Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Tar-Heel Chronicles

Carolina Blue Sky
They say that traveling to another part of the world will give you a new perspective on the part where you live, and, having taken a trip to coastal North Carolina, I can say that it's true.

The fact that it rained for three straight days and I had to look at the beach from my hotel window 200 yards or so away probably helped in this process, if that is what it is. We have fallen in love with that word "process" and, if you wonder what it is, it is anything that takes a really, really long time and there is an excellent chance that in the end, when you get there, it won't work. An example might be the national "Budget Process," or a "Foreclosure Process," or, as you might already know the "hiring process."

In general, we have replaced the word "system" with the word process. As in political system, which works like a clock, unlike political process, which just keeps on ticking. A system, in case you wonder, is something that actually works pretty damn well and doesn't take its time, which explains why it is a seldom used word these days, especially around Wash DC.

Where were we? Oh yes, we were traveling in coastal North Carolina, where all of the people seem to be very courteous and helpful, and also on the big side from eating fried chicken, hush-puppies and an assortment of, well, processed food. Sorry, but it's true.

Wilber's BBQ
One thing you realize down there is that there is a very good reason for North Carolina to exist as a state. Carolina people especially love football and vehemently root for the college teams like Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest, East Carolina. They also root for their one pro team (if you don't count the Division I colleges as pro), the Carolina Panthers (this is a kind of bobcat).

In basketball season, the entire state roots for either Duke or North Carolina, or maybe little Davidson, and for another pro team, the Carolina Bobcats (this is a kind of panther).

Aside from that, Carolina is a very patriotic state. Near Emerald Isle, where I was staying is Camp Lejeune, which is to Marines what Yankee Stadium is to baseball, but way more serious and important. The Marines, by the way, are definitely a system.

Bucky Fuller
If it helps, a man named Buckminster Fuller invented something called synergistics and one of its laws, if I remember my Whole Earth Catalogue correctly, is that "energy running through a system acts to organize that system." Generally speaking, money runs through a process, a lot of it, and very little energy.

A whole lot of energy is running through the Marines and you can almost feel it, while driving around down there and attending the wedding of a terrific Marine Captain and his attractive wife, which is why I was there in the first place.

And, as we said up-top, in the second place, I was getting a new perspective on my old state, New York. I don't even have an old perspective on my new state, Connecticut, yet, and can barely spell it; but, it's a process, and I know you'll understand.

What I realized while traveling was that there really is no reason for the state of New York to exist anymore at all. It doesn't have any college football powers to speak of, with the possible exception of Syracuse U, whose glory days are long gone. Two of their pro football teams don't even play in the state; they play in New Jersey, and the Buffalo Bills have exactly zero fans below Albany, which is really, really low.

At one time, there may have been some good reason to have a New York State. Its western regions were considered to be the colonial America's western region. Later, the Erie Canal brought commercial goods besides furs, down to Albany, where it could then flow down to New York City, whose real name was New Amsterdam. That was a sensible and prosperous system of trade.

Today, we wonder why Albany exists at all beyond its capacity to be the Process Center of The Universe, There are more processes in Albany than just about any other place except Wash DC and Brussels, Belgium. Why is this so? How did it come about? Why should we care? Why don't we just get rid of it?

Albany Process Center
Well, one reason we don't get rid of it is that there is a new Democratic Prin...sorry, Governor, Andrew Cuomo. The Democratic powers that be and their media cohorts have built Gov. Cuomo up to be a very viable candidate for President in 2016 and they are very mindful of protecting his legacy. To date, this legacy consists of 1) a bill capping annual increases of real estate taxes at 2%, meaning that your taxes can only rise 27% in ten years, and 2) A Gay Marriage Bill. Many are suggesting that the Governor stop right there, and, apparently he is listening.

The New York Times recently ran a fawning report on Gov. Cuomo's visit to a sports-car rally, where he took his Corvette. Now, if, say, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey wasted his time at a Corvette rally instead of solving budget, education, or pension problems, the Times would have painted him a fat, lazy, wealthy, elite, inconsiderate, sloth of a governor. Instead, they portrayed Governor Cuomo as just a regular kind of guy, even though nobody ever called him Andy, only Andrew.

Anyway, it seemed pretty clear upon our return to LaGuardia that New York lacks the same cohesive quality we saw in North Carolina and that we would be better off placing Rochester and Buffalo in Ohio, creating a new state for New York City, closing Albany entirely and making Pennsylvania a whole lot bigger by adding everything else known as "upstate" New York to that fine state.

Anytime you can replace a process with a system, it's a good thing.