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Posts Tagged ‘New York’
November 28th, 2012 at 11:41 am
Party Polarization on Display in U.S. House

Tony Lee over at Breitbart.com highlights some interesting divergences between the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the U.S. House of Representatives:

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) on Wednesday said to “take a good look when the House convenes after this next Congress is sworn in” to see that the Republican party has gotten “white and more male,” while Democrats are “majority minority and female.”

But a University of Minnesota study found that when the 113th Congress convenes, a whopping 29.4% (59 of 201) of Democrats in the House will hail from California (38 members) and New  York (21 members).

As any number of post-election analyses has shown, liberals have been very successful at defining politics in terms of gender and ethnic identities.  What is striking about the Minnesota study is how much those identities – and the ideology of government activism that supports them – are anchored in America’s two most populous coastal states.

Remember this reality the next time you hear an MSNBC talking head decry the Southern hegemony in the GOP.  As always, the parties are defined by powerbases that offer a glimpse into what each group’s policy goals might look like if the candidates promoting them are successful at the ballot box.

The Democratic Party is becoming increasingly defined by high-tax, high-spending states like California and New York.  Like European socialism, that model isn’t sustainable.  It remains to be seen if a Southern-oriented conservative can articulate not only the reasons to reject a statist future, but also the rational benefits of limited government.

September 21st, 2012 at 2:51 pm
Job Risk: Proposed NYC Paid Sick Leave Regulation Would Cost Private Employers $789 Million Annually
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“Employer voices are all in opposition to this bill.”

That was Kathy Wylde, President of the Partnership for New York City, on a proposed regulation that would force city employers to offer up to nine days each year of paid sick leave.

Almost all employers already offer sick leave, with Ernst & Young reporting that only 12% of all city employees lack it.  Further illustrating the unnecessary nature of the proposed law, the E&Y study reports that small businesses (defined as those with fewer than 20 employees) already offer an average of 7.7 days of paid sick days per year, with larger businesses already offering 8.7. The study further concludes that the proposed new burden would cost private-sector employers an astounding $789 million annually, with nonprofits and small businesses carrying $189 million of that burden.  Providing another metric, the report calculates that implementing the regulation would cost businesses 48 cents per hour, per employee.  The struggling construction, utility, hospitality and restaurant sectors would be particularly hard-hit by the proposed rule.

Proponents of the entitlement offer their own study, but their report sampled only 1,200 people in comparison to the 414,000 sampled by E&Y.  The analysis concludes, “There is a growing sentiment among employers that paid sick leave is the ‘straw’ that will break their will to continue to grow or even to operate here.”  In an economy and job market that continue to struggle, how does that serve the interests of employers, employees or city residents generally?

Fortunately, Council Speaker Christine Quinn remains strong against the potential job-killing regulation, despite pressure from labor organizations and activists detached from the everyday realities of hiring workers and keeping a business above water.   New York business owners and residents interested in the city’s economic vitality should call Speaker Quinn and tell her, “keep up the good work.”

June 13th, 2012 at 5:08 pm
When Police Care More About Revenue than Crime

Creative carpooling or rogue riders?

Today, the Wall Street Journal details how commuters over the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York are picking up passengers at bus stops near the bridge in order to pay a reduced toll.

E-ZPass customers pay $9.50, while those paying cash must cough up $12.  (Each toll will rise another $3 by 2015.)

Price of the toll for cars carrying 3 or more passengers: $6 less.

Police officers working for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – the agency which owns and operates the bridge and six other crossings – are not amused.  They claim the practice of picking up strangers to pay a cheaper toll is dangerous to drivers.  To make the point, the cops hand out tickets for hundreds of dollars a pop.  (But they do not, mind you, patrol the bus stops for dangerous looking characters.)

Those on the receiving end have a different theory.

“In order to pad their pensions and lifestyle, they’re taking bread out of our children’s mouths,” says Ms. Javier.

According to the Journal, “With extensive overtime, some toll collectors make more than $100,000, while salaries for several officers working at the bridge topped $200,000 last year.”

Public employees gouging taxpayers to pad their compensation packages?

Fuggedaboutit.

June 8th, 2011 at 7:25 pm
Giuliani, Pataki Eyeing 2012 Bids

For the one or two Republican voters waiting for New York GOPers to run for president, good news!  Former Governor George Pataki and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are sending signals they want to waste millions of dollars and hundreds of hours trying to win a crowded New Hampshire primary.

