Political silly season in full bloom – By George J. Marlin

Posted September 21, 2021 by streetcornerconservative
Categories: Articles/Essays/Op-Ed, Blank Slate Media

The following appeared on Monday, September 21, 2021 on The Island Now’s website:

The most misused and overused word uttered by New York politicians is “transparency.”

For example, Governors Spitzer, Cuomo and Paterson all pledged that their administrations would be the most “transparent” in the state’s history.

Well, we all know what happened to them: two disgraced their office and resigned. As for the third, David Paterson, a Commission on Public Integrity “found that [he] had lied about accepting five free World Series tickets and fined him $62,125.”

When Kathy Hochul was sworn in as New York’s 57th governor on Aug. 24, she too pledged that her administration would be “transparent.”

The New York Post pointed out on Sept. 3, however, “Gov. Hochul just broke her vow that transparency would be her administration’s ‘hallmark’—in the first bill of her tenure.”

Hochul approved eviction moratorium extension legislation that was voted on without any debate or discussion. Also, the extension includes language that “effectively” suspends the state’s Open Meetings Law.

“Until January,” the Post reported, “any governmental body that broadcasts its meetings online via conference call can ban protesters, lobbyists, the press and members of the public from physically attending meetings.”

So much for openness and transparency in government.

On another front, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) has called for the elimination of academic honors for its top students.

“Recognizing student excellence via honor rolls and class rank,” the DOE has determined, “can be detrimental to learners who find it more difficult to reach academic success, often for reasons beyond their control.”

Instead of grading students on reading, writing, and mathematic skills, the DOE wants to judge students on their “contribution to the school or wider community and demonstrations of social justice and integrity.”

The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in a 1993 essay published in The American Scholar, called such policies “Defining Deviancy Down.” By this he meant there has been a “manifest decline” in America’s public educational systems by “redefining problem[s] as essentially normal and doing little to reduce it.”

Because teachers are failing to educate large segments of New York City’s student population, (only 14 percent of Black eighth-graders are proficient in English and 10 percent in math), the DOE wants to redefine standards downward to cover up poor student performance.

During the de Blasio years, his DOE has waged a brutal war on excellence. In addition to ditching grading standards, they have been attempting to eliminate testing for admission to elite public high schools and gifted and talented classes.

They will not be satisfied until they define standards low enough to ensure that every student, regardless of ability, gets a lousy education.

Next, Long Islanders returning to work this fall in the Big Apple have every reason to be concerned about the rapid increase in crime—particularly in the city’s mass transportation system.

Nicole Gelinas, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, fears that the subway crime problem will scare people away unless the police “step up again.”

Her analysis concluded that “during 2020, despite severely reduced ridership, violent crimes rose to 928 incidents from 917 the year before.”

Non-violent felonies also increased during the same period. “In 2020, there were 2.71 felonies committed per million rides, up from 1.45 in 2019.”

This increase in criminal activity can be laid at the feet of the governing class who believe criminals are victims of society, that punishment and imprisonment does not deter crimes, and that violent crime should be treated as a public health issue.

This attitude helps explain why the city’s five district attorneys are declining to prosecute more and more accused felons and judges are dismissing more cases.

The state Division of Criminal Justice released data that indicated DA’s in 2020 dropped charges in 17 percent “of the 38,635 felony cases that were closed in N.Y.C. during 2020.” In 2019, the rate was 8.7 percent.

The Bronx DA took top honors. He declined to prosecute 28.5 percent of cases. And judges in the county dismissed 28 percent of the cases that appeared before them. Hence, the conviction rate dropped to 27.4 percent vs. 44.2 percent in 2019.

There seems to be no end to the follies of New York progressives who live in ideological fantasy lands.

And that explains why New York’s political silly season is in full bloom.

‘American Marxism’ by Mark Levin is an Extraordinary Book – By George J. Marlin

Posted September 17, 2021 by streetcornerconservative
Categories: Articles/Essays/Op-Ed, Newsmax

This article I wrote appeared on the Newsmax.com web site on Friday, September 17, 2021.

Time for prudent fiscal policies in Albany – By George J. Marlin

Posted September 7, 2021 by streetcornerconservative
Categories: Articles/Essays/Op-Ed, Blank Slate Media, Political Issues

The following appeared on Monday, September 6, 2021 on The Island Now’s website: 

The word “prudence” is rarely uttered in the political arena. This is particularly true in Albany where Democrats, controlling the state government, have been acting like kids in a candy store spending every penny of their allowances the day they receive it.

