That NAFTA has contributed to a serious enough erosion of the tax-base through the further loss of employments in the country, both directly and indirectly effecting employment and commerce in Erie County, is of course undeniable. That the relative and absolute decline of the Buffalo region preceded NAFTA is deliberately ignored, however, in that accounting declaring it the decisive cause of the current county budgetary crisis. To comprehend the accumulated attrition of the tax-base we must start with the much earlier loss of the Erie Barge Canal and so of Buffalo's central importance in national and international trade; of the later decline of the importance of rail traffic in favor of an expanding national highway system, taking a further considerable share of manufacture and commerce away from Buffalo; of the more recent development of the St. Lawrence Seaway, with the Welland Canal link with all the other Great Lakes to and from Ontario, and so the final decline of Buffalo as a major national and international port; with the glut of steal on the international market in the 1980's and the devastation of Lackawanna to this day, with all secondary effects on the entire regional economy; and, with the loss of Tri-Co and other major employers in the region to Mexico and other cheap labour markets. NAFTA comes in after all that damage to add a little more economic pain domestically. The export of finance capital to cheap labour markets abroad, characteristic of this present stage of development rather than concentration on exportable manufactured goods, was not invented by NAFTA, as should be plain on the briefly recapped history; nor are any such trade agreements necessary for that fundamental dynamic of late finance capital to have originated and to have continuing force--which, of course, will erode the tax-base through the loss of employments and domestic commerce. What is unasked in pointing to the treatiessecondary in any comprehension of the economicsas if they were the cause of the existing local budgetary crisis, is how the export of finance capital itself, which takes place independently of the treaties that may facilitate it in certain ways, can be halted and recovery made. But that is another issue (or maybe not).
What the figures for the local cost of the Iraq War presented do show is that even if there had been no erosion of the tax-base (whether over the last year or over any more extended period), the cost of that one war actually incurred by Erie County taxpayers would only have been so much the greater and therefore would have even more heavily impinged upon the budget to more severe crisis levels. With the discovered erosion of the tax base over the last year, the cost of the Iraq War to Erie County taxpayers went from $790 Million (at the end of February 2005) down to $764.7 Million (at the end of April 2005); while, comparably, the actual cost of the Iraq War to City of Buffