Are Adirondackers too old, or too white? Both.

Seniors at the Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown, NY. (NCPR file photo)

Peter Bauer, head of Protect the Adirondacks, is sparking new conversation about the aging demographics of the North Country with an essay he published on his green group’s website.

(Hat tip to the Adirondack Almanack, which drew my attention to the article.)

The “myth” as Bauer describes it, is that the Adirondack Park is slouching toward a kind of geriatric end-game, where we’ll be too old to maintain community institutions, keep schools alive, and maintain a vibrant economy.

The “reality” in Bauer’s view is that we appear older than the rest of New York and America only because we haven’t enjoyed the wave of mostly Hispanic immigration that has infused younger families into other communities.

“The population of the Adirondack Park is overwhelmingly white,” Bauer writes.  “And the median age of white populations in New York and across the U.S. is significantly higher than for non-white populations.”

Bauer is correct in the abstract.  As we’ve noted here on the In Box before, many of the the most vibrant rural communities in the US are the ones that are attracting Hispanic immigrants.

But while the North Country’s economy succeeded a century ago in attracting waves of immigrants — Lebanese, eastern European Jews, French Canadians and so on — that’s just not happening now.

There aren’t jobs or industries here to draw a “second wave” of people to a new and better life in the North Country.

It’s also probably true that a broader cultural shift toward a warm-weather affinity makes our region a tougher sell even where jobs are available.

(I suspect that the economy of the northern US has been harmed more by the invention of the air conditioner, which opened up the South and the Southwest to migration, than by almost any other single factor.)

Still, Bauer’s essay fails to grapple with this question.  If the “new” and younger America is more multi-ethnic, more Hispanic, why aren’t we tapping into that?  And what does it mean for our future?

It’s worth noting that NCPR’s reporting has also found strong evidence to support the conclusion that a lot of young people who would like to remain in the North Country find it difficult to do so.

So while the lack of immigration may be the larger factor — I think Bauer is right about that — the “lived” experience of the Adirondacks is still one where many people see young family members forced to move away to find jobs, opportunity and advancement.

Whatever the cause of the Adirondack Park’s aging, the fact that we are greying to a troubling degree is significant.

Obviously, this has become political football, difficult to talk about intelligently.

Opponents of the Park’s environmental regulations have sometimes offered a simplistic narrative, claiming that green-red tape is the single largest factor (or even the only factor) killing our future.

As Bauer notes, there is very little evidence to support that claim.  Communities located in the North Country outside the blue line fare, in many cases, much worse than those within.

But it’s also true that supporters of the Adirondacks’ ecological framework have often tried to sidestep some home truths.  Many of our most important “hub” towns are greying rapidly, losing infrastructure and services at an alarming rate.

The allure and quality of life provided by the Park’s vast green spaces — and the promise of a wilderness-based tourism industry — just haven’t produced the jobs and investments and sustainable communities that many hoped for.

So yes.  We’re whiter than the rest of the America, which means we’re older than the rest of America.  And if we don’t find answers, we face the same dire future that similar communities across the US are confronting.

My hope, articulated many times before, is that the Adirondack Park’s robust institutions — including the APA, Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, and green groups like Bauer’s Protect — will help us to avoid that fate, or at least shape it.

My worry, however, is that we will continue to quibble over why we’ve reached this dangerous point, deferring the hard work of finding workable, realistic solutions until it’s too late.

 

 

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53 Comments on “Are Adirondackers too old, or too white? Both.”

  1. mervel says:

    If you want to attract large pools of young labor who still enjoy having children and families the answer is large scale economic development, concentrated beef processing plants, call centers, oil/shale exploration, wind turbine manufacture and operation etc. None of these things are going to happen; every large development is opposed, even large tourism developments are opposed just on principle. We need to admit that we don’t want new young families and accept the fact a significant portion of the population living here is very happy with the current state of affairs and would like to see fewer people and fewer young people here.

    That is OK, we just have to adjust to a sustainable model that takes that into account and stop kidding ourselves that we are going to ever have even moderate levels of in migration of young families and diversity.

  2. mervel says:

    Taking care of the elderly IS an industry and maybe that is one we could look at expanding?

  3. dave says:

    “the “lived” experience of the Adirondacks is still one where many people see young family members forced to move away to find jobs, opportunity and advancement.”

    I grew up outside the Park. At my recent high school reunion I had the chance to talk to a few dozen people and I can recall only two of them who were still living in our hometown. Some of them moved because they wanted to (weather, new experiences, etc) and some of them moved because they were not ok with doing what it would take to stay (financially)

    This isn’t an Adirondack experience, it is a growing up in America experience.

  4. Bob S says:

    I attended a seminar for seniors put on by the Warren County Office for the Aging about 5 years ago. The purpose of the seminar was to educate seniors as to the various services available to them in the region. It was held in Chestertown. One thing that was made very clear to the audience was that seniors wanting a full range of support services would not find them inside the blue line. It would seem that even the elderly must leave the area and head south, at least as far as Queensbury, to obtain needed services.

  5. Pete Klein says:

    The problem is not just too old and/or too white.
    The problems are many and neither is it just too few jobs.
    Priorities seem all screwed up.
    For example, our elected representatives seem more concerned about gun rights than they are about the rights of our kids to get an education – meaning little interest in saving our schools.
    Lose the schools and we lose what is left of the young.
    Guns? Well if everyone is gone, you won’t need a gun to protect yourself because there will be no one left here you will need to protect yourself from.

  6. EB says:

    The Adirondack has one particular problem at the core of all these issues, one that there is no good solution for. Basically, the economic value of the park is being capitalized into real estate values and not wages. On average (these are back of the envelop calculations from census data) the average median wage in the park is roughly $3,000 less than North Country communities not in the park, but the median house is worth about $45,000 more. Housing prices also increased much faster in park communities than in North Country communities not in the park between 2000-2010. Economists would say that people are trading the wages for the amenity values. The problem lies in that on one hand residents have more wealth because there homes are worth more on average but on the other hand, they have less cash with which to pay the costs of living. Park communities’ structural problems aren’ t going to be solved by arguing about whether or not the population is getting old or whether or not the kids are leaving. Yes they are issues that will need to be addressed, but they obfuscate more fundamental issues.

  7. mervel says:

    But the communities in the North Country outside of the park are just as old and I think even less diverse than in the park itself. I think the same structural issues impact those communities, particularly in Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties.

    To get net in migration of young diverse families you need an active growing economy and good schools. That does not leave the north country in a very good structural position.

    I am not sure it is worth worrying about (being old and white), there is a pre-set judgement that somehow being an older and whiter community is bad in and of itself. There is no reason for that assumption, it does mean you should re-align your spending and public priorities however to the right size and the right needs.

  8. mervel says:

    This is a large scale issue, I mean the kind of industries that would attract the families that are mentioned in the original post do not exist in the North Country and we have an active movement to keep them all out even if they wanted to locate in the North Country. I knew it was the death toll for North Country economic development from a manufacturing particularly energy manufacturing industries stand point when even wind power could not be supported.

  9. n says:

    There is nothing wrong in being old and white. That means you have enjoyed the best of times. Everything was all there, life was predictable, not the chaos of today. And living in NNY makes it even better. As for the people who have left, that is good, when they find out what is out there they will be back.
    Why I was at the pool the other day and some kids were snikering at my skinny legs and bathing attire. At least, I am still in the game.

  10. Peter Hahn says:

    There are lots of Hispanics in the north country working on the farms. The trouble is that the area is so phobic about “Mexicans”, that they are virtual prisoners. They can’t bring their families and be part of any community.

  11. Pete Klein says:

    Peter Hahn, speaking of Hispanics and all currently non-Americans, we need immigration reform that makes it easy to be a legal guest worker and foreign students attending our schools. Who knows but that some may become Americans and chose to live here.
    On the tourism front, the Adirondacks need to be promoted internationally.

  12. Paul says:

    “Whatever the cause of the Adirondack Park’s aging, the fact that we are greying to a troubling degree is significant. – See more at: http://blogs.northcountrypublicradio.org/inbox/2013/03/02/are-adirondackers-too-old-or-too-white-both/#sthash.Xw5cILTz.dpuf

    So is it a “myth”or not?

    “The allure and quality of life provided by the Park’s vast green spaces — and the promise of a wilderness-based tourism industry — just haven’t produced the jobs and investments and sustainable communities that many hoped for. – See more at: http://blogs.northcountrypublicradio.org/inbox/2013/03/02/are-adirondackers-too-old-or-too-white-both/#sthash.Xw5cILTz.dpuf

    So why is that? It isn’t the simple “too much regulation issue”. I think it is the lack of developing the tourist industry to the extent that it will produce an economic impact. Many people, maybe a majority inside and outside the park, don’t want to see it happen. It is working in some places (Lake Placid, Lake George) but there is strong opposition in other areas (even where it is working).

