Upstate, Downstate

Added this response to Bill Kauffman’s typically non persuasive, rural, upstate New York whine, at TAC. Kauffman is usually a hoot, and often writes enjoyably, even if somewhat insufferably, and rarely convincingly. This time, however, he seems off his game entirely.

My comment reads as follows:

All the counties of NY State, and all the residents therein, “count.” We happen to live in a democratic republic, though, and the majority rules, subject only to constitutionally enforceable individual rights.

Perhaps it is a matter of perspective, but down here in the City of New York it seems as if we have to go hat in hand to Albany to get approval from rural Republicans for the policies that we want for ourselves and don’t affect you one way or the other. Our new mayor elect wants to raise our city income tax for the highest earners, but we need approval from Albany for that. We wanted our city income tax to apply to folks who work but don’t live here, but Albany would not go along. (Those folks mostly live in the near by suburbs, not up your way.) Every year we have to engage in some sort of “bargaining,” we have to give up something politically, merely so that we can keep our city-wide only rent control and stabilization law that affects you folks not one whit. We feel as if we are unfairly beholden to you, not vice versa.

And we resent deeply the notion that you want to institute some kind of “little Federalism”/rotten borough reapportionment under which our votes count less than yours. All our lives, we have heard over and over again about the supposed superior virtue of folks who live in rural areas. Well, I don’t buy it a for a minute. You are no better than we are, and no one of you deserves any more of a say than any one of us does.

Next, did you ever consider that your rural economy simply does not generate much in the way of opportunity, and that is why your young folks leave to join the military or for the big cities? Farming is not nearly as labor intensive as it once was, and only one person can inherit an already relatively small family farm without making it completely non viable through division. Fewer and smaller farm families mean fewer jobs in the farm towns and support businesses. That’s not necessarily anyone’s “fault.”

And this really gets my goat, but it sounds like you are complaining that eighty per cent of your county budget is drawn up in Albany. Well, that’s probably because a great deal of the revenue used to finance government operations in your county comes from Albany. And that, in turn, means the money comes from downstate. The counties in and around New York pay way more in taxes to Albany than they receive back. Your county, and counties like it, do just the opposite.

“If indeed it is better to give than receive, New York City and its suburbs can count their blessings by the billions of dollars. City residents and businesses paid about $4.1 billion more to Albany in taxes and fees than the state returned in spending for education, health care, transit and other services in 2009-10. For the nearby suburban counties (Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester), it was $7.9 billion more in taxes than came back in spending…Where did the extra $12 billion go? North and west, up the Hudson River and along the Thruway corridor to Upstate regions that have struggled economically for much of the last half-century.”

You all generate 28 per cent of State revenue, but take 42 per cent of State spending. Downstate makes up the difference.

With your talk of secession, it sounds like you don’t like the deal you’ve got now. My feeling, given all of the above, as a City of New York resident, is that if some equitable way of dividing up the State’s resources and infrastructure (particularly the latter, as it has been built up by downstaters), and figuring out the resulting administrative mess, could be devised, then, please, go. Go and take your guns and your rural “virtue” with you! Go and don’t come back!

That’s the end of my comment.

I also wonder about gun shows being like rural swap meets. That may well be the case in out of the way rural areas, but it hardly seems to apply to the high tech, slick displays I have seen video of from elsewhere.

UPDATE: I guess Bill has not seen fit to publish my comment. Apparently, iconoclasm and free thinking are for him only!

Update II: Seems like he has, belatedly, added the comment. Why he had to wait so long, until the article is no longer prominent on the site, is beyond me. I did have a link, but then so did other comments which were approved sooner even though written later.


The Volokh Conspiracy

Apparently, I have been kicked off the Volokh Conspiracy, for the crime of being “ungenerous” (in the words of co blogger Orin Kerr) to super Likudnik David Bernstein’s hysterical, knee jerk, substanceless bloviation re the application of an academic boycott of Israel. Folks can check out the thread here,

if they are interested. Kind of amazing that self described “libertarians” would insist on “generosity,” as they are the first to claim “tyranny” if one penny more than can be justified under Ayn Rand’s crackpot theories is taken from them in taxes. Apparently, that does not apply to their own scribblings, which, no matter how stupid and unsupported, must be given more credit than they actually deserve. Funny too that libertarians would use a thread in which they attack academic boycotts as an excuse to insulate themselves from dissenting opinions, like mine!

Today, I attempted to comment in response to this blog post

but was informed that I no longer had “permission” to post there.

Anyway, here, more or less, is what I tried to post:

First of all, JPII did not bring “freedom” to the Poles primarily so that they could institute a free market economy. He did so, primarily, as a matter of restoring religious freedom. And, even at that, it is no coincidence that Poland is a Catholic country. By which I mean the religious freedom that was being restored was, for the most part, the freedom to be a Roman Catholic. And don’t think that that had nothing to do with JPII’s actions. Secondly, if one is looking for auxiliary reasons for JPII’s actions, I think that political freedom/nationalism provide a much better choice than economics. Poles want to govern Poland, and while they don’t perhaps much like police states, they positively hate foreign, especially Russian (or German), imposed police states.

Beyond what JPII was all about, it seems to me there is a lot of daylight between Soviet imposed Polish communism and the tepid, lukewarm social democracy, capitalism with a conscience type economic policy which the quoted material seems to be calling for. And it should also be pointed out that JPII is dead, and that the new pope is not bound to be as much of a capitalist rah rah boy as the guy two popes ago was. The Roman Catholic Church has been around a long time, and one pope, perhaps because of his and his country’s suffering under a foreign imposed police state, chose to stridently oppose not only the economic system of that police state, but anything remotely like it. Well, the new pope doesn’t have that background and is making his choices accordingly. And something tells me that the Church will be around long after the current economic upturn in Poland that you are crowing about is as forgotten as last year’s snow.


Well, I am trying again to start a blog.

Basically, I want a blog to express myself. I want to have a place where I can post my opinions, and not have to pull my punches for fear of offending whoever it is that is running the blog. My posting experiences have been varied, but, in many cases, I feel that I was pretty much kicked off the site for the simple crime of disagreeing with either the blogger, or one of his “pets,” or simply didn’t conform to the crowd enough. I don’t do a lot of ad hominem stuff. Nor do hold grudges and the like. On the other hand, I guess I am somewhat eccentric and idiosyncratic in my views. Pretty much, I am a left-liberal, but I also hold some Federalist and some libertarian views and am not at all on board with the gynocentric feminist agenda. On foreign policy, I am a circa 1975 liberal, which means no interventions except according to the UN Charter.

Not sure what will be the focus of posting here. Mostly the standard politics, current affairs stuff, with a little more history and law than is perhaps typical.

On commenting, I hope to be open and liberal. But I make no promises. I am not going to elaborate a bunch of rules, because, in my experience, the rules are not enforced against favored posters but are against disfavored ones. And, in most cases, the rules tend to have catch all provisions like “don’t be a jerk” which, when things get heated, can be enforced against anyone but are in fact enforced only against, once again, disfavored commenters. I really don’t care if you are jerk. Or if you disagree with me. What I want from comments is a chance to hone my arguments. I welcome facts that I have overlooked, or arguments I have not accounted for. What I don’t want is off topic stuff. Particularly folks with pet peeves, who want to bring every discussion around to that pet peeve. Nor do I want folks who, after they have presented an argument, feel compelled to present it again. For example, if I argue A, and you come back with B, and then I counter argue C, I do not want you to merely repeat B. If you have no counter, counter argument D, that is fine. Don’t feel like you have to have the last word, because, mostly, I probably won’t give it to you anyway. I may summarize your overall argument and my counter claims, and leave it at that, and strike out anything further you have to say. Don’t like any of the preceding? Well, as I have been told many times: Too Bad and There’s the Door! This is my blog and I am in charge. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to post here, and are free to set up your own WordPress or other blog, where you can say whatever you want, or find some other place to comment on the internet.