Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gerrymandering in New York State

NY1 illustrates even more corruption in the New York State Legislature:

It almost goes without saying that in a functioning democracy, the voters choose their representatives. But some say it’s the other way around in New York where by drawing their own district lines, Albany lawmakers can pick and choose which voters they represent -- a longstanding phenomenon known as gerrymandering.

The article also shows that this is no coincidence:

By law, the lines must be redrawn every 10 years, with New York divided up into districts for each of its 62 state senators; 150 State Assembly members; and 29 members of the House of Representatives.  

So who exactly gets to draw the lines? It’s a process essentially controlled by the leaders of each house in Albany -- the Assembly speaker and the leader of the State Senate. And historically, they’ve drawn the lines to make sure their members get reelected, and that their party remains in power.  

Consider that statewide, Democrats outnumber Republicans almost two to one. Yet Republicans maintained control of the State Senate for more than 40 years. This time around, with Democrats having won a slim majority in the senate two years ago, Malcolm Smith told upstate Democrats earlier this year, "We are going to draw the lines so that Republicans will be in oblivion in the State of New York for the next 20 years."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Financial Crisis Incompetence Commission

The Financial Crisis "Inquiry" Commission is still "inquiring", wasting time, and (of course) has received an extra $1.8 million on top of the panel's initial $8 million budget.

The commission was ill-conceived to begin with, considering it would be constructed by bureaucrats that were in large part responsible for the crisis to begin with. Chairman Phil Agelides, former Treasurer of California, has already been exposed for having an obvious conflict of interest and previously encouraging California's Public Retirement System (CalPERS) to invest in Greece. Obviously Greece and California have both taken a turn for the worst.

Meanwhile, the two government sponsored failures (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) have yet to be addressed and have been completely disregarded by the "Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act". One should not be surprised by this considering that Chris Dodd and Barney Frank were instrumental in exacerbating and compounding the housing crisis, as discussed at length and in great detail by Thomas Sowell in his book "The Housing Boom and Bust".

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Index of Worker Freedom

The Alliance for Worker Freedom (part of Americans for Tax Reform) has created an Index of Worker Freedom and graded New York State with an "F".

The 2009 Index of Worker Freedom (IWF) is the Alliance for Worker Freedom’s second sate-by-state comparative study that measures the level of worker freedom by analyzing actual policy as well as quantitative state data.

New York received an IWF score of three out of fifteen, earning an “F” score. With the highest union density, highest public sector union membership, and second highest private sector union membership, it is crucial that New York pass worker protections to prevent union corruption and coercion. Right to work laws are critical to preserve workers’ right to choose whether they join a union. Without this protection, workers are forced to pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. In the public sector, over 1 million people belong to a union, 70.5 percent of the public sector workforce. Even more workers, 72.5 percent of the public workforce are covered under a collective bargaining agreement.16 Collective bargaining agreements treat all workers exactly the same and do not account for differing abilities, talents, and preferences. They do not provide incentives for workers to excel and get better pay or benefits. New York needs to take further action to protect the freedom of public sector workers by passing paycheck protection laws. Without these protections, unions take dues directly from workers’ paychecks and may use that money for political campaigns. Paycheck protections require unions to ask workers before they spend union dues on political activities.

Right to Work (RTW) 0 
Union Density (UD) 0 
Public Union Membership (UMU) 0 
Private Union Membership (UMR) 0 
Paycheck Protection (PP) 0 
Prevailing Wage (PW) 0 
Collective Bargaining (CB) 0 
Workers Comp (WC) 0 
Minimum Wage (MW) 0 
Entrepreneurial Activity (EA) 1 
Health Insurance Mandates (IM) 0 
Licensing (L) 1 
Unemployment (UE) 1 
State Corporate Tax Rates (CTR) 0 
Top Marginal Tax Rates (MTR) 0 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Neither Protective Nor Affordable

The "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" does not protect patients, nor does it lower costs, as government intervention (price controls, bureaucratic rationing, and unconstitutional mandates) would only be endorsed by someone completely economically ignorant.

Even two progressives such as David Paterson and Michael Bloomberg did not support this ill-conceived and outright irresponsible legislation, as shown in Reason Magazine:

At the tail end of December 2009, as negotiations on the final Senate version of the health care overhaul were being completed, David Paterson, the Democratic governor of New York, held a joint press conference with independent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in which they declared their unified opposition to ObamaCare. The legislation, they warned, would cost the state $1 billion, threaten the continued operation of many hospitals and nursing homes, and force the city to close 100 clinics. Bloomberg told the New York Daily News the law was “a disgrace.” A bitter Paterson groused that he felt like his state was being “punished.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Business Council of New York State

The Business Council of New York State has released it's 2010 Pro-Jobs Voter Guide Agenda.

The poorest scoring Assembly members consisted of Sheldon Silver and 62 others receiving pro-jobs ratings of 0%.

The poorest scoring State Senators consisted of Kevin Parker, Eric Schneiderman, and 7 others receiving a pro-jobs rating of less than 15%.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sheldon Silver

Sheldon Silver (also known as "The Worst Politician in America"), lives up to his nickname as he continues to engage in activities that demonstrate a blatant conflict of interest and questionable business practices:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver 'is the biggest enemy of reform
Shelly Silver, Public Enemy #1
Housekeeping needed in Albany leadership posts
Silver's $200 million slush fund
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is urged to tell all on his gold-lined stock portfolio
Share your secrets, Shelly: Silver must clear up possible conflicts of interest
Sheldon Silver's stock shares in 30 companies may be conflict of interest

Organizations seeking reform to prevent such conflicts of interest, such as NY Uprising, are attempting to implement "a comprehensive annual financial disclosure form that includes disclosure of outside income".  NY Uprising has compiled a list of those refusing to sign such reform, which consists of 92 Democrats and 15 Republicans.  Of course the worst politician in America and many of his close allies within the Assembly are amongst those refusing to sign the petition.

Further examples of this flagrant disregard of ethics and failure to act on the taxpayers interest:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's firm gets cut of 9/11-suit payouts

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bubble Economy

Paul Krugman on August 2, 2002 in the New York Times:

"To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble."

Keynesians, bureaucrats, elected officials (and/or those who may not necessarily be concerned with conditions left for future generations) are always much more casual with other people's money.  Reaganite Conservatives, Libertarians, Classical Liberals, followers of the Chicago school of economics (such as Milton Friedman), and those of the Austrian school of economics (such as Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek), believe in allowing the markets to work in order to achieve liberty, long term economic growth, and economic stabilization.