What if Steinbrenner umpired Yankee games?
Things are very, very quiet in Albany, the state capital.
How come? Well, if you accept the premise that the usual game of state politics has been called because of extraordinary circumstances, you might have an answer. As we all know, the state went broke and the usual rules of combat were suspended until there was a little more cash in the coffers. I have always believed that the governmental process in Albany is a cross between theater and sports. In a way, the sport is an entertainment not unlike professional wrestling which, as you must know, is fixed. Anyone who believes that the sucker gets an even break in this game must be delusional.
In this case, the game is played by two opposing teams who have a rather sophisticated set of mainly self-serving rules. The most important rule is to stay in power by defeating the other side, by hook or by crook. In Albany, the majority party in each house runs the game even if only by one extra vote. Considering that this country sends our best young people to other countries to “fight for democracy,” the lack of the same democratic commodity here in the state of New York is nothing less than astounding. Yet the game continues.
A second major rule among many legislators seems to be turning the public good into the private good. Hence the incredible insistence that a so-called ethics bill cannot include the perfectly sensible provision that the voters are told exactly what money legislators are receiving from which outside sources so that we might actually know who is buying whom.
A third rule is that well known “Golden Rule,” that those who have the gold rule. That’s where the private (and some not-for-profit) lobbyists come in. They funnel the money to the players because, of course, the game is for sale. Take the current fight over reapportionment. Less than two years ago when the Republicans were in the minority and expecting to remain that way for a long time to come, they were all over the place insisting that districts be drawn fairly with an eye toward making it a fair fight come the next set of elections. But now, due to the ineptitude of the Democrats in the Senate, they have an extra vote or two and they want the same old corrupt system to continue unabated. To the winners go the spoils.
Governor Andrew Cuomo lucked out. He took over at the right moment, riding the winds of politics successfully as one might ride a mechanical bull in a bar. The politicians went along with the budget process and did the unthinkable, actually producing an on-time budget. But they were not going to self-immolate. For years, there has been screaming about the convergence of public office into private good. It is one thing to admit that you have a budget shortfall of billions of dollars and to punish those who have the least in the state. It is entirely different for our politicians to do anything that might make their own, personal standard of living suffer. Most of them have never had to do that and they are not about to start now. They are banking on the fact that in the end, they will trade Andrew Cuomo something like a cap on property taxes to maintain their personal standard of living.
My bet is that Andrew will give way to a substandard ethics bill that will allow the legislators to shield themselves from people knowing exactly who is giving them what over the table, under the table and around the table. That’s the way it has always worked. I sure hope I’m wrong but that’s my predication.
So the game has been halted but, as I’ve always said, the rules are still in place much like if you allowed a Steinbrenner to umpire the Yankees games. The politicians will win and the people will lose. We’re all a bunch of suckers.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 5/23/11Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized