Beyond Red and Blue

Steven Malanga has a fascinating analysis of electoral politics in big cities (via reason):

The electoral activism of this New New Left coalition--public-employee unions, hospitals and health-care worker unions, and social-services agencies--has reshaped the politics of many cities. As the country's national political scene has edged rightward, thwarting their ambitions in Washington, these groups have turned their attention to urban America, where they still have the power to influence public policy.

In New York, this public employee coalition makes up a third of the work force and an even larger portion of the voters in the last election. 

An exit poll conducted by City Journal of the 2001 New York mayoral election found that private-sector workers heavily backed Michael Bloomberg, the businessman candidate who had been endorsed by Rudy Giuliani and had run on a pledge of no new taxes (which he broke after his first year in office), while those who worked in the public/health-care/social-services sectors favored his Democratic opponent, who ran on a promise of raising taxes to fund further services. In the race, Bloomberg won among private-sector voters by 17 percentage points, while the Democrat won by 15 points among those who worked in the public/nonprofit sectors

Read it all.

Several months ago in this post, I pointed out that the income tax system has become so "progressive" that:

Half of the people in this country pay more than 100% of the personal income taxes. The other half get, as a group, a free ride (though there are individuals in this group that pay paxes, net, as a group, they do not). We are basically at the point in this country where 51% of voters could vote themselves all kinds of new programs and benefits knowing that the other 49% have to pay for them.

Malanga's article points out the other side of the coin.  We are also increasingly approaching the point where, at last in certain urban centers, half the workers can vote themselves government jobs (and pay raises, pensions, etc) at the expense of the other part of the population.

  • Scott

    We are basically at the point in this country where 51% of voters could vote themselves all kinds of new programs and benefits knowing that the other 49% have to pay for them.

    Actually that's not true because tax revenue consists of quite a bit more than income tax alone. But your point is well-taken.

  • dearieme

    G B Shaw said something to the effect that promising to rob Peter to pay Paul was always likely to win Paul's vote.