Is it irrational to love upstate New York?

ALBANIA – Watch out! Residents of a certain area near and dear to our hearts might find that an upcoming quote triggers anger or emotional distress.

If you think you can handle it, here it is: “No rational person wants to live in upstate New York. It’s cold. It’s snowing. Its infrastructure has been 100 years outdated.”

So said John Podhoretz in a recent Commentary magazine podcast, saying that with states competing for jobs, economically damaged places need to build regulatory and fiscal environments that attract, rather than detract. repel, investments.

I generally agree with the larger point about taxes and so on. Yet this little about no rational person hit like a Will Smith in the head. I mean, could that be true?

Is this a region of irrational fools? Are we fools, deceived and duped? Should we accept the truth and load the U-Haul?

Some of you, no doubt, are shaking your heads, vigorously and treacherously, as you ponder what faceless Florida community will soon be home.

But before I answer, I’ll note that defending his region against outside sleight of hand is like a newspaper columnist’s obligation, and if I said, “Well, yes, Podhoretz is absolutely right” , such a confession could be bad for morale. and, uh, traffic.

So with that in mind, a message for the haters: “Keep upstate New York out of your mouth (bipants)!”

Too much? I don’t want to be irrational.

But is this man from Podhoretz blind to the charms and beauty of the upstate? Has he ever gazed at the sparkling waters of Lake Champlain or contemplated a view of the Adirondacks?

Did he ever cheer the Bills with the sausage-stuffed masses, strolled Elmwood Avenue – wait, is Buffalo upstate or is western New York distinct ? — or seen with his own eyes that Ithaca is gorges?

Infrastructure? Podhoretz must not know that Erie County will soon be home to a football stadium funded by the most generous taxpayer subsidy in American history. It will undoubtedly be a wonder of the world, rising like a phoenix from a beautiful ocean of suburban parking lots.

OK, our winters go on forever. But as someone who has lived in fast-growing central Texas, I can say wholeheartedly that surviving an upstate winter is nothing compared to the suffering imposed by summers in Austin.

Honestly, it’s like being trapped in a dog’s mouth. Six months of this and you’ll be begging for a blizzard.

Here, without further ado, are five non-climate reasons why it makes perfect sense to live in upstate New York.

1. Traffic jams are rare.

2. Recreational/natural wonders are not.

3. The locals are unpretentious.

4. Housing is affordable.

5. Did I mention light traffic?

Predictably, Podhoretz, a Commentary editor and New York Post columnist, is a resident of the downstate megalopolis that writer Willie Morris aptly dubbed the Great Cave, a place where the lack of horizons and adequate sunlight brings a Magoo-like Mr. Myopia to the world at large.

New Yorkers pay millions for shoebox apartments, and we’re the ones being irrational?

Well, as it always has been, I suppose, for those of us who waste our lives in this region of gingham dresses and bad Chinese restaurants. Down arrows keep flying.

Of course, if Podhoretz wanted to press on with his case, despite the not so meteoric dismantling you’re reading about now, he could point to the population decline that has withered large swaths of the upstate to moribundness, with the nation the highest taxes and too few opportunities, but welcoming the Grim Reaper to do his job.

No arguments there. Living in many parts of upstate New York is certainly harder than it should be, leading thousands of people to decide every year that moving is a logical choice. And while this is less true in Albany or Ithaca than in rural areas, many people who stay in the area do so at significant economic cost.

Contrary to what Podhoretz said, many people who leave want to continue to live in the upstate. They appreciate the region’s quality of life, its sense of place and history, its natural beauty. They wish they could stay.

They decide that they can not living in upstate, despite the pain that comes with leaving friends, family and community behind. It’s an ongoing tragedy that no one in power ever seems to care about. Year after year, decade after decade, nothing much changes.

It’s irrational.

[email protected] ■ 518-454-5442 ■ @chris_churchill