New York Ain’t the Land of the Free

Why job creators have had it with the Empire State.

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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