May 23rd, 2010 19:46 EST
Will Al Gore Disable New York's Government for Cuomo?
Would you vote to make Andrew M. Cuomo New York`s governor? Well, probably, if you`re a Democrat, maybe if you`re an independent, and maybe not if you`re a Republican. I often but not always vote Democratic, but I`m thinking maybe not.
Here`s why. The first thing the popular state attorney general did after announcing his unsurprising candidacy is say he hopes former Vice President Al Gore will help him pare down and streamline New York State government. Uh oh, not the Al Gore who:
"almost brought the federal civil service to a screeching halt by utterly demoralizing it as he pursued his spectacularly unsuccessful campaign to reinvent government;
"ham-handedly traumatized the best civil service in the world by demanding that agencies justify their usually congressionally mandated missions or be privatized;
"made it virtually impossible to carry out Bill Clinton`s domestic agenda because he had pushed around the very employees whose loyalty was needed to get things done;
"disguised himself as a friend of labor while pursuing Ronald Reagan`s campaign to break federal unions.
Which Al Gore would we be getting? The idealist who sounded the global alarm about climate change and crusaded relentlessly to raise the public consciousness? Or the remote and bungling Al Gore who wreaked havoc with our federal civil service and left it a shambles years into the Bush administration? Either Al Gore raises a specter.
Where was Mr. Cuomo when Al Gore was bungling his reinvention of government and breaking the spirit of his own employees by making them compete with private business to keep their jobs? Mr. Cuomo was Bill Clinton`s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, an agency corrupted to the core for decades. So obviously he saw what was happening. And now he promises a repeat performance in New York. Just what we need: a bad idea revived.
We need new ideas in a candidate. Or at least ideas that demonstrably work. If the attorney general of New York thinks Al Gore`s reinvention of government worked he was asleep at the switch. It didn`t work any more than when Jimmy Carter came to town blaming the civil service for everything under the sun. Americans used to be good at fixing things. Now we throw them out and buy something cheap from China. Reinventing government is just as ill-advised. Reform, vigilance, yes, but junking and privatizing, no. Employees should be partners, not enemies.
Politicians who blame government are tricksters. Most of them have been part of the problem where they come from. They play the blame game because it`s cheap and often works. They ride the tide of anti-government sentiment which they themselves, with the help of the press, have raised. Does government need watching, does it often need correction, does it occasionally need to be cleaned up and pared down, yes, absolutely. But is it the problem? Usually not. It often becomes the problem when politicians like Al Gore mess it up or corrupt it. But it is usually not of itself corrupt; it is usually corrupted by the tricksters who campaign against it and the lobbyists who corrupt the tricksters. When government goes bad look for the corrupters who campaign against it.
Al Gore screwed up the federal government and then he ran a lackluster presidential campaign. Is he the reformer New York State needs?
And yet the first thing Mr. Cuomo intends to do is bring in a failed idea executed by a bungling politician?
Labor better think twice before rubber-stamping Mr. Cuomo. It`s all very well to yak about too much government, but what happens to those employees who are fired? And where`s the proof that the private sector does such jobs better? Where`s the proof it does these jobs for less money? Where`s the proof it`s less corruptible? Where`s the discussion? Labor, are you listening? This guy doesn`t sound like your guy. And Mr. Gore certainly isn`t.
Are all those pricey contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan winning anything but another contract? Or are they riding a gravy train? It sounds to me as if Mr. Cuomo is promising to put one hell of a big gravy train on track, and it just might steamroll a lot of little people on its way from Manhattan to Buffalo, just as Mr. Gore steamrolled a lot of faithful public servants and handed over their jobs to untried and often incompetent contractors, throwing away years and sometimes decades of hard-earned experience that taxpayers had already invested in. Yes, that`s right, contracting out and privatizing often results in paying for the same thing twice.
It`s inarguable that New York State`s legislature is a broken antique. But New York State government is as big as that of many nations and provides services that are the envy of residents of many other states. Taxpayers shouldn`t be expected to pay for the kind of bloated and patronage-ridden system that has already imposed such a heavy burden on local property taxes. But does that justify kicking unions around, pinning the blame on employees, forcing them into a corner, threatening their security, and traumatizing state government the way Mr. Gore and his cohorts did during the Clinton years?
Instead of running the government, which he and Bill Clinton were elected to do, he paralyzed it with demands to justify itself that tied government operations into knots, gave employees ulcers and made people fearful and distrustful. Programs were disrupted, program management went to hell, and no one knew what would happen next. People don`t work well when they`re afraid of losing their jobs. Is that any way to run government or business?
Is Andrew Cuomo another Democrat playing at being a friend of labor while kicking it when it`s down? Can`t he think of any better ways to improve the operations of the state than by bringing in a Tennessee politician who browbeat the civil service in Washington while posing as labor`s friend? If he can`t, he shouldn`t be governor.
New York State has often done better than Washington in serving its citizens, and it ought to do so now. Change yes, beating up on employees, no. Let Mr. Cuomo ask Al Gore to prove the effectiveness of his reinvention of the federal government before he lets him come to New York as some kind of savior. Ask Mr. Gore what he asked the federal agencies: prove himself.
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal Latte first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.e worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers New review of Far from Algiers
Artists Hill, Literal Latte fiction first prize
Djelloul Marbrook Blog
His mother`s art: www.juanitaguccione.com His aunt`s art: www.irenericepereira.com