  13. Paul says:

    I read this article at the Protect website. Weird. He is just trying to explain why the population is older on average. So what? It is. It just describes another problem that the area cannot attract a diverse population. Not much to be proud about if you ask me.

  14. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Let’s think about the problem for a second. For a couple of decades (at least) we’ve all been talking about the information economy and telling or kids that they need to study high tech and get high tech jobs. So our kids have studied hard, taken AP classes and gone off to college like we said they should. And now we expect them to come back to the North Country to do what? Logging? Working at Stewarts?

  15. mervel says:

    Exactly.

    Sure there are some jobs at the Universities now an then, but in general they are a net zero as as far as those coming and going.

    n is correct we do have Hispanics here working on our dairy farms. I don’t think however dairy work is enough to bring families and change.

    I don’t know I get frankly tired of even talking about this crap, it is phoney elitist bullshit; the fact is we have high taxes and we don’t want new large business locating here. Most places would be begging for a place like Big Tupper for example or begging for oil exploration or wind farms, not here. We are fine with 10% unemployment because we think the government will take care of the poor, we don’t consider the fact that the poor want jobs not to be taken care of.

  16. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Peter, the Hispanics I know of working on neighboring farms are “virtual prisoners” because they are all illegals. While I’m in favor of a workable solution to the work visa permit system, that doesn’t excuse the criminal act these people committed. The farm I own now was formerly owned by a Hispanic gentleman who was well respected in our little redneck community. But he wasn’t an illegal, he was a 2nd generation legal and owned a number of businesses. He moved on to greener pastures.

    Would part of the reason towns within the Park do better than those just outside the Park be because the State pays land taxes within the Park? It must fit into the mix somehow.

    It’s not just people within the Park and North Country that are greying. Our farm populations are also greying. The average age of American farmers is now 60 something. Maybe it’s all part of a bigger story.

    I don’t think the greying trend will be reversed until the State changes some things. I understand NY’s total population is getting older. It may be the North Country is just a reflection of the rest of the State.

  17. Peter Bauer says:

    Brian,

    Thanks for picking up this conversation.

    PROTECT started it because it does dispel some myths. We’ll be doing a lot more of this in the months ahead. The important thing with Adirondack demographics is to understand the reality. If we don’t understand our population reality, we won’t be able to change.

    The Park’s median age has been used often as a club to beat on environmental regulation, the Forest Preserve, the whole existence of the Park. Using it as a club doesn’t help us to understand the issue, make changes.

    Our reality is that our population is very similar, when one accounts for race, to other parts of the U.S. So then the question should be “Why are we not growing like other parts of NYS/U.S.?” That’s a great question, but it has a lot to do with where immigrants are choosing to locate as well as where young people are going. What’s clear is that they are not choosing to locate in the Park. (Places in the U.S. with strong young people growth are all major metropolitan areas, but there are some rural areas that have seen population growth based largely on minorities moving there.)

    Part of understanding our demographic reality helps to point a way to a better future. For instance, our white population is not decreasing at the same rate as the rest of NY/US. Why is that? A big reason is the net immigration we get from 45-75 year olds. Here, the Park adds population from people who relocated here based on their preference to be here and they either work from a distance or are retirees. And it’s a steady pool from which to draw from. We’re likely to see a steady stream of baby boomer+ retirees come to the Adirondacks for decades to come. The Park has a robust retiree infusion.

    This should be seen as a success story. These are generally people with assets and energy (look at non-profits of all stripes around the Park and you see heavy involvement from retirees), people with a good amount of disposable income. Park demographics show net gains across these age classes. These people are not retiring to Rochester or Brooklyn, they’re coming here. Why? Some come home after a career away. Many more come because of the Park.

    And, as one poster wrote earlier, many of these retirees don’t stay till they die. Many migrate to various assisted living facilities as they get older, either on the edge of the Park (Queensbury has a few such facilities) or often wherever their children are. I watched this dynamic in my years running nonprofits of retirees coming here for 20 years or more of great fun in the woods and then moving to an assisted living facility for advanced aging as they just could no longer manage an Adirondack home given the realities of Adirondack weather.

    So, after understanding the retiree success story, we need to understand the loss of young people. That’s largely the disappearing 20s. (Though we don’t drop in numbers that are as stark as the blame-the-Park crowd claims, nor is the drop we experience unique to the Park, but solid across rural America. More on this later on.) What’s happening? The big thing to understand is that across the Park we generally educate our kids very well. A high number go to college (both 2-year and 4-year) where they are largely educated for jobs that don’t exist back in the Park.

