It’s going to be a very Merry Christmas for New York State lawmakers and bureaucrats, who are poised to get a lavish pay raise. As of now, Assemblymen and Senators receive $79,500 per year for a part-time job. The proposed pay increase would boost their pay to a whopping $130,000 by 2021, an increase of $50,500, or 64%. Naturally, our so-called leaders fobbed this decision off to a commission so their fingerprints won’t be on it – a weak attempt at plausible deniability. The commission will render a decision soon. Any bets on their recommendation?
(Greedy Albany politicians grow fat while New Yorkers suffer.)
Republican Senate Minority leader (in January 2019) John Flanagan and Democrat Assembly Speaker Carl Hastie are foursquare behind the gluttonous increase. Senators and legislators from NYC and its suburbs are behind it. The Governor loves the idea, too, saying, “We’re trying to get quality people into state government and frankly, we are non-competitive.” Non-competitive, non-moral and non-competent too. But the great pay bump comes at a steep price, says the commission and the greed-friendly newspapers. If approved, our lawmakers will be allowed to make only 15% of their income from sources outside their elective office. This is supposed to curb corruption. If approved, this would make New York lawmakers the highest paid in the nation.
But that’s not all. The heads of agencies currently make from $90,000 to $136,000. Under the proposal their salaries will jump to $220,000 by 2021. As of now the Comptroller and Attorney General make $151,500, which is scheduled to bump up to $220,000. Cuomo’s salary will jump from $179,000 to $250,000. (The last pay raise was in 1998.)
According to the latest census data, the median household income for New Yorkers is $64,894. The median per capita income in the state is $37,156. Cuomo recently said, “You want to get talented people into the legislature. You have to pay them a salary that allows them to live and not be a martyr.”
You read it right. If an Assemblyman makes 79.5 K, he’s a martyr. That’s more than twice the income of many New Yorkers. Do agency heads and commissioners need to make five times the earnings of the average New Yorker? In this state, we have high taxes, less personal freedom, slow economic growth (especially upstate,) population loss (especially upstate,) no deal on state mandates, infrastructure in disrepair. In the real world outside of government, raises are based on productivity. Is this a record that deserves a raise?
Democrats are always bleating about income inequality – the exception being when it involves their income. Then it’s equality be damned.
( Who owns the government us or Albany politicians?)
This proposal solidifies the Albany government as a permanent ruling class: well paid, well-connected and safe in their incumbency. They will be groomed for government, work in government and retire from government—knowing nothing of life outside of government. Don’t tell Cuomo and his fellow Democrats this, but government does not have a dime that it doesn’t first take from someone who, by the sweat of her brow, earned it.
Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.
In 2015, Andrew Cuomo wrecked the party. The Southern Tier and the rest of upstate New York were ready to celebrate the incredible gift of vast stores of natural gas under our feet and the prospect of prosperity, jobs and a booming economy, so close we could taste it. But Andrew “Scrooge” Cuomo and his down-state Democrat cronies gave us an early Christmas present in June of 2015: he banned hydrofracking. He didn’t give us coal in our stockings; coal is a cheap and plentiful fossil fuel, and Cuomo hates that. Instead, he gave us casinos, a comedy museum in Jamestown, and a failed economic development program. Not to mention the Buffalo Billion – a billion dollars of our money “invested” in a solar panel company that hasn’t produced a single job. Bah! Humbug! While New York languishes, other states produce natural gas and prosper.
Right next door, Pennsylvania is the second-leading producer of natural gas in country. In a previous article called A Tale of Two Counties (Dickens again), I compared the economies of Steuben County, NY with Tioga County, PA. They are both rural counties located a stone’s throw from each other. They’re alike in many ways, except that Tioga can drill for gas. The result is that Tioga County handily beats Steuben in every economic measure.
Economists have studied the effect of the fracking boom – and boom is the right word, because the effect has been huge. The Brookings Institute (no conservative outfit) says, “The US fracking revolution has caused natural gas prices to drop 47 percent compared to what it would have been prior to the fracking revolution in 2013. Gas bills have dropped $13 billion per year for gas-consuming households.” This puts more money in the pockets of American consumers.
