News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
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Columns

Power Grid Mixes Good, Bad And Ugly Electrons

COLUMN

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Power Grid Mixes Good,

Bad And Ugly Electrons

A few weeks ago, an article appeared about installing a geo-thermal system to heat and cool the family home.

The subject was very transparent about the fact geo-thermal systems require considerable electricity to run the pumps that circulate the fluid and to provide the energy necessary to make up the differential between the temperature of the water sourced from beneath the ground (normally 55 degrees) and the thermostat setting during cold nights (usually about 68 degrees).

He then explained that he buys his electricity from a co-op that buys it from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) via a purchase contract.  The source of the power in that contract with the NYPA is hydro.  The author went on to say that because of this arrangement, they are not burning any fossil fuel.  Unfortunately, that may not be the case.

How can that possibly be?  They buy their power from a company that sells hydro-power to their supplier.

It’s because the power that is purchased by the co-op from the NYPA must enter the “grid” of transmission lines in order to be delivered to their home.  Once a given electron enters the grid, it is co-mingled with other electrons from other energy sources including coal, gas, oil, solar and wind.

If Johnson City, Then Why Not Cooperstown?

COLUMN

If Johnson City, Then

Why Not Cooperstown?

Editor’s Note: Oneonta’s City Hall is actively helping private developers revive its downtown, but downstate developers are starting to recognize a demand for housing Upstate and seeking to fill the need. Per this report on BBJN.com, might someone consider Cooperstown’s vacant downtown CVS as an opportunity?

A New York City developer has been lured to Johnson City, near Binghamton, to construct an apartment house on a site similar to the CVS in Cooperstown’s downtown.

JOHNSON CITY – A New York City developer has plans to build a three-story, multi-family apartment building in Johnson City.
Praveen Kamath, founder and managing member of AOM Investments LLC, broke ground Wednesday, May 15, for the LOFTS@JC project at 128 Grand Ave.

The total estimated project cost is more than $6 million, the Agency said in a Thursday news release.

Crews will build the new apartment complex at the site of the “abandoned” Dollar Bazaar location, which will be demolished, per the news release.

This site has sat vacant for a number of years and has “contributed to the blight” in Johnson City, the Agency said. The project will bring new tax revenue and “much needed” housing availability to the village of Johnson City.

‘Love Conquers All’: At Colgate Graduation, Delgado Says He Resisted Fighting Fire With Fire

COLUMN

‘Love Conquers All’

At Colgate Graduation, Delgado Says

He Resisted Fighting Hate With Hate

Otsego County’s congressman, Antonio Delgado, addresses the 200th commencement of his alma mater, Colgate University, last Sunday in Hamilton. (Colgate University photo)

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado’s commencement address Sunday, May 19, at Colgate University, his alma mater.  Click here to read related editorial.

I want to start with a story about my mother, who has often told me that she loves me with every fiber of her being, and there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it.

She had me when she was 21 years old; and did so against the wishes of her doctors. They advised that her heart was not strong enough to survive the pregnancy. Mom disagreed.

Now, she did not disagree because she somehow forgot about that fateful Easter Sunday when, at the tender age of 9, she was rushed to the hospital with a severe case of the rheumatic fever – so severe that she was read her last rites.

STERNBERG: Blame Businesspeople For Downtown

COLUMN

Blame Businesspeople

For Downtown Woes

Richard Sternberg

In response to last week’s editorial regarding Cooperstown purchasing the old CVS building … What rot! I can only believe that this is either sarcasm or your newspaper trying to roil the waters for the sake of selling more newspapers.

It is not the position of a very small municipality that struggles to put together a balanced budget every year while maintaining an adequate reserve, to be buying up public property for the sake of commercial development, especially on spec. What is the village now, the People’s Republic of Cooperstown? Where is the money to come from?