My guess is that neither man is the one the Tea Party is waiting for…

June 8th, 2011 at 3:37 pm
Weiner’s Rise to Power Also Involved Scandal

Salon’s Steve Kornacki details how embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) won his first election as a city councilman by linking a primary opponent to an infamous race riot.  Though the entire article is worth reading, Kornacki’s conclusion sums up what many are feeling about the justice of removing Weiner from office:

…he parlayed his Council spot into a seat in Congress, and you know the story from there. But who knows where Weiner would be today if he hadn’t made such a dark appeal to racial hostility days after a notorious riot?

It’s something worth keeping in mind now, as Weiner’s career hangs in the balance. Is it unfair if he loses his political future because of a scandal as dumb as this one? Sure. But it’s also not exactly fair that he ever made it this far.

March 15th, 2011 at 1:24 pm
Fed Board Member Gets Lesson in Real World Economics

In just a few hundred words a Wall Street Journal editorial writer summarizes how out-of-touch supposed ‘experts’ can be when it comes to how policies affect everyday Americans.  The object lesson comes courtesy of New York Fed President William Dudley’s failed attempt to convince citizens in Queens that the economy is doing much better than they think.

The former Goldman Sachs chief economist gave a speech explaining the economy’s progress and the Fed’s successes, but come question time the main thing the crowd wanted to know was why they’re paying so much more for food and gas. Keep in mind the Fed doesn’t think food and gas prices matter to its policy calculations because they aren’t part of “core” inflation.

So Mr. Dudley tried to explain that other prices are falling. “Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful,” he said. “You have to look at the prices of all things.”

Reuters reports that this “prompted guffaws and widespread murmuring from the audience,” with someone quipping, “I can’t eat an iPad.” Another attendee asked, “When was the last time, sir, that you went grocery shopping?”

Mr. Dudley has been one of the leading proponents of negative real interest rates and quantitative easing, so this common-man razzing is a case of rough justice. If Mr. Dudley were wise, he’d take it to heart and understand that Americans aren’t buying the Fed’s line that rising commodity prices are no big deal. Unlike banks and hedge funds, they can’t borrow at near-zero interest rates, and most of them don’t have big stock portfolios. Wall Street and Congress may love the Fed’s free-money policy, but Mr. Dudley and Chairman Ben Bernanke ought to worry about losing the confidence of the middle class.

Ronald Reagan destroyed confidence in Jimmy Carter with one simple question: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”  Any Republican presidential hopeful that can channel the frustration in Queens into a similarly concise indictment of President Barack Obama will be well positioned to oust yet another bumbling Democratic incumbent.

October 21st, 2010 at 5:33 pm
Defusing New York’s ‘Debt Bomb’

The Wall Street Journal‘s Daniel Heninger explains why the New York State Comptroller race is the most important race no one has heard of:

August 27th, 2010 at 10:20 am
Liberal Hypocrisy: Eugene Robinson Praises NYC Mosque, But Beck Rally Is “In-Your-Face Provocation?”
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Are liberals becoming so desperate and deranged that they’re no longer intellectually capable of recognizing their comic hypocrisy?  Exhibit A:  The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson.

Opponents of the proposed Ground Zero mosque in New York accept proponents’ right to build there, but correctly point out that having a right to do something doesn’t make it the right thing to do.  According to Robinson, however, opponents are guilty of “lies, distortions, jingoism, xenophobia.”  Robinson also claims that “opportunistic” mosque opponents “obviously do not” understand that “we have a Bill of Rights that protects our freedoms against the whims of public opinion.”

That was Robinson on Tuesday, August 17 – just last week.

Fast forward one week, and Robinson is singing a different tune.  Perhaps what remained of his intellectual hard drive was wiped clean.  In his commentary today, Robinson labels Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally this weekend on the national mall in Washington, D.C. an “in-your-face” event, and says it “is obviously intended to be a provocation.”   And just like the mosque opponents he demonizes, he suddenly emphasizes the difference between having a right and doing what’s right:

Let me state clearly that Glenn Beck has every right to hold his absurdly titled ‘Restoring Honor’ rally on Saturday.  But the rest of us have every right to call the event what it is:  an exercise in self-aggrandizement on a Napoleonic scale.”