But what about local communities? The DI Blog has tuns of information on that issue.
The net effect of fracking is an increase in wages and general employment. Approximately 725,000 jobs have been created. Unemployment during the great recession was reduced by 0.5%. Salaries in counties that have fracking have risen by 2.4% to 13.5%. Counties with fracking generally have 5% higher employment that those counties that don’t. The gains in wages are across all income groups.
Unemployment during the great recession was reduced by 0.5%. Salaries in counties that have fracking have risen by 2.4% to 13.5%. Counties with fracking generally have 5% higher employment that those counties that don’t. The gains in wages are across all income groups.
The University of Chicago News found similar gains in local economies. These include a 6% increase in income, a 10% increase in employment and a 6% jump in housing prices. They declared, “In the last decade, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has helped deliver lower energy prices, enhanced energy security, and lowered air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.”
Cuomo, like Scrooge, is closed-minded and selfish. Cuomo banned fracking to assure his political future. His base would have revolted if he allowed it, and you can’t run for President without your base. In describing Scrooge, Dickens said, “The cold within him froze his old features.” But maybe Cuomo will be visited by the ghost of Upstate’s future: “Ebeneezer….I mean Andrew, let the people of Upstate prosper. Let them unlock the vast natural resources they own.” Then Ebeneezer Coumo’s glaciated heart would thaw, and Upstate would once again thrive.
Wouldn’t that be a nice Christmas present.
Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.
WRITERS NOTE: This article will also appear on Tom Shepstone’s excellent blog, Natural Gas Now. Tom’s blog is always interesting and informative. Every time I go there, I learn something new. Please give it a visit.
Every conservative knows the news media is biased, leaning left while simulating fairness. But the Elmira Star-Gazette dropped all pretense at objectivity in the Friday (11-23-18) edition. The front page headline stated, “Candidates with strong voices can launch political careers even while losing an election.” The non-sequitur pointed readers to an article touting the failed candidacy of three Democrats, headlined “In politics, losing just might be a winning proposition.” Only in Lefty Mediaville does losing mean winning. Can you imagine a similar headline and story written about defeated Republicans?
But the leftward rush continued, with Joseph Spector’s article headlined, “Trump travel ban impacting New York.” The link is below.
This article was an editorial disguised as news, claiming that New York State refugees and their families are being hurt by the Trump travel ban. Never a mention that the countries that Trump banned are the terrorist havens of Libya,
Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen and the thugocracies of North Korea and Venezuela.
Every expert quoted in the article is from a left-leaning pro-illegal-immigration organization. This is an old media trick: stack the sources to make the story fit your narrative. In this case: Trump bad, immigration good. Another trick is to quote people who claim to be put upon, thus garnering sympathy for the cause and antipathy for the policymaker (usually a Republican.)
Heavens! Did you know the number of refugees coming to New York (mostly to upstate cities) dropped from 5,026 in 2016 to 1,218 in 2017? And that this has created a “vacuum for groups that seek to help refugees relocate from their native countries”? Translation: the pro-immigration groups Spector quoted are hurting.
According to Spector, the travel ban is very bad for upstate. He stated, “The drop has been felt predominantly upstate, where most refugees settled because of a lower cost of living and a well-developed social services structure to help them acclimate.” More on this later.
Native New Yorkers have been fleeing the state for decades, and all we heard from upstate newspapers and editorial boards was the sound of crickets. But let the refugee flow drop and it’s a crisis. Apparently, native New Yorkers are expendable, but refugees are vital.
Hassett also said, “The data’s very clear: refugees and immigrants are a positive economic force.” Really? Doesn’t that depends on the refugee’s skills and education? There is general agreement among immigration economists that low-income, less-educated refugees are a net drain on the economy, while highly educated, highly skilled refugees are a net plus. The Spector article implies every refugee is a net plus. But Specter said that refugees relocate upstate because of the social safety net. Why would those economic dynamos need social services from upstate taxpayers?
What we need is a sane immigration and asylum policy. We also need an honest media. If they want to be advocates, they should at least admit it.
