3.14.2008

a few brief thoughts about new york state

In the whole mess going on in my home state, I just realized that David Paterson will soon be Governor. He's an excellent man whose career I have followed for a long time. I hope he's up to the job. It's such a crazy one.

David Paterson will be the first African American Governor of New York State. He is also a person with a disability; he is blind. Of course, he's not the first person with a disability to hold that position, as FDR blazed that trail long ago.

I was pretty shocked about Eliot Spitzer. A person who has built an entire career on fighting corruption - including prosecuting the clients of sex workers! - should perhaps make sure his glass house is in order. I always wonder what compels people to take such chances, when getting caught could ruin their lives.

Ordinarily I would agree with the many people saying that this is a private issue, between Spitzer and his family, and he should not be forced to resign. However, when hypocrisy of this magnitude is exposed, the public official loses all credibility. In the super-heated atmosphere of Albany politics - one of the most cut-throat and dirty governments anywhere - it's difficult to hold any credibility. Once something like this breaks, the official is completely useless.

Of course, Albany is completely useless anyway, but that's a separate issue.

15 comments:

James said...

Now that Spitzer's resigned, the question remains: why is David Vitter still in the Senate?

Amy said...

I was hoping you would post on this, as it has generated so many discussions I have had this week---such as: should prostitution be legal? Is it truly a "victimless crime," as many suggest? What makes people, especially men it seems, in power take such risks when they have so much to lose? Why would someone with so much power feel a need to pay for sex? Is prostitution morally different from surrogate motherhood---from either the perspective of the woman or of society?

The Spitzer story is just another example of hubris. Like another name much in the news lately, Roger Clemens, there is something tragic (in the Greek tragedy sense) about human flaws that cause the fall of a person who has accomplished so much and who has so much to lose.

L-girl said...

The Spitzer story is just another example of hubris.

It's partly that, but there might be other factors at work that we don't know about. Or that I don't know about, anyway. I have read zero on this.

Re sex work, it certainly can be victimless, if the sex worker has decent working conditions and truly makes a free choice. Most sex work is not that, and the victim is the sex worker her/himself. I can't see any other victim. Spitzer's family is a victim of Spitzer, not sex work.

For me personally, I really only meant to post about David Paterson. Then I figured, well, I have to say something.

Re David Vitter, the convoluted standards are just incredible, aren't they? One person is driven out in disgrace, another just slithers along.

Amy said...

I don't know whether legalizing prostituion eliminates any of the abuses---oppressing young and desperate women, exposing them to disease and criminal behavior, etc.---but certainly most women who resort to prostitution where it is not legal are subject to those risks.

I don't know much about David Paterson, other than what has been in the press in the last few days. I do remember his father from when I was growing up in NYS years ago. I certainly wish him well; from what I have read, he seems like a much better liked person than Spitzer, and that may take him a long way towards improving things in Albany.

L-girl said...

It seems to me that keeping sex work illegal only makes it worse. Why is it illegal anyway? It's not because of society's concern for young women with few options. It's a remnant of Victorian or Puritan prudishness.

If we want to improve conditions for sex workers, there are many ways to do that (and many people the world over trying to do so). If we want to punish people for having sex, that's a different story.

redsock said...

Like another name much in the news lately, Roger Clemens, there is something tragic ...

And by "tragic", I assume you mean in the "providing endless amounts of hilarity" sense.

Amy said...

I tend to agree with you regarding legalizing prostitution. We know that outlawing it will never eliminate it, as with drugs and alcohol. Perhaps if it were legal and regulated, it would be safer for the people involved. I don't know what the data shows from countries where it is legal, but I understand that the sex workers are more likely tested for STDs and protected as well.

I was surprised in having this discussion with my 27 year old daughter just how Victorian her values were (I actually called her that.) Perhaps it is her youthful idealization of sex more than her prudishness. But when I tried to get her to distinguish renting your body to someone for sex and renting your uterus to someone for bearing a child, she could not see that it is only our reactions to sex that may distinguish them on moral grounds. Both involve intrusions into a woman's body for money to fulfill the needs of another who has the money to spend. On legal grounds, some states treat surrogacy as legal only if it is unpaid, some treat it as illegal no matter what, and some consider it legal as long as certain precautions are taken before the contract is entered. Of course, on practical grounds, sex workers are far more likely to be endangered and oppressed than surrogates, but on the pure face of it, is it really that different?

(Anyway, I realize this was not where you wanted to go with your post. Sorry to go off track, but it's been in my head this week.)

Amy said...

Yes, Allan, by "tragic" I certainly did not suggest ANY sympathy for Clemens---just some wistfulness about the human condition that is so fatally flawed that some people, especially those with power and prestige and money, still yearn for more and end up causing their own demise. I don't feel sorry for Clemens or Spitzer, but I do feel sad that in general people are so prideful and arrogant.

L-girl said...

I don't know what the data shows from countries where it is legal, but I understand that the sex workers are more likely tested for STDs and protected as well.

Honestly, STDs are the least of it, except of course for HIV. It's the violence that sex workers are exposed to, and the exploitation from pimps, that are the greater issues, I think. Those risks are increased by illegality.

(Anyway, I realize this was not where you wanted to go with your post. Sorry to go off track, but it's been in my head this week.)

Hey, no need to apologize. You obviously need to start a blog, or at least a Facebook page. :)

Amy said...

Hey, no need to apologize. You obviously need to start a blog, or at least a Facebook page.

Who would ever read what I have to say? :) I actually thought about it, but I have no niche that I'd want to write about. I sure don't want to do a law related one. I'd rather just contribute and sidetrack other blogs. :)

I do, btw, have a facebook page, but there's nothing on it.

L-girl said...

I'd rather just contribute and sidetrack other blogs. :)

You're in good company there. Lots of people do that. :)

I do, btw, have a facebook page, but there's nothing on it.

Same here. I needed to see who was linking to wmtc, an obsession of mine, so I registered. (Same for LiveJournal.) Now I get friend requests from friends and family, but I have NO interest in hanging out there. None!

So many people have to do whatever is out there. As each hip spot comes along, there they go. I just don't get it. The blogosphere is more than enough for me.

Amy said...

My reasons were somewhat more devious---I wanted to see who was posting on my daughter's page and what her pictures were. It wasn't really devious, though, since she knew I was doing it. Guess she figured there was nothing to hide. And in fact, there hasn't been anything, except lots of photos of her in college with a beer bottle in her hand.

L-girl said...

Since your daughter knew about it, I think my reasons are more devious. :) I'm just flat-out spying on anyone who posts a link from wmtc.

deang said...

And by now you've probably read Greg Palast's investigative piece on the background to Spitzer being targeted:

http://www.gregpalast.com/elliot-spitzer-gets-nailed/#more-1979

It's pretty stomach-turning.

L-girl said...

Allan sent it to me. It's on my list to blog about tomorrow (or asap).

Yes, it is sickening.