Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Tale of Two States

There seems to be a lot of resentment towards New York City up here in Central New York. I'm not sure that I understand all of it, but this article really illustrates the cognitive dissonance that exists between these two very different regions of the same state. The article addresses a bill that is going through the New York State legislature that would force all non-agricultural and manufacturing companies doing business in the state with 100 or more employees to provide health insurance to all full-time workers. This is similar to a bill that was recently passed in Maryland that critics agree was a thinly disguised jab at Wal Mart. By lowering the bar to 100 employees, the New York legislation is less symbolic but potentially, more far-reaching.

What does this have to do with the disconnect between NYC and upstate? I think this quote, from Alex Navarro of the Working Families party, says it all
...retailers such as Wal-Mart and Victoria's Secret have no choice but to remain in the market.
This may be the case in NYC, where any retail or media company that wishes to be relevant needs to have some sort of physical presence. The same is not true for update New York. NYC can get away with assessing extortionate taxes from anyone wishing to do business within its borders, since so many companies have no choice but to be there. When these policies get applied to New York state as a whole, upstate loses out since it offers most of the disadvantages of doing business in New York with virtually none of the benefits.

I'm all for sensible approaches to increasing accessing to health care, but I think that linking health care even more tightly to employment is a bad idea. I doubt that this bill would even do much to increase health coverage for service-sector employees, since I'm sure most companies would find ways to reclassify their full-time workers as part-time workers or independent contractors in order to avoid having to pay for health benefits. That's if they decide not to leave the state altogether.



MDS said...

I've noticed a similar situation with Chicago. People who live elsewhere in the state seem to be impressed by Chicagoans but also somewhat resentful of them. I've also noticed that they refer to the whole Chicago metropolitan area as "Chicago" and to the city itself as "downtown."

dhodge said...

The Chicago/downtown thing is interesting. I've met plenty of people from NW Indiana who claim to be from the Chicago area. It's one thing if you're from Hammond or even Gary, but when you're out in South Bend and claiming to be from Chicago, I think it's a bit of stretch.

MDS said...

I think there's a tendency among suburbanites in all places (except Metro Detroit) to identify themselves as from the big city nearby. But with Chicago it gets ridiculous. When I lived in California I'd sometimes talk to people who said they were from Chicago or had visited Chicago, and when I'd ask which part, I'd get answers that were sometimes more than 100 miles from Chicago.

svec said...

Perhaps people are just tired of answering the "Where are you from?" question with "smallish town X," only to be told, "Oh really, I've never heard of it." Maybe it's easier just to say "big city Y."

I noticed that in Indiana - people would say Indianapolis even if they lived 20 miles away. But 100 miles is definitely pushing it...