BENNETT: The Question Of Out-Of-Towners

WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

The Question Of

Out-Of-Towners

By LARRY BENNETT • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

FOR: First is the idea that all have the right to remove their family from a place of apparent danger to a place seen to be safer. Second is the economic idea that second-home owners have the absolute right to relocate to those homes, which they own and pay taxes on.

Larry Bennett, recently retired Brewery Ommegang creative director who is active in local causes, resides in East Merideth.

Presumably that is also true if a city resident can afford to rent a seasonal home here, or borrow one from friends or family who are not using it.

It’s hard to argue with the humanity of the first idea. It’s why the U.S. offers refuge to people fleeing failed states to the south. It’s why Europe offers refuge to people fleeing the Syrian war and other such catastrophes.

Yet nations never do this as well as is possible, and they almost never welcome the poor as graciously as the well-to-do. But that’s a different story.

The second idea also seems reasonable. If you have a right to flee and have the economic resources, you are entitled to utilize your resources to their maximum, and do or go where you desire. If you have been smart enough, or lucky enough, or born into the right family, who’s to say “no” to you leaving everyone else to their fate?

AGAINST: What is the greater good? What happens when your flight brings threats to those who live where you are fleeing? What if you leave the physical location of your troubles but unknowingly bring the underlying conditions of those troubles with you?

If you live in New York City and other downstate areas, you live in the eye of the COVID-19 storm. What if you flee the storm but bring the weather? It is going to happen. It is unavoidable.

What about the fact that every health expert says containment is only way to defeat the virus? In a closed population it runs its course, and the severity of the course depends on how well the population follows the rules. If they do it well the virus runs out of opportunity faster and with less damage.

The CDC and the governor’s directive is, “Don’t travel unnecessarily and if you have to go out, keep your distance. Don’t spread the virus.”

Traveling unnecessarily might be taking the subway uptown to visit a friend, or driving out to Coney Island to find some sun and fresh breezes. Urban residents are being clearly directed not to do so. Is packing up their cars and driving three hours to here ignoring the directive?

News stories tell of an influx of people in The Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard and other vacation destinations for the wealthy.

Those communities are not prepared for the crowds. They typically staff up in May, not now – hiring more people at everything from grocery stores to medical facilities, and increasing inventory of consumable goods, be they food or medical goods.

The communities are now feeling overwhelmed. Year-’round residents are now going to have to compete with short-term residents – or even just visitors – for common needs such as food, on up to vital needs such as tests, hospital beds and respirators.

There are reports of wealthy visitors arriving and immediately going into grocery stores to buy thousands of dollars of staples at a time. And those actions also raise the issue of the 14-day self-isolation that travelers to a new location are supposed to observe, but many do not. All of these actions are cause for real concern.

A friend says that it is wrong to discriminate against people because of where they are from. But what if it’s not because of where they are from, but because of what they may bring with them?

Since the virus only travels through people it’s inevitable that they will bring more of the virus up here. On the other hand, we are not going to the city – for any reason – and bringing the virus back.

Should we do our best to welcome and help urban dwellers who rightfully fear the chaos and uncertainty in the city? If so, are there measures to take to better protect ourselves? Or should we implore the residents to please not leave the city – to not bring us a bigger share of chaos and uncertainty, which we are ill-equipped to handle?


One thought on “BENNETT: The Question Of Out-Of-Towners

  1. Chip Northrup

    Dear Mr. Bennett

    While I agree with most of what you say, I take offense in your referring to Texas in this way: “It’s why the U.S. offers refuge to people fleeing failed states to the south.”

    Sincerely yours,
    James L. Northrup
    Pipe Creek, Texas

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