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"Reform" in New York State

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Message Douglas C. Smyth
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New York State is a microcosm of the nation and its governments. One of the strongest and best-placed special interests in every state, and at the Federal level, is the government itself, again, whether it's Democratic or Republican.

I have the example of my own Township's entrenched Republican government, more expansive of government functions than the Democrats who briefly gained control. The same is true at the County level, in which the trash to power incinerator is lovingly protected, even though it is woefully inefficient (and expensive). Republican governments may spend money on different things than Democrats: baseball diamonds, instead of homeless shelters, or libraries. But the governing impulse is to increase the size of government and expand the number of administrators, regardless of overriding economic conditions.

So, Patterson is onto something. He actually has; the problem behind the over-sized deficit facing the state. In good times, governments have expanded like Topsy. In bad times, they resist any trimming down to size.

That's why Patterson's task will be so difficult, but it's the right way to go--at least in New York State.

An indication of how difficulties his path: that no-layoff pledge; he can't lay off AFSCME civil servants, he can only choose not to replace them when they retire. We'll be saddled with the ghosts of these sections/agencies/departments for years to come, even if Patterson is successful, which is unlikely.

I read an article about 30 years ago, which is still pertinent here: its title was "The Screwing of the Common Man." The proliferation of experts, administrators, agencies, departments is but an adumbration of that article: it's how a large number of relatively privileged can be well-paid parasites to the many, even though they don't create any real value; often, they impede its creation.

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I am a writer and retired college teacher. I taught college courses in Economics and Political Science (I've a Ph.D) and I've written as a free-lancer for various publications.

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