Tag Archives: New York

The Demand Curve Is Not Optional

Demand CurveWe will find ways to meet the supply:


More than half of the cigarettes for sale in New York are smuggled into the state illegally – the highest percentage in the country, according to a recent report from the Tax Foundation.

According to the non-partisan research group, increased excise taxes on cigarettes to discourage smoking have, in fact, created lucrative incentives for black market trafficking between states.

According to the report, 56.9 percent of the cigarettes sold in the Empire State are brought in from other states. New York state has the highest cigarette taxes in the country – a whopping $4.35 a pack. If you live in New York City, it’s another $1.50 per pack, bringing taxes to $5.85 per pack, with the overall cost of a pack in the city in the $12 to $15 range.


Minimum Wage : New York

Minimum Wage

I was in New York back in April during the fast food workers strike against the prevailing minimum wage.  They want to raise the wage to $15.  Amusing to say the least.

I think the whole argument is flawed.  Consider:

Gregory Reynoso, a driver for a Domino’s in Brooklyn, complains that he is making $7.25 an hour after a year and a half on the job. “It’s impossible to support a family on $7.25 an hour,” said Mr. Reynoso, 26, who lives with his 3-year-old daughter and his wife, a part-time employee at Macy’s. “We’re just surviving.”

The reality is that these jobs are not meant to be used to raise a family.  Neither are they meant to be a job that an individual stays at for more than a year or possibly two.  These jobs are meant to be entry level jobs in the job market.  A place where an individual learns to work, to take instruction, follow through, show up on time.  A place to learn customer service.

The argument that you cannot support a family working at Burger King is not a valid argument for raising the minimum wage.

Stealing Via The Government

Public Housing

If you want something but would rather not pay for it you can:

  1.  Hope that someone will give it to you.
  2. Elect politicians who will pass laws that gives it to you.

Granted, that’s the cynical take on the process but it does present what is occurring economically.  Consider housing:

The authority, landlord to more than 400,000 residents, has a backlog of about 350,000 repair orders. It also has a waiting list of 160,000 families.

The reason for this phenomena?  Greedy landlords or slum lords?  Hardly:

The eight projects, with a combined population of more than 25,000 people, are Alfred E. Smith, Baruch, Campos Plaza, Fiorello LaGuardia and Meltzer in Lower Manhattan; Carver and Washington on the Upper East Side; and Douglass on the Upper West Side.

Public housing all.

It’s simply economics.  When land is restricted by public use zoning laws, the price of real estate in general goes up.  And when the rent charged is limited by laws attempting to break the laws of economics, the quality of available housing goes down.  Represented her by budget shortfalls, backlogs of repairs and waiting lists.

The only natural remedy?

But soon, that patch of asphalt at the Alfred E. Smith Houses could be replaced by market-rate apartment buildings.

The New York City Housing Authority, facing one of the most serious financial shortfalls in its history, is for the first time making a major push to lease open land on the grounds of its housing projects to developers to generate revenue.

The authority wants to raise more than $50 million a year on long-term leases for parks, courtyards, parking lots, playgrounds and other property, seeking to address a $6 billion backlog of repairs.

The only thing that makes sense; open the land available to market forces and raise revenues.

Judge Halts New York City’s Soda Ban


With not one single day of legal training and not enough interest to even read the reviews of books that discuss law, I have a idea of what I think should and should not be.

I think the Constitution was meant to limit what the federal government may do.  Further, it lists several things that it CAN do.  And every thing else is relegated to the states.

Therefore, I think that the feds cannot regulate firearms but states, counties and cities may.  It’s why I think that schools should be more locally run and funded and why things like alcohol, speed limits and hunting should be left to the states.

Now, to those local governing bodies.  I’m pretty sure that they can legislate freely.  Zoning laws preventing high rise apartments?  Go for it.  Wanna ban alcohol in the county?  Sure.  No hunting on Sunday?  Fine.

