"Why aren't people rioting in the streets?"

I used to ask that question of my European friends as the EU bureaucracy moved on one front after another to curtail the freedom of its subjects and impose a mind-boggling array of politically correct rules and regulations upon an increasingly supine populace.

It saddens me to say that I have begun to ask that question of my friends here at home. Consider, to take this morning's example, the budget Gov. Paterson has just proposed for New York. Quoth the governor: "This is the worst fiscal downturn since the Great Depression." Thanks for pointing that out, Dave! So, now that we've got that straight what will you, as governor, do about that? Cast a beady eye on state spending? Cut costs wherever possible? Eliminate unproductive, pork barrel programs?

You must be kidding.

No, folks are hurting. So let's tax them some more!

Let's have a budget that increases state spending by $1.3 billion.

Not only that, the New York Post reports that his proposed budget seeks "to impose tax and fee hikes in excess of $4 billion -- larger than any New York governor has ever sought before."

That's right. If the governor has his way New Yorkers will face 137 new taxes highs and fees. Another story in the Post lists a few of the ways New York will seek to take your money:

* An "iTunes tax" of 4 percent on videos, music or pictures downloaded from the Internet.

* A 4 percent tax on taxi, limo and bus rides. That means a $10 cab ride would cost 40 cents more.

* A 4 percent entertainment tax on tickets to movies, concerts and sporting events. That would add nearly 50 cents to a $12 movie ticket or $1.80 to the cheapest $44.50 seat at a Knicks game.

* The tax on beer increases 24 cents per gallon, or more than double the current rate, which means about 30 cents a case.

* An 18 percent tax on nondiet soft drinks, which aims to reduce child obesity. A $1.50 can of Pepsi would then cost at least 25 cents more.

* A 4 percent tax on cable TV and satellite services, raising a $100 bill by $4.

* Hiking the cost of "personal" services - including haircuts, manicures, pedicures, massages and gym memberships - by 4 percent.

* A 4 percent sales tax on clothing and shoes under $500, except for two weeks out of the year.

* Elimination of the law that caps the state sales tax on gasoline at 8 cents per gallon.

* Boosting the average vehicle registration fee for drivers by $11, from $44 to $55. Fees for new or renewed licenses also would increase 25 percent, or increase from $50 to about $62 to renew a license over eight years.

When O when is Governor Paterson up for re-election? And what about the New York State legislators, the men and women who connive in this orgy of fiscal irresponsibility, when are they up for re-election--or, rather, when O when can the people get together and throw the bums out?