The release of recent economic data reveals that the widely decimated Cuomo administration propaganda that suggests that “Buffalo is Booming” has been a complete hoax, orchestrated by administration operatives with the complicity of the Buffalo News. Federal data reveals that the Buffalo Niagara region’s economy has grown at only 1.3% — a rate that is half the national average.
That the data comes after the administration’s billion dollars in development spending over the last five years, discredits the entire program and raises questions about where and how the money has been spent. Observers estimate that $300 to $400 million could have been squandered in shady government contracts and lucrative public-private development deals.
The Cuomo Administration has refused to release a public accounting of the program, angering good government activists. Discrepancies over the value of state subsidies related to the Solar City manufacturing plant are cause for a pending federal probe by US Attorney Preet Bharara. Critics have long alleged that the state’s investment in private firms are delivered as favors for contributions and political support.
If true, that would be and egregious misallocation of government resources in recent history — not seen since the days when Lou Ciminelli schieistered a sheepish school board while he wined and dinned them with titillating trifle. That program is just now winding down.
Liberal economic policies have decimated upstate New York
The data confirms this publication’s longstanding criticism of the Democratic Party’s decades-old development policies that advantage politically connected contributors with access to public capital, while discouraging private investment with a high tax and burdensome regulatory environment has held the upstate region’s economy in shackles.
Beginning in the early 1980s, Wall Street investment interests have funded a relentless push for free trade policies that instigated three decades of offshoring and the utter collapse of American manufacturing. Those trends have been the primary driver of the region’s longstanding population loss, economic stagnation, and disinvestment of the inner city.
Wall Street wealth skyrocketed as Buffalo collapsed. Mighty industries that once defined Buffalo — like steel, cars, chemicals, aerospace, appliances, and materials have all left. Steel and cars went to Canada. Aerospace went to the west coast. Appliance and parts manufacturing went to Mexico.
Perhaps New York City’s economy can sustain a high taxes and heavy regulations, but the six decades of economic depression that Buffalo Niagara has experienced proves that we cannot. The seat of global finance, national media, and culture can demand high taxes and people will be there willing to pay those taxes. But In Buffalo, they will not and they cannot. This point has been proven by the data. For decades, we have lost hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of people to low tax states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona.
For decades, New York State’s political culture rewards inventive economic development schemes that do more to reward a thirsty political machine than to revive the economy. But this is the liberal posture: to recommend a bigger government and higher spending that endlessly grows the patronage apparatus. That would further suffocate what’s left of our private sector.
This fundamental schism in our regions’ respective economic interests necessitates movement towards a new governance model — firmly rooted in the principle of decentralized decision making and regional self governance.
Undoubtedly it will be difficult to wedge the Democratic and Republican establishments from the government’s proverbial tit. It is, however, precisely what history demands of us — and of this generation of leadership.
Let’s try low taxes, streamlined regulations, public control of natural resource wealth, and a much smaller government
Economic revival requires the partition of New York into two separate federally recognized states. Such a partition would make the implementation of conservative pro-business tax policies politically plausible.
The depressed region would benefit wildly from a development oriented tax structure: 0% corporate tax; 0% income tax; reduced excise taxes; with low property, school, and sales taxes. Of course it would require less generous social programs, streamline governments, and a more frugal patronage largess.
Paying for it would require that we regionalize the service delivery of town and village governments by consolidating them into counties, eliminating a layer of unnecessary and duplicative government that puts enormous strain on local homeowners and businesses. Regional service delivery — of town courts, highway departments, planning and zoning , assessments, building inspection, and other municipal functions — will perform better and at a far lower cost if delivered on a consolidated regional scale.
Beyond tax structure and regionalized service delivery, we must expropriate the state’s hydro-electic infrastructure — and reap the entirety of the more than $300 million in annual profits that are generated from the Niagara Power Project and the New York Power Authority. Natural resource wealth, particular in the case of electric coming from Niagara Falls, should belong to the people — not to government appointed bureaucrats who deliver returns to private investors.
While consolidating local energy utilities, we can provide homeowners the cleanest and least expensive energy in the world — by selling it to Western New York homes and businesses at the lowest rates in North America. Over 30 years, that’s $9 billion that will go into the pockets of local rate payers.
Under those conditions, Upstate New York would emerge as the high tech manufacturing bastion of North America — where low energy costs, plentiful access to water, a favorable tax structure, proximity to financial centers in New York and Toronto, and streamlined regulatory climates will enable endogenous growth, attract foreign investment, and revive all manufacturing sectors.
With low real estate values and an underemployed workforce, such a transition could catalyze growth rates of 5% annually for the next decade — but it is only possible through statehood, which we should start referring to as political liberation.