Monday, June 07, 2010

Avoiding the Greecian Model

Last week we commented on the snookering of the Working Families Party by AG Cuomo-and we made the point that this was a very healthy gambit for the future of NY State: “The mood of the electorate is becoming more ant-government, and the statist WFP with all of its public employee base, is simply out of step with the voters-and Cuomo knows it, and wants no part of the association.”

But it isn’t simply practical politics that has us cheering this move; it is Cuomo’s apparent recognition that the ideology of the WFP isn’t in the best interests of our state. As we have pointed out a while back, Cuomo’s moderate direction is in proportional response to the dire economic straights that we find ourselves in: “But make no mistake about it-we are about to sink under our own government weight. Goodwin underscores this: "The city and state employ nearly 600,000 people, an army of bureaucrats larger than the United States Army. And perhaps as powerful, for these workers and their unions are close to sinking Gotham and the Empire State. Their weapons are blunt: votes and cash for your election, or votes and cash for your opponent. Guess which option every pol chooses every time."

This is why we believe that a tax revolt may be on the horizon-even in as liberal a state as New York. That is, unless we get a new sheriff who can use the current crisis to implement a contrapuntal governing paradigm. And the talk we heard from Andrew Cuomo earlier this year-and in his campaign launch-surely looks like the kind of approach we're talking about.

Put simply, what Cuomo says he wants to do is in direct contrast with the governing philosophy of the WFP-a party that would be extremely comfortable in a European political environment. It is a party that believes in wealth distribution and public employment as the key to successful governance.

Yet, what Cuomo sees is just what a slippery slope the WFP approach surely is-and the downward spiral leads directly to the events that are unfolding in Greece-a phenomenon that Arthur Brooks analyzes in the Wall Street Journal: “Simply put, Europeans have a much stronger taste for other people's money than we do. This is vividly illustrated by the recent protests in the U.S. and Greece...

Why are citizens rioting and striking in Greece? Despite the worst economic crisis in decades, labor unions and state functionaries demand that others pay for the early retirements, lifetime benefits and state pensions to which they feel entitled. In America, however, the tea partiers demonstrate not to get more from others, but rather against government growth, public debt, bailouts and a budget-busting government overhaul of the health-care industry.”

So, in our view, Andrew is not only showing that he is a shrewd politician who can read the tea leaves; he’s also demonstrating a sober moderation that serves to differentiate his approach to government from that of his father. But, as Mario would be first to admit we believe, these are radically different times-so kudos for Andrew’s prescience that we need to change course.

The words of Abraham Lincoln come to mind here. And we’ll give Abe the last word: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present... Let us disenthrall ourselves."