Many times we find ourselves wishing government would improve in this or that area – Social Security, postal service, taxes, education, transportation, roads, the price of fuel or food, and on and on.

Why “wish” some official will perform his or her job satisfactorily? You have the same power over government that you do over a merchant. When you fully believe that statement, you will start forcing satisfaction from an agency or official.

With government, you pay the bills. The government has no money until you pay a tax. Government has no power until you let it have some. Any government official is on your payroll, and should be humbly delighted to serve you.

And, when the service fails, you must show your disappointment promptly. In your effort to resolve the problem, you must be persistent – no, incessant – in staying with the complaint until you are fully satisfied.

Long before any trouble develops, though, you have to see to it that you, and we, hire only the best and most competent officials to manage government. You do this when you shop around for a good merchant or service provider. You keep alert to new providers and changes in management or policies so you can avoid trouble with merchants.

Now we’re talking about elections and voting. I know many people who treat government, officials, and the actions they take as just another TV episode. And, my friends believe that they have no more control over the activities of government than they do over the outcome of a TV show.

Actually, we have more control than we allow ourselves to believe. Registered voters who vote in every election are the people dreaded by officials – elected or appointed. Those who vote are not to be trifled with. Officials are dismissive towards citizens who never bother to vote – or to even register to vote – because non-voters are, indeed, powerless. Non-voters’ opinions are just so much hot air.

Look at New York. New York State and City are entirely dysfunctional and out-of-control because we allow it. When we do register to vote, we register as either Democrats or Republicans for no particular reason. Perhaps a distant relative was registered as such and the rest of the family followed suit. In the early 1970s, I spoke to a man, easily 80 years old, on the day following a national election. He was disgusted with the various winners, all Democrats. He told me that they were corrupt, venal, and otherwise incompetent for the jobs they just won. So, I asked him if he had voted for the Republicans. He angrily replied: “My daddy would roll over in his grave if he ever knew I voted for a Republican!”

I figured that his daddy was probably in his grave for over thirty or more years and wouldn’t find out how he voted anyway. Yet, this 80-year-old gentleman couldn’t break the habit of voting the Democrat line. And, that’s all it was – a habit. And, since he detested all the Democrats who won, a bad habit, at that.

My recommendation to all registered voters: re-register and declare yourself as unaffiliated. That’s right. No party affiliation. Can’t do that? Re-register and declare yourself as a member of the opposite party.

Let me tell you this: unless you plan to become a candidate for an office, the only benefit you get from registering to vote as a member of a party is that you get to vote in the primaries for that party. But, you have no say in who runs in the primaries. So, you vote in the primaries and your name is entered on that party’s mailing list. Wow!

You never signed up with your supermarket to purchase only Campbell’s soups, or Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, or … you get the idea. You never lock yourself in to just one brand. Not with food, not with cars, clothing, etc. So why would you ever lock yourself up to one particular political party – because that party has a patent on the truth, good deeds or improving your lot in life?

Look again at New York. This is basically a one-party state and city. How is that good for you or your family? On top of being a one-party state, we have the additional corruption of what are known as “no-compete” pacts. Under these agreements, incumbents of one party promise the other party that, if we don’t field a candidate against you, you won’t compete against us. You lose. No matter the political party, the effect is the same; we get the same old recycled dregs repeatedly.

But, don’t blame just the “parties” or the incumbents. We do the voting. We put these dregs on the payroll with the keys to the treasury. And, never believe otherwise, it’s those keys that this is all about – nothing to do with cutting taxes, improving the schools, or roads, or really anything in your life. You’ve been handled once you’ve voted.

Ask these questions of any candidate or incumbent and persist until you get a complete, honest answer:

What have you accomplished to make yourself worth my vote? What have you accomplished to improve my life, and in what ways?

Senator Hillary Clinton promised to deliver 200,000 jobs to folks in upstate New York. Where are those jobs, senator? State Assembly Member Marge Markey has represented Maspeth and surrounding areas since 1998. On May 17, 1999 the Commuter Tax was repealed. Marge Markey voted for the repeal. That vote has now cost the city over $4 billion since the repeal, and will continue to cost $500 million each year. Right now, the city is facing financial trouble. Would that revenue have helped? Citizens of the city never had to pay this tax, it was for out-of-towners who benefited (and continue to benefit) from a variety of city services without paying. Think of what schools could have done with that money over the years. Thanks, Marge.

A lifelong Democrat, Bloomberg was elected mayor as a Republican twice, and now is non-affiliated. His supporters say he is the smartest man alive. I don’t necessarily agree, but all this party switching is serving him. Currently, he is attempting to undo term limits, and control the NY State Republican Party.

Remember Spitzer? His very first act as a newly elected governor (after the paid friends, anyway) was to abuse the office by demanding that the NY State Police start an investigation into an alleged abuse of office by NY State Senate Leader Joe Bruno – and then he lied to the Albany DA “investigating” the abuse. That Albany DA himself has lied and refused to obey the New York State Freedom of Information Law, despite orders to release the documents of his “investigation”.

Then there’s State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who runs a one-man show. He prevented Bloomberg’s Congestion Tax from enactment (good), but, he accomplished that action by announcing that “his” members opposed it. But we never saw a recorded vote from those members (bad).

In the State Senate, Republican Leader Joe Bruno never even acted for or against the same Congestion Tax. So, we never learned the official position of any state senator, Republican or Democrat, regarding that tax (bad).

Here in the City Council, we have scandal after scandal with regard to the use of our tax payments. The mayor says that he vouches for the honesty of Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is responsible for this abuse. Here’s a real surprise: Bloomberg also has a slush fund.

In the recent special election to replace the disgraced sexual sadist, the initial report is that Anthony Como won the election to be the City Council Member for the 30th Council District. But, here’s the challenge, readers: What has this fellow accomplished for constituents of the district to render himself worthy of the vote? The same question applies to the other major party’s candidate, Elizabeth Crowley. These two have no accomplishments, and further, insulted voters by refusing to keep their promise to participate in the JPCA sponsored debate. Their supporters asserted that they justifiably did so because they expected the questions to be too tough.

But, two very worthy candidates did, indeed, keep their word, and did participate. They were asked and answered tough but fair questions. The challenge for voters in the November elections for the same office is to decide why a candidate who breaks his or her word for fear of “tough” questions will keep his or her word when it comes to serving in office.

This November, we will have elections for the Presidency of the United States, the New York State Senate, the New York Assembly and, in the 30th District, the New York City Council.

Vote. Vote carefully.