We deserve better leadership for our money.
Long after Douglas A. Paterson takes charge as New York State's governor this week, I'll still be thinking about something more scandalous than Eliot Spitzer's alleged penchant for high-priced hookers.
It's not the story that emerged after the shocker in which we learned the alleged call girl's identity -- Ashley Dupree, a 22-year-old wanna-be singer. Nor is it the $1 million that Dupree could possibly make for taking it all off again -- this time in Hustler magazine.
The biggest scandal to emerge from Spitzer's demise is that millions of hard-working New York taxpayers and their families paid for this poor leadership -- and Mr. Spitzer's wildly bad judgment -- which effectively brought the state capital to a standstill last week.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that a four-person family in New York State earned a median of $75,513 in 2006, the most recent year for which figures are available. Managing on that sum would be tight, it seems, especially considering New York's stature as one of the nation's most expensive tax states.The Tax Foundation, a nonprofit tax-research organization in Washington, D.C., estimates New York's state and local tax burden at 13.8% of income -- the third-highest nationwide, and well above the national average of 11%. New York's 2004 individual income-tax collections were $1,595 per person, which ranked the highest in the nation, according to the foundation.
A fraction of this money paid Spitzer's $179,000 annual salary. I know -- that's a lot less than Mr. Spitzer could have earned as a lawyer in private practice -- but more than $100,000 above the median income for a four-person family.
I have some expectations of political leaders like Spitzer in exchange for doling out my family's hard-earned cash to pay their salaries. My rules are similar to those employers impose for just about everyone else.