For those under 60, not exposed to classical and medieval thinkers who opined on “prudence,” here’s a little background.

The greatest Athenian philosopher, Aristotle (384-322 BC), distinguished scientific knowledge and craft knowledge from practical wisdom—“phronesis” or prudence. The historian John Mearsheimer, interpreted Aristotle’s position as meaning “prudence dictates that [politicians] behave according to realistic logic.” So, for instance, Albany’s politicians spending all the state’s one-shot revenues on recurring operating expenditures, would be imprudent and contrary to “realistic logic.”

In medieval times, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1275), writing in his masterpiece the “Summa Theologica,” agreed with Aristotle and defined “prudence” as “wisdom concerning human affairs” or “right reason with respect to action.”

Perhaps the most succinct definition of “prudence” was expressed by the contemporary French thinker André Comte-Sponville. “Prudence,” he noted, is “what differentiates action from impulse and heroes from hotheads.”

And having watched this year’s spending spree in Albany, I have concluded there were plenty of impulsive hotheads who have ignored practical financial reasoning.

This year the state Legislature approved a record-breaking $212 billion spending plan. They imprudently funded the budget by dispersing the unrestricted federal COVID one-shot revenues of $12.2 billion and on top of that increased taxes by $4 billion.

They also utilized various fiscal gimmicks such as deferring $3.5 billion in Medicare payments owed to providers into the next fiscal year.

The fiscal antics of the spendthrifts in Albany may get them through the 2022 elections, but as E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy pointed out, “after that the bottom falls out with big and growing deficits projected by mid-decade.”

There is one elected official, however, who preaches prudential fiscal realism, and that person is State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has released thoughtful annual reports analyzing the flaws in the state’s budget plans and he has warned, time and again, that steps must be taken to shore-up the state’s finances.

In a recent op-ed DiNapoli penned for Newsday, he calls for much-needed prudent fiscal measures.

DiNapoli warns that the state’s current fiscal plan has inherent risks. “A slowing recovery or a second economic downturn,” he cautions, “will upend revenue forecasts, and may create spending pressures to extend or enhance programs currently funded federally or intended to be temporary.”

Yes, a drop in capital gains revenues that the state is heavily dependent on or a mass exodus of the top 1 percent of taxpayers, who pay about 40 percent of New York’s personal income taxes, could be devastating.

To avoid a fiscal meltdown, DiNapoli made several sound recommendations:

  1. “Prudently [his word] and transparently use federal recovery aid.” Avoid employing one-shot dollars “to support recurring spending, which may put spending on an unsustainable trajectory.”
  2. Replenish the state’s rainy-day funds that are presently significantly below the statutorily authorized $6.4 billion.
  3. “Carefully consider strategic infrastructure priorities.” Proceeds from long-term bonded debt should be used prudently for projects that “are most important to improve service, enhance economic growth, or address repair needs.” In other words, avoid boondoggles like Cuomo’s scandal-ridden “Buffalo Billion.”

Following these steps, DiNapoli rightfully concludes, “will help ensure the state limits the financial impact of future risks and is able to sustain investments through downturns, disasters and other emergencies.”

The key concern of the prudent government official, Aristotle wrote, “is to determine not ends, but means to ends, i.e., what is most useful to do.”

And Comptroller DiNapoli’s recommendations are “most useful” because they are not driven by delusional ideological formulas that have no relation to reality.
Tom DiNapoli is a prudent politician whose analyses could save an ailing state.

If the leaders of the Democratic Party are wise, they would nominate DiNapoli as their gubernatorial candidate in 2022.

But don’t hold your breath. Sadly, the AOC-wing of the party will not be content until the chief executive office is controlled by one of their imprudent “tax and spend” comrades.

Afghanistan: Another Failed Nation-Building Experiment – By George J. Marlin

Posted September 3, 2021 by streetcornerconservative
Categories: Articles/Essays/Op-Ed, Newsmax

This article I wrote appeared on the Newsmax.com web site on Friday, September 3, 2021.

The Tragedy of Andrew Cuomo – By George J. Marlin

Posted August 20, 2021 by streetcornerconservative
Categories: Andrew Cuomo, Articles/Essays/Op-Ed, Newsmax

This article I wrote appeared on the Newsmax.com web site on Friday, August 20, 2021.