Monday, March 17, 2014



That's the sound of an entire state letting loose with a sigh of relief. In this case, it comes with the weekend announcement that Donald Trump has decided not to run for Governor of New York. That means we don't have to avoid listening to him from now until November.

Now, let's start with one basic fact: no one was surprised by the announcement. Mr. Trump likes the idea of people asking him to run for office, since it gets his name in the newspapers and on television. He seems to enjoy that ... a lot. But as far as actually running for office, well, that would be a lot of work.

Besides, he might lose. Come to think of it, he probably would lose a race for Governor in New York. After all, the current Governor is relatively popular in the polls, and the Democratic party has a good-sized edge in enrollment figures. Do you think Mr. Trump's ego, which by most accounts is the size of Montana, could handle a crushing rejection by the voters?

Of course not. Better to withdraw from consideration with a note that said he could win the election, but has moved on to much bigger plans. Naturally, saying that you'd win is impossible to disprove. This was what happened when there was Presidential talk about Trump; he encouraged the conversation and then headed for the sidelines.

It's easy, at the least, to admire Trump's campaign strategy. He said he would run for Governor if the state's Republican leadership handed him the nomination without opposition. When the group couldn't do that, he exited with the charge that the leaders were "totally dysfunctional."

But the approach had a flaw. All's it took was one person to not go along with the plan - one who would gather a little support from party bosses - and in theory a unanimous vote would be spoiled. That seemed inevitable, as we aren't into coronations in this country, and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino provided the necessary opposition. He may get a lot of votes as a thank you.

There is a point to be made about all this besides making fun of a billionaire, which admittedly can be good sport.

The recession of 2008 not only made billions and billions of dollars disappear from the economy, but it also scared the population. That fear has been part of the political landscape ever since. It comes up in a lot of ways. For example, small business owners have become something close to saints - even though the rate of failure always has been high, no matter what the good intentions of the proprietors were. Ever look at how many storefronts on commercial streets change in a year? I'm all for small business, big business and in-between business. We can use the jobs, and the "system" of giving tax breaks to those who ask is political pandering at its worst. (It's far better to have one fair rate for everyone.) But looking through rose-colored glasses never helped anything.

In addition, there have been a few political candidates who come from the private sector and say that it's time "to run government like a business." This is a catchy phrase, and there are times and circumstances when it is a good idea.

But there are two obvious flaws with it. One, government has functions that no business would touch. You could argue about how many of those functions there needs to be, but that's an argument for another day. We can all agree for the need on items ranging from national defense to environmental protection.

Two, business leaders are used to getting their own way within their own companies. Sometimes when they make the transition to the public sector, they find out that they just can't order everyone around by whim like they used to do. In Erie County, we found just such a man in Chris Collins, who quickly found the number of "yes, sirs" decreased over time from such people as legislators ... until voters said "no, sir" emphatically when he asked for a second term.

Trump, who no doubt makes Collins seem modest in comparison, probably would have hated that part of being governor. He's better off doing something he's good at doing most of the time - making money. The rest of us will be better off too.

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