Monday, February 28, 2011

Mayor Mike Blows It

This op-Ed, to no great surprise, is a bundle of elitist hackery that speaks volumes about how Mayor Michael Bloomberg has handled New York City's finances through two budget crises.
It's not that he doesn't make some points (I'll get to those), but it's the overall tone of "privilege," which sort of is funny coming from a billionaire, self-made or no.

Across the country, taxpayers are providing pensions, benefits and job security protections for public workers that almost no one in the private sector enjoys. Taxpayers simply cannot afford to continue paying these costs, which are growing at rates far outpacing inflation. Yes, public sector workers need a secure retirement. And yes, taxpayers need top-quality police officers, teachers and firefighters. It’s the job of government to balance those competing needs. But for a variety of reasons, the scale has been increasingly tipping away from taxpayers. 

Now, like I said, Mayor Mike has a point: there is an enormous burden on taxpayers to fund budget deficits. In New York City in particular, the budget by law has to be balanced (barring catastrophes) in order for the city to receive state funding. And the costs of pensions and healthcare are outstripping the rate of inflation, particularly at a time of near-zero inflation.

But...this article smacks of so much hypocrisy that I had no choice but to address it.

The argument you never hear, the argument that Mayor Mike ought to hear and then shut his piehole over, is this: public sector workers make MUCH LESS SALARY than their private sector counterparts. A clerk in a bank gets a 10-15% higher salary, plus vacation, plus paid sick time, and may even be eligible for a bonus each year.

Yes, that's right: a clerk at Goldman Sachs can make a bonus that brings his income significantly higher than the private sector premium already paid! The equivalent clerk at the city Department of Finance? Not so lucky.

So what makes people want to serve the public? It can't be the appreciation, a glance at the New York Post or FOX News will show any public servant just how appreciated they are. These outlets lie in wait for some poor soul who hasn't slept in three nights because his wife is due to deliver a baby to fall asleep on a park bench, even momentarily, so they can smear his face across front pages for millions.

Just ask an EMT who has to drive an ambulance down a crowded street to try to pick up a heart attack victim just how much appreciation he gets from motorists stuck behind his rig, lights flashing and EMTs hustling about. Why, the shouted "Hosannas" would make a stevedor blush!

It's not the salary or the awesome potential to make millions, because you know what? No one makes that kind of money in city government.

No, they do it because they get two guarantees: job security in tough economic times and the promise of a pension at the end of the road.

And even in New York City, thousands of civil servants have been laid off by the bushel and now there's talk of 6% of the teachers being axed, most from the poorest schools furthest behind grades...who will then be closed because they underachieve academically. Mayor Mike, with this article, demonstrates that even pensions are not above his vulgar rapacity.

It's a win-win for the billionaires that Bloomberg is kowtowing to! It's a lose-lose for the other nine million citizens who work their fingers to the bone, trying to make ends meet and give their kids some kind of leg up in life.

See, the dirtiest secret of them all is, we wouldn't be in this crisis if Bloomberg and his predecessors, particularly Rudy9-11 Giuliani, hadn't given away the candy store to companies who even glanced at New Jersey and winked at the mayor. You want to understand why the city's finances are in the toilet? Companies like NASDAQ and Citicorp pay no taxes to New York City, of any consequence, based on sweetheart deals to retain their presences in our fair town.

The irony is, where the hell would they have gone? If you want to be taken seriously as a player, you have to have your offices in the biggest financial capital in the world (well, except that's now London, but I digress)!

Even Lehman Brothers... LEHMAN BROTHERS, who couldn't make money in a market that practically printed it! tax incentives to stay here and build a garish headquarters in Times Square. And then went bankrupt.

But hey, Mr. Mayor, you go right on balancing the budget on the backs of the clerks and the firefighters and the teachers and the santitation workers and all the people who voted for you last time out, then hop your little jet to Bermuda to get away from the stench of burnt charcoal and chalk dust and uncollected trash...who needs you?