TILLAPAUGH: Prosperity, Offerings About Here

COLUMN

Prosperity, Offerings

About Cooperstown

Editor’s Note: Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch delivered these welcoming remarks when NYCOM, the New York Conference of Mayors, convened Sunday, May 6, at The Otesaga, for its three-day annual conference.

Mayor Tillapaugh

I have had the opportunity over the past year to welcome several groups to Cooperstown – but I have to say this is one of the more intimidating as I am facing a room of peers – elected officials who have all had to provide similar welcomes in their own communities.

But welcoming NYCOM here is a task I wanted, because it is also a chance to say “thank you,”
because in the eight years I have served in village government, I have truly relied on the expertise, guidance and training provided by NYCOM staff. I have also benefited from the experience and knowledge shared by other elected officials.

KUZMINSKI: Is 2-Party System Serving Nation?

COLUMN

Is 2-Party System Serving Nation?

The other day I had occasion to visit the websites of both our local Otsego County Democratic and Republican Committees. Both were disappointing.

The Republican Committee’s website still listed John Faso as our congressman. The most recent posting I could find was from 2014. The Democratic website, by contrast, was up to date, listing local officials and candidates for this year’s races. Both parties have active Facebook pages (the Republicans had 611 likes, the Democrats 721 likes).

What disappointed me was the lack of content on both party’s sites. On neither the Republican nor the Democratic websites, nor on their Facebook pages, could I find a link to anything like issues, goals or a platform. No vision for Otsego County is presented. Zero.

LANDERS: Pathfinder Success Due To Place, People, Purpose

COLUMN

Pathfinder Success Due

To Place, People, Purpose

CEO Paul Landers called up, from left, Sally Trosset, executive assistant & development associate; CFO Caprice Eckert; Kelly Meyers, senior director of admissions, and Dan Osborn, senior director, quality assurance & ancillary services. (He also called up Development Director Lori Grace, but she was taking this photo.) At right are Landers and state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who was presenting a state Senator resolution honoring Pathfinder.

Editor’s Note:  Here are remarks President/CEO Paul Landers delivered at the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce annual Gala & Celebration of Business Thursday, May 2, in Foothills’ Atrium.  Pathfinder was named the chamber’s NBT Bank Distinguished Business of 2019.

By PAUL LANDERS, Pathfinder Village President/CEO

About 43 years ago, 30 families were told they needed to find a new school for their children because the State of New York was going to shut their doors – this school was the Otsego School, a family-owned boarding school for children with Down syndrome in operation since 1922 in Edmeston.

Thankfully, a group of families, community members and a wise nurse named Marian Mullet did the unimaginable! They built, what is today, a world-renown planned community for children and adults with Down syndrome and developmental disabilities.

It began in a 23-acre cornfield, with a revolutionary mandate – that each life may find meaning.

Thirty countries, 26 U.S. states – they have come searching for this place – to learn, to be inspired, to work and to live. National and international educators, physicians, therapists and developmental disability experts have traveled to Pathfinder to share their knowledge and experiences with New Yorkers all because of the Kennedy Willis Center, our research, education and outreach arm of Pathfinder.

In 1980, we were a school house and seven homes on 23 acres. Today, we have grown to a 300-acre campus with 14 residential homes, a farm and farmhouse, state-of-the-art community health center, youth soccer fields and community hiking trails, chapel, cafe, village inn, research/education center, produce market and agriculture center, an adult day-treatment program operated by Otsego ARC, two off-site residences and two off-site day programs.

Dr. Streck, board chair, says Pathfinder Village now needs its own zip code!

Today, we are also more than Pathfinder Village. We are Otsego Academy, a two-year post-secondary education program; Camp Pathfinder, a young adult summer camp; Chenango House, an Alzheimer’s Care Home; Pathfinder Produce, a vocational training and community business.

In March, our founding CEO Marian Mullet passed away after 91 remarkable years. She was the revolutionary leader who left a remarkable legacy – a legacy that has touched so many, far more than she would have imagined. Today, those of us left to carry out this legacy are merely stewards of her vision and design.

