I recently read that a number of New York City Council Members are seeking to pass local legislation that would add 10₵ for every plastic and/or paper bag one uses to take things home from supermarkets. Brad Landers, whose life experience before becoming a Councilman consisted of teaching urban studies, was leading the charge. I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly dumb this idea is; it’s clearly the product of too many elected officials with too much time on their hands. They believe this will help clean up the environment, but it’s really just a hidden tax like all those surcharges on your telephone, cable and wireless bills. Now I ask you, how many people go to the supermarket, load up their carts with perishable and non-perishable items, and then carry them home by hand? Very few. Just think, six cans of soda – one bag; a few rolls of toilette paper – one bag. Twenty bags, four additional dollars. Are they nuts?
This got me thinking about why New York City needs a full time City Council. There are 51 Council Members and 35 Council Committees. They spend over $600 million a year on discretionary and “member items”. This doesn’t include their salaries and benefits, or those of their staffs. However, what’s worse are the dumb laws they pass. Think about this. There are full time legislatures on the federal, state and city level, and they all pass laws all the time. Some laws are clearly necessary, like making murder a crime. I think that one has been passed already. How many laws do we need? Doesn’t every law essentially state that you “can’t” do something. And, doesn’t every law result in volumes of implementing rules and regulations? Do we really need three full time Legislatures thinking all the time about new things that we can’t do? How many things can we possibly not do? And who creates all of these new laws? Why lawyers, of course. And who is exempt from most of these laws? Usually, the legislators who passed them. Doesn’t it make you feel good that while UPS is taking 17,000 of their workers’ spouses off their health insurance plans because of Obamacare, Congress has voted to exempt itself from the new healthcare mandates? Why? Because they can.
So why do we need a full time City Council? Why can’t there be a part time Council? Why can’t they meet three months a year, and have a process that that would allow them to be called into session for emergencies? Given that New York has a Comptroller, the courts and other oversight bodies, they certainly don’t add much in this area. Let’s be candid, most Council Members don’t understand the majority of things they preside over. The vast majority are political hacks that never had to make a real living. They feed off the public trough, and then disperse $600 + million in discretionary funds back to their district favorites. So why can’t they do that part time? New York, like most cities in the United States, needs to make some tough decisions going forward. Cutting spending, overhead, and unnecessary laws, rules and regulations are essential to the city’s long term health and survival. This can’t possibly be accomplished with crony Council Members who fill up their days thinking up silly laws to help them “look good” to a select handful of “constituents.”