Economics of NYS southern tier secession

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By James Hall | BATR.org

With the media account that Upstate NY towns explore seceding to Pennsylvania over taxes, hydrofracking, the stage is set for a clash of constitutional power politics.

“The Upstate New York Towns Association feels pushed to the limit by high property taxes, low sales tax revenue and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state. This combination has driven them to research whether leaving New York to become part of Pennsylvania is a realistic possibility.

“The Southern Tier is desolate,” Conklin Town Supervisor Jim Finch (R) told WBNG. “We have no jobs and no income. The richest resource we have is in the ground.”

The ground in Conklin has natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, and Finch sees the ban as a violation of property owners’ rights.

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According to the report, the 15 towns interested in seceding are in Broome, Delaware, Tioga and Sullivan counties, but the Towns Association would not reveal the names of the towns.”

At the outset, philosophical principles have about as much of a chance to succeed in confronting the money interests as did the Iroquois Nation in remaining independent. WBNG News continues the coverage in the report, Southern Tier towns looking to cut NY ties. But before the maps are redone or the flags come down, a dose of reality needs to seep in.

The Washington Post blog chimes in the account, Why these New York towns hope Pennsylvania might adopt them.

“It is equally unfair to both upstate and downstate residents to share a representative government,” advocates for the plan explain on their Web site.

And that gets to the crux of the matter. Since the early years of the Constitution, states have retained powers because they are different and should be allowed to govern differently, or so the argument goes. But the real divisions in America now aren’t between the states, but between their urban and rural citizens, groups who face vastly different economic circumstances. Though secession campaigns can seem frivolous — and it’s unlikely that any will succeed — these threats reflect real desperation in rural America.”

This assessment reflects the very real nature of incompatible coexistence. The economy in major urban centers is a corporate driven and service oriented composition of less than necessary activities. Residing in rural locations usually requires skills and a more functional commerce that is often alien to metro residents

Ostensibly, a land based and resource rich environment should be a sound basis for a healthy economy. However, in a climate of conglomerate corporatism, lawyers and bankers have more to do with extracting profit from them there hills, than the inhabitants of the region.

Fracking is used as a convenient pretext to surface long standing resentment. When the economic costs and benefits are evaluated, the net result is that the local communities still come out on the short end, when the rigs and waste procession clog up the highways.

What is not discussed is that the natural gas available for extraction is not meant for domestic consumption. The companies involved in their horizontal drilling strategy are designed for converting into liquefied gas for export to an overseas market.

Even more concealed is the fact that there is oil in those same pastures. What towns might expect to see as a benefit from unleashing the drilling bits, misses the dirty fact that Albany politics is dominated by downstate urbanites.

Dreaming that such usurpers would allow, much less confirm that a breakup would be arbitrated, ignores the reality of New York State NYC dominance.

Also, what is the incentive for Pennsylvania to accept the prodigal sons from the north to change the borders? Surely, any hypothetical separation would carry the baggage of substantial debt obligations back to Albany.

Now all these obstacles should not be viewed as opposition to secession as a noble goal. For decades proponents of breaking up New York State into Upstate and Western counties from Bagdad on the Hudson has gotten nowhere.  For many of the same reasons the control of the rural regions is maintained by absentee carpetbaggers.

If there is ever to be a desirable breakup, counties not towns, need to carry the fight to the triumvirate potentates, who decide what issues can or will be taken up in session. Historically the big three are the Senate majority leader, The Speaker of the Assembly and the Governor. Now that a Federal grand jury indicted Sheldon Silver (long standing Boss Tweed of the Assembly) for doing business as usual, the atmosphere for rallying for meaningful economic reform should not be lost.

Any demands for secession by a band of desperate town administrators must forgo the narrow limits based upon an appeal to approve fracking in the area. Such an approach would doom any legitimate public awareness campaign that might prepare the public for the forthcoming economic disasters anticipated.

Since New Your State government is so financially dependent upon revenue sources from Wall Street, the consequences of a market crash and meltdown of all financial instruments would be incentive enough to start planning for a return to a real economy for all areas of the state.

The economics of secession would not be painful if the burden of a failed government school bureaucracy and an extravagant retirement system for public employees was discarded by an exit.

Lowering confiscatory property taxes and relieving health care costs by adopting a friendly entrepreneur society could bring about a true renaissance economy.

Making secession a national obsession and developing the public support for a legitimate alternative to oppressive state favoritism of corporate verses individual citizens, is the most important task imaginable.

If for no other reason, the boldness of the unnamed towns needs to step up to the next level and announce their identities. People are desperate for leadership. Southern Tier residents have an opportunity to build upon the media coverage to sharpen their message and refine the argument.

Only a broad based coalition of support and outrage can jump start a movement that can liberate their economic, political and social future.

This article originally appeared on BATR.org.

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