WRITER’S NOTE: I asked the Star-Gazette for comment before I posted this article, but they chose not to reply to my request. Remember who the media are. They ask us for comment, we can’t ask them. They judge us. We can’t judge them. A quote that is variously attributed goes, “never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel.” But times have changed thanks to the internet. We can expose every bit of their institutional bias and naked advocacy and post it on blogs just like this for all to see. Thanks for reading my blog. I welcome your comments.
Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.
Nature and politics abhor a vacuum. In this election the Republicans left one for the Democrats to fill, and fill it they did. When Democrats accused Republicans of gutting the so-called pre-existing condition protections in Obamacare. Republicans offered no push-back to the attack. Instead they parroted that they are for pre-existing protections too. Pre-election polling found that health care was the top issue in the recently concluded campaign. This was especially true of white suburban women, a group Republicans lost by 20 points. Democrats rode this issue to regain control of the House for the first time since 2010.
A pre-existing condition means someone is already sick. To insure is to mitigate against risk – in the case of health care, an expensive illness or accident. By analogy, consider homeowners insurance. If you have a roof that’s about to collapse and you try to buy homeowners insurance, you’re out of luck. Insurers won’t sell you a policy because they know they’ll lose money. That’s a pre-existing condition, a sure loser for an insurance company. Now let’s say the government mandates that insurance companies must issue a homeowners policy to insure all homes in any condition. What will happen? The cost of insurance and everything associated with it will skyrocket for everyone.
With health insurance, we don’t have to guess what might happen if insurers are forced to issue policies to already sick individuals, because it has happened under Obamacare. The main reason for the now-defunct individual mandate, which forced young and healthy people to buy health insurance, was to defray the cost of insuring the sick. The effect of these so-called protections has been disastrous. Insurance companies in the Obamacare exchanges have declined in number every year, and yet again in 2018. Remember the promise that each family would save $2500 in healthcare premiums? According to Health and Human Services (HHS), premiums have doubled since 2013. Doubled. In 2018, costs have risen by 19% for expensive plans and 32% for the cheapest plans. Inflation for all other goods and services is only 2%.
When Democrats attacked, Republicans ran for the tall grass. They allowed Democrats to tout the benefits of pre-existing conditions protection without making them own the terrible price that these protections cost average people. Republicans should have pivoted and attacked, accusing Democrats of wanting to deprive people of healthcare coverage by making health insurance unaffordable. Republicans should have asked: Why should Democrats have any credibility on health care given how they lied to pass it, then badly bungled it? These are arguments that college-educated suburban women would have understood. These arguments might have saved the House. But Republicans would have needed the courage to fight and make a case to a public hungry for leadership.
Michael A.Morrongiello, Ph. D.
Democrats always sink to the lowest intellectual and moral common denominator, and the latest Tracy Mitrano advertisement is a prime example. Tracy is the Democrat candidate for Congress in the 23rd Congressional district.
Here is an excerpt from the ad, attacking Reps. Claudia Tenney and Tom Reed: “…backing a tax bill that burdened the middle-class homeowners, handed tax breaks to the wealthy, and made it nearly impossible for people to relocate or start a business in upstate New York.” Mitrano blames New York State’s problems on the federal government. State and local taxes are the result of legislation produced by Democrats in a state dominated by Democrats. The Trump tax cuts put $1,400 in the pockets of every family across the 23rd Congressional district. Having more money makes it easier to pay the outsized property taxes foisted on us by Manhattan and Albany Democrats. This logic is inescapable to all but Mitrano. Republicans have not held a statewide office in New York since 2007. Businesses and people have been fleeing New York since the 1960’s.
Mitrano and her running mate, Anthony Brindisi also said: “With state and local taxes no longer deductible for the first time in history, why would they think any company would relocate to our communities? They had to know this was a job killer.” Yes, the list of companies that have left New York is a long one, and it long preceded President Trump’s tax cuts. State and local taxes remain deductible up to $10,000. Apparently Mitrano favors tax cuts for the rich, since the $10,000 cap only effects wealthy taxpayers. Why not ask the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay their fair share? If Mitrano believes in a big, expansive government why not endorse it, along with the humungous taxes needed to fund it?
The lowest common intellectual and moral common denominator, indeed.
Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.