Marian gave us this remarkable place! BUT, more remarkable than this beautiful place, are the PEOPLE and the PURPOSE of Pathfinder…

Here’s a little history about Pathfinder Village that many people don’t know.

The original plan was for the village to be built in Syracuse. But, after much deliberation and, I’m certain, influence from Marian, the board decided to build in Edmeston and remain in this county.

Why? Because they had tremendous confidence and faith in its people! People like: Senator Jim Seward, founding board member (39 years), Dr. Bill Streck, Bassett president, 32 years of service as our board chair, and the men and women of NBT Bank and NYCM, loyal business partners since our beginning.

People like Dan Osborn, 36-year employee who started out as a cook and is now the senior director of quality assurance and ancillary services; Caprice Eckert, 25-year employee who started out as a finance clerk and in my mind is the best CFO in the county today; Lori Grace, 22-year employee, started out as a marketing writer and now is the director of development, and Paula Schaefer, 21-year employee and music director.  She and the talented bell choir remind all of us the power and beauty of humanity.

THE PLACE + THE PEOPLE = THE PURPOSE!

Marian created a space to perfection and we have been blessed with the right people who have guided the village as society evolves. How remarkable is it that after 40 years, our planned community model remains relevant? This is why …

  • It’s Saturday morning in the bakery, people from all walks of life gather to enjoy fine food and fellowship. Nowhere else will you find such a diverse group gathered, everyone is equal.
  • It’s Michael and Holly walking hand in hand late one weekday evening; they have been boyfriend and girlfriend for more than 20 years.
  • It’s a business woman from NYCM attending an off-site leadership workshop at the Village. Taking a break outside, she says to her coworker, “This place is so beautiful; we are so fortunate to have this in our community.”
  • It’s Jared, giving a workshop on diversity at Bassett Healthcare to new hires.
  • It’s dancing under the stars on a warm summer night.
  • It’s friends gathered in the all faiths chapel to celebrate a life lived well and to say goodbye to a good friend
  • It’s a parent who decides to make the trip after years of research and soul searching, hoping that this is the right place for their child. As they head west on Route 80, coming over the bluff, they see Pathfinder and the feeling is almost immediate: This is the place. And later that day, when it is time to leave and their child wants to stay … now they know, this is the place!

This place, its people and its purpose.  This is Pathfinder.  I encourage each and every one of you to come to our café, take a walk on out nature trails, shop at our market, or get your flu shot at the health center.  I promise you, it will be the highlight of your week.

 

ZAGATA: Hidden Consequences Of Saying ‘No’ To Gas

COLUMN

Hidden Consequences

Of Saying ‘No’ To Gas

By MIKE ZAGATA

When we live in a community for a lengthy period, we tend to become “comfortable” with those with whom we attend church, purchase services from, hire to do household repairs and who sell us the various products we need.  Indeed, over time we simply assume they will always be there.  Is that true in Oneonta or, for that matter, in Upstate New York?

This past week I had a shock to my comfort-meter.  I was in the process of purchasing a car for my wife and needed a proof-of-insurance card from my agent.  The sales person was given the contact information for the agency and I assumed all was well – well, why wouldn’t it be?  My family had done business with that agency for decades.

Then a call with a “518” area code was announced on my cell phone with a quacking sound.  When I answered it, the lady on the phone explained that she worked for my insurance agency and was calling to confirm that I was indeed buying vehicle from that dealership.  That was both good and bad.

SCOLINOS: It’s All We Need To Know: Home Plate 17 Inches Wide

COLUMN

VIEW FROM THE GAME

It’s All We Need To Know:

Home Plate 17 Inches Wide

Editor’s Note:  Tim Mead, incoming Baseball Hall of Fame president, cited John Scolinos, baseball coach at his alma mater, Cal Poly Pomona, as a lifelong inspiration, particularly Scolinos’ famous speech “17 Inches.” Chris Sperry, who published sperrybaseballlife.com, heard Scolinos deliver a version in 1996 at the American Baseball Coaches Association in Nashville, and wrote this reminiscence in 1916 in his “Baseball Thoughts” column.