Bad ideas all, but certainly doable.

Which, when I consider the soda ban in New York, sums up my feelings regarding that law:

Stupid but legal.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this:

A judge invalidated New York City’s limits on large sugary drinks on Monday, one day before they were to go into effect, dealing a significant blow to one of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s signature public health initiatives and a marquee project of his third term.

The decision by Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of State Supreme Court in Manhattan blocks the city from putting the rules into effect or enforcing them.

I like the idea of bad ideas not being implemented, but I want that to be done in a legal manner.  I’m pretty sure that the city of New York can regulate soda in anyway they see fit.  But the judge doesn’t see it that way:

Justice Tingling said the rule banning the drinks was “arbitrary and capricious.”

In his opinion, Justice Tingling specifically cited a perceived inequity in the soda rules, which applies to only certain sugared drinks — beverages with a high milk content, for instance, would be exempt — and would apply only to some food establishments, like restaurants, but not others, like convenience stores.

“It applies to some but not all food establishments in the city,” Justice Tingling wrote. “It excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories.”

The judge also wrote that the fact that consumers can receive refills of sodas, as long as the cup size is not larger than 16 ounces, would “defeat and/or serve to gut the purpose the rule.” The judge also appeared to be skeptical of the purview of the city’s Board of Health, which the Bloomberg administration had maintained has broad powers to seek to better the public’s health. That interpretation, the judge wrote, “would leave its authority to define, create, mandate and enforce limited only by its own imagination,” and “create an administrative Leviathan.”

We’ll see how it plays out.  But for now, people in NYC are free to decide to buy a large soda.  And good for them.

Abuse of the System

I’m late on this one; been sitting in my stack for awhile now.

I’m not so naive as to think that any program is going to be 100% free of abuse; there will always be those that game the system.  So I’m not really moved by this:

The food-stamp program prohibits the purchase of booze, tobacco and lottery tickets with an EBT card. But with the cash-assistance program, users can blow money on strippers or a six-pack and to tap welfare dollars from liquor stores, casinos and adult-oriented establishments.

The Post found dozens of pubs, nightclubs and tobacco shops where welfare dough was dispensed — and presumably spent.

The Boiler Room, a gay dive bar in the East Village, had $120 and $60 transactions a minute apart on Jan. 17, 2011. The bar is around the corner from a Bank of America that takes EBT cards.

West Village tobacco shop Shisha International had EBT transactions ranging from $40 to $180 in 2011. The store is near at least two EBT-friendly ATMs.

That’s precious little data to suggest that there is a problem.  But what DOES drive me crazy is this:

State Sen. Tom Libous (R-Binghamton) passed a bill in his chamber in June that would outlaw welfare withdrawals at gambling dens, strip clubs and other venues of vice, but the measure is gathering dust in the Democratic-controlled Assembly.

Libous is looking for a new Assembly sponsor to carry the bill in that house in the upcoming legislative session, after past sponsor George Latimer (D-Rye) was elected to the state Senate.

With only one of the city’s Assembly members, Nicole Malliotakis (R-B’klyn./SI), as a co-sponsor, the bill faces an uphill battle.

The Assembly typically doesn’t support welfare reform, because its more liberal members think the measures “hurt the poor,” Libous said. If the bill remains stalled, the state stands to lose $120 million in federal welfare funding.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, signed by President Obama last February, requires states to prohibit sinful welfare spending by 2014. If they don’t, they’ll forfeit federal cash.

“The people who are stealing from the program are the ones I want to go after,” Libous said. “Not someone who lost his job or a single mom who has to feed her kids. That’s what this program is supposed to be for.”

This isn’t, or doesn’t seem to be, an ideological attack on the program at all.  Rather, it seems to be a attempt to tighten regulations to make sure that the money is being used for food.  For the required basics.


Government Response to Sandy

Government is inefficient, but I repeat myself.

