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Wake-up call

Congested politics


If you're waiting for a politician to make the right decision for the right reason, be advised you will have a lot of time on your hands and eternity will outlast your patience.

In the meantime, to keep your mind active while eternity unfolds in perpetual dilly-dallying, you might as well estimate how many times the dinosaurs pooped before their extinction, which predated the more traumatic extinction of the practice of "equal justice under law" in American jurisprudence.

It will be a far-reaching and sluggish interlude. "Until the cows come home" is an underestimate. The heifers will have learned how to install solar paneling before politicians walk the straight and narrow. But we should still be glad when, acting primarily in their own interest, they accidentally allow for secondary collateral benefits to the citizens who enfranchise their egos.

Governor Hochul has put congestive pricing on "indefinite pause.” That sounds more like a lull in the action, pending a more opportune time for a policy dump, such as after November's election. Why not just say that congestive pricing has been completely abandoned forthwith with no possibility of revival?  

"Indefinite" means the date of revival isn't ripe for release to the public or hasn't as yet been pinned down with specificity. "Pause" means on hold. When a person is pronounced dead, they are not "on hold.”If congestion pricing is defunct, don't imply it's just taking a breather.   

Congestion pricing should not be resuscitated until the day that NPR presents a news story without a progressive slant. In other words, never.

What are the chances, judging from prior false assurances about other matters, that the government doesn't already have a scheme underfoot to hoodwink the public into believing that new, unforeseeable developments forced the government to renege on its good-faith pledge to quash congestion pricing?

Hochul claims she was swayed by the poignant pleas of plain folks over hash browns at their local diner. The misbegotten plan was, since 2019,  the subject of tens of thousands of hours of input and expert testimony from innumerable "stakeholders" in government and communities. A half-billion dollars was already squandered on it before the political will was made to shelve, and hopefully scrap it.

Maybe there was some special spice in those hash browns and the recipe is a state secret? Was  Hochul's decision a change of heart or a change of strategy? Was it an about-face or was it about face-saving? Is it a makeover or a do-over? City Comptroller Brad Lander is still crusading for congestion parking, I mean pricing. Maybe he's playing "good cop, bad cop" in a skit with the governor.

Congratulations to United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and others who went to court and advocated for all New Yorkers. If the state does in fact cancel, rather than postpone implementation, it will be a historic victory.

The MTA has other options for raising the money necessary to meet its needs, as explained by the Manhattan Institute's Nicole Gelinas. They include borrowing from other sources of revenue, modifying the toll structure to make it less radical and impalpable, and messing with workers' overtime.  

She is right, however, to condemn the city's tacit acceptance of massive theft, to the tune of $700 million annually (enough to buy the entire output of Hunter Biden's paintings) from people who scoff at paying subway and bus fare and don't even bother to look around any longer to see if a cop is watching. A friend of mine was on a bus last week where, at one stop, 19 passengers hopped aboard, of whom two paid the fare. 

There is a tapeworm on the city's financial innards. And don't expect politicians to dislodge it; they share the nutrition it feeds upon.

Fare evasion is generally not driven by poverty, but rather by irresistible opportunism in response to an unmistakable signal from the city that it simply doesn't care enough to do anything about it.  

But poverty is definitely a factor in forcing people to break the law in order to get medications that they cannot afford, because they haven't insurance. That's why many New Yorkers feel they have to resort to ordering medications like antibiotics and sometimes controlled substances online from overseas sources, risking its seizure by federal authorities upon its arrival through the mail.

These medications may not contain the advertised ingredients and there is no verifiable quality control oversight. It can be spiked or laced with inert or dangerous properties. But for many people, this last resort is their only option. They don't have insurance coverage and cannot pay out-of-pocket.   

Why are medicines not uniformly affordable? Is there a conspiracy implicating "Big Pharma" and perhaps the FDA? We all know that government agencies can be corruptible and sometimes exceed the strict limitations of their mission.

At least some retirees have gotten a break.  

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the department "through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is sending initial offers to the participating drug companies of the first 10 prescription drugs selected for negotiation in the first cycle of the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program. 

“Thanks to the President’s lower cost prescription drug law — the Inflation Reduction Act — Medicare now has the power to negotiate prescription drug prices directly with drug companies, similar to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies that already negotiate drug prices."

But that's just part of a much bigger problem. And speaking of the sordid alliance of power and money, why not tax university endowments?

According to the Tax Policy Center, "public and private colleges and universities collectively hold over $500 billion in endowment wealth.” They can rake in the loot because the IRS treats education abattoirs like Columbia the same as tax-exempt charities. Being marinated in extravagant unmerited wealth doesn't stop them from charging astronomically steep and ruthlessly confiscatory tuition that bears no connection to their actual costs of doing business.

They know that students tend to live for the moment and will take out loans and worry about repayment long into the unfathomable future. They won't have to get "blood from a stone" because student loaners will be their bleeding rock. For now.

Colleges, high on the hog, won't rein in their extortion, realizing that when it comes time to pay the piper, they will be home free while their student gulls are shackled by debt. And there will always be a new cohort of freshman, especially in the liberal arts, in whose minds the legacy myth of the value of a college education has been embedded.

Wherever there is politicization, there is racketeering and bootlegging (and bootlicking). The whole country is being run and run into the ground, by politicization.  Education, jurisprudence, commerce, economics. You name it.

The political animals are inheriting the earth. Who else wants it, anyway, anymore?

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