Life is Sweet
I tell you life is sweet
In spite of the misery
There’s so much more…
– Natalie Merchant
Liberals are better human beings than conservatives.
Liberals care more about people. They care more about the community, the schools, the environment, the planet.
If there’s injustice, poverty, hardship – the liberal has compassion and wants to do something about it.
Do conservatives care? They care about their investments, their tax rate and the whiteness of their neighborhood.
Other people and other people’s problems? Hah.
The conservative answer is always the same: Get a job.
Can’t get by on the minimum wage? Get a second job.
Isn’t this all true? Isn’t it totally, ridiculously, undeniably true?
Of course it is, and everybody knows it.
And yet, there are times when you really have to wonder.
For example, there’s a swath of Upstate New York from just east of Binghamton stretching out west toward Olean. It’s an eight-county region where about half a million people live.
Not all of them are white people with guns and anti-Obama bumper stickers on their pickup trucks. Not all are NASCAR fans and Hillary haters. Actually, minorities are a growing percentage. In fact, more than a quarter of the population in the major towns and cities in the region are black and brown. They are all poor. They all live in deteriorating rental housing. They get minimal social services. Their kids go to schools where a sound basic education is in question. And income inequality is a fact of life.
Worst of all, throughout the entire region, there are simply no jobs. In fact, the region has the lowest rate of job growth in the entire nation over the last 20 years.
This snapshot actually doesn’t come close to capturing reality in the region. Outmigration tells the real story. The region has lost half its population over the last 20 years. Half!
So what do liberals with compassion have to say about the situation in the Southern Tier?
They have nothing to say. They act as if the place doesn’t even exist.
But it wasn’t always like that. Not at all. Liberals cared a great deal about the region just last year. In all the nation, the Southern Tier of New York was the most important place to them.
Liberal activists were fixated on the Southern Tier. Liberal activists and celebrities came to the region repeatedly to say how truly concerned they were about the health, quality of life and the very future of the people in the Southern Tier.
They told everyone: “Fracking isn’t the answer. The green economy can and will produce more jobs!”
Those activists, those celebrities, they promised to help. They promised to help.
But what has happened? Where are those activists now? Where’s Yoko Ono? Where’s Mark Ruffalo? Where’s Matt Damon? Susan Sarandon? Alec Baldwin? Robert Redford? Where’s Josh Fox?
Has any liberal activist or celebrity said or done a thing to help the people in Southern Tier since the fracking decision?
The answer is no. They’ve done absolutely nothing. They won the debate and then just walked away.
Liberals – who are smarter, more compassionate, more forward looking, more enlightened – couldn’t care less about the people in the Southern Tier of the state.
Natalie Merchant? She drives right through the Southern Tier on the way to visit her family in Jamestown. Does she care that Binghamton has the worst job growth in the northern hemisphere?
Life is sweet, she says.
OK, OK, so we’re being very cynical and snarky here. We’re really kind of liberal ourselves and we’re just trying to make a point here. We’re posturing.
We suppose so, but it truly galls us that nobody on the left has made so much as a charitable contribution to the region. Nobody has thought to hold a benefit concert. Nobody has issued a statement or made a gesture in support of green jobs or any other kind of economic development. None of the foundations and institutes that bankrolled the anti-fracking crusade with millions of dollars has done a thing. Instead, it’s almost as if the activists and celebrities think the people of the region should be grateful for their intervention.
And meanwhile, what have the bad guys, the conservatives done?
Well, there’s one group of conservative business interests trying to create a food and beverage production cluster in the Southern Tier. There’s still another trying to pull together a medical marijuana growing facility for the region. And another is pushing a gaming facility. Together these conservative interests with actual ties to the region have been writing to Governor Cuomo since last year urging him to focus on the region’s infrastructure and economy.
Tell us again who the “better” people are.
Just one final point:
There’s somebody who predicted with great specificity everything that has happened.
He warned that the liberal celebrities and activists were phonies who didn’t care at about the people in the region.
He said they had no comprehension of life in rural communities and that their interests were completely selfish. He said these people’s talk of preserving the rural character of communities was really a kind of code for preserving the value of their vacation homes.
He said the celebrities and activists had no right to interfere and dictate what happens in other people’s lives and communities.
It was Fred Dicker who said all of this and more, and he was right.