Saturday, February 24, 2007

John Vliet Bloomberg

It is becoming increasingly clear that Mike Bloomberg's philosophy of government is extremely close to that of the late John Lindsay. His response to the recent report released by the IBO underscores his view that the government that delivers the most "services" is the exemplar for good government. To his credit, the mayor is a much superior manager to JVL and is, of course operating in a political and fiscal climate that is much different from that of the mid-sixties.

The NY Post captures all this in its Bloombergian headline yesterday: "You're Taxed More, 'Cause You Get More." In the story the mayor told the paper that he would "love to reduce taxes more" but the level of services that the public "wants" precludes him from taking this approach. There appears to be no awareness on the mayor's part that the services that he touts is part of a dysfunctional bureaucratic government that is badly in need of reinvention.

The entire reinventing government approach has never really gotten into the mayor's mindset, and he appears to have a philosophical outlook that views government as a paternalistic aid for its less than self-sufficient citizens. Bloomberg adds to this a patrician's desire to aid those who are less fortunate and gifted than he is. All of which comes out clearly in his desire to force people to live healthier lives. It is true of course that those with great wealth are free to live libertarian lives unencumbered by the heavy hand of government, something that the average citizen is unable to do.

The Post captures this misguided paternalism and cavalier attitude to government spending in today's editorial: "On hizzoner's watch, population has grown slightly,yet city-funded spending is up more than 40 percent, to $40 billion a year. Of the ten largest cities, Gotham spends nearly twice as much per capita than the average of the nine runners-up." And this is excluding the city's Medicaid bogeyman.

But in spite of this stark evidence of profligacy the mayor remains resolute in his refusal to cut spending and reduce taxes, touting the need to keep the money in a "rainy day" fund. As the Post points out, however, in the world of most politicians it is always raining.