Being non-partisan (or, more accurately, someone who thinks “both” parties are equally bad), in last week’s election I practiced what I preach, voting for people and principles, not party. My ballot saw bubbles filled in for 1 Libertarian, 3 Republicans, and 3 Democrats in contested races.
With a mixed approach like that I was pleasantly surprised that control of the US House of Representatives went to the Democrats. Despite being someone who, as long-time readers would gather, trends closer to the right than the left, I welcome mixed control of our constitutional republic. Republicans shouldn’t hold all the power. And, neither should the Democrats. Even with all the division and divisiveness doled out by that, our citizens are best served by diversity of people and thought -- we need a means of check-and-balance. One party should not be fully empowered to run roughshod over a country or state. Someone has to be there to tighten the reins.
That said, the outcome of the state elections is what has me greatly concerned. The Democrats won the Senate, which means they control both houses of the Legislature and the Governor’s office. It will make a bad situation a lot worse.
New York, specifically upstate, is in rough shape economically. It’s expensive to start or build a business here unless you happen to be a well-heeled, well-connected entrepreneur -- and I use the term “entrepreneur” loosely when those businessmen come to the trough -- like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos who have all sorts of money and inducements thrown their way. Our towns, villages, and cities have become economic wastelands thanks to public policy that has driven too many bright minds and too many loved ones from our borders for better opportunity elsewhere.
This decline has come about from a group effort.
In recent years, through force of bullying in both houses or through executive fiat, Governor Andrew Cuomo has driven a stake through the heart of our dying upstate economy. A cornucopia of failed, or soon-to-fail, experiments from massive minimum wage hikes to the possible end of the tipped wage to 12 weeks of universal bereavement leave to call-in pay standards, to name a few, have done nothing but stifle opportunity. Realize that we’re talking about an administration so morbidly into micromanagement of the private sector that it now regulates how farmers use old tires to keep tarps down on their feed bunkers.
Cuomo’s long-standing foes in the Republican Party are just as guilty as he. Remember, the Senate was alleged to be in its glory years when Joe Bruno was in charge of it from 1994 to 2008. If it was, how did an alleged fiscally-conservative GOP double state spending under his watch with fellow Republican George Pataki in the Governor’s office for most of those years?
Mind you, all of those horrible policies and bad spending habits (and many more like them) have occurred for the most part with not one party having total control of the 3 Men in a Room routine. Bruno had Assembly leader Sheldon Silver as a foil, while Cuomo has had John Flanagan and before him Dean Skelos leading the Senate.
If the checks and balances of having multiple parties sharing some of the control were really in play, think of how bad things really could have been had they not. Without Sheldon Silver, even as corrupt as he was, would Bruno and Company have increased state spending even more? Without Flanagan looking over his shoulder, what more could Cuomo have pushed through from his self-proclaimed progressive agenda?
I guess we’ll find out the answer to that second question over the next couple of years, if not for an even longer period of time.
If I had to hazard a guess we’ll soon see mandated paid sick time, increased taxation of electrical energy and heating fuels, passage of Cuomo’s once-denied 14% windfall tax on health insurance, a carbon trading system, a Ban the Box movement, the end of employment-at-will, a push for a single-payer system, a transformation and strengthening of state agencies to usurp local control, and more money thrown at education without first fixing the broken system that has neutered school boards and stifled good teachers.
That’s just a sampling of what could occur. There’s likely much more to worry about.
If you own a business or home in upstate New York State brace yourself. The past few decades have been a race to the bottom with two parties sharing – and abusing -- the power. Now, with one party having total control, the bottom will get here a lot quicker.
From the 12 November Greater Niagara Newspapers and Batavia Daily News