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.


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