Commentary

The unrelenting drumbeat of cynicism about public service seems permanent. Call it "dysfunction," or a "culture of corruption"; it's a widely held view of Albany. It's not true. There is corruption and there is ineptitude and there is manipulation. But the statewide electeds, and the Legislature, are by and large peopled who honestly try to do their best.

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In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, East Egg represents inherited wealth and privilege, while West Egg represents wealth earned through innovation and hard work, a distinction at the core of the American ideal. We have always embraced a dynamic capitalism, marked not by stasis but rather “creative destruction,” lionizing trust-busters as heroes of competition.

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Thomas Piketty’s wildly popular new book, “Capital in the 21st Century,” has been subject to more think pieces than the final episode of “Breaking Bad.” Progressives are celebrating the book — a

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I've joined the widening group of those fascinated with the scandal surrounding New York Yankee pitcher Miguel Pineda's use of pine tar to get a grip on things. I'm not sure why; it's a demonstrably trivial incident. But I suspect it's an insight into how we treat important things as well, and it certainly has captured public attention.

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The digital economy has given us new ways to be both part time entrepreneurs and consumers, in what enthusiasts call the Share Economy. Have a spare room? You can rent it out to strangers via Airbnb.com -- or use Airbnb to find cheap lodging. You'll meet fascinating new friends, and most likely nothing bad will happen.

Do you need a taxi? Use Uber or Lyft to hail a passing driver and catch a ride for less than the cost of a cab. Or supplement your income by becoming that driver.

MONEY in politics is nothing new; in fact, money and politics are siblings in the family known as Power.

But the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent McCutcheon decision to enable further consolidation of campaign dollars to influence politicians, coupled with levels of inequality that rival those preceding the stock market crash of 1929, reveals a clear message:

Without a broader dispersion of power, influence and money, we cannot have a true democracy — one in which the majority of the population dictates the nation’s direction.

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For more than 30 years, the right has been throwing long passes. The Democrats, with some fine individual exceptions in the Senate and House, have been playing an incremental game, eking out gains of a few yards at a time and often being thrown for big losses.

Guess which side has been winning.

Four decades ago, supply side economics was a joke. The idea that cutting taxes on the very rich was the key to prosperity had been laughed out of the debate as "trickle down economics." Now low taxes on the rich -- even the dead rich -- are national policy.

New York is a wonderful town — if you run a mega bank. Because for over a century, the Big Six banks and their leaders have dominated not just the U.S. banking industry, but American and global finance, traversing the power corridor between the White House and Wall Street to help themselves, their families and their friends in good times and bad, in partnership with the President.

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After the Panic of 1907, bankers and politicians alike sought a more stable banking system, though for different reasons. Despite J. P. Morgan's ability to harness backing from the Treasury Department when he needed it (and vice versa), he desired a more permanent solution to financial emergencies. The rest of the big bankers concurred. But they wanted such a mechanism to be established on their terms.

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Prins' book uses short passages to weave together in understandable terms a longterm relationship between economic and political power that has remained unchallenged. Yes, there were occasional periods when Wall Street did not receive everything that it wanted from the White House (such as in the New Deal). However, adding up the ledger of government policy toward Wall Street results in a decisive victory for the financial titans.

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