Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another Day Older And Deeper In Debt

State Senate Dawdles
As Economy Sputters

And Insolvency Nears

By Henry J. Stern
November 11, 2009

The State Senate convened yesterday, at the direction of Governor Paterson, who has the power to call the Legislature into special session. However, he does not have the power to compel the senators and assembly members to do anything. Sadly, he has been unable to persuade them to do anything that they do not wish to do.

Observers question why he juxtaposed gay marriage with the fiscal crisis. ‘Marriage rights’, as they are now called by the politically correct, seem perfectly reasonable to us and, if adopted, would do little to harm the social order, compared with the problems that have arisen over the millennia with heterosexual marriage, a genuinely praiseworthy endeavor.

Nonetheless, a majority of the State Senate does not share our enlightened views, and if brought to a vote, gay marriage is likely to lose. The remaining issue is whether individual legislators would be hurt or helped by casting recorded votes on this socially charged issue. We assume that, on this kind of question, most senators will vote their districts, which is a way to say they will follow the views of the majority of their constituents. That is a rude form of democracy.

We believe that, win or lose, the proposition should be brought to a vote on the floor of the Senate. We have described our troubled senators, who we believe are oblivious to fiscal reality. Let’s see how they vote on a social issue, where there is no possibility for them to obtain contracts or other economic benefits. Speak out, senators.

The state will pay for you to explain your views to your constituents through your mailings. That privilege is valuable only if you want your constituents to know what your views are on the wedge issue of gay marriage.

Over the years, three widely-known “issues of conscience” for legislators have been debated. They are capital punishment, abortion and gay marriage. The courts have usurped legislative authority in some areas by discovering that one outcome or another on these issues violates the Constitution of the United States, a magnificent 220-year-old document.

Under the theory of a living constitution, its theories should be applied to situations unanticipated by the Founding Fathers. Since we are not originalists, we do not believe that the Constitution means only what it specifically says, no more and no less. The question to us is: how much faster than the general public should the courts advance?

Veering from social to economic issues, Kenneth Lovett of the Daily News keeps us informed with a story on pA16 headlined, DESPITE GOV’S DIRE WARNINGS, POLS DO SQUAT ABOUT BUDGET. Lovett’s lede:

“The ballyhooed special session called by Gov. Paterson to address the fiscal crisis turned out to be anything but special. The Legislature failed to close a $3.2 billion budget gap and the Senate took no action on legislation to legalize gay marriage.”

The News commented on the situation in an editorial on p28, headed NOTHING FROM NOTHINGS. The editorial was quite strong. We quote:

“Irresponsibility ran rampant in Albany yesterday, thanks to the same crew of incompetents in the state Senate who paralyzed state government last summer.

“Facing imminent fiscal meltdown, Gov. Paterson summoned the Legislature to the Capitol for emergency action. But Senate Democratic conference leader John Sampson and his clown college wasted everyone’s time – just as they chewed through June in power struggles…

The editorial concludes: “So far, their performance has amounted to a stomach-turning replay of their antics in June. But this time, they’re dragging 19 million New Yorkers into a fiscal abyss.”

A writer with intelligence, credibility, and research capacity, Wayne Barrett addresses the state’s fiscal crisis today on his Village Voice blog. You may link to it here.


The lede: “It’s hard to imagine a worse time for a governor to lapse into lazy lies. But with the state in its most troubled fiscal condition in decades, facing daunting deficits, David Paterson has become all spin all the time, putting his own concocted narrative ahead of the state’s need for crisis credibility.”

We believe “lazy lies” may be an overstatement because it implies that the person who is lying knows that he is not telling the truth. We do not know the level of awareness in the mind of the speaker. But that is a minor cavil, if what the person is saying is demonstrably untrue, self-serving and inconsistent with his previous statements. It is almost as if the remarks are not intended to be taken seriously.

The irony is that the governor is better than many of the people he deals with, particularly on the Senate side. His intentions are honorable, he has tried to cut the budget and succeeded in some matters under his control. He recognized the crisis long before anyone else would talk about it. Unfortunately, he failed this spring to stand up to the spendthrifts, he is inconsistent to the point of losing credibility on fiscal matters, and it is not always clear what he is saying. His rhetoric, as Barrett points out, does not help his case, whatever it may be.

StarQuest #618 11.11.2009 866wds

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