Staten Island Politicians Want to Break Free From NYC

Jose Nino Comments

Is Staten Island ready to leave New York City?

The New York Post recently reported on an effort to divide the state of New York into three regions.

Republican Assemblyman Michael Reilly has become so fed up with New York City’s high taxes and reckless spending that he is hoping that upstate New York annexes Staten Island. Fellow Assemblyman David DiPietro has channeled Reilly’s frustration into a bold plan called Divide New York. This plan would divide the state into three regions: New York City, Montauk, and New Amsterdam.

Montauk would be comprised of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland counties and New Amsterdam would be made up of all of upstate New York. Reilly would take the plan even further by getting Staten Island out of New York City and have it join with upstate New York.

“In my personal view, I’m leaning toward going up to New Amsterdam,” he told the Post. “I don’t think we would align with the Montauk region.” In a previous report from the Post, DiPietro outlined his plan which would create independent regions, each having their own governor and legislative body with the power to run their own schools and craft fiscal policies.

People may think this development is bizarre, but it should be welcomed by any proponent of freedom. With over 19 million people, New York is already one of the largest states in the country with a diverse array of regions and citizens. At times, such diversity does not make for good political cohesion. So, it stands to reason why some conservative New Yorkers may feel at odds with the interests of New York City dominating state politics.

Although this proposal will likely get shot down, it does bring up a much-needed conversation about political decentralization. Americans take for granted the separation of powers, not only within the federal government, but also between the states and federal government. Even then, there exists a separation of powers between state governments and their local subdivisions.

These multiple layers of government facilitate a certain degree of competition between political units. However, state governments can get quite large and out of touch with their constituents. It’s only natural that tension will begin to surface. While some lament these hostilities, others see new opportunities for decentralization.

Economist Ludwig von Mises offered this interesting insight concerning distressed political minorities in his book Omnipotent Government:

“A nation, therefore, has no right to say to a province: You belong to me, I want to take you. A province consists of its inhabitants. If anybody has a right to be heard in this case it is these inhabitants. Boundary disputes should be settled by plebiscite.”

The state of New York could possibly learn a thing or two from von Mises about how to deal with this representation dilemma.  Although the New York legislators’ proposal will likely languish, they should be praised for their efforts. If they genuinely care about the interests of Staten Island constituents, they will continue pushing the issue in future sessions of the New York State Assembly.

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