By CHRIS SPERRY • from www.sperrybaseballlife.com

Cal Poly Pomona baseball coach John Scolinos, Tim Mead’s inspiration.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

After speaking for 25 minutes, he said:

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.

 

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

NY Has Third Most Lyme Disease Cases

COLUMN • Capitol Perspective

NY Has Third Most

Lyme Disease Cases

By State Sen. JAMES L. SEWARD • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ALBANY  – May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and with the number of reported cases in New York rising each year, it is important to arm yourself and your family with the tools to avoid the disease when possible, and detect and treat when necessary.

Lyme disease is an infection, caused by bacteria, that is spread by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick.  Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system and/or heart.  When detected early, it usually can be treated with oral antibiotics.  If left untreated, it often causes serious health problems.

According to reports by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), New York State has the third highest number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the country, trailing only our neighbors Pennsylvania and New Jersey. While this problem has historically been concentrated on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, the state Department of Health reports that it is quickly migrating to other counties across New York.

Not all ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease; they become infected after feeding on infected animals such as mice or other small mammals.  Transmission times for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases vary, and the sooner a tick is removed, the lower the risk of infection. Always check for ticks after spending time outdoors.  You cannot get Lyme disease from another person or an infected animal.

Ticks can be active all months of the year when temperatures are above freezing. However, most tick encounters occur from April through November. Their preferred habitats are wooded areas and adjacent grasslands. Lawns and gardens at the edges of woods may also be home to blacklegged ticks. Ticks may feed on wild animals such as mice, deer, birds and raccoons, but domestic animals such as cats, dogs and horses can also carry the ticks closer to home.

I have worked to enact several new laws in New York State to improve our response to Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.  We have also taken steps to upgrade education efforts and enhance efficiency when it comes to treatment and reporting measures.

Last year several measures I co-sponsored were signed into law, including:

  • Senate bill 7171, requiring the state to study the effect Lyme and tick-borne diseases have on mental health;
  • Senate bill 7170, establishing an expert-based Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Working Group to review current best practices for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Lyme and TBDs;
  • Senate bill 7242, requiring Lyme and tick-borne disease warning signs at all state-managed parks, including trail entryways and campgrounds.

Another bill that I have co-sponsored would serve as a major step forward for treatment of Lyme.  The legislation would create specific protocol to notify individuals of their diagnoses related to Lyme and other TBDs. The bill would require the commissioner of health to work with health care providers to develop a standard protocol and patient notification for the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and TBDs.

In discussing this issue with individuals who have contracted Lyme and doctors alike, it is clear that diagnosis and treatment plans vary greatly.  We need to develop a uniform health care strategy that will increase positive outcomes so people aren’t left guessing if they are infected or if they will be left to struggle with a debilitating disease for the rest of their lives.

I have also helped secure state funding to combat Lyme.  Last year, a record $1 million was included in the state budget for research, education and prevention efforts.  Unfortunately, the new Senate majority failed to continue that commitment this year and the funding was not included in the new state budget – a major disappointment.

Additional information regarding Lyme disease prevention, how to remove a tick, and symptoms is available through the state Department of Health website at www.health.ny.gov.  By knowing the facts and taking precautions, you can enjoy the outdoors and avoid Lyme disease.

James L. Seward, R-Milford, represents the 51st state Senate district, which includes Otsego and eight other counties.

Doing The Numbers On Universal Basic Income

COLUMN • View from Fly Creek

Doing The Numbers On

Universal Basic Income

By ADRIAN KUZMINSKI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

As the economic insecurity of a large segment of the country continues without relief (debts, taxes, low wages, health costs, education costs, etc.), some big new ideas (like the Green New Deal) are getting attention.

