I love to watch the season change late every year and there’s nowhere better to watch this than the state of New York. It’s overlooked as an outdoorsman’s paradise, I think. I’ve lived all over the east and I believe this to be true. If there were no further considerations than outdoors possibilities, I would rather settle in NY than any other state in the continental U.S.
Let me tell you why I love the state:
- The region north of the Adirondacks all the way to the Canada line. This country is sparsely populated but abounds in outdoor opportunity without the crowd which adheres to parts of the Adirondacks. Winter is the best: it’s just a desolate extension of Canada.
- The north Lake Ontario country centering on Watertown. Every fall, winter and spring, king salmon, coho, giant brown trout and steelhead run up the tributary streams and rivers, spreading the action across a wide geographical range and countless miles of streams and rivers. Access to the Saint Lawrence River is a huge plus for the region as well – the Thousand Islands are spectacular.
- The Adirondack High Peaks. I’ve isolated this more rugged region of mountains topping 4,000 feet because it really stands out from the rest of the Adirondacks, both in stature and use. It’s a busy place almost year-round but it’s deserved as simply offering some of the most incredible vistas in the east.
- The rest of the Adirondacks. This is 6,000,000 acres (minus the High Peaks, which I’ve just noted), a mixture of private and public forest which remains one of the east’s foremost refuges for brook trout, as well as moose, bears and mountain lions. The crowd gravitates to the High Peaks, leaving most of this boreal hill country a very lonely place. I could go on for many pages on what I love most about the Adirondacks but maybe just check out my book – I spend a lot of time on these ancient mountains.
- The rest of NY. I hate to just cut it short but I could spend so much time simply on the fishing potential of the Finger Lakes, the Lake Ontario country between Rochester and Buffalo, Long Island or even the gravel pit ponds of Cortland County. And there’s still so much of the state I’ve never even seen, let alone fished.
No doubt, it’s a wonderful state but I don’t live there. Why not?
Well, it’s not a great place for us libertarians. It’s not a free place. People of my persuasion value the ability to pursue happiness without agents of the government watching over out shoulders, we like to use the money we’ve earned as we see fit and we like to dispose of our own property in ways that please us.
But largely because of its attachment to New York City (and Albany) New York’s 55,000 square mile area is held hostage by the spatially diminutive eastern cities. The 11,000,000 mostly conservative and freedom-loving folks of upstate are generally held hostage to the ideas of the 9,000,000 inhabitants of New York City, who also maintain control of the state’s media and education system.
So, I can generalize and say that the state is bound to a socialistic ethos but here are some examples that illustrate the kind of undercurrents that flow just beneath the state’s pastoral surface:
- NY SAFE ACT – The most restrictive firearms law in the nation, loathed by the people of almost the whole state, a directive that arbitrarily creates a classification known as “assault weapons” and prohibits their ownership. This is in addition to pre-existing stringent controls on weaponry, especially handguns. Guns are virtually banned already in NYC. Oddly, this is also where most of the gun crime occurs, almost as though gun laws only affect those who obey laws.
- $15/HOUR MINIMUM WAGE – In New York, the politicians believe that they know better than the market place what wage people deserve and have written their conciet into law. We should remember this move by our wise leaders as employers move to automate production on a grand scale and more of the young and poor find it harder than ever to find work.
- BAN ON FRACKING – Enacted in 2014, the ban prohibited some of New York’s most destitute from participating in the wealth that’s come to the east through this environmentally friendly marvel of innovation. Baseless environmental fears foisted by the kind of activists who Albany really does listen to led Governor Cuomo to prohibit the technology from his state.
I could go on and on…
But the particular items listed above aren’t what’s most important here. What’s most important here is the tendency and the trend toward less freedom. In particular, as New Yorkers think about the SAFE ACT they should remember that this RIGHT was not enshrined in the Bill of Rights to protect their ability to hunt deer or even to protect from burglars. Burglars can steal your stereo; dictators can steal your livelihood, your homes and your freedoms. New Yorkers, more than anyone, should cling to their guns.
And a final note: All this illustrates the beauty of federalism, the ability of the states to largely govern themselves. We have choices between states that believe in different ideas and we should all be ready to exercise our “U-haul vote.” I do love New York and hope it can one day be free.