We were perusing various blogs and came across this post from the New York Young Republican Record. It was troubling. It's title sums its content: "The problem with upstate New York is not because of who’s in office, it’s because it’s upstate New York:" The piece seems to imply that something is "wrong" with Upstate and that Upstate is somehow responsible for its own economic problems. We offer another perspective.
Perhaps the "invisible hand" of Adam Smith no longer finds opportunity Upstate because New York State policies since the mid '60s tend to reflect a Downstate perspective.
Prior to the mid-60s the State Senate was apportioned according to counties, meaning Upstate always controlled the Senate and Downstate always controlled the Assembly. The was the case regardless of which party controlled which house or the Governorship. For anything to get done, Upstate and Downstate were forced to work together, to accomodate each other, and to look out for each other's interests. They did -- and a symbiotic relationship developed that worked incredibly well for over 150 years, and turned New York State into the Empire State.
Upstate's demise can be traced to the reapportionment of the Senate to a house based on population (like the Assembly). This was caused by the NYS Court of Appeals effectively voiding provisions of the NYS Constitution to conform with a US Supreme Court ruling involving another state.
From that point on, the Upstate perspective on problem solving got lost in the shuffle. Upstate and its people are not so different from competing regions in Ohio or Wisconsin or Minnesota except for the fact that comparatively we are taxed to death, fee'd to death, regulated to death, and have much higher utility costs (inspite of the fact that we are rich in hydropower and other resources). The higher costs of doing business are a direct result of NYS Policies -- policies forged by the representatives of the Downstate population center.
NYS policies represent a trade-off of financial impacts for perceived social or environmental good from a Downstate perspective. With a business mix more like Ohio or Wisconsin than NY Metro, Upstate would not have made the same choices.
The problem with Upstate is not Upstate. The problem with Upstate is that it is part of New York State which makes policies detrimental to the Upstate way of life.
NY's Founding Fathers 200+ years ago knew what they were doing, which was not unlike what the country's Founding Fathers were doing. We need to renew an appreciation for their wisdom in designing a Senate based on geography and an Assembly based on population.
Perhaps with the "new evidence" represented by Upstate's 40 year decline following reapportionment, it may be time to revisit the Court of Appeals' and US Supreme Court's decisions.
If those decisions cannot be reversed, then perhaps we should start thinking about some sort of "Home Rule" for Upstate, if not an amicable "divorce" from the metropolitan area.