Mike Derrick (D), Elise Stefanik (R), Matt Funiciello (G)
All three say they want to “bring back jobs to the North Country.”
What a load of nonsense. It’s not nonsense that we need more employment opportunities in northern New York, but it is nonsense to say we’re getting them back. It’s akin to saying, “Make America Great Again.” When was it great, and for whom?
Employment in NY 21 was overwhelmingly agricultural at one time, and just about anyone who needed work could find it on a farm or orchard. Now, the work is either done by machine or by migrants, because local people don’t want to work on farms any more. (Many local teens with whom I’ve spoken don’t know anyone who’s ever applied for a job in a local orchard.) These days, we sit around and wait for jobs to fall from the sky and hit us on the head, rather like an apple.
Do we want to do away with road construction equipment and bring back the work gangs? Do we want our forests cut down and made into paper, firewood, or lumber? Do we want our rivers filthied by industrial pollution as it was before the Clean Water Act? I’m sure the answer is no to all these questions. So then, what jobs would we bring back?
Of course, the best question is: What industries do we think can thrive here? Will anyone want to invest in a place that treasures its water, its air, its forests? Do we have the infrastructure to support such investment? Until we can begin debating these questions and possible answers, we will continue to wonder why our politicians don’t seem to deliver on their promises.