New York – a political disaster

NY politicians are having a rough time right now. Embattled governor David Patterson will not seek reelection and Rep. Charlie Rangel was forced to step down from the chair of the House Ways & Means Committee. These are just two of the major problems for NY politicians.

Once a source of national leaders of both political parties, New York state has descended into a bizarre, riveting spectacle of corruption and political debasement, with its governor facing calls to resign as well as new charges of accepting illicit perks and lying under oath, the dean of its congressional delegation giving up his gavel over corruption charges and another House member announcing he won’t run again amid allegations of sexual harassment.

And that was just yesterday.

I’ve got news for you – as a former NY resident, I can tell you that NY politics has been a mess for a long time. Here’s another perspective:

Why are these awful behaviors so commonplace among New York’s political elites? New York is a high-tax state with an activist government and a weak private sector. Politicians get to control vast sums of money and make grand policy decisions. Arrogant, ambitious people go into politics, not the private sector, because that’s where the action is.

Consequently, the state has a political culture in which nothing can be accomplished unless you “know people” or are “connected” somehow. This breeds a system in which there are two sets of rules: rules for the elites and rules for everybody else. Want a state job in law enforcement, a handgun permit, or a construction contract with the state? Then you’d better “know somebody.” If you don’t, you’re out of luck. After a while, the people in power doling out all the favors start to act like they’re God.

This kind of behavior seems prevalent in other high-tax, one-party, big-government “blue” states like New Jersey and Illinois, and less prevalent in the small-government “red” states like Utah and Oklahoma. It’s no surprise that private-sector economic growth occurs primarily in the “red” states, while unionized government bureaucracy is the only “growth industry” in the “blue” states.

Big time government breeds big time corruption.

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