Why the state is declining

A few lines from a song capture New York State's dilemma. From the musical 1776: Does anybody care? Is anybody there?

The state has declined for years. Especially upstate. You know that. Your dog knows that. Our population falls. We are aging faster than any other state. Why? Our young abandon the state. They look out for themselves. By moving to greener pastures. It is what people have always done, from Ireland to Italy to East Germany to Cuba.

Why do they move? They pay more taxes here. A lot more. And less taxes there. If they own property here, whump! Businesses pay a lot more taxes here. And businesses face more whacky lawsuits here. Because our politicians keep it easy to sue. Many of our legislators are lawyers. They protect fellow lawyers who make fortunes suing. They then get kickbacks from the law firms who list them as partners. And they get fat contributions from the lawyers they protect. Cozy. Destructive. Corrupt.

Businesses move away. Or refuse to expand here. Or avoid the state to begin with. Why? In addition to the lawsuits, taxes are too high. Regulations too many and too stupid. New York flies a banner in Albany: "We talk a good game. But you're not welcome here."

Consider: When so many young move, and so many gutsy entrepreneurs move, who remains? The oldies. The more cautious. Is anybody there? Yup. Us oldies. Does anybody care? Well, we care for what we've got. We hang on for dear life.

Meanwhile, what does Governor Cuomo come up with to spur economic growth? Casinos. He wants a referendum for seven casinos, four of them upstate. This is economic development? We lose thousands of young, thousands of entrepreneurs. And we replace them with blackjack dealers? This is really bold, Gov. Binghamton, you want thousands of jobs from fracking and its offshoots? Tough. How about more guys to handle valet parking at your new casino?

Suggest we slash the number of state workers. Suggest we close some ridiculous departments. Suggest we cut state taxes. Suggest we make a bonfire of state regulations. That we sell some state assets. Suggest we smother government so that private can grow. Do this and the governor will scoff at you. And you will find scarcely a state politician from either party who will genuinely support you. They are all in on the corruption, in ways small and large. They are comfy.

And yet, the above is what the Russians did after they felled communism. Reagan did it. Kennedy did it. Hong Kong did it. New Zealand did it. Maggie Thatcher did it. So did Chile. And China. And Cuba is now finally doing it. (The Cubans don't learn very quickly.)

The formula is as simple as frying eggs. Reduce the role of government. Reduce state worker payrolls. As you lower the cost of government, take fewer taxes from the people. And from their businesses. In other words, get government the hell out of the way of the people.

Now you can dismiss this as conservative clap trap. Or you can look at economic history. Heavy taxes and heavy regulation have never stimulated an economy. Reducing them, lightening the hand of government always has.

Ahhh, but does anyone listen? Those who move away do. They listen to the music from elsewhere. The music known as less government.

From Tom...as in Morgan.

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