Andrew Yang and his T-shirts are becoming visible in Iowa,where the first caucuses of the 2020 presidential campaign will be held Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2020.

In my last column, I examined one of these big new ideas: the proposal for a universal basic income (UBI) put forth by presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who proposes to give every US citizen over 18 years of age $1,000 a month. He calls it the Freedom Dividend.

Yang argues that automation and robotics are relentlessly eliminating wage-labor jobs, hence the need for a UBI. He may be right. I speculated that a UBI might be paid out of corporate profits, but it turns out that that’s not where the money is.

To see how it can be funded, let’s do some math:

The current adult (18 plus) population of the U.S. is about 250 million people. Giving $12,000/year to each person would cost about $3 trillion. To put that in context, the federal budget is about $4 trillion/year, including $700 billion for the military, while total annual U.S. corporate profit is about $2 trillion/year in an economy of about $21 trillion.

The total net financial assets of American households, according to the Federal Reserve, are much greater than that. They add up to about $70 trillion. What are net financial assets? They include stocks, bonds, funds and other financial instruments. That’s where the money is.

The major asset for most Americans is their home. Net financial assets don’t include your personal property (your home, vehicles, furnishings, art, etc.); nor the debts you owe.

OH-OH FEST: Annual Concerts Struggling In Crises Past, Crisis Present

OH-OH FEST

Annual Concerts Struggling

In Crises Past, Crisis Present

Rapper Sean Kingston performs at St. Joseph University outside Philadelphia earlier this month, but a threatened protest by Know Violence Here caused SUNY Oneonta to cancel his OH-Fest concert, scheduled for Saturday, April 20.

Editor’s Note: The cancellation of Sean Kingston’s concert at OH-Fest Saturday evening, April 20, in Neahwa Park, sparked a pungent debate on All OTSEGO.com’s Facebook pages. Here’s a sampling of the back and forth.

►Kevin Comstock – If students from both colleges are the ones that pick the performers, then the concert should be held on campus … Keep the carnival downtown for the kids and family’s to enjoy.
►James Flannery – Honestly I’ve loved OH-Fest my whole life, and now being a SUNY student it’s become a headache. I don’t think we need to get rid of it, but we need to evaluate a lot of things. Example, part of
my tuition is the Student Activities Fee, which is due to increase to over $800 next semester. It’s so high because of OH-Fest. I feel like my money has now been wasted. So adjustments have to be made across the board.
►Teresa – If I were anyone famous, after this, I’d say … no to coming here. I truly am ashamed of this town and the college for allowing it
►Tiffany Frazier – Ya, ’cause they wasted 60 grand….
►Rose Straney-Kjellquist – So instead of shrugging and sweeping it all under the rug, SUNY made a lesson out of it and is enacting changes. Awesome.
►Kimmehameha German – Maybe next time they should do some vigorous research. Quick Google search would’ve told them about Kingston’s almost decade-old rape allegation, which he was never officially charged for or found guilty of. Their attempt at social justice cost $60,000.
►Matt – Start by not getting rappers?
►Karen Hayes Knickerbocker – The only winner here is Sean Kingston. He got $60k and didn’t have to do a thing to get it. If I were him I would have walked down Main Street with his entourage. Just cause.
►Tyler Logan – I’ve never seen a city struggle so much with an annual concert. Every year there is some mishap or complaining. Just be done with the whole thing, because clearly nobody can handle a ONCE-a-year event. Small-town problems.
►Robert Makofske – The squeaky snowflake gets the grease.
►Nikke Allen Hunt – They didn’t protest when A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie performed, even though he has a rap sheet including sexual assault prior to his performance in Oneonta.
►Teresa Olmstead – Talk about condemnation of someone who has never been charged with a crime nor convicted. You are a disgrace to the Land of the Free and to the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights
►Irene Morrissey – He settled out of court, which means money cures everything in the USA!
►Gina Colone – But just because he settled out of court doesn’t necessarily mean he was guilty? Right? If someone is assaulted I’d think they’d want that person in jail, unless money is motivator for the allegations.
►Teresa Olmstead – I don’t care about the music … but cancelling it the way they did just because of 9-year-old allegations. And yes, you’re probably right about it being motivated by someone wanting money. They know famous people will settle regardless of their innocence because it’s bad for them
►Tom Whitney – Hey, c’mon … Only the Prezzz is allowed to $buy$ his way outta trouble!
►Crystal Couse – The man is accused of gang rape. I guess I don’t understand why people think a person like this is acceptable in our town??
►Astrid Tara – Not that I attend it in many years, but I think it’s ridiculous that this is happening. If you don’t agree with who’s playing don’t go. No one is holding you hostage to attend. Too many people easily offended by everything. Could’ve brought a lot of business to the area for the weekend. Don’t complain local businesses aren’t thriving when you drive business that could be made out of the area.

