Category Archives: Politics

The Golisano factor

I left this comment on the Responsible New York website, in response to Tom Golisano’s statement:

Thank you, Mr. Golisano, for bringing the most transparency we’ve seen in a long time to New York State government. Until now there have still been a handful of people that believed that politicians were elected by the people to do the people’s bidding. What this coup has done is expose once and for all that New York government is really about money, power, and revenge. If there was any doubt, it’s all been erased.

If you want to affect real change in New York, convince the people of the state that now is the time for a Constitutional Convention that will move towards a unicameral legislature. Less government is the first step in fixing New York.

Frankly, Golisano’s statement is full of a lot of bullshit. You don’t create a coalition by swiping two people from the other party. There’s nothing bipartisan about it. Republicans were pissed off about losing their plush offices, staffers, and pork. Golisano was pissed off that even his money couldn’t buy him love. A couple guys who labeled themselves as Democrats were pissed off about their mommies not loving them enough. This was all about revenge and had nothing to do with reform.

So, I stand by my statement. There is no fixing the current government of New York State. Our best option is to cut the number of politicians, and then enact rules that actually favor the people of the state – an end to gerrymandering and enacting the rest of the Brennan Center reforms for a start. The Senate is Humpty Dumpty and had a great fall. Don’t bother putting it back together.

Grape Irony

So, I got this email from Premier Wines/Prime Wines/Prestige Wines begging me to help it keep wine out of supermarkets with what has to be the weakest, most self-serving arguments ever:

Don’t let “Big Box Greed” endanger your friends and family.

• Wine in 16,000 more outlets means more traffic fatalities
• Five times more stores will be selling a product three to four times stronger than beer
• New York wineries overwhelmingly oppose wine in supermarkets
• Help us keep our communities safe and prosperous

Come on, Premier, give me a break! Let’s break down these arguments:

  • Saying that more wine sales results in more fatalities means you admit that the product you’re selling causes deaths. So, when are you closing all your stores?
  • Who cares how many stores sell what percentage of alcohol? I’m willing to bet that far more people get drunk on beer than wine.
  • Wineries oppose the idea? According to Wine Spectator state Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker “believes it will increase wine sales and specifically New York wine sales,” Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation said, “If you put more wine in front of consumers, consumers will buy it,” and one vineyard owner quoted in the article was “cautiously optimistic.”
  • How does grocery stores selling wine have any impact on a community being “safe and prosperous”? Again, the implication is that selling the product negatively impacts those things, so again I ask when Premier is closing it’s doors?

The really stupid thing about this email is that it tries to Premier Wines/Prime Wines/Prestige Wines is trying to play into the anti-big-box sentiment that some people have. Really? Premier IS the big box of alcohol stores! How disingenuous is that argument?

Shameful, Premier. Just shameful.

Crisis isn’t that complicated

Some people want to believe that our country’s economic crisis is so complicated that mere mortals cannot understand it. Only economists and politicians (hah!) have the brain power and education to decipher the complexity of how subprime mortgages and tightening credit markets have caused this unprecedented crisis. Don’t believe them.

You see, in actuality, most things can be boiled down to simple concepts. Economics, I believe, is one of these. Sure, there are nuances and the pursuit of turning theories into mathematical concepts, but let’s not forget that Adam Smith’s master work, The Wealth Of Nations, was based on extensive observations of actual people doing actual things.

So that leads me back to the current economic situation of the United States. While President Obama stated in the Q&A tonight that he didn’t “think it’s accurate to say that consumer spending got us into this mess” in fact, it did. Consumers bought things they couldn’t afford – houses they assumed would keep appreciating, stocks they thought would get more valuable, or just plain stuff they didn’t really need. Of course, more spending means less saving. So when the economy started heading south and people started losing their jobs, too many people didn’t have an emergency fund to tide them over and help them meet their payments. This isn’t to say that there wouldn’t be an economic downturn or that nobody would be affected by a recession, but if more people in this country were savers rather than spenders, we wouldn’t have the crisis we do.

President Obama was heading in the right direction when he said, “putting zero down and buying a house that is probably not affordable for you in case something goes wrong, that’s something that has to be reconsidered. So we’re going to have to change our — our bad habits.” But our bad habits exceed beyond just stupid mortgage terms, they come from an entire economy that’s survival the government is betting comes from increasing credit and getting people spending.

It doesn’t take a genius (or an economist) to see you can’t spend your way out of debt.

Absurdity in Washington

The absurdity of appointing someone to become Treasury Secretary who can’t figure out how to pay their taxes correctly seems to be lost on most of America. I mean, this is “Change we can believe in?” How does failing to correctly pay your income taxes not once, not twice, not three times, but four times [that we know of] not immediately disqualify you for that position?

If Obama’s recent round of appointments isn’t an argument for the FairTax, I don’t know what one is. If the person in charge of the Treasury can’t do it right, then the tax code needs to be drastically simplified. Otherwise, he’s just a lying crook.