Pastoral Poverty

A piece in the Times today illuminates the divide in Middlefield between farmers and people who have moved into the rural town.  It might reflect some on Dryden, too.

The dispute has pitted neighbor against neighbor, and has often set people who live in suburbs or villages against the farmers and landowners who live outside them. The discord is compounded by hard times on both sides and by communication online giving everyone instant access to limitless information confirming their point of view...

Like many farmers, [Jennifer Huntington] sees the drilling opponents as largely comfortable urbanites in an area increasingly home to retirees and second-home owners who know nothing about the economics of farming and little about the safety of drilling.
“This land and my family are my life,” Ms. Huntington said. “We probably use three to four million gallons of water to feed my cows. I’m not going to spoil something I need to make my living and for future generations to come.”

Proponents of fracking say that many farmers are on the verge of losing their property.

“The term we use is pastoral poverty,” she said. “You have farmers trying to hold on to land that’s been in their family for 100 to 200 years. People like the landscape, but it’s people living in poverty who are maintaining what they like to look at.” ...

Many drilling proponents, meanwhile, say the professionals and retirees drawn to the area have become antigrowth fanatics...

* * *

The crowd of about 120 was quiet and polite at the candidates’ debate at the Dryden Fire Hall last Wednesday.  I spent my time watching the body language in the crowd. The anti-fracking polemic of Linda Lavine got a chilly reception based on the crossed arms, shifting of positions and shaking heads.  Maybe it was the intensity that was off-putting, or maybe they’ve heard just about enough about drilling.

The strongest reaction I saw was in favor of attracting business and spreading out the tax base of the town.  While the town tax rate hasn’t gone up, assessments have and people see their tax escrow payments going up alarmingly every year.  A bunch of new businesses are going in just up the road in Cortlandville... but we won’t see any benefit from sales tax revenue across the county line.

The budget talk is complicated, and seems to disintegrate into a he-said, she-said battle of jargon.  A few things stood out... a lot of money spent on consultants for an unloved zoning proposal, a bunch more people working in the planning department, a move by the town board to bypass the tax cap passed by the state.   Recreation used to be done by volunteers.

The next candidate debate will be in Varna on Tuesday, closer to Cornell and the anti-fracking epicenter.  

Michael Moore is right

Well, not exactly.  The always-excellent Bill Whittle (based on the always-excellent Iowahawk).  Grab the popcorn:

They're starting to get it:

...Our collective work begins by having a clear understanding of the seriousness of our budget crisis and what is at stake if we fail to address it.  We can all agree that we simply cannot continue on this reckless, unsustainable course.

Um, no they're not:

Reducing and eliminating needless spending and programs are appropriate, but a wholesale reduction in spending, without considering economic, cultural, and social impacts is simply irresponsible....

A picture is worth a thousand words

What's wrong with this picture?

Well, this...

[thanks, Rich!]

...to which we can add this:

and this:

And to complete the NYS part of the picture:

You get the picture.

He's a Squish

So, the House voted today to pull NPR off the public teat, a bill that won't go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.  Bills like this are a chance for members to stand on principle -- or not.

Richard Hanna (NY-24) was one of only seven House Republicans to vote against the defunding in what was mostly a party line vote. There are a couple of ways to look at this (if you have more, put them in the comments):
  • Hanna isn't really the fiscal conservative he was billed as.  In the campaign, we heard, "Yes, he isn't so much a social conservative, but at least he is a fiscal conservative."  Well, it doesn't look so far like he is either.
  • Or, maybe, knowing that the bill wasn't going anywhere, and that it would pass anyway, Hanna thought that throwing a bone to the left would build up some good will for a re-election bid.  This is the sort of game Mike Arcuri played last time around, and no one bought that either.  
We're expecting that reps we send to Washington will say what they mean and mean what they say.  
This vote says that Hanna is a squish.

Taxpayer revolts and "outstate" NYS?

The author is talking about Wisconsin here but see if it sounds familiar. At American Thinker:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's support has been found, but to do so it looks like a reporter needs to leave Milwaukee and Madison...

[....] What I have learned is that there's a map that can explain a lot of the current tensions in Wisconsin. It is the map of the state itself. In Wisconsin, there are two main metro regions, one surrounding the largest city and industrial center, Milwaukee, and the other surrounding our state capitol and home of the flagship public university, Madison. The rest of the state is referred to as "outstate."

For many of the people I've talked with in outstate Wisconsin, their understanding of power, values, and resources goes like this (I'm paraphrasing here):

All of our taxpayer dollars get sucked in by Madison, diverted to Milwaukee, and we never see them again. The people in Madison are out of touch with the lives of people in rural and small town Wisconsin, and they are liberals and elitists who for the most part work for the state and have cushy health care and pensions. In addition, they are lazy. They can't possibly be working as hard as the rest of us who are working 2-3 jobs to make ends meet out here in these communities from which we can see businesses, industry, and farms leaving on a daily basis.

[....] They don't know what it is like to spend upwards of $1200 a month for health care for one's family. They don't know what it is like to live in a community that most politicians never visit or listen to. And they certainly don't know what it is like to have dedicated one's life to hard work and traditional values.

Obviously, the folks in Wisconsin's fly-over counties are on to something. The Madison liberals should rejoice. They've convinced everyone of socialism, class envy and tax the rich. Of course the public sector workers never figured they'd end up being the rich.


And on a related note, from the NYT (emphasis mine):

HIALEAH, Fla. — Mayor Carlos Alvarez of Miami-Dade County was removed in a recall election on Tuesday as voters punished him for raising property taxes and increasing the salaries of his closest aides at the height of the recession.

[....] Mr. Alvarez, a Republican, has defended the tax increase, saying it was the only way to preserve vital services and make up a $444 million budget gap. Without it, the county would have had to close fire stations and parks and lay off workers. The raises given to workers this year, Mr. Alvarez said, are part of a three-year-old collective-bargaining agreement that also entailed pay cuts. He defended the raises for his aides, saying their workload increased greatly when voters granted him more power in 2007....

Previously unthinkable revolts seem to be in the air these days...

If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere...it's up to you...New York...New York (apologies to Frank Sinatra, wherever you are).

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