Rhoda Jacobs is a Democratic Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly representing a district in Brooklyn. She, like many of her colleagues, puts a premium on constituent service. In fact, that is her calling card and her campaign mantra.
In most respects she employs her position to help those in her neighborhood and does so with understandable campaign goals in mind. For Ms. Jacobs governing and campaigns are indistinguishable, a condition she shares with her Assembly brethren.
What Ms. Jacobs does not fully appreciate is that someone has to pay for the services she is eager to promote. Many of her constituents, love the services, but most are in the dark when it comes to determining actual cost. I would guess that Ms. Jacobs, despite her elevated Assembly position, cannot determine cost either. In fact, I’m confident about this assertion.
A recent letter Ms. Jacobs sent to one of her constituents crossed my desk. It says implicitly that the Assemblywoman doesn’t appreciate the tax burden necessary to sustain the government services she is eager to promote and it says explicitly that she will use her office to extend these services.
Let Ms. Jacobs speak for herself since what follows is from her letter:
“My office can provide you and your family with information and assistance on a wide variety of issues including housing, landlord/tenant disputes, unemployment, employment referrals, consumer advocacy, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, utility services, food stamps, and food pantry information, voter registration and much more. We can also help you apply for benefits for which you might be entitled.”
As Assemblywoman Jacobs notes “Especially during this blessed month (Ramadan), I extend to you the services of my office to help you to resolve issues and problems that may be causing you hardship.”
However, there is a problem, almost everyone has issues and problems causing hardship. Are all who fall into this category eligible for Ms. Jacobs assistance? And if so, who is going to pay the bill? Think about this for a moment and consider the list of services: healthcare, food, lodging, retirement insurance, employment and “much more.” This is a great country, but it was also once a rich country, a matter very much in doubt because of pols like Ms. Jacobs.
Herbert London is president of Hudson Institute and professor emeritus of New York University. He is the author of Decade of Denial (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001).
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