Other people’s blogs

Danger Democrat writes about the status of an issue we haven’t heard much about in the news — a bill to legalize medical marijuana in New York.

Phil at Still Racing in the Street has some words about Mark Bitz, poster child for dysfunctional-Albany reform, selling his Plainville Farms to corporate.

CNY ecoBlog posts about science journalism and why the mainstream media doesn’t write very intelligently about environmental issues.

Speaking of the environment, SyraJason begins a canoe trip down Onondaga Creek. (Onondaga Creek will be the focus of two weekends’ worth of community cleanup later this month – Sept. 8 and 15.)

The Shadowman has a photoblog focusing on Utica and other locales in New York. (I would like to discover more regional photoblogs like this one…)

Slums Along the Mohawk looks at the possible revitalization of Sharon Springs (a small town between Cooperstown and the Mohawk, if you aren’t familiar). I passed through Sharon Springs earlier this summer and was surprised to see that it was not quite as dead as I had been led to believe. Is there a chance that foreign investors will do for Sharon Springs what Pleasant Rowland did for (or, “to”) Aurora?

Fault Lines compares and contrasts two very different new institutions in the Utica area, one of which is the appallingly named State H@#%$^@land Security Center.

MetaEzra is an interesting read about Cornell University and higher education in general, written by Cornell alums.

Simon at Living in Dryden comments on the Public Policy Institute’s report cards for New York State growth, county by county. You might recall from the recent Post-Standard coverage, that most of Upstate got failing to barely passing “grades.” However, he adds:

Remember, these are the same people who publish upstateblog.net, now apparently renamed “Knickerbocker Blog”. It’s an endless torrent of newspaper cuttings and links with commentary designed to make readers think that all we need to do is cut government, taxes, and regulation, and New York State will burst into productive flame, making everyone rich.

(Snort. I do find Upstateblog.net to be a useful resource for news clippings but I am amazed at their long-standing hammering on the one note, a true feat of sustained assault using the blog medium. And Simon is right: Who died and left the PPI the “experts” on the Upstate economy anyway?)

7 thoughts on “Other people’s blogs

  1. Mrs. Mecomber

    “…an endless torrent… to make readers think that all we need to do is cut government, taxes, and regulation, and New York State will burst into productive flame…”

    What else besides cutting the bloated government, taxes, and regulation will cause New York to turn around? What else but that got New York into the trouble it’s in?

  2. Robinia

    Well, Mrs. Mecomber, I am no fan of bloated government, and everyone can’t stand taxes and regulations on themselves, but thinks they are a necessary evil for others… but economic development is not something that happens by taking away government-provided impediments. Despite the kvetching, taxes are a very small part of the typical business’s business expenses, and so can’t have a very big impact, no matter how much bridge maintainence, snow removal and law enforcement we do without or defer in order to cut taxes.

    Now, regulations are another matter. Manufacturing jobs, which were formerly the mainstay of the upstate economy, have, in fact, fled the regulatory environment… first, to the Southern US, then to Mexico and Latin America, and now, to China and other Points Asia. Most rational economic development writers acknowledge that this particular “race to the bottom” is not one that states like New York can possibly win– our residents, with their higher-than-US-average years of education, simply know too much about things like industrial pollutants and workplace environmental and repetitive-motion injuries to accept the level of (un)protection that has become the standard in the globalized market. You need a third-world country to have the regulatory environment that most manufacturers now demand.

    So, what to do instead? The very first thing is to disabuse ourselves of the whiny notion that everything would be fine if government just got out of the way. Our state and local governments badly need reform and revitalization, don’t get me wrong. I’m all over that stuff. But, the same lack of leadership, accountability, and new ideas and creativity that afflicts our government also afflicts our business commununities in NY. Upstateblog.net is as much the same “blah, blah” of repeated failed policies as some of the worst of our political leaders, and with the same back-drop of cronyism, corruption and advantage for the inside few at the expense of the left-out many. In fact, the two systems of cronyism are deeply entwined.

    There are other ways to move forward toward a prosperous future, but, this comment is long already, so, I won’t get too specific. Wealth can be created in a number of ways, from a number of sources. For just one example, check out this story about an old upstate-NY buddy of mine who is on the cover of the real estate section of yesterday’s NY Times; a real estate prof says that this kind of thing can increase the value of homes in an inner-city neighborhood by as much as 20%, while bettering quality of life, feeding people healthy food, and offering activities that combat obesity. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/02/realestate/02nati.html?ex=1189310400&en=09
    4583967cf8812e&ei=5070&emc=eta1 .

    One idea I had to get started: all the old industrial giants in NYS (Kodak, Corning, IBM, Carrier, GE, etc.) agree to hire back only 1 former-worker apiece in a negotiated deal– but, must each take the highest-ranking economic development official from the most-populous city where former execs from their companies continue to control the economic development policies. That individual may not be replaced by another “former Corning guy,” etc. Dump the deadwood! New ideas for NY!

  3. Simon St.Laurent

    “What else but that got New York into the trouble it’s in?”

    A lot, actually. I’ve written a lot more on the subject here, but the short version is that we lost our geographic advantage in the 1950s as New York City’s port and manufacturing declined, as the St.Lawrence Seaway reduced the importance of Upstate as a transportation corridor, and as the cost of transportation fell, letting business set up pretty much anywhere, cheap.

    We went from prime real estate to the Rust Belt rapidly, and maybe we’re just finishing up the rusting process now. It’s catching up to the rest of the country too, alas – we just kind of got globalized first. There’s still life here after that happens, but it’s different life, with a difficult adjustment process.

  4. Mrs. Mecomber

    So… what one person is saying is that we need more regulation, or at least, “creative” regulation? Not sure what is being said. And another person is basically saying that NY’s decline was inevitable and we need to make some hard adjustments.

    OK, no wonder young people are leaving in droves. I said goodbye to another relative this weekend…

    EVERYBODY keeps saying we need “reform” and “creativity” and “new ideas.”

  5. Simon St.Laurent

    And some of us are trying to provide “reform” and “creativity” and “new ideas” rather than complain!

    Was Upstate’s fall inevitable – probably. Can Upstate come back? Definitely. Easy, no – possible, yes.

    The fall started fifty years ago, and I have hope it’s ending. The hard question is where we’ll be fifty years from now – and likely where the rest of the country will be in fifty years. My bet is that they’ll be wishing they were here.

  6. Robinia

    Thanks, Simon–
    What I am saying we need is NEW LEADERSHIP. That, in fact, may mean people like you or me, or NYCO (check out the truly spectacular post today here).

    Bumpersticker ideas are insufficient. This is a job for real thinking. NYCO’s promised to do more. Simon’s post is great (follow that link!). I’m working on some stuff, too.

    And, my kids are moving back from Chicago with my grandbaby Spring ’08. C’mon board and leave the naysayers behind.

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