New York Ain’t the Land of the Free

The line from Frank Sinatra’s song New York, New York, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” has never been truer – just didn’t know it was government obstacles he was referring to. Forgive me for believing foolishly that New York was free, and as an entrepreneur I am able to control my own destiny.  As a business owner I am unsure sometimes of just how free we are when one learns of some of the absurd laws, rules and regulations which are passed in NY and we are forced to live with.

The newest absurdity comes from New York’s City Council, which has decided that employers won’t be able to check job applicants’ credit history as a means of deciding whom to hire. The council bill prohibits employers from using credit checks as the means by which they can hire employees’ – and fines violators up to $50,000 and forces the employer to hire the worker anyway.  So, basically, if someone is fiscally irresponsible and you discover it, you have to hire them anyway. How can that be possible or legal in this great republic?

As Kathy Wylde, president of the business organization Partnership for New York City said, “I think the city council does not understand the cumulative cost, particularly to small business, of their many efforts to make their mark.” Naturally, few of these politicians have ever had to work or actually earn a living.  So much for the concept of “civil servants.”

Of course, on the heels of the recently passed sick leave bill, whereby businesses are required to give employees at least five sick days a year, here comes more rules. And New York State’s Governor Andrew Cuomo extended his so-called “tax cuts,” which increase tax cuts on anyone making more than $300K for a total of $2 billion. As the Partnership for New York City said, this extension “at this time is the worst possible message New York State could send to our most important job creators and revenue generators.” New York attracts many of the best and brightest – and we are penalized by the government because they know entrepreneurs and job creators keep forging forward – so they pass more of the burden along.

New York for 2012 ranked as the 50th state (i.e. the worst) for the “Small Business Survival Index” by a report issued annually by The Tax Foundation, a non-partisan Washington, D.C. non-profit organization.  It has only gotten worse. We are also far from free – in fact the least free state in America – according to a study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

As the Mercatus Center report said, NY has “the highest taxes in the country: 14.0 percent of income, three and a half standard deviations above the national mean.” We fare poorly on economic regulation, are the most indebted state in the nation and undoubtedly it will only keep getting worse.

As the study says:

Labor law is poor, with no right-to-work law, restrictions on workers’ compensation funding options, and a required short-term disability program. New York has the strictest health insurance community rating regulations in the United States, which have wiped out the nongroup market. There has also been a dramatic increase in mandated coverages in 2009—10, rising to 54.9 percent of the cost of a no-mandated-benefit policy.

By the way, at my PR firm, which employs over 100, we offer nearly a month of paid time off – but employers should be the ones to decide what benefits we offer. It is none of the government’s business what we choose to do, and it is not one’s birthright to be guaranteed a job.

Of course, I have already spent too much time writing.  There are many people who depend on the more than 50% I pay in taxes as a New York City property owner and resident.  Time to go back to work to provide for them.

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  • Will


    • Ageofreason

      Please explain why he should, or should have to move in order to enjoy freedom in America. Run from bullies? One would be wise to do so, if possible, in countries like Cuba or Russia, but in America? Part of the American legacy is to stand your ground. Move? I don't think so.

  • ThisnThat

    I have noticed an intense barrage of NY commercials on cable TV beginning this past week. All of them saying "NY is working, creating 10's of thousands of new businesses". I was astounded the first time I saw the commercial. I am now curious as to what has prompted it? Because the NY business and personal climate is worse than ever, as far as I can see.

  • Spider

    Yes move your business out of state but definitely not to California which is just as bad as New York.

    • Smitty

      Spider, you got that right! California is run by crazies for crazies who put them in office. Jerry Brown is still as kookie as when he was known in his prior governorship as "Governor Moonbeam," for his bizarre socio-political views. No Matter: Californians voted him back into office after a long hiatus. No wonder the state has been called "the land of fruits and nuts" since the 1950s. I should know; I was born and raised in California and have seen the changes.

  • JStanton

    Interesting subject, careless composition. Don't see how "New York State’s Governor Andrew Cuomo extended tax cuts, hence increasing the income tax." Don't tax cuts decrease taxes? In the same paragraph are "the recently passes sick leave bill" and "here comes more rules," blunders that a quick proofreading would catch.

  • ffortnightly

    Since credit reporting agencies are not government agencies, trusting them should be in the eye of the beholder. Using them as a sole screening means is pretty narrow minded. There are all kinds of ways a credit score can be impacted that have nothing to do with a lack of personal responsibility. Drug testing is another screen that can have a conflicted impact. A better method would be limited employment terms. A 30 day screening period would allow an employer to fill the position quickly with a means to legally toss out the non-performers or those who have proven to have lied on their application. Follow that with a 90 day probationary period and follow that with a 12 month contract and any employer can regain the control they had before all this "forced hiring" crap came about.

    Forcing someone to hire a useless employee is as ridiculous as giving someone a loan for a house they can't possibly afford!

  • Jeff Ludwig

    This article is a great counterpoint to an ad that NY State is presently running on TV in New York, and which I saw ten minutes before reading the article. The ad touts NY State as a great place to do business. It claims falsely to "cap" taxes. It claims to be attracting businesses. It does not say how many businesses have left the state. Then comes Ronn's article. Thanks for keeping our feet on the ground and turning us away from the propaganda of Gov. Cuomo.

  • Len_Powder

    Throughout human history human beings have demonstrated an enormous capacity for tolerating abuse and injustice imposed by various forms of rule and government. It is this capacity which explains (for me) how people can remain in states like CA and NY despite being treated like serfs and slaves who's only reason for existence is to satisfy the demands of their 'betters' – academic elitists, government bureaucrats, vainglorious politicians, Wall Street Banksters, Chicago gangsters, media propagandists, etc. There is also the irrational expectation that the abuse and injustice will eventually cease, despite decades of evidence to the contrary. It's a phenomenon similar to what Jews experienced under Hitler: the idea that they were being systematically exterminated was too incomprehensible and despicable to accept. So, today successful people are being marched into socialist ovens yet they cannot believe or accept the true barbarity they are subjected to. Sometimes the people wake up and rebel but most of the time they endure their pain and pray that it will someday end.