Obviously, Robinson’s substantive critique of the Restoring Honor rally is no more rational than his attacks on Ground Zero mosque opponents.  It’s remarkable, however, how quickly Robinson began to distinguish a right to do something versus doing what he considers to be the right thing.  It’s possible, of course, that Robinson suddenly saw the light and understood the folly of his attacks against Ground Zero mosque opponents.  Unfortunately, it’s more likely that he merely suffers from hypocrisy and severe intellectual vertigo.

August 23rd, 2010 at 6:11 pm
Christopher Hitchens Cuts Through the Noise on the Ground Zero Mosque
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With the Ground Zero Mosque raising the hackles of some of the loudest and most cloying voices on both sides of the political aisle, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find a pundit of any ideological persuasion who can put together a reasoned position on the proposed house of worship.

A glaring exception comes courtesy of Christoper Hitchens’ piece on Slate today, where he highlights some of the darker views of Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, the head of the group looking to build the mosque. Foremost among them is Rauf’s unapologetic embrace of the radical regime in Iran — a position that Hitchens rightly notes can’t be squared with any authentic belief in democracy or liberalism.

That’s particularly ironic when you consider how much Rauf and company have wrapped themselves in the flag of tolerance as they push forward on the mosque project, a tactic brilliantly dissected by Hitchens:

Emboldened by the crass nature of the opposition to the center, its defenders have started to talk as if it represented no problem at all and as if the question were solely one of religious tolerance. It would be nice if this were true. But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism. We are wrong to talk as if the only subject was that of terrorism. As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything “offensive” to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a teeny smidgeon of violence from some other unnamed quarter …

In recent days, many critics of the mosque have been tarred by liberals who use the most extreme examples of opposition to Rauf’s plans to indict the nearly2/3 of the public who are opposed to it (see Frank Rich’s column in the New York Times this weekend for an example). With spokespeople as eloquent as Hitchens, however, that line of attack will ultimately prove fruitless.

July 8th, 2010 at 3:35 pm
LeBron James and the Tiebout Hypothesis
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The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Here it goes: my name is Troy and I geek out at the intersection of sports and economics.

Today’s example — catnip for conservatives — comes from NBA superstar LeBron James’s much-anticipated announcement of where he’ll be playing next season now that he’s a free agent.

Apart from the option of staying in Cleveland (which won’t be habitable until the folks at Reason are through with it), Lebron’s two most prominent options look to be the New York Knicks or the Miami Heat. But even if both teams offer him identical contracts, his take-home pay will look dramatically different. As a New York Post blog posting notes:

If LeBron James goes to the Miami Heat instead of the Knicks, blame our dysfunctional lawmakers in Albany, who have saddled top-earning New Yorkers with the highest state and city income taxes in the nation, soon to be 12.85 percent on top of the IRS bite. There is no state income tax in Florida.

Total state taxes on a 5-year, $96 million contract? $12.34 million in New York; $0 in Florida.

If LeBron ends up in Miami (and the influence of joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the Heat’s starting lineup shouldn’t be underemphasized), this blogger may be one of the only sports fans in America who traces the development to a rather obscure, short-lived economist from the Eisenhower era.

Charles Tiebout’s greatest contributions to economics was the “Tiebout Hypothesis” — which in essence stated that federalism matters because citizens vote with their feet. If a state wants productive people (and make no mistake, LeBron is an economic dynamo), they create the conditions that will bring them there. Thus, Florida has a recipe for fostering entrepreneurship, while New York has a recipe for disaster.

Of course, there are mitigating factors. Kobe Bryant stays in Los Angeles despite California’s confiscatory tax rates because of the prestige of playing with a successful legacy franchise like the Lakers. But for those of us with a more conventional cut to our jibs, the calculation is simpler.

If you have a business you can run from anywhere, would you rather do it at New York’ s 12.85% rate or for free in one of the nine states that don’t have income taxes (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming — just in case you’re looking to flee blue state insanity).

By the way, take a look at the business climates in these states and you’ll notice which model works and which model doesn’t.

 

May 20th, 2010 at 5:02 pm
The Beginning of an Economic Avalanche?
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No, I’m not referring to the recent precipitious decline in global stock markets (though there may be a connection). Instead, I’m talking about the tidal wave of state pension obligations that threaten to put the country’s entire economic infrastructure in peril. From a story in today’s Financial Times:

Joshua Rauh, associate professor of finance at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University said that, without reform, some state pensions might run out within the decade. By 2030, as many as 31 states may not have the money to pay pensions. And, if these funds exhaust their assets, the size of payments for the benefits they have promised will be too large to cover through taxes, putting pressure on the federal government for a bail-out that could potentially cost more than $1,000bn, he says.

