Thursday, May 15, 2014

second home owners: Columbia County's main industry

Sam Pratt has a story up about Ginsberg getting 33 acres for free from Columbia County. I was having trouble getting on his blog a few minutes ago but it should be back up soon.

Basically, the story is insiders cutting themselves a deal to build something ugly. This will be great for "jobs" and industry, someone will say. But we need to be clear: the only reason Columbia County is not as poor as other counties further north in upstate New York is that Columbia County can attract second home owners to buy houses. This is our primary industry. We depend financially on people who have money but little room coming to Columbia County and spending money, paying property taxes and investing in the county.

People do not want to come from New York City to see ugly sprawl. How many people from New York City spend the weekend in East Greenbush? We don't want our county to be ugly and poor, right? So make sure the place stays attractive to people who want so spend money. That means: open space, agriculture, all good. Sprawl, suburban generic ugly bad.

Weekenders: pay for lawn care, pay for house maintenance, pay for tickets to shows, go out to eat, pay taxes, support non-profits, buy art, buy food. Can you build an economy on that? Absolutely, if your population is 60,000 but there are 15 million people in the NYC area. Weekenders don't pollute more than anyone else, they pay decent wages. It's a great, great, great economy. No economy is perfect. In Detriot, they make cars and that pollutes and leaves the city vulnerable to the global market, etc. But go to Michigan and say you are against the auto industry? In LA, they make movies. Not perfect, sure, but would politicians in LA actively try to undermine the entertainment industry?

Weekender are what we do. Farming works well with tourism, so that is a good number two. Art works well with tourism, so that's fine. Trucking and heavy industry don't work with our primary source of employment. We have no advantaged in heavy industry and trucking over other places. So, we should do what comes naturally to us: tourism, particularly that niche of tourism called weekenders.

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