus money is gone, it's thirteen billion dollars. Thirteen billion dollars.

This is in a state that's already so heavily taxed that businesses are leaving - not arriving. It's a state where personal and property taxes are among the highest in the country and while the cost of living goes up, salaries stay flat and jobs disintegrate.

You'd expect to see some very serious talk of reform at the state level. Or maybe not. If you live here, you know better.

We're transfixed by the former Senate majority leader's corruption trial (he was found guilty on two of seven counts). We're watching our former governor rebuild his image as a political pundit after being busted for paying for sex. We're arguing over whether the governor should run again or step aside.

Meanwhile, New York is burning.

There are a lot of important issues and it's hard to prioritize - there are civil rights questions, environmental issues, things that will haunt us for generations.

But not if we don't change the way we do business and make sure the state actually stays solvent.

New York mandates school programs but doesn't fund them. Instead, our taxes go up. New York mandates social programs in the counties but doesn't fund them. Our taxes go up.

There is no efficiency, there is little oversight, there's no big picture thinking.

There are highly paid positions filled by cronies and relatives. There are career politicians who are more interested in the content of their pockets and the influence they can wield than the welfare of their constituents.

There is partisan gridlock, with no better illustration than the immature, irresponsible shutdown of the Senate this past summer.

We've got crooks in the legislature - not just quiet ones but ones facing charges. Others have been convicted.

Aid to social service agencies is being cut while the need for their services is at an all time high.

We're in trouble. But there's still no sense of urgency either among the voters or in Albany.

And what's really sad is I think it's not an uncommon story.

Hear that? The fiddle's playing.


nocomme1 said...

Margaret Thatcher once said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." NY just shows that you don't need full-blown socialism for Thatcher's quote to retain its truth; a big, bloated social-oid govt is sufficient. This is scary to consider but what is worse is your accurate description here: "But there's still no sense of urgency either among the voters or in Albany." A giant mommy/daddy state tends to lull the kids (voters) into believing that it can just print up some more bucks and everything will be fine. The irresponsibility we're seeing in NY (and MA and CA etc) we're also seeing writ large in Washington. The results are likely to be catastrophic.

The Michael Moores' of this world can disparage capitalism all they want but people simply act more responsibly with what they perceive as their OWN money. Big pools of money that belongs to "everybody" will invariably get wasted. Smaller sums that are "yours" are less likely to be spent cavalierly.

Yet another commonsense reason capitalism is better than statism.

Susan said...

Voters have no sense of urgency, in part, because they've given up.
Who are these "people"? Voters? No. Politicians, then? At what point do you imagine they'll realize this is "their" money?
It isn't. They've protected themselves.
It us versus them and they've got the cards. That's capitalism as we play it.
You and I will never agree on what government should do.
We can probably agree that what it WILL do is not much.
And when the house of cards falls, each side will blame the other...a pointless exercise.

nocomme1 said...

While I obviously frequently disagree with you I can usually follow you. Not so this time.

"It us versus them and they've got the cards. That's capitalism as we play it." I'm saying that the government is grabbing more and more power, more and more of our money and our freedoms. (Now the EPA has grabbed for itself the power to potentially penalize us for exhaling.)

That isn't capitalism. It destroys free markets, small business, the entrepeneurial spirit. It is the road to socialism. It is the transfer of power from individuals to the government. So I really just don't get what you're trying to say here.