Thursday, February 14, 2013

Emperor Bloomberg

So Mayor Mike Bloomberg, after buying a third term in office, is now a lame duck. As a result, he's pulling out all the legislation he didn't dare put forward when he had to worry about re-election. Don't get me wrong...overall I think Emperor Mike, as some New Yorkers call him, has done a pretty good job in what has been termed the second hardest job in the country. I accept the idea that his motives are noble in trying to push through some of these ridiculous laws to solve real problems, namely traffic congestion in the city and the health of its citizens, but his methods are wrong. I give him high marks for even trying to tackle these issues, but in the end, he gets a grade of D for execution.

Let's look at NYC traffic. Is it a nightmare? No question about it. Does taking away traffic lanes to accommodate a few bikers (who flaunt traffic regulations) solve the problem? No, it exacerbates it. Traffic Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan must have pictures of Mr. Bloomberg in a lace bustier and fishnet stockings to get away with what she's done to this city. Nine out of ten New Yorkers oppose these dumb-ass bike lanes, yet they continue to proliferate. Do I criticize without offering solutions? No, and here they are: 1) Make public transit what it should be in the world's greatest city so more people will leave their cars at home. 2) Go to permanent odd/even license plate access to enter the city...inconvenient but traffic is instantly halved. 3) Rigorously enforce existing laws against double parked cars that choke our streets. 4) Set up taxi stands on corners to get cruising cabs off the streets.

The Mayor's latest brainstorm (yes, Janet surely has the negatives of those pictures) is to equip 20% of all new parking spaces created in the city with chargers for battery powered cars. Sounds wonderful for the environment but there are flaws. First of all very few electric cars exist compared to gas-powered ones. Do you know how hard it is already to find affordable parking in New York? Will these spaces remain empty while the rest of us circle the block, wasting gas and increasing air pollution, looking for a "non-electric:" space? Will gas-powered cars be fined for parking in these spots as we know that in desperation they will? If so, then it's really about revenue enhancement, not environmental protection.

Then we have the big health more 16 oz. sodas, fatso. Again, the Mayor is attempting to take on a real problem here, obesity, which contributes to many dangerous health conditions and causes medical care costs to skyrocket. Heard a story about a woman who died overweight and riddled with disease after a lifetime of consuming 8-10 liters (that's liters!) of Coke a day. Her family is now suing Coca Cola for making an addictive drink. Good luck with that. Again, good intent but a faulty solution. My point is that people addicted to these drinks are not going to stop consuming them. They will just buy two smaller drinks. No health improvement and now, more cans/cups to recycle. Who knows, maybe this too is about increased city revenue through sales taxes.

The Mayor has done some good things like closing Times Square to traffic so money spending tourists can take pictures to their heart's content. Also, his recent proposal to ban Styrofoam cups and containers makes good sense to me. But the bike lanes and soda restrictions...swing and a miss.


Children's Craniofacial Association

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Viva Mexico

Between 1846 and 1848 the United States fought a war with Mexico over the US annexation of Texas and a border dispute. The war resulted in a decisive American victory, and on February 2, 1848, with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico ceded to the United States the land that now comprises the states of California, Utah, and Nevada, as well as parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Colorado. Mexico also renounced all rights to Texas. At this juncture, the United States made a critical strategic error by not annexing the entire territory of Mexico.

As harsh as this may sound, I think there was justification for the action. Mexico’s civilization peaked at the time of the Aztecs. The Aztecs rose to power in Mexico during the 12th and 13th centuries and remained in control until the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. Starting in the mid 1400s conquistador Herdando Cortez enters the city of Tenochtitlan and captures the Aztec leader Montezuma. Soon missionaries arrive and begin the conversion of the natives to Catholicism. In the early 1800s Spain recognizes Mexico’s independence, but the country never again reaches the high water mark set by the Aztecs and earlier native cultures like the Mayans.

The country began spiraling downward with a series of popular revolutions only to be haunted by corrupt political administrations, wrenching illiteracy and poverty, and eventually banditry and an influx of drug dealers who became so entrenched that they now virtually rule parts of the country, aided and abetted by corrupt policemen and politicians. With the economy in tatters, large numbers of Mexicans began leaving the country and illegally entering the United States. The burden these immigrants have created on the American economy is incalculable. The issue has also become a major one for both countries and created ill will on the part of many Americans who resent their tax dollars being used to support illegal immigrants.

When you think about it, America was expanding rapidly at the time of the war with Mexico and in the years thereafter. The Louisiana Purchase, Seward’s acquisition of Alaska, and the territory won from Mexico greatly increased the size of the United States. It would have been only natural, given the common border between the countries, for America to simply say that, as the spoils of war, we were annexing all of Mexico and making it part of our country. In this era of expansion, in addition to Texas and the other areas of Mexico, America acquired the Louisiana Purchase from France and Seward's acquisition of Alaska from Russia, thus fulfilling its “Manifest Destiny” as the world’s preeminent power of the 19th century.

 There might have been some mild diplomatic protests at first but they would have blown over.  Just think of the benefits to Mexico; the education, health care and job opportunities they are fighting so hard for today as illegal immigrants would have been their birthright as Americans. I rest my case. Questions?


Children's Craniofacial Association