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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Homeless Gangs Stab Several Insde New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal

Tonight, a fight inside Port Authority Bus Terminal just hours before the New Year sent three people to the hospital with injuries and one person has "life-threatening injuries" from the fight which sent passersby inside the terminal scurrying into Terminal restrooms's to hide. 

The real scandal involving the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is not whether some politically-appointed minions of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie decided to intentionally reduce ingress lanes from Fort Lee, NJ to the George Washington Bridge as some sort of political punishment. 

It isn't even the Port Authority's decision to give millions of dollars to a certain landlocked New Jersey city which has no known connection to the Port of New York or to any PANYNJ facility. (I've checked.)  Those millions of dollars, incidentally, were granted on the heels of one of several toll hikes on poor bridge and tunnel commuters.

No, the real scandal is the deteriorating environment inside the midtown Port Authority Bus Terminal.  This is something readers of this blog have known since I've been covering it since at least late 2010. 

Tonight, the latest violence inside the Terminal involved fights between "groups of homeless men" which sent at least three to the hospital with stab wounds.  One victim is described as having life-threatening injuries. This was mere hours before the ball drop in Times Square, and while thousands of commuters were disembarking from buses arriving at the terminal and presumably bringing in partygoers to enjoy the festivities.

What a great advertisement for Bill de Blasio's New York (he gets sworn in shortly as the new Mayor)!   

Monday, December 16, 2013

Birth Certificate Sex Change Is Document Fraud

A proposed bill working its way through the New Jersey State Legislature would revise the history of transgendered people, allowing their birth certificates to reflect their after-acquired (that is, their new) gender.

This is revisionist history; in fact, it is worse. It is document fraud and is not appropriate.

Official documents must be sacrosanct.  The lack of credibility or ease of forgery causes numerous headaches for the victims of identity fraud and other crimes.  Such crimes are the ostensible reason why native American citizens born in Puerto Rico must provide more forms of identification than other native-born citizens, because birth certificates from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (an American possession since 1898) are so rampantly forged that they are no longer recognized as official, genuine government identification.

How does this affect transgendereds? The New Jersey bill would allow transgendered people the right to get new birth certificates to reflect their new gender.  The problem is that this entire process reflects, indeed it requires, recognition of both the gender of the person at birth and the person's new (that is, for the moment) gender. (Now in an age of sex-change operations, hormonal therapies and the like, gender can be changed as often as one wishes and can afford to pay for it.)

But what is a birth certificate? Is it not a document that identifies who you were at a defined moment -- at birth? Is it not a document that establishes, for example, where you were born?  Does that permanent fact -- a historical fact -- not entitle you to the rights and privileges of citizenship?

If you were born a male, your birth certificate reflects that historical fact, the fact that existed at the time of birth.

If you are an American, native-born, your birth certificate reflects that.

If you wish to change into a woman, there are all sorts of legal recognitions of your newly-acquired gender of which you can avail yourself.  You can get a current government ID stating, for example, that you are a female.  Steven can become Stephanie, or vice versa. 

What horrors might be unleashed by permitting the backdating of official records to reflect not what was a fact, but what you now wish was a fact way back when?

Do foreigners now get to change their birth certificates to reflect an American birthplace years ago, well, because they just wish it so?  

Or is the real meaning behind this bill the push to make nothing permanent, to remove the true meaning from anything and to give fearsome powers to government bureaucrats to change things as they see fit?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Back to the Future: Bill Bratton Nominated For New NYPD Commissioner

Breaking news -- Incoming New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio (nee Wilhelm) will reportedly nominate former Police Commissioner William Bratton to a return gig in the position.

Bratton was originally nominated by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1994 and is widely credited with implementing the "broken windows" theory of crime prevention.

This corner believes this move is made with one eye towards reassuring both the police rank-and-file (i.e., your beat cop on the street) and the business community that the crime reduction achievements of the past 20 years will not be allowed to disintegrate.

The Danger of Increasing Executive Branch Power

The concentration of government power in one branch -- whether at the federal or any state or county level -- was recognized by the framers of the Constitution as a danger to our Republic.  This week, noted constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley in his testimony before a House committee very aptly pointed out the dangers of this trend.  Best of all, Turley was intellectually honest in calling out both the Bush (44) and Obama Administrations for this trend.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Public Pensions and Public Sector Envy

In my experience, almost no one seeks to work for "the government" because they want to get rich. They want public sector work because they view it as relatively stable; some do like the idea of public service or working in their small town.  Others will take a public sector job to gain experience and leverage that into subsequent, rather lucrative private sector employment; prosecutors and top regulators come to mind.  But very few, very few indeed, think it's the path to riches.

That's why the recent Detroit bankruptcy court decision paving the road for potentially sharp haircuts on retirees' pension payouts -- treating pension plans just like any other contract and pensioners like any other creditor, when creditors typically get hammered in bankruptcy court -- is causing so much distress among the public sector crowd.

The private and public sectors just don't understand each other.  Very few truly cross from one side to another.  Those that do make the jump most often make a permanent move in search of a better income or prospects (and this move is almost always to the private sector).  The back-and-forth revolving door from the private sector to the government is rare, but is most often seen among the management / executive set.  The revolving door is often decried as symptomatic of the crony capitalism that is increasingly recognized.  But among the rank-and-file in both worlds, very few understand how green the grass is on the other side.  In reality, both sides fail to realize that the green grass is often painted green.

Here's the reality check for the public sector.  Private sector employees and small business owners face immediate financial pressures. A small business owner can "do well" one year but have total exposure and the potential for total destruction of his income stream the next year.  Public employees -- being virtually unfireable -- don't have any concept of the level of risk and lack of security this means.  They look at the highest possible salaries one can have in the private world and say, "boy, all these guys are rich."  Yes, private workers can always go to infinity, and that is the tradeoff for having no security.  This -- the rebalancing of the risk-reward tradeoff to reduce potential rewards while increasing risks (through legal liabilities, other laws' costs and taxes) explains the visceral objections among the private sector ownership class to the income redistributionist rhetoric coming out of government these days. 

On the other hand, private sector employees almost universally refused to consider public sector work because of the relatively low salaries, the low level of the highest-possible salary (such as the GS-15 level which caps sitting United States Attorneys at an annual salary of about $160,000) and other constraints like the Hatch Act which can preclude political activity while on one's own time. 

The years-long economic decline has made some people look wistfully at the public sector because they think about job security and presumed income security (but at a lower level).  This is not necessarily true and reflects the distortion in perceptions caused by the sharp 2008-09 recession and subsequent stagnation.  The private sector does not realize that most public employees are paid modestly and one of the tradeoffs for that lower salary is the pension plan.  The private sector, now demonized, does not understand the dilemma.  

The progressives vilifying the private sector may find very little sympathy from private business owners who resent being bitten by government workers they used to feed and still feed.  The victims here will be those public employee retirees who played by the rules and were let down by fiscally irresponsible government leaders who ran up too much debt without the ability to repay it.  There is no easy solution to make solvent these insolvent pension plans, not without higher taxes on the private sector whose resentment of the public sector has been more than earned.  Unfortunately, many low-paid government retirees stand to become little more than disposable cannon fodder for "progressive" politicians who used them for votes, ran up debts without regard for the ultimate responsibility, and then threw these retirees away like so much rubbish.