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Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spitzer Post-Mortem

To understand the Spitzer drama, one needs to understand the condition in which New York State finds itself.

New York State has been hemorrhaging people for many years now. Long amongst the highest in the nation, a few years ago we surpassed Connecticut to be the highest taxed state in the union. A combination of confiscatory taxes and byzantine regulations have served to drive a large number of business out of the state.

People have been leaving in droves because they can't find jobs. Meanwhile, NY has increased social welfare programs to the point where once you cross the state line, you essentially can get by without working a day in your life. Many southern states have taken to exporting their welfare recipients to here. This places more burden on the remaining taxpayers, thus resulting in what is essentially a death spiral.

Among NY's taxes, for example, is its sales tax. A few years ago, it was decided that NY state residents should be charged sales tax for things they buy elsewhere and then bring into the state. Since this tax only kicks in when you bring the item into New York State, it is, in fact, an interstate import tax. This is a clear violation of the United States Constitution which not only forbids states from import taxes without consent of Congress, it also forbids the laying of any tax or duty on any items exported from any state. New York, however, will do anything it can to squeeze more money out you.

Enter Spitzer.

Spitzer, fairly early on, had political aspirations. It was recommended to him that being a prosecutor would be a great jumping point into politics. He worked his way up and eventually was elected Attorney General. It was here that his true notoriety began.

So, in a state which is desperately in need of business, what did he do? He attacked businesses. As AG, his job was to enforce the law. Many of the companies he went after, however, had broken no laws. Some practices were shady, though perfectly legal. Other practice were perfectly honest; he just didn't like them. Time after time he attacked honest businessmen, blackmailing them by threatening to publicly indict. Even though he could never get a conviction, the indictment alone would sink the company. He coerced many companies into "donating" money to some of his pet charities this way. What was legal or not legal was irrelevant. He did whatever he wanted.

Many honest businessmen were put out of business by this scumbag. Many other businesses simply pulled out of New York, or cancelled plans to enter it. All the while he called himself the "Sheriff of Wall Street," and self-righteously claimed that he was cleaning up corrupt business practices. The banking laws and prostitution laws which he himself broke were enforced by him very vigorously.

He steamrolled right into the governorship. Here, for the first time, he found himself in a place were he did not have full reign. This state has long been run two men: Sheldon Silver and Joe Bruno. Spitzer, coming into this situation, famously called himself a "f^&#@$! steamroller" who would crush anyone in his way. That was how he'd lived his life. As governor, however, he no longer had dictatorial power. He had to get everything through the legislature. The legislature already had its kings. There was no room for any more. Spitzer's term became a series of failures punctuated by scandal.

It is telling that Spitzer's wife listed Hillary Clinton as her role model. Each attached themselves to a morally vacuous power seeker. If you didn't know Clinton was a womanizer in the early stages of the 1992 campaign, you were deluding yourself. Likewise, Spitzer was clearly a power-hungry bully. He was a rich kid who never had to work for his fortune, and thought he could do whatever he wanted. He thought the rules didn't apply to him. This was not exactly a surprise.

Spitzer was a hero to those who distrust business. Business, however, runs the economy. People depend on business. Concentrating power in government is called fascism. Fascism was a popular idea in the early part of the 20th Century. From National Socialism (i.e. Nazism) to Communism, the concentration of power in government caused nothing but death and despair. Communism alone killed over 100 million in the 20th Century.

Apart from death, however, is sheer misery. If people can't profit from their invention and hard work, they're not going to do it. Placing all responsibility and power in a central government makes people at best children, at worst slaves. We have essentially bred a generation of children who expect everything to be done for them.

Meanwhile, if productive people think their hard work is going to be taken away by a power hungry central government, they are going to leave. This is the situation New York State finds itself in. Those who want to provide for their families are assailed on all sides. Meanwhile, those who produce nothing expect to be given more, while simultaneously blaming the productive members of society for being greedy.

Eliot Spitzer was a perfect product of the situation New York State finds itself in now. He rose to power by playing on people's fears and prejudices. He fell because he finally did so much that he could no longer be ignored. He leaves behind another dingbat who once tried to make it illegal for police to use deadly force in self-defense.

Buffalo, and Western New York in general, is a great place to live. It is the quality of life in this area that makes (some) people stay. Certain sectors of the economy have seen a great resurgence of late. The state in general, however, is in terrible shape. Run by frigtards from New York City, we have to put up with one tax and regulation after another. It can't go on forever. Maybe this is a step in the right direction.

If not, will the last person in New York State please turn off the lights before leaving?

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