Thought I might respond to Mr. Dick Downey’s Oct. 19 spin piece with some spin of my own. Apparently, Mr. Downey would like us to believe that unfettered capitalism will raise all boats. This premise ignores certain realities.
Corporations have no long-term commitment to the health and well-being of communities, and shale gas extraction enterprises are by their very nature just visitors. When gas fields are fully tapped, the drill rigs migrate and the majority of jobs go with them.
“People in business know New York’s problems. They are high taxes, high energy costs and over-regulation. Lower these, and entrepreneurs will take care of themselves,” says Mr. Downey. If, as I suspect, states with low taxes and less regulation than New York have achieved these results by sacrificing social safety nets and turning a blind eye to environmental degradation, then it is not that New York overtaxes and overregulates, but that other states are undertaxing and underregulating. These states are operating at a lower standard and should not be admired for it.
I agree with Mr. Downey that the economic and regulatory playing field is not level. The playing field will never be level as long as there are multiple levels of government, each with disparate resources and great latitude to determine the extent of citizen services and protections.
The federal government, which could level the playing field by requiring uniform standards and safeguards, is under pressure to transfer regulatory authority to the states. This is particularly true in the case of oversight of shale gas extraction activities. The “frackers” want it that way, as states have proven much more tolerant of reckless operations and willing to ignore the plight of citizens adversely affected by gas extraction. Google “Louis Meeks” and read his story.