For those of you not accustomed to the British rendering, that last number would normally be referred to stateside as a jaw-dropping “trillion” .

But how could this scenario have ever gotten this far? The FT piece explains:

Estimates put the unfunded liabilities at between $1,000bn and $3,000bn after years of states promising benefits but not contributing enough in both good times and bad to cover them.

Many states base their calculations on an 8 per cent annual return and use an accounting method called smoothing, which staggers gains and losses over several years, two factors that some observers warn could mask the size of the shortfalls. The problem has come to the fore with the financial crisis and recession. Pension funds, like most money managers, suffered losses. The tax revenues that fund annual contributions to pensions, along with essential services such as healthcare and education, have plummeted, leaving little room to reimburse the losses.

Assuming that governments can get themselves out of this morass before it’s too late, the only way to prevent a reoccurence is to switch public-sector pensions from “defined benefit” plans to “defined contribution” plans. Mort Zuckerman did a good job of showing why over at U.S. News and World Report earlier this week:

[New York City] pensions are “defined benefit” plans, which are more expensive since they guarantee specific benefits on retirement.

On the other hand, private sector workers in the survey were mostly in “defined contribution” plans, which means that, unlike their cushioned brethren in the public sector, they do not have a pre-determined benefit at retirement. If New York City were to require its current workers to pay contributions toward health insurance equal to the amounts paid by the employees of local private sector firms, the taxpayer savings would approximate $628 million a year. In New Jersey, [Governor Chris] Christie says government employee health benefits are 41 percent more expensive than those of the average Fortune 500 company.

We know when the next bubble is coming.  But with the coming attractions provided by belligerent bureaucrats in Greece, which American politician will be the first to throw himself in front of the union gravy train?

January 29th, 2010 at 12:05 pm
Moving Terror Trials out of New York?
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That’s the word from the New York Times.  If the grassroots outrage didn’t sway the White House, the objections of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and fellow Democrats appear to be enough for the White House to at least consider moving the terrorist trials.

Even liberal Democrat Chuck Schumer from New York has gently nudged President Obama away from the New York City location.  Schumer recommended to the Administration that they “find suitable alternatives” and that “concerns about costs, logistics and security” might force the trials out of New York.

Since costs could balloon to more than $1 billion for civilian trials in New York, the President is rightly balking from his initial decision.  Let’s hope his newfound ambivalence leads him to the correct decision.

November 30th, 2009 at 4:36 pm
ABA Endorses NY Gitmo Trials
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In the “not a big surprise” news category, the ABA announced that it “supports” Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try some Gitmo detainees in New York federal court.

Carolyn Lamm, President of the ABA (American Bar Association) and occasional lobbyist for Uzbekistan, wrote General Holder arguing that “[t]he transfer of these high-profile cases to federal court affirms this nation’s adherence to due process and the rule of law, and clearly establishes that these men are being tried as criminals, not as soldiers in armed conflict.”

CFIF has opined on these trials here and here, and while the Gitmo detainees are clearly being treated as criminals now, are we not now in an “armed conflict?”  How many Americans have died in Afghanistan because 9/11 conspirators like Khalid Shiekh Mohammed decided to turn passenger jets into missiles?   Would American conspirators in foreign countries be tried in civilian courts for engaging in acts of war?

The ABA seeks “competent assistance of counsel … due process … and [the right] to be treated as innocent until proven guilty” for the Gitmo detainees.  Let’s hope they receive those rights without jeopardizing national security or turning a real trial into a spectacle that puts American foreign policy on the witness stand.

November 25th, 2009 at 1:27 pm
New York’s Highest Court Disappoints
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By now, most of you have heard that New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has ruled in favor of New York City’s use of eminent domain.

This opinion strikes a huge blow to the state of property rights across the nation and it’s another sad consequence of the U.S. Supreme Court’s dreadful decision in Kelo v. New London.

The land in the New York case wasn’t blighted or vacant.  Instead, certain well-heeled individuals with connections to the city government thought that they could use their power to construct … a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets.  Seeing as how the Nets haven’t won a game this year, perhaps they ought to take up residence in a local high school gym instead of forcing landowners out of their property.

If you have the stomach for it, the full New York Court of Appeals opinion is available here.