Conflicts are inevitable when a city wide government is also beholden to a larger state. In the United States, it is even worse. Local, state, and federal governments claim control of the same land–not to mention individual land owners.
Sometimes the smaller governments want to be left alone and fight for control over their own affairs. But other times they think the larger government should pay for things which only benefit the small locality. They seem to argue, well if we are subjects of their government we might as well get some benefit out of it.
The other day I wrote about how city governments are primed to compete for residents.
China ruins the opportunity for cities under its control to compete for foreign residents. The country implements draconian internet laws across the board, which individual cities or districts cannot nix. The larger government ruins the opportunity for smaller governments to improve.
But what about when the opposite happens?
Cities Control the State
New York State runs the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) which includes the subways in New York City. New York City leases the subways from the MTA and must fund improvements and repairs.
With two sentences of information, anyone can see that there would be no problems if the City and State were not involved in this “partnership.” But since they are, NYC thinks the State should pay for repairs to its crumbling subway infrastructure. The State, you guessed it, thinks the city should pay for it.
Lately, subways have been leaving passengers stranded, getting stuck, breaking down, and arriving late. This is due to a combination of old equipment that breaks, and the highest number of people ever trying to use the subway system.
Each side bolsters their argument by pointing to different pieces of legislation implemented before either Mayor Di Blasio or Governor Cuomo were born.
New York City is home to over 40% of the residents of New York State. On the one hand, 8.5 million city dwellers want 11.25 million other New Yorkers to help pay to fix a public transportation system that they may never use.
On the other hand, those residents of NYC contribute to the state budget as well. The state spending to benefit 40% of the population certainly not the most ridiculous proposition.
You could spend countless hours debating who should pay for what. Then you could listen to an equal number of complaints about which people were exploited in the end, and who walked away fat and happy.
The conflict would never have existed if New York City were independent of New York State. There would be no issue if two different governments did not claim the same jurisdiction, tax the same citizens, and have overlapping and unclear responsibilities for government functions.
Why Are They Grouped Together?
If you include Long Island as part of New York City, then it contains 60% of New York’s population. This means the greater New York City area controls the state government in every election.
If you live outside of New York City of Long Island, you basically have no say in any state wide election. Your local representatives will likewise always be the minority in the state house.
I can’t imagine how terrible it must be to live on a 20-acre farm in upstate New York. Citizens of NYC are voting from the perspective of living with 27,000 people within a square mile. Cities will naturally have more restrictive laws simply based on the high number of people attempting to live in concert.
And if you live in Hamilton County New York, you might have three neighbors within a mile from your home. You live 230 miles from New York City.
Drive over four hours, if you are lucky enough to not hit traffic, and arrive in NYC. 60% of the people who decide the laws you live by dwell here and on Long Island.
Who exactly does this relationship work out for? It doesn’t make any sense for the people of New York City, nor for the people of the rest of New York. You could debate who comes out on top based on where the money flows, or who has a true say in governing. But at the end of the debate, you will have a lot of angry, bitter citizens.
If government is to improve, the future will be marked by decentralization of government. Unifying ever larger territories will only cause disagreements and strife.