New York State is a very good place with a geography second to none. From the Hudson to Mohawk and Genesee Valleys, the mysterious Catskills to the mighty Adirondacks across to the Finger Lakes and down into the Southern Tier, New York State is as beautiful in its own right as it is politically rotten to its core. So pervasive is the evil of political corruption in New York, its economy is in ruin, its young, productive people leaving in droves the minute they can and the elected powers remain immune to responsibility as a result of the voting population’s catatonia. All that is left are immigrants flocking to the metro New York City area who displace welfare recipients who then flee to an Upstate region entirely incapable of sustaining them.
One of the most cynical ad campaigns in the history of any state is the one touting how business friendly New York is. In one scene, a CEO of a rubber glove company emphatically states that New York is second in the nation for producing private sector jobs. Not only is it a lie, its level of deceit makes such a pronouncement cynical to the point of filthiness. According to the ADP Research Institute, as of March 2014, Texas led the nation in job additions with 28,650 followed by California with 25,500, Florida with 14,580 then New York with 12,640. The same report states that of the jobs added in New York only 390 were “goods producing” while 12,250 were “service providing” which means 97% of the jobs were menial, low-paying and hardly worth the term while 3% actually involved some kind of skill with presumably a commensurate wage attached.
What makes the tragedy so much worse is the farce being played out on the state’s remaining residents, specifically those who reside north of Westchester County. That tragic comedy’s title is the “SUNY Tax-free Areas to Revitalize and Transform Upstate New York program (sic)” or the “START-UP NY program.” The script for this show is essentially seventeen pages regarding tax-abatement for new businesses with another seventeen pages of stage directions in the form of tax law that pretty much make it clear the preceding seventeen pages are for public liberal Democrat political consumption since there is no intention of giving businesses, new or otherwise a break. Read the entire document and it reveals a plan no sensible businessperson would become involved in since it really states, “You come to New York at your own risk because we can rescind that tax exemption anytime we like…or don’t like you.” The cost for production and implementation of this grand plan is not immediately calculable, but we do know that over $144,000,000 (that’s MILLION) is being spent on promotion.
What makes START-UP NY such a cruel joke is its cynical openness, as if it’s sponsors are saying, “We know this is a farce, but not only do we think you’re stupid enough to not recognize that it is, we’re going to stick it right in your faces to prove that you are”.
Take, for example, section 430 of the enabling statute. It defines the title as a program specifically created to revitalize Upstate. The very next section makes it clear there is no such intention. Article 3 of section 431 states, “’City university campus’ means a campus of the city university of New York, as defined in subdivision two of section sixty-two hundred two of the education law.” References to Downstate inclusion are legion throughout the rest of the law although they are buried in language that appears to exclude the region. Translated into the political realities of New York State this law means the lion’s share of whatever benefits are to be accrued will ultimately land somewhere below the northern border of Westchester county. It’s the way of New York politics and has been throughout the state’s history. Upstate is and always will be Downstate’s step-child, a geographic Oliver Twist asking for more slop in its diminutive bowl, then being caned for daring to ask.
Making one’s way through this laughable piece of Obamacare-like legislation is an exercise in sad tedium so distracting for its Byzantine construction only people with a deep desire to mentally flagellate themselves will willingly try. All the rest will do so under the duress of duty or business.
It would be far too trite, however politically correct in this day of hiding the truth behind the madness of being inoffensive to label this law as misguided. It is ludicrous from beginning to end. Created by politicians and state employees in the bill drafting departments of their respective chambers, the law not only ignores the one facet of business that is most essential, it completely misunderstands the nature of the beast. In essence, the Start-up New York law is a socialist attempt to force an alliance between private enterprise and government in which the government has total control which is exercised by a three-member board of academics and college presidents who are controlled by college teachers all of whom are controlled by liberal Democrat politicians from New York City.
Subsection 10 of Section 431 creates an “approval board” made up of three people appointed by Andrew Cuomo, Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos. The three members of the board “must have significant expertise and experience in academic based economic development…” (italics ours). What is “academic based economic development”? How can a business development group develop business without one businessperson on the approval board? We already know what happens when politicians, academics and bureaucrats pretend to understand business, they display their utter ignorance and destroy any prospect of actually developing new business while wasting hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on pie-in-the-sky enterprises close to their agenda driven hearts. The approval board for Start-up New York might as well be made up of three Paul Krugman or Karl Marx clones.
But it is the list of disallowed businesses which defies belief since 97% of the very jobs Cuomo and Heiland (the rubber glove CEO) crow about adding are the jobs they are forbidding to be created under the program.
Subsection 2 of Section 433 reads: “The following types of businesses are prohibited from participating in the START-UP NY program.
(a) retail and wholesale businesses;
(c) real estate brokers;
(d) law firms;
(e) medical or dental practices;
(f) real estate management companies;
(h) finance and financial services;
(i) businesses providing personal services;
(j) businesses providing business administrative or support services, unless such business has received permission from the commissioner to apply to participate in the START-UP NY program upon demonstration that the business would create no fewer than one hundred net new jobs in the tax-free NY area;
(k) accounting firms;
(l) businesses providing utilities; and
(m) businesses engaged in the generation or distribution of electricity, the distribution of natural gas, or the production of steam associated with the generation of electricity.”
The worst offense committed by this legislation is the last mentioned. How is it possible to eliminate energy development from the list when it is fundamentally the most essential aspect of business from every perspective?
How is it possible to eliminate what is factually a potential so great as to make New York State not only energy independent, but a place where high-paying jobs will immediately become so plentiful as to render precisely what the state is attempting to accomplish through this ridiculous program?
What mindlessness purports to solve a systemic problem by ignoring its existence?
Start-up New York is a campaign doomed from the start for one very simple reason, it has nothing to do with solving the problems hampering new business development and the jobs that come with it.
The State of New York will never be a place for businesses to start and thrive because the taxes are too high, the regulations are too stiff, the laws are too Byzantine and the population is too old. Its other assets, plentiful as they may be, are eclipsed by the total lack of environment conducive to doing business. This is not something conjured out of a new assessment of an ancient problem, it is as well known as the state’s inveterate liberalism and corruption. Until that toxic environment is changed no level of smoke and mirrors or Mad-men styled sales ad campaigns will make this sow’s ear into a silk purse. Cuomo knows this, as do Silver and Skelos, but they will continue blowing smoke and rearranging the mirrors because it is in their nature as ultra-liberal Downstate New York politicians to create an illusion and call it substantive progress.
They say you get the government you deserve, but I beg to differ. When a government is so polluted by its political class, when it creates an atmosphere so thick with corruption, and when that corruption becomes so deeply ingrained in the system that the system fails without it…no one deserves that kind of government. The sad truth is, the only way to change it all is to scrap it all and start over. Downstate is hopeless, but Upstate can and must declare its independence so as to show the world how a people can change their political and economic destinies.