Former Store An Eyesore, Please Help Cooperstown

LETTER TO CVS PRESIDENT

Former Store An Eyesore,

Please Help Cooperstown

Editor’s Note: Bill Waller of Cooperstown sent this letter Monday, April 22, to Kevin Hourican, president, CVS, in Woonsocket, R.I., about the two-year vacancy of the company’s downtown Cooperstown store.

Dear Mr. Hourican,

I am writing to inform you of a situation with one of your properties located in Cooperstown, New York. You recently constructed a new CVS store in our Village and vacated your former location on our Main Street. It is my understanding that you are continuing with your lease on this abandoned property through September, 2019.

Bill Waller included these photos of the former CVS at 100 Main St. in his letter to company President Kevin Hourican.

While we have welcomed you into our community and admire and support your new location, your former store has become an eyesore right on our quaint Main Street. Our Main Street has recently undergone a massive renovation, adding pavers, rain gardens and new foliage; all to complement the small town atmosphere for which Cooperstown is world famous.

And the world will be here in force this July and throughout the summer to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and attend the annual Induction Ceremony, this year starring the only unanimously elected inductee, Mariano Rivera. While our average Induction Weekend attendance is always in the tens of thousands, this year we are predicting record-setting visitors. Our previous one-day record was about 82,000.

In addition, we have families attending our summer-long Little League-age weekly baseball tournaments at the Cooperstown Dreams Park. That venue brings about 100 Little League teams and their families each week to watch their children play baseball.

There are also other weekly baseball tournament venues in the area that, all totaled, including the world renowned Glimmerglass
Opera Festival, The Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum bring almost 1 million people to our streets.

As the attached photos show, your former store, well-known as “the old CVS store” is an eyesore right in the center of our Main Street business district. With the interior lights constantly on, passersby are treated to the interior of an abandoned store. Last summer you allowed the Glimmerglass Opera use the building for scenery construction, but the windows and frontage remain as seen today.

KUZMINSKI: A Guaranteed National Income?

COLUMN

A Guaranteed National Income?

Democratic president hopeful Andrew Yang flips pork chops during a swing through Iowa. (Yang2020 photo)

By ADRIAN KUZMINSKI • The View From Fly Creek

You might have heard of  Andrew Yang. He’s running for president as a Democrat. A long shot, for sure, but he’s already generated considerable interest and support.

Last month, he announced that he had received contributions from over 65,000 donors in over 20 states, enough to qualify him for
the first round of debates by the Democratic candidates.

Yang, from a Taiwanese immigrant family, was born in nearby Schenectady (like our congressman, Antonio Delgado), and became a corporate lawyer working for startup companies. Later he served as the CEO of Manhattan Prep, a company which administers the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for business school applicants. He went on to run a non-profit, Venture for America, whose internship programs place graduates into startups across the country.

