Curing the Symptoms, Not the Disease

4 Feb

Carl Paladino has reportedly been recruited by the local WNY Tea Party activists to run for Governor of New York State.

Because of who Carl Paladino is, this results in a local media frenzy. It is, however, more or less ignored elsewhere in the state because Paladino is an unknown outside of New York West.

Carl who?

If nothing else, Paladino’s alleged candidacy would be entertaining, because he is unafraid to speak his mind. As wealthy as he is opinionated, he can self-fund any campaign for office. Likewise, he could easily commit daily Collinsesque gaffes and get away with it, thanks to his reputation for not having a filter between brain and mouth.

I like that Paladino has a “fire” in his belly. But it would be better channeled at treating the causes, rather than just the symptoms, of our malaise.

But let’s say he became Governor. Now what?

Our state government is not some kind of dictatorship where the governor can just parachute in, make fundamental structural and political changes, and then parachute out. Like it or not, there is a legislative process and the rules there give other people power, as well. If you run in like you own the place, you’re going to be met with massive pushback, and existing crises can be made more acute.

Not to say that’s what would happen, but if you multiply the dubious accomplishments of “steamroller” Spitzer by 100, you probably get close to the effectiveness a Governor Paladino might enjoy.

But the whole Paladino candidacy is part of our collective Western New York dysfunction – our penchant for top-down, silver bullet solutions to really big, really complicated fundamental, structural problems. Instead of the people taking charge from the roots and initiating complicated governmental change from the bottom-up, we expect and rely upon saviors to do it for us. Instead of building up a new entrepreneurial class – a bourgeois revolution redux, if you will – we expect our existing powerbrokers and loudmouth millionaires to do it for us.

After all, as I wrote almost two years ago, there’s not much difference between the problems ailing Cuba and the problems ailing WNY. And I’m not talking about socialism, per se. I’m talking about cynicism, stasis, and reliance on change from above.

Whether it’s Bass Pro, the Adelphia Tower, Chris Collins, or Carl Paladino.

We need to stop relying on gimmicks, one-shots, and silver bullets, and start attacking problems at their source. All the Paladinos in the world aren’t going to change Albany if you still have people in office like the dynastic Dale Volker or the hackish Bill Stachowski in office.

(I re-worded some of this after reading it and finding it weak. -Ed.)

21 Responses to “Curing the Symptoms, Not the Disease”

  1. Dan February 4, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    I would agree that if the only thing we did was elect Carl we would still have a huge problem. If Carl was elected, however, along with some like minded reform candidates (and I’m not talking “reform” candidates) then maybe we can fix a flawed system.

    Right now we have one party controlling all three branches of the state government and they are doing as well at it as the federal government which is also contolled by one party. We need real change and I think Carl could provide it. He certainly has the courage to say what needs to be said.

    While I think he would be a great Governor, a big part of me wishes that before he does that he find a way to fix our rudderless local business community..

  2. Bill Altreuter February 4, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    The problem with New York government is certainly not one party control– the Democrats have held the governor’s seat, the Assembly and the Senate for less than a year. The problem isn’t with the governor, either. I happen to be a member of the small minority that thinks Paterson is doing reasonably well, given the hand he was dealt. At a minimum Paterson is willing to admit that there is a problem, rather than just trying to kick it down the road.

    The problem is structural, and it starts with the legislature. Eliminating the Senate would be a good start, but it is unrealistic, so lets think about attainable solutions. Lets start with ethics reform: I am opposed to term limits, which I think are undemocratic, but we could get rid of a lot of the dead wood in Albany if we made legislative posts full-time jobs, and required complete financial disclosure from senators and assemblymen. That sort of accountability should be something that could be accomplished, and it would make incumbency somewhat less attractive to quite a few of the current members.

  3. pirate's code February 4, 2010 at 9:00 am #

    Will you tell us, specifically, what you would do as governor, Carl, beyond destruction and mayhem? Will you, Carl, sever all business ties you have with government to avoid even the hint of conflict of interest? Being colorful does not qualify one for high office. A desire “to fight the rats” and “wreck people” is not a reform policy. There is a difference between having character and being a character.

  4. Brian Castner February 4, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    “…our collective Western New York dysfunction – our penchant for top-down, silver bullet solutions to really big, really complicated fundamental, structural problems. Instead of the people taking charge from the roots and initiating complicated governmental change from the bottom-up, we expect and rely upon saviors to do it for us. Instead of building up a new entrepreneurial class – a bourgeois revolution redux, if you will – we expect our existing powerbrokers and loudmouth millionaires to do it for us.”

