The City's Budgetary Nightmare

As unbelievable as it sounds, President Bush -- an arch defender of free-market principles -- has abandoned them and taken up the hobby of overt government spending (an activity that leaves most Democrats in a state of shear bliss).  AFP illustrates these ideals through Bush's own words:

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system," Bush told CNN television, saying he had made the decision "to make sure the economy doesn't collapse."

Now, don't get me wrong.  This economic crisis has required intervention to some degree.  Still, it is extremely important to point out that greed is at the root of America's fiscal issues, not open market ideals.  Had Wall Street been properly regulated to root out corruption from the start, these issues would have never developed in the first place.

And since New York City is home to Wall Street, the city and the state, much like the rest of the nation, are feeling the pinch. Governor Patterson has proposed taxes on every item imaginable aside from oxygen, leaving New Yorkers perplexed and fearful for what's to come.  But, we're not alone.  Nearly 43 of our nation's 50 states (57 if you ask Barack Obama) are experiencing some level of financial difficulty. 

In New York City, our problems run deep.  The MTA, which the entire city relies on for transportation to and from work and other necessary localities, devastated New Yorkers this week with its insane proposals.  According to the New York Post,

"After repeatedly saying it didn't want to sock its riders with higher costs, the board voted 13 to 1 in favor of a 23 percent fare bump and drastic service cuts that would eliminate subway and bus lines."

Wonderful.  Higher fares and a decrease in service.  Just what the doctor ordered!  The MTA is hoping that the aforementioned calls will encourage the state to issue a "bailout" (yes, everyone wants one these days).  Perhaps the most disturbing (not to mention hilarious) news piece occurred during a meeting yesterday at MTA headquarters.  As reported by the New York Post:

One man at the meeting became so enraged by the proceedings he tried to follow in the footsteps of the Iraqi who chucked a shoe at President Bush on Sunday.

"You made $300,000 last year and this shoe is for you," Stephen Millies, 54, barked at MTA chief Elliot Sander.

MTA police grabbed Millies, an Amtrak worker who lives in Jackson Heights, just as he had wiggled the shoe off his foot.

With the city's bureaucratic infrastructure cracking one might think that spending patterns would be explored.  Right now we're hearing "Tax, tax, tax," but New Yorkers are feeling the pinch.  Additionally, many people have concerns about the viability of a number of city departments, which makes one wonder why exploring budgets of specific agencies isn't more pressing.  According to the Gotham Gazette,

"What a close reading of this survey of over 24,000 city respondents...suggests is that New Yorkers have serious concerns about city spending and the effectiveness of a number of city services, including child protection, youth employment, homeless services, police-community relations, and protecting them from crime."

When asked, "Does the city government spend tax funds wisely?" only 22 percent of NYC respondents replied "excellent" or "good while 41 percent said "poor." Instead of an across the board cut in funding, maybe Bloomberg should listen to the people to properly determine which services are working and which others are not. 

Seems to me we better do something.  And quick.  Patterson's urge to increase taxes is being heavily criticized (he is proposing a 14% increase on SUNY and CUNY tuition) for its potential effects on consumers, particularly young people.  His proposals, if not properly introduced, could devastate the city and state.  

This piece was written for Billy Hallowell’s Red County blog located at http://www.redcounty.com/nyc