As a presidential candidate, Yang stands out for proposing what he calls the “Freedom Dividend,” a $1,000/month payment, or guarantee annual income, to all U.S. citizens over 18 years of age. There’s a long interview on “The Joe Rogan Experience” explaining his ideas which has received over 2,600,000 views. (Type “rogan” and “yang” in the youtube.com search line.)

Yang’s campaign slogan is “Humanity First,” which reflects his big campaign issue: the fact that automation and robotics are displacing human labor throughout the economy. Jobs are a key issue locally and nationally. The solution may not be more jobs, but something entirely different, like Yang’s Freedom Dividend.

Cutting labor costs enriches investor/owners, but it’s catastrophic for workers. Self-driving vehicles are going to put truck drivers out of business, just as scanners have reduced supermarket checkout clerks, and online purchasing has devastated retail outlets.

Automation affects not just factory-line workers, but most wage-labor, even on a professional level. Doctors, lawyers, and tax preparers are being replaced by remotely controlled automated services, the way travel agents have been replaced by online booking, and teachers and college professors now compete with online courses. Certain service sectors – plumbers, electricians, contractors, waitresses – continue to resist automation, but they too are vulnerable.

There are still jobs, of course, but they no longer provide the economic security they used to for the bulk of the population. Traditional wage-labor is a shrinking proposition, ever harder to achieve, leaving most of the population redundant, less and less able to support itself. The jobs that remain are all too often low-skill and low-pay, insufficient to support a family.

Labor, Yang is telling us, is no longer the source of security and value it once was. His attempt to restore economic security – a basic guaranteed income – is a radical departure from the usual remedy of trying to “create” more jobs. The government simply prints and sends you the money, instead of trying to find you a job.

If you just give people money, they will spend it, and stimulate the economy. At least that’s the idea. Adding money to the economy – all other things being equal – means more dollars chasing the same goods and services. That’s inflationary, unless the new spending is matched by enough new production to satisfy the new consumption.

And that’s the problem. If money is continuously printed faster than the economy is growing, we will suffer inflation, perhaps hyper-inflation. Yang and other guaranteed income advocates have yet to explain how their schemes will avoid inflation.

There might be a clue, however, in his use of the word “dividend.” The word suggests an income from a share of ownership in corporate assets. Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend comes to mind. Since 1982, it has distributed an annual royalty share of corporate revenue from Alaskan public resources (mostly oil and gas) to all state residents. The amount fluctuates (up or down) with corporate profits (and losses) over time. In 2018 the payment was $1,600 per person ($6,400 for household of four).

A guaranteed national income could be modeled on the same idea – an individual dividend paid out of a permanent fund supported by corporations. That would add a measure of public ownership of the means of production. Instead of 100 percent of corporate stock being privately held, a certain percentage could be publicly held, and form the basis of a national dividend.

A national dividend would not only give regular citizens a stake in the economy, it would also ensure that the money distributed would be neither inflationary or deflationary, but an accurate measure of the value of the economy, fluctuating with the ups and downs of economic activity.

That’s not socialism – corporations would still be privately run for profit – but it is a way to share ownership more broadly. Call it populism.

Adrian Kuzminski, retired Hartwick College philosophy professor

and Sustainable Otsego moderator, lives in Fly Creek.

 

Help On Way For Small-Forest Owners

COLUMN

Help On Way For

Small-Forest Owners

By MIKE ZAGATA • Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal

New York’s 19 million acres of forests provide wood-fiber for the state’s $16 billion wood products industry – it’s larger than Maine’s, but we don’t often think of New York as being a leader in wood products.

Our forests also provide habitats for wildlife, clean air, clean water, Carbon sequestration and aesthetic enjoyment.  In fact, interest in wildlife is the number one reason people own forest lands, and healthy, managed young forests sequester more carbon that older, mature forests.

The question then becomes, what do the people who own those forests that provide all these societal values get in return for properly stewarding them.  The answer is simple – a high property-tax bill.

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