    You and Chris Smith are talking about two sides of the same problem coin – he bemoans the lack of business entrepreneurial leadership, and you the political equivalent. Its the blue-collar, union-heavy culture in this town. We wait for “management” to either make our company profitable, or we complain when it gets driven into the ground. At no point do we ever consider running the company ourselves. The lack of business, political and technical entrepreneurs in this city may be the biggest challenge we face.

    • Alan Bedenko February 4, 2010 at 10:10 am #

      They are inextricably connected now – the lack of an entrepreneurial business ethos, and the lack of enterprising and forward-looking political figures.

    • Gabe February 4, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

      “The lack of business, political and technical entrepreneurs in this city may be the biggest challenge we face.”

      That pretty much boils down to the lack of a culture of innovation and progress. WNY is dominated by the culture of protectionism and stasis, the complete antithesis to the former.

  5. Mike In WNY February 4, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    Carl is but one step in restoring the proper role of government. He will increase the voice of disenfranchised citizens. He is the beginning, not the end. Yes, he is only one person jockeying for a seat in a dysfunctional government, but you need a starting point.

  6. For Accuracy's sake February 4, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    I like that one of WNY biggest political donors (through multiple shell LLCs) is now considered a major outsider who can turn this state around.

  7. Mike February 4, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Cut spending, cut taxes, balance the budget… enjoy your cup of TEA

  8. Mike February 4, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    Oh wait, we can’t cut spending… a Birther might agree.

  9. STEEL February 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    His greatest influence may be in forcing the other candidates to talk about things they normally would ignore.

  10. Greg February 4, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    I think the one thing I think we can agree on that regardless of the economic conditions for the next governor, there needs to be a restoration of good politics. The kind where a person speaks their mind and doesn’t worry about Papa Silver breathing down their back. A place where the Dale Volckers of the world actually retire. 

    I don’t think he alone can fix the budget and make us well again and neither can any other one person. 

    I do know he’s the state’s best shot at fixing the Jersey/Chicago/Detroit Political climate we have here. And, he’s not a flipflopper. Plus, it is nice to have somebody local run.

    • pirate's code February 4, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

      “…there needs to be a restoration of good politics.” You mean good POLICY, yes? Because I’m more interested in Carl’s proposed policies — you know, what he might actually propose to do besides “wreck people.” How, exactly, might he attack structural flaws in our legislative process here in NY. I’d love to hear his lawyerly views on tort reform. Would Carl be open to full, personal financial disclosure as a candidate (including the various and sundry LLCs over which he has control)? I know the media locally is salivating to have him run because he’s rapid-fire soundbite machine, but let’s hear about the substance beneath the flaming rhetoric.

      While it would be entertaining to watch him make life uncomfortable to the likes of Silver and Volker (and that does, I suppose, have some value), but what would he DO?

  11. Howard Goldman February 4, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    “Instead of building up a new entrepreneurial class – a bourgeois revolution redux, if you will – we expect our existing powerbrokers and loudmouth millionaires to do it for us. ”

    Pundit, can you please expound on this? Or, provide a link? Sounds interesting. I make my living as an entrepreneur. It’s just what I do every day, so admittedly I don’t study it regularly and in fact, I still can’t spell it by heart. I have to look it up every time I spell it. LOL I’m wondering how I may fit this new class?

    • Pauldub February 5, 2010 at 4:49 am #

      Howard Goldman – Bourgeois Revolutionary.
      Has a certain ring to it.

      • Howard Goldman February 5, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

        Pauldub, I like that. I’ll go ahead and order my new business cards to avoid the rush.

  12. Chris from OP February 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Well, he got rid of the tolls, which is more than Dour entire legislative contingent has ever accomplished…

  13. mike February 4, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    Maybe he will make the trains run on time too. a la Mussolini

  14. tim February 4, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    does anyone actually think he will actually get on the ballot?

    • PJ February 4, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

      He will get on the ballot. The Tea Baggers are not all political nyophites as they would like everyone to beleive. Paladino has just enough money and just enough populist rheotoric that he will draw oh maybe a little more than 50,000 votes in the governors race. Then see how independent (or should I say Independence) the Tea Baggers are. (Or maybe I’m just being to cynical)

  15. Mike Walsh February 4, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    Carl Paladino: “Just tell Sheldon Silver I’m coming; I’m coming to get him. I’m going to take him down.”

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