(Today is 10/10/10. Pretty cool.)
About twenty five years ago, I was in Pete’s Tavern down by Gramercy Park in New York with a motley collection of foreigners- one Irishman, one Londoner, one German and a South African woman. Everyone spoke English to varying degrees and being pretty drunk, the conversation was quite convivial. At one point, the three guys went away; two to the bar and one to the men’s room to pay off the loan of the beer. The woman said to me, ” So, I know everyone else’s nationality, but I can’t recognize your accent. What country are you from?”
“New Jersey,” I replied, “Not another country perhaps, but a different world.”
This of course has nothing to do with the rest of the article; I just remembered it and wanted to jot it down before it drifted away again for another couple decades. That happens to me a lot. What I do want to do is compare and contrast two other worlds, California and New York. This is a political site and both states have politics in them, so it’s a good fit. Both states also have gubernatorial elections this year and kinda weirdly, the Attorney Generals (Ahem, excuse me…Attorneys General…or is Attornies?) from both states (Andrew Cuomo in NY and Jerry Brown in CA) are running as Democrats and rich business people with no political experience are running as Republicans (Carl Paladino in NY and Meg Whitman in CA)
Politics is largely a numbers game…the people with the largest numbers after the dollar sign usually win. But when those dollars come from the candidates themselves rather than campaign contributions, you gotta start wondering exactly why these people are trying to buy the job.
As for the Democrats, I can understand things pretty easily…Jerry Brown makes $150,000.00 a year as AG, so winning would bring his salary up to $206,500.00, a raise of $56,500.00. Cuomo makes $151,000.00 and would go up to $180,000.00- a $29K bump. So, by the numbers alone, these guy’s bids make sound economic sense. Plus, one (Brown) has was already governor once and the other (Cuomo) had a dad who was in the business, so there’s that too ( I know, I know, lifelong politicians and all, but remember when devoting your life to public service when you could make a lot more money in the public sector was considered a good and noble thing?).
In the GOP’s cases, things get a little murky. Carl Palladino is worth around $150,000,000.00 and has vowed to put up $10,000,000.00 of his own scratch to win a job that’ll gross something like .0012% of his net worth. (This is a whole lot of zeros, so 1 comma is a thousand, 2 commas a million and 3 is a billion. For the really stupid, the decimal point equals pennies.)
Meg is worth around $1,300,000,000.00 and she’s already sunk $120,000,000.00 into her campaign…I’d figure that percentage too, but my calculator doesn’t do billions. It’s really small though.
So. Carl’s gonna risk around 15% of his money and Meg just around 10% for jobs that pay $180,000.00 and $206,500.00, respectively. What possible motivation could people who are worth millions or billions of dollars have for wanting to buy, with their own money, jobs that pay, in their cases at least, shit?
There’s a certain cachet to having “Governor of California or New York (respectively)” written on your tombstone, I get that (I’ll have “Another Poor Useless Schmuck” on mine). Hubris is another reason- thinking because you made money in business you can run a state. Of course, that’s like me thinking because I’m a carpenter, I can build a space shuttle. Maybe I could too, if I had a lifetime’s worth of proper training, but right now? No. (Hey, did you know there’s not one nail in a space shuttle? Amazing.)
As of mid-2009, the population of California was 36,961,664, a suspiciously exact number, but Google Knows Best. I’m not sure if this includes illegal -or undocumented, depending on your politics- immigrants as well; I just didn’t care enough to find out (I’m not a statistician, for Christ’s sake. Go do your own homework.) The point is, Meg’s spending like, $3.25 for every human being in the state, or $7.05 for every registered voter (I’ll tell you this right now, she ain’t gettin my vote for less than $15.00…I’ve got my pride. But since I live in New York, I can’t vote for her no matter how much she spends. Damn.).
Actually, Carl doesn’t have to worry about buying me either, since he’s clearly insane and I’d never vote for him anyway. American politics is crazy enough without adding him to the mix, or Christine O’Donnell for that matter, whose advertisements say she’s not a witch but instead that she thinks she’s everybody in Delaware, which is even creepier.
Both Meg and Carl have already shown that they’re not very good money and think that unqualified people can do jobs better than one’s with experience. Neither bodes well for their respective states, so don’t vote for them (Oh, did I mention I’m a Democrat?).
(And by the way, the distance between LA and NYC is 2776 miles and it’s 3471 from New York to London, a difference of 695 miles. It means nothing, but I did the research thinking I could work it in somehow, but couldn’t, and I hate to waste it.)
Editor’s Note: The author meant to say “Private ” sector, rather “Public” sector in the third paragraph…he’s a dope.
Editor’s Other Note: Also in the third paragraph we completely missed this…”one (Brown) has was”…so let’s forget about the dope comment. Now’s not the time to point fingers.