Frustration

Nov. 2nd, 2010 09:39 pm
aquinasprime: (Men in Tights/huh)
[personal profile] aquinasprime
Reason number 4,627,893 why I think that everything from the Western end of New York State through Syracuse should split off and become a separate state.

Today I voted. I consider myself to be a very politically aware person. I make every effort to maintain a working knowledge of the issues, I can tell you who my congresscritters/representatives are at the state and federal level, I've never missed an election since I turned 18.

Something happened today that really pissed me off. I realized when I went to vote for the Attorney General in this election, I had absolutely no idea who any of the candidates were. Until I read their names on the ballots, I couldn't have told you what their names were. So why did this piss me off? Because it means they didn't bother to do ANY campaigning in my end of the state.

This frustrates me to no end. And it happens all the time. For any major statewide elected position, it has been proven time and again, that all a candidate needs to do is focus on NYC and they can get elected. And quite frankly, I'm sick of being ignored.

I live in a state that is essentially a rural state with a small number of densely populated areas (one of which contains about half the population of the state as a whole). This means they get what they want - money, laws that only make logical sense if you live in an area that densely populated, improvement projects, etc.

Despite having an energy-generating waterfall practically in my backyard, I have the second highest residential energy cost in the country (see here for details (numbers are for July 2010. The only state with higher cost - Hawai'i. According to an article published in Dec 2009 in the Buffalo News, more than half of the power generated by the hydroelectric plant in Niagara Falls is sent out of this area, some of it outer of state. To quote the article "The News found that the Niagara plant is the nation's second-largest producer of hydropower, the equivalent of a huge, bottomless oil field in our backyard that produces electricity at a fraction of the cost of other fuels.

But, The News found, state law strips the Buffalo Niagara region of any inherent claim to the hydropower generated here; federal legislation diverts most of it elsewhere: About 60 percent of the electricity generated at the Niagara plant last year was transmitted out of Erie and Niagara counties."

The worst part is that none of this will ever change. I work 60+ hours a week to send a ridiculous percentage of my salary in taxes to, essentially New York City, only to have to watch my local representatives beg for the last dregs of coffee in the state's cup. And watch the city I love die a slow and painful death.

Remind me again why I live here?

Nitpick about one point

on 2010-11-05 01:16 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] krasnoludek.livejournal.com
I live in a state that is essentially a rural state with a small number of densely populated areas (one of which contains about half the population of the state as a whole).

While I agree with your point that it's fundamentally disrespectful that these candidates didn't visit Western NY, and that their policies should also work to keep that part of the population thriving, I disagree with using this line as justification for these points.

The characterization of NY state as "essentially" rural is based on a geographic analysis. But NY, like most states in the country (and the country itself), follows a power law distribution with respect to its population (see Zipf's Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zipf%27s_Law)). So a vast majority of the population is located in one place, then large amounts in a couple other places, and then the remainder in smaller places. Because of the power-law nature of the distribution, even if you combine the populations of these smaller places together, they don't come close to the the populations of the top 2 or 3 places on the list. So the population in NY state is 92% urban, and 68.42% of the population is located in NYC and its immediate suburbs.(ref) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_State#Population) Similarly, people in other states can and will complain about the power of the one or two big cities, such as Illinois - Chicago, California - SF+LA, Oklahoma - Oklahoma City, Georgia - Atlanta, Pennsylvania - Philly+Pittsburgh, Rhode Island - Providence, Washington - Seattle, etc. The universality of this complaint comes from the universality of the power-law distribution of population and how that concentrates the population geographically.

Since the government represents the people, not the land, its general concentration of power is also going to follow this power-law distribution. This is especially true with 1) institutions, such as the legislature, where representation is proportional to population, and 2) posts which are popularly elected. These components of the government are naturally going to favor the population centers when election season rolls around. The counteraction of this dynamic is the geographic portions of the government, namely the senate, whose power counterbalances the interests of the whole population versus the population-heavy areas. But since you're speaking of the attorney general, a popularly elected official, they are going to focus their energy on NYC and its environs because they reach a majority of the electorate that way.

Now, on a psychological and politeness level, I still think politicians should make the effort to give face time to different aspects of their electorate. And once elected to represent the state, they should be develop their policy to benefit the whole state and not just one area. But in election season, power-law distributions are going to rule the day.

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