No more games

The State of New York, in the person of Governor Andrew Cuomo, seems to have decided that its poor, struggling upstate regions are children to be controlled through a series of games. The latest, dubbed “The Hunger Games,” offers $1.5B to be divided among three winner out of the seven regions of the state. This is insane for a number of reasons.

First of all, since when is Albany all-knowing about what is best for the various regions in the state? The state capital is closer to Boston than to the western part of the state. Basically this is a matter of the half of the state that lives in the New York City area treating the rest of us as ignorant yokels.

Second, what happens to the four “losers” in this competition? Are their residents not citizens of the state like those in the winning regions? What gives Albany the right to put some of its citizens ahead of others? Is our state to have three classes: New York City, upstate winners, and upstate losers?

Third, let us not forget that much of the economic trouble of upstate NY can be laid at the feet of the downstate financial community. Would the Southern Tier need help if IBM had not decamped for Westchester County? How many jobs were lost at Endicott Johnson when Citigroup bought the company and sucked the remaining life from it? What about the venture capitalists who killed Link? Or the NYC-based Random House that shut down its Kirkwood distribution center?

Finally, this sort of phony competition pits neighbor against neighbor to the detriment of all. If Albany wants to stimulate recovery upstate, how about removing the state sales tax in upstate counties? How about eliminating state corporate income taxes in those counties? And then how about running workshops to train local officials in economic development?

Casinos will not restore economic vitality to upstate NY and neither will stupid state-run games. Stop treating us like an amusement, Albany, and get out of our way.

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