Sandy created massive problems, and New York found themselves utterly unprepared:

Sandy flooded both tubes of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, now called the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, which was one of the major and longest transportation disruptions of the storm. It also ravaged the Rockaways in Queens, particularly the waterfront community of Breezy Point, where roughly 100 homes burned to the ground in a massive wind-swept fire.

Among the other crises Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg faced on a daily basis during Sandy were the shortage of temporary housing, which continues, the long disruption of electricity and gasoline, generators in health care facilities swamped by floodwaters, restoring power from swamped electrical infrastructure and repairing commuter rail lines.

But it didn’t have to be this way:

More than three decades before Superstorm Sandy, a state law and a series of legislative reports began warning New York politicians to prepare for a storm of historic proportions, spelling out scenarios eerily similar to what actually happened: a towering storm surge; overwhelming flooding; swamped subway lines; widespread power outages. The Rockaway peninsula was deemed among the “most at risk.”

But most of the warnings and a requirement in a 1978 law to create a regularly updated plan for the restoration of “vital services” after a storm went mostly unheeded, either because of tight budgets or the lack of political will to prepare for a hypothetical storm that may never hit.

I’ll withhold my typical scorn of “the government should take care of us.”  After all, this is a state law meant to address problems that the state would face.  However, I will point out the main problem with government solutions:

They don’t work very well.

Had individual citizens taken efforts to protect themselves rather than holding out some fantastical hope of government assistance, the whole region would be better off.

Government Regluations: New York Soda

By now we’ve all heard about Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban large sizes of drinks that are high in sugar or calories.  This would include soda, energy drinks and sweetened teas.

New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat rising obesity.

The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.

This has to be a clear cut example of what the government CAN do, but what it SHOULDN’T do.  There’s no question that American are getting bigger and becoming obese at alarming rates.  There is no question that eating/drinking less garbage and working out more often would greatly contribute to reducing this problem.

However, at some point, there has to come a time when the government oversteps its bounds.  Are we really ready to accept living in a state where the state can dictate such personal freedoms?  Perhaps we are.  We already accept the fact that we can’t smoke in certain places.  We acknowledge and accept that the government can dictate seat belts and motorcycle helmets.

As much as I’m appalled at the regulation of soda-pop, I am equally sure that most of our citizens will accept it and we can just chalk it up to another example of people eschewing personal liberty in the name of removing any semblance of personal responsibility.

North Carolina School Lunches: Child Car Commission

So, North Carolina has taken center stage in recent weeks.  A Hoke County school teacher noticed that a child’s bag-lunch didn’t meet proscribed nutritional guidelines.  In one case, the bag-lunch contained a turkey and cheese sandwich, apples and apple juice.  Missing was the vegetable.  The lunch was either replaced or supplemented with a school provided hot lunch.  Further adding to the outcry was the fact that the child didn’t eat the veggies provided; she only ate the chicken nuggets.

I think this is the classic case of what folks mean when they say that government is too big.

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Occupy Wall Street Comes To North Carolina

With the passing of Steve Jobs, his Commencement Address at Stanford is making the rounds.  The message of his words is powerful, the speech itself, actually, is massively forgettable.  But his Opus, his yawlp, is most impressive.

Stay hungry.  Stay foolish.

I resonate.  I’m nearly 43, well into a decent career at a massive corporation doing better than I have a right to ask.  But I’m hungry.  And I do foolish shit all day long.  All the time.  In fact, I yearn for the foolish, I embrace the foolish.

I get foolish.

So I understand that fire in the belly of the college kid who watches on TV as other college kids go do stuff.  Get noticed and make a name if not a statement.  But holy moly, there is a massive learning curve here:

Chapel Hill, N.C. — Hundreds of North Carolina college students walked out of class Wednesday afternoon as the weeks-long protest against Wall Street spread to universities nationwide.

