03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Winter of Reality

Wow, New York's own Winter of Reckoning. Talk about existential crisis to top all existential crises. 

Looks like it's time to crank up the NGD existential crises generator and look (again) at how New York's Winter of Reckoning stacks up against the Winter of the Real World.

Let's start with simple, nomenclative Big-Box Budget Crisis:

New Yorkers might think all the news from Albany about budget gaps, proposed spending cuts and showdowns between the governor and state lawmakers set the Empire State apart as an example of a budget process gone askew.   Not at all, experts say.

(Not for nothing, it took somebody from AP's Washington office to pen this piece of  statewide apostasy.  And this piece, too.) 

New York doesn't make this national doomsday list either.

Still not reckoned enough?  Here's an Illinois update. They can't even make their pension payments so they've got to bond them.  Yes, borrow the money to make the payments to the pension fund.  Kind of like a huge payday loan:

After spending the week in a heavy marketing campaign that includes international buyers, Illinois on Thursday or Friday will price nearly $3.5 billion of taxable general obligation bonds with a five-year maturity to help cover its fiscal 2010 pension payments.

Oh yeah, the Illinois pension fund is run by a board.  The same panacea the governor reckons New York needs to stop corruption and actuarial stupidity. 

How about stagnant economic growth?  According to the Sacramento Bee:

So this is what economic recovery looks like: 12 percent unemployment, more vacant storefronts and a seemingly endless state budget crisis that will prolong the furloughs, layoffs and other wounds.

A prominent economist has declared California's recession over but acknowledged that most Californians might not even notice.

12 percent unemployment is a very, very bad thing.  In fact, it's a horrible thing.  If you're living in California, you shouldn't be. 

What about New York's proverbial ethical abyss?  Here's one for you:

Detroit, the largest U.S. city whose debt is rated below investment grade, is under scrutiny by a federal grand jury and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over the dealings of its $8 billion pension funds, said Dan Lijana, a spokesman for Mayor Dave Bing.

And guess what?  Detroit's pension fund is run by a board too!  And a board didn't help California from getting scratched last month.

Then there's the latest from New Jersey.  And Maryland. And Pennsylvania. And Massachusetts. And Missouri.  It's amazing what thirty-seconds of reckoning on Google gets you.  Do the governor's communications people know all this?  Of course they do. They--like the local MSM--are presuming you're compliantly lazy and ill-informed.

And then there's Congress.  Didn't I tell you this guy was gonna do it? Here's an update:

Former Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) lit into the current leadership in Washington on Wednesday, warning the IRS that he wants to "kick them in the crotch," apologizing to "all the hookers in America" for once comparing members of Congress to prostitutes and telling President Barack Obama to "stimulate this."


He's even got his own talk show and freedom-fighter website.

And we're supposed to reckon this winter that New York's a uniquely dysfunctional cesspool inhabited by uniquely bombastic, larcenous and self-serving reptiles?

Yup. We are supposed to believe that.

[Here's a far more interesting reckoning: Put Pedro at the table with Traficant, on any subject, who ends up getting locked up?] 

But back on topic, here's something for the tax-slashing impresarios at the Empire Center and the NY Post. Exemplar-state Arizona has a budget gap of 30--that's thirty--percent  (New York's is about 6 percent) and the state legislature still wants to cut taxes.  Here's what the GOP House Speaker there has to say:

"Arizona is not as competitive as it needs to be with job retention and job growth," Adams said.

Sound familiar?  Now here's where reckoning gets really good:

Arizona reduced its individual income tax by 10 percent in 2006 and 2007, and the new proposal would cut it by another 10 percent over four years starting in 2012. That reduction is needed to benefit small business owners who don't file corporate returns, Adams said.

I guess in Arizona, they reckon that a thirty percent tax cut equals thirty percent budget deficit. Somebody needs to ask The Empire Center how this math works.  In other words, if Arizona keeps cutting taxes will all those houses grow again?  How about all those sand-management jobs, will they come back too?

And then ask them about the income-tax-free state of Washington

It's guaranteed that you won't get an answer out of them because this is a world that they pretend doesn't exist.  Although I hear they're working on a blockbuster idea to post online the dental records, x-rays, and prescriptions of every civil servant in the state with subsided health insurance.

[To any civil servant in the state maybe reading this: Not really. I'm only joking. Or at least I don't know of any such plan.]

Look, if somebody wants to make the argument that New York has devolved into a mediocre slacker-state that needs to clean up its act, and that has a world of native potential that it needs to live up to, fine--you get no argument here, I'm with you.  But to pretend that New York is the worst state in the nation, or that it's facing a nationally preeminent ethical or fiscal crisis is just absurd. And then that some individual or group is to blame for this canard, is mendacious and politically-narcissistic.  But it's mostly counterproductive.

It's mostly counterproductive because to move forward with any serious work on campaign finance, ethics and fiscal reform under these ridiculous presumptions is like engineering on top of faulty blueprints--it's just never going to work.  And as such--and before these 'reckoning' theatrics are played out--the governor and his MSM cohorts will be at the other's throat. 

So pull up a chair and grab some popcorn.  It'll be interesting watching The Times re-reckon reality with its head still in the sand.

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