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The Morning Grumpy – 12/21/2011

Filed under: Morning Grumpy

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. During the busy holiday season, sometimes we all need a little pick-me-up. I know that I’ve found myself waiting in a long line at a store, wishing I could hear some god damned Hall & Oates to cool me out. Well, the internet is here for you. Callin’ Oates! Your emergency Hall & Oates hotline.


2. Every time you click “Place Order” on your favorite website, a warehouse worker weeps. Pity the elf slaves of Christmas.

Overtime is generally mandatory, even if that means five 12-hour days in a row. Doing anything for five days of 12-hour shifts is tough, but particularly when that thing is standing in one spot at a conveyor belt repeatedly stuffing inflatable air pockets into boxes, or running up to 15 miles a day around a vast warehouse in order to retrieve the items for those boxes, bending over to grab them off floor-level shelves literally hundreds of times a day, while supervisors meticulously keep track of how many items every employee picks and let them know when they’re not moving fast enough, not good enough. Hurry up, customers are waiting. Santa’s special helpers can’t be permitted to take personal time off, or time to go to the bathroom except during a couple of 15-minute breaks, or to have enough off-work hours in their day to get laundry done or eat dinner with their kids. It’s Christmas, goddammit.

3. Every couple of years, right wing cranks like Rus Thompson and other tea party/liberty fetishists suggest that Upstate New York should secede from New York State and become its own state. After all, those downstaters are leeches! They get all the benefits! Unshackle Upstate! Well, some research by the Rockefeller Institute counters those talking points.

For decades, citizens in every region of New York have raised questions about the geographic distribution of revenues and expenditures in the state budget. Upstate residents often believe they subsidize generous social welfare programs that disproportionately benefit Downstate.

New York City’s share of state revenue payments is around 45 percent, and it receives 40 percent of expenditures.

The Downstate Suburbs provide roughly 27 percent of taxes and other revenues, nearly 10 percentage points more than they receive in aid for education, health care, state payroll, and other expenditures.

By contrast, the Rest of State region provides 24 percent of the revenues and receives 35 percent of expenditures.

Sounds like we might want to stop whining so much.

4. I’ll be writing about this more in coming weeks, but Buffalo is falling far behind the power curve on modernizing government, (see: Citistat, Disappointing). There are hundreds of municipalities using mobile, web, and desktop applications to simplify interactions between citizens and governments. There are also system based resources available for cities that enable better use of resources and personnel. Most of these applications can be found here, at civic commons. Two that I’m really impressed with are MindMixer, an online community planning tool and Vacant and Abandoned Building Finder in Chicago.

Fact Of The Day: Target isn’t just a big-box retailer, they also run one of the best crime labs in America.

Quote Of The Day: “The meal is not over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself.” – Louis C.K.

Song Of The Day: Let’s do this…more Hall & Oates!

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]

  • Jim

    The Rockerfeller Institute?!?! No establishment bias there, guess that settles it! Now how about a link from Goldman Sachs defending the Federal Reserve while you’re at it? p.s. Rus Thompson is a GOP hack crossdressing as a tea partier.

    And yeah, damn those ‘liberty fetishists’ in these bright and happy days of TSA sexual assaults, the rapid militarization of domestic law enforcement, and now ‘disappearings’ a la El Salvador et al thanks to a bipartisan congress and Mr. Contitutional Professor himself. Looks like the ACLU is on the wrong side of this one too, right? Be sure to let ’em know.

  • @Jim – You had me until “TSA sexual assaults”….. please.

  • starbuck

    I don’t doubt that the study in #3 and others concluding the same thing over the years are correct about the revenue divide. However, I think it overlooks a lot when anyone uses that as the basis to say Upstate would necessarily be worse off if not united with Downstate. Fisher’s AV articles seem to do that about once a month like clockwork. (or would it be calendarwork?)

    A separate Upstate might decide to end some things (Scaffold/Wicks/Taylor laws, triborough amendment / binding arbitration, on and on…) that drive up many public spending costs without improved results. Upstate might also have tax rates/laws for incomes and businesses that are more competitive with neighboring states.

    It’s possible those and other policy changes (fracking, etc?) after a while could result in more economic activity than with the status quo. That could be better for Upstate than imbalanced revenue from Downstate estimated by all the studies.

    A split is just hypothetical anyway – not even close to feasible as far as the eye can see. Any whining about Downstate’s political domination – whether it’s from tea party supporters, or the Donn Esmondes, or anyone else who’s ever whined about it – has always seemed to me totally useless. It makes good sense that Downstate dominates in a representative government because they have more votes, and that ratio is growing. If it bothers anyone enough, there’s other states to choose from.