    So, we’re facing a mismatch problem. But knowing this helps to affirm the positive new economic development direction in the work of Mason/Herman that we need to use the Park-focus to recruit telecommuters, commuters and more retirees. The future of the Park is not the logger-construction world. Hopefully, logging will continue at current levels, but given the high capital costs and that fewer people are needed in the woods, this is not a growth industry. Construction, given that recreational homes are a major reality in many Adirondack communities, will also be a major factor, but it’s heavily impacted by larger financial markets, tax laws, etc., — things well beyond our control.

    A focused recruitment campaign though is within our control. And the Park is the key asset in this recruitment effort.

    Last, we’re just starting to gather data on how many seasonal jobs go to foreign students/young people. Nothing wrong with these folks, but it may be that by organizing these seasonal jobs differently we could recruit intact Hispanic families, parents and children, who could help build communities, rather than solo students. Not sure if this will pan out, but it’s a thought that matches the larger demographics of American life right now.

  18. tootightmike says:

    It should be mentioned that the lack of jobs isn’t the whole problem. Another facet might lack of young people willing or able to think independently, work hard, and make do. Far too many youths graduate with less life skills than a house cat, and then go on to college for who-knows-what, and wait around for someone to hand them a job. THAT’S the part that won’t happen here, so they move away. The world is filled to the brim with no-skill burger-flippers, and our schools have been led down the high tech path until there’s no budget left for teaching real world skills.
    I know folks who are loggers, mechanics, machinists, and builders. They’re all so busy they can’t get a day off. They make a good living, and live an interesting and varied life. They work so hard because of the demand for their skills, and scoff at the idea of working in that other high tech world. If you want a job here, you may have to invent it.

  19. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Peter B makes several points that I see evidence of regularly in my work. Many of my customers are spending more of their time in the Park as they are able to work from “home” now that better internet connections are available.

    The boom in upscale recreation home building is likely over, at least in my lifetime, but there is always a background level of new home building and upgrades to homes. Municipalities that recognize an opportunity in encouraging home office spaces and working on the infrastructure will do better in the future. Naturally towns at the fringe of the Park have an advantage in that sort of infrastructure.

    Young people leave for opportunity and the chance to meet other young people. While away they learn to appreciate both the things a wider world has to offer, but also the good things their home town offers. If we want these young people to return after they have established a career we have to provide the amenities they will be looking for and welcoming communities. They will be looking for a new kind of “starter home”, small but not “cheap.” They will expect the community will have upgraded cell service, decent eateries, and open-minded neighbors who wont complain if they ride a skateboard or have a gay spouse, or a tattoo on their face — okay, the tattoo on the face is a tough one. But the access to outdoor recreation is a huge asset people need to embrace. Having “wild” forests is not a loss of lumber it is an asset in drawing thoughtful and creative residents.

    I’m trying not to just reiterate Peter’s points but the idea of finding a way to replace foreign workers is really important. We have to keep as much money that flows into our communities within the communities and not have it flow away as quickly as it comes in.

  20. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    About Hispanics, they aren’t just working on farms. They are working for landscapers, stone quarries, slaughter houses and probably more. They will work hard and long for $7.25 an hour. I can’t help but believe there would be more locals who would do some of those jobs for $9.00 per hour. The extra $70 per week, $3,640 per year makes a difference.

  21. Kent Gregson says:

    The idea of illegals taking only jobs that americans don’t want kind of ignores the high cost of being an american who cannot accept those jobs simply because of the inadequate rate of pay available. Another problem of scale is in economic development where the smaller projects that regulators (and many of us adk citizens) would preffer cannot afford the regulatory costs. Only the huge projects present an economic scale that makes the regulatory process affordable. The regulators, not wanting those huge projects battle them royally, making the process even more expensive and splattering it all over the media. Seeing this, if I had a small project I’d take it elsewhere and increase my probability of success.

  22. DanP says:

    Not long ago, NCPR ran a series on how the younger generation cannot afford to stay. Some of that does have to do with green-red tape. Some of that has to do with changing economics: paper industry shifts, etc, which impacts employment opportunities. But it can be hard for new businesses to open, or expand. Mean time, Adirondack cell service, internet, etc development has been slow. Not too many years ago, the Adirondack Museum staffed summer jobs from companies providing foreign labor because it was getting hard to staff from local kids’ summer work. Then when the kids graduate, they cannot afford to stay for lack of jobs.