I get it.  I do.  To get noticed you have to do things that are noticeable.  And if you really think that there are people being victimized, I urge you to get noticed:

Apart from the message of Occupy Wall Street, which is people over profit, is that UNC students, regardless of political or socio-economic background, have issues on this campus,” student Denise Mitchell said. “Students just don’t feel like they’re being heard by the university.

Huh?  Wait, this isn’t some attempt to improve student/faculty relations at some flippin’ university is it?

Mitchell cited a recent study that found UNC housekeepers feel they are treated unfairly…

What the what?  Wait, Occupy Wall Street is a movement that wants to draw attention to the fact that the very wealthy are, in fact wealthy, because of the shenanigans on of massive banks.  So, using that as cover you walk out of class to voice student concerns that housekeepers don’t think life is fair?

…and an investigation into the Department of African and Afro-American Studies following allegations of plagiarism by a former football player.

Right.  ‘Cause the fact that a football player plagiarized his work is shocking only because what, 85% of the student body is guilty as well?  Is it because he’s black?  Hell, IS he even black?

More proof that our education system is failing us follows:

Students used Facebook and other social media outlets to spread word of the noon protests. They say they represent 99 percent of Americans – people struggling to get by while the wealthiest one percent makes financial decisions.

“People will become aware and will know that we are the 99 percent, and our voices will not be ignored,” N.C. State student Katina Gad said.

Do they understand what 99% means?  Do they understand what struggling to get by means?  As an exercise, if they are so poor and so struggling, how are they organizing using Facebook?

The stupid continues:

“If you look at any group of people (who) are being discriminated against, I think youth and students are a big part of that. We’ve taken on massive amounts of student loans to go into what jobs?” said Ryan Thompson, who helped organize the small protest on N.C. State’s Brickyard.

“How are we going to pay $50,000 in debt when there are no jobs out there?” UNC student Ana Maria Reichenbach said.


If you look at any group of people who are being discriminated against…..

Don’t do it man, do NOT say that YOU are being discriminated against.

I think youth and students are a big part of that.

You did it.  But that aside, what does that even MEAN?  Youth and students are a big part of WHAT?  What in the HELL are you talking about?

How are we going to pay $50,000 in debt when there are no jobs out there?

So, now that you’ve decided to drop a cool 50 large on a European Classical Renaissance Philosophy / German Sociology degree and are shocked to learn that no one gives a fuck, you think I’M on the hook for your stupid student loans?

Check this out.  Being 50k down should disqualify you for almost any reasonable job out there where a corporation is going to trust you with their money.  If you can’t manage YOUR money, how do you expect any one to let you manage theirs?

Area college students are planning a citywide protest in Raleigh’s Moore Square at 5 p.m. Sunday, and many of the students said they plan to travel to New York in the next few weeks to show their support in person to the hundreds of protesters on Wall Street.

Again.  I resonate.  But if you are going to flush a $50,000 education down the toilet so that you can get arrested in New York, at least do it with a plan.  Be organized.  Be coherent.  Have points that are well thought out, organized and documented.  Be crisp and concise.  Make sure that one point is related to the next.  It should flow and people should go:

Yeah!  I never thought of it that way before.

But, then again, if you knew that, I suspect you wouldn’t be making the trip to NY in the first place,

Finally: Gay Marriage Passed

New York has finally passed a bill that allows Gay Marriage:

ALBANY — Lawmakers voted late Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, making New York the largest state where gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed, and giving the national gay-rights movement new momentum from the state where it was born.

The GREAT news?  The bill was passed by a Republican senate where event the Democrats weren’t united:

The same-sex marriage bill was approved on a 33-to-29 vote, as 4 Republican state senators joined 29 Democrats in voting for the bill.

The lone Democratic opponent, Senator Ruben Diaz of the Bronx, said it was “unbelievable” that the Republican Party, “the party that always defended family values,” had allowed same-sex marriage to pass.

What he didn’t say is that the Republican Party finally found its way and let Liberty sing!