  23. EB says:

    So the question really is “how do we make Adironack communities attractive to Millenials?” The place to start is to ask, what is it they want? Why are they moving to cities? Here’s an interesting take: http://www.placemakers.com/2012/04/09/generation-ys-great-migration/

  24. Pete Klein says:

    EB, thanks for the link. I tweeted the link and posted it on my Facebook page.
    The story brought me back to a problem the Adirondacks has that I have often noted, which is the lack of apartments.
    Most 20 somethings and those over 65 are not interested in buying a house.
    Houses are expensive and can be a real ball & chain for the old as well as the young.
    Just look at the area between Glens Falls and Saratoga where apartment complexes are springing up all over the place.

  25. Walker says:

    EB, interesting link. But I graduated from college more than forty years ago, and I and most of my friends wanted to live in big cities way back then. Granted, in the seventies a lot of us proceeded to move to places like the Adirondacks and Vermont, but a lot stayed on in Boston, NYC and San Francisco. Not saying the link is wrong, just that it’s not all that new. And they’re ignoring the fact that plenty of these people will move out to the suburbs as soon as they start to procreate. And who, knows– we could easily find ourselves heading into a new Back To The Land Movement any day now. The Future is not easy to predict (until it becomes the Past).

  26. Peter Hahn says:

    Rancid – we’ve probably had this discussion before , but the Hispanics who are here illegally are not criminals. That kind of thinking is part of the reason there aren’t more non-whites living in the North Country.

  27. The Original Larry says:

    So, if you’re doing something illegal, you’re not a criminal? That kind of thinking is part of the reason society is the mess it has become. What does illegal activity make a person?

    By the way, the reason there aren’t more non-whites in the North Country is because it always had a predominately white population and never did attract many new people at all, much less those who didn’t have some kind of family connection. There’s hardly an economic imperative for people of any race to move here. There’s nothing sinister in it.

  28. Will Doolittle says:

    Dave,
    It’s not a “growing up in America” problem if you grew up in a place that is thriving, and where young people want to live — unless you’re proposing that young people move away from and not into every single place in the U.S., which makes no sense.
    According to Peter, then, young people move away from the Park because the schools in the Park are so good? I’ve never heard that before, perhaps because it’s such a ridiculous thing to say. Most of the public schools in the Adirondack Park are starved for funding and can only offer the basics. Some do a good job with scant resources, but to cite their “excellence” as a reason young people are moving away (because they’re well educated, and therefore, want to leave?) is a head-scratcher:
    “The big thing to understand is that across the Park we generally educate our kids very well. A high number go to college (both 2-year and 4-year) where they are largely educated for jobs that don’t exist back in the Park.”
    There’s a nugget of truth in that, though, and that is that the Park offers few jobs for educated people.

  29. Will Doolittle says:

    Peter’s original post on the demographics is the type of distinction without a difference he excels in making. The point is that population is declining in a lot of Adirondack towns and villages, especially among the younger demographic. Peter’s argument that you can explain that by the Park’s racial makeup changes nothing. You can explain the Park’s demographics in other ways, too, and there are places in the country where young, white people move to. I would argue that the population of the Park happens to be mostly white, but that point is not helpful to this discussion. It’s a way of trying to argue that the Adirondacks is doing better than the lived experience of many people in the Park: “Other areas would be just as bad, if you took away their lively populations of young people who aren’t white.” The “It’s not as bad as you think and say it is” argument is one Peter and others have been making for a long time; unless they’re talking about, say, housing development in the Park, in which case the argument has been, “It’s much worse than you think/say it is.”

  30. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Larry, Peter likes to offer the opinion (as fact) that since most illegals when caught are merely deported or fined and deported that they therefore aren’t “Criminals”. Kind of like saying if you try and kill someone and they don’t die you somehow aren’t guilty of trying to kill them. Entering and remaining unlawfully in this country is illegal, it’s a crime, it makes them criminals. Low level criminals, yes, but still criminals.

    If we wanted to put an end to most of the illegally entry we’d have a better work visa program. But the illegals don’t want to pay the costs and taxes that involves it seems. To get locals to take those farm jobs requires a couple of things- better wages, (the illegals don’t make anything like minimum wage), and lowered costs for the farmers. Few people are interested in farm labor these days. It’s dirty, cold, hot and involves a lot of actual manual labor. It’s a lot easier to get welfare.

  31. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Just thinking here. We ahve a pretty fair population of Hispanics and blacks in my area, or rather, over near Drum. The feeling I get is most would rather be elsewhere. It’s weather/lack of entertainment/stuff thing I understand. “This place sucks” is the phrase most often heard. So, since there’s nothing we can do about the weather, do we turn the north country into an urban area just so we can get some diversity? All these kids I talk to spend their weekends in Syracuse. Is that what we want?

  32. Mervel says:

    Our schools today are in crisis according to North Country school administrators who should know, they cannot offer the most basic education, they are educationally Bankrupt, not to mention fiscally bankrupt according the school systems themselves . This is a deterrence to families moving to the area in that there are not private options even if a family could afford them. Now young single people, or young professionals without children and older people without children, would not worry about this that much. We have the older people the key is attracting some more younger individuals. We are never going to get the industry to attract large numbers of young families, however we are close enough to very large urban areas and we are a beautiful place and wonderful place to live, we could attract those telecommuters and trust funders who don’t need to work anymore.

  33. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    As someone who spends some time on Fort Drum (I was just there this morning, in fact), I can tell you that while Rancid make a good point, don’t assume all the military personnel and their families feel the same. What I have found is that there are those families who love this area and intend on staying here as long as possible or may return here after they retire from the military if deployed elsewhere. There are two such individuals who work for the same organization as I. Both retired from the military after 20+ years and have lived and worked here since.

    However, both live outside the park, one in Adams, NY and the other in Alex Bay, NY. I know for a fact that they both love the Adirondacks and spend time there. They simply believe Real Estate prices are relatively too pricey for their needs. EB touched on the prohibitive real estate prices earlier in this thread….

  34. dave says:

    Will, the overall demographics on this are undeniable. Young people move around. It has nothing to do with the Adirondacks. It has to do with young people being young people.

  35. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    As we all know there are multiple dimensions and multiple universes. There are also multiple versions of the Park. There are the estates of billionaires and the homes of the working poor often side by side, or across the road. On one side of the road lies a lake where the wealthy come to summer, the other side of the road is either unoccupied state land or stump cluttered private land where winter holds sway most of the year and property owners find it difficult to pay their taxes.

  36. Zeke says:

    The NC simply does not have enough people here to pay for the level of services people seem to want unless people from other areas help pay for those services. The question, in these lean economic times, is what can we do without and what can we do to get people pay for the services they want while they live here or visit here.

  37. Mervel says:

    Well you can’t look at having one of the highest poverty rates and unemployment rates in the state and say well everything is just fine, we don’t need to worry about our demographics or our economic development.

    We have people living without plumbing, we have people who are hungry, we have severe poverty in the North Country combined with persistent 10% unemployment; I mean certainly this just might have a teeny bit to do with working families and young people not living here.

  38. Will Doolittle says:

    Dave,
    I’m not sure why you’re missing the point, but I think you are. I’m not denying, as a truism, that young people move around.
    But the Adirondacks as a whole have a dearth of young adults, according to demographic figures. That is not true everyplace. I’m sure you’re not saying it is.

  39. Peter Hahn says:

    Larry and rancid – they are not doing something criminal. That is not opinion it’s fact.

  40. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    People crossing a political boundary without proper authority in search of a means to feed their family.

    People driving faster than the limit on speed imposed for the safety of all members of society in order to save a few seconds or minutes.

  41. mervel says:

    I would argue a couple of things. The immigrant labor I know about locally does make more than minimum wage, local labor is not available in the quantity or SKILL necessary. The fact is many farms and agricultural businesses hire immigrant labor because they are skilled and know what they are doing and will work at the wages needed, simply put they out compete other workers not on wages but on work ethic and skill, just like any other job.

    Agricultural work is physically demanding AND takes skill.

    But I don’t think we will ever have the economy necessary to draw in a huge diverse work force, Rancid is correct about that. There are also historical reasons why we are not diverse; white people and Indians have always lived here, we do not have a history like the City or the Southern States or the Mexican border states. Thus like much of the upper Midwest our heritage is one of European immigration combined with our Native Americans. We do have diversity; Franklin County for example has the highest percentage of Native Americans of any county in NYS (now its still a small number). We ignore that part of our diversity, which I think is kind of a problem, we are casting about worrying about not having other minorities and we have a minority community right here and always have had them right here, before Europeans got here.

  42. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Peter-

    ” Section 1325 [of Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part VIII]. [U.S. Code as of: 01/06/03]

    Improper entry by alien

    (a) Improper time or place; avoidance of examination or inspection;

    misrepresentation and concealment of facts

    Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States

    at any time or place other than as designated by immigration

    officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration

    officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United

    States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the

    willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first

    commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or

    imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent

    commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or

    imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.

    (b) Improper time or place; civil penalties

    Any alien who is apprehended while entering (or attempting to

    enter) the United States at a time or place other than as

    designated by immigration officers shall be subject to a civil

    penalty of -

    (1) at least $50 and not more than $250 for each such entry (or

    attempted entry); or

    (2) twice the amount specified in paragraph (1) in the case of

    an alien who has been previously subject to a civil penalty under

    this subsection.

    Civil penalties under this subsection are in addition to, and not

    in lieu of, any criminal or other civil penalties that may be

    imposed.”

    Any act which carries a possible sentence of at least 5 days imprisonment is at least a Misdemeanor. 30 days to 6 months is a Class B Misdemeanor- a Crime.

    “(a) Classification.— An offense that is not specifically classified by a letter grade in the section defining it, is classified if the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is—
    (1) life imprisonment, or if the maximum penalty is death, as a Class A felony;
    (2) twenty-five years or more, as a Class B felony;
    (3) less than twenty-five years but ten or more years, as a Class C felony;
    (4) less than ten years but five or more years, as a Class D felony;
    (5) less than five years but more than one year, as a Class E felony;
    (6) one year or less but more than six months, as a Class A misdemeanor;
    (7) six months or less but more than thirty days, as a Class B misdemeanor;
    (8) thirty days or less but more than five days, as a Class C misdemeanor; or
    (9) five days or less, or if no imprisonment is authorized, as an infraction. ”

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/3559

  43. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Some farmers treat their illegals well Mervel, that’s a fact. Others charge them for room and board and power and water and entertainment, etc. If we had a workable visa program this wouldn’t be an issue. But the workers would have to pay taxes, SS, etc. Many of them don’t now. I doubt it will be fixed effectively either.

  44. The Original Larry says:

    Let’s not mince words: illegal aliens are criminals. Calling them “undocumented immigrants” is like calling the thief who just drove off in your car an “undocumented driver”.

  45. Pete Klein says:

    Two points.
    One, if the schools are so bad up here, why do so many of the graduates from these lousy schools get an education good enough for them to get admitted into colleges, sometimes very good colleges and sometimes getting good scholarships to help pay for college?
    Two, since no one pays a fee to enter the Park and enjoy its natural resources, maybe it is time for the state to help fund the cost of government (services such as roads and other necessities every one uses), by paying a higher tax on its “vacant land” as a way for everyone to help pay for the Park?

  46. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Or maybe the State should stop paying taxes on land it owns within the Park? A better solution is to have the State start paying tax on ALL lands it owns and not at a reduced rate and to start charging a land use permit fee to all the freeloaders using the State lands. I think the State would owna lot less land once the people figured the scheme out.

  47. Peter Bauer says:

    My apologies for not getting back sooner, but busy with a bunch of stuff.

    Ok. Here’s Will Doolittle: “According to Peter, then, young people move away from the Park because the schools in the Park are so good? I’ve never heard that before, perhaps because it’s such a ridiculous thing to say. Most of the public schools in the Adirondack Park are starved for funding and can only offer the basics. Some do a good job with scant resources, but to cite their “excellence” as a reason young people are moving away (because they’re well educated, and therefore, want to leave?) is a head-scratcher.”

    I beg to differ. Consider the information below about school kids going after 4-year/2-year degrees. (Also, but it’s another subject, is that while many Adirondack schools are indeed under-funded from my point of view, they are considered, when looking statewide, to be quite wealthy and solvent. We have public schools in New York with no sports, one language, no art, etc. Are there any Adirondack Park school experiencing this level of duress).

    The issue of how many Adirondack kids go and get a post-secondary education is not an exact science, unfortunately, but the dataset that I’ve found the most useful is this one (https://reportcards.nysed.gov/counties.php?year=2011) from the NYS Education Department. It’s part of the NYS School District Report Card (a fascinating dataset). Find the “Post Secondary Plans” section in the “Comprehensive Information Report” for the “central school district” for the district in question (organized by county).

    So, here’s a sampling I did quickly to look at a decent geographic and economic sample across the Park. It’s quick and not perfect, but you get the message.

    So, here’s the % of students reported to be pursuing a 4 year or 2 year college education from the 2010-2011 class, the most recent year available.

    So, in Johnsburg it’s 54% of students to a 4-year/2-year college; Lake George 84%; North Warren 92%; Bolton 100%; Warrensburg 76%; Ticonderoga 66%; Keene 75%; Lake Placid 77%; Moriah 77%; Willsboro 71%; Indian Lake 94%; Wells 64%; Webb 93%; Tupper Lake 77%; Saranac Lake 86%; Saranac (Clinton County) 64%; Peru 68%.

    These numbers are pretty good. The flashy suburbs around Albany or in Westchester County or in Long Island show numbers of 80-90%. Upstate college towns also put up some pretty high numbers. But there are also lots of other places in the state with numbers far lower in the 30-40% range and less, city school districts and rural areas.

    There might be a useful connection to look at things like small class size, individualized attention for students, good ratios of aides to students, etc., that may contribute to the fact that Adirondack Park students are more than holding there own academically as judged by college enrollment.

    As you look through these data, you also see that almost every Adirondack school also sends kids to the military. Lots of Adirondack kids leave the Park for periods of service in the military.

    Combined, that’s a huge annual exodus of young people leaving the Park for perfectly good reasons.

    So, I think that this is a valid discussion point, and not one to be so blithely dismissed as “ridiculous” by Will Doolittle. We in the Adirondacks, it seems, send a high percent of kids to college. That’s been my experience in watching local kids in the communities where I’ve lived in the Park.I don’t know if this comparative data exists for rural kids off the Great Plains or other parts of the rural U.S., but it would be interesting.

    So the college-military exodus I think is a real factor that impacts the Park’s population, especially when looking at the number of women of child bearing age. The Park holds its own with 30-39 year olds and then sees net gains in population from people 40+ who have reached an economic position where they can move their job or are retiring. This 40+ immigration is a Park success story.

    The blame-the-park lobby, in which I accord Will Doolittle a very high position, always attempts to link perceived negative demographic or economic data as the Park’s fault. Here, I think there’s something happening with the exodus of kids to college and the military that is a big part of the dip we see in the Park’s demographics for 20-29 year olds.

    I think that a more nuanced investigation of these issues is important. That’s what we’re trying to do at PROTECT. Brian seemed to dismiss this need in his original post and Will Doolittle was also dismissive. If we understand our population better, we can work to make adjustments. Part of a better understanding is the racial make up of the Park, because when we look at it that way we track well with the rest of the U.S.

    If we understand that one major factor in the dip in 20-29 years olds is college/military, then we could also make adjustments. Otherwise, we’re flying blind guided only by self-referential judgments that make us only spin our wheels.

    Lastly, sure, one measure of a healthy community is that there’s a job there for any young person wishing to move there and raise a family. Another measure of a healthy community is that the community grows kids who develop healthy conceptions of themselves so that they can be whoever they want to be wherever they want to be it.

  48. Rancid Crabtree says:

    How many of those kids finish college and return to live in the Park? How many drop out and return to live on menial labor wages? How many can ever afford a home? Of those how many are living in poor homes or trailers?

    I grew up in the Park, I saw the change, I left. One day it will be nothing but wealthy land owners and serfs.

  49. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    “One day it will be nothing but wealthy land owners and serfs.”

    That isn’t just the Park, that is what is happening everywhere as we can see in other discussions nearby.

  50. Will Doolittle says:

    I’ve said before I think the main reasons the Adirondacks are suffering economically, losing population in many places and especially losing population among young people are its remoteness and its bad weather. I do not subscribe to the view that land use regulations are killing the Adirondack economy. What galls me is the denial by folks like Peter of real problems in the Park, like depressed economies and aging and disappearing populations, whatever their cause. Folks like Peter and John Sheehan can be counted on to deny it if you say, for example, Tupper Lake is in terrible shape economically; or Hamilton County is losing population at a rate, especially among young people, that could lead to the collapse of communities. Instead, they will come up with convoluted arguments why this is not so, or if it is so, it’s not as bad as it looks, such as Peter’s silly “If the Park weren’t so white, its population numbers would be fine” argument. No one cares about such hypotheticals, unless you’ve got some good ideas, Peter, for attracting immigrants to the Park, which I have not heard. And yes, the Park does have schools with just the basic programs, in Hamilton County. We wrote about them recently in an editorial: http://poststar.com/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-cuts-threaten-northern-community/article_5769b916-8088-11e2-9b8a-001a4bcf887a.html
    Probably the biggest challenge for these tiny school districts (tiny by student enrollment, not geography) is the shrinking population in their districts. With enrollments falling, the schools are barely hanging on. Anyone can call the superintendents of these districts and talk to them about this problem. Or you can listen to Peter Bauer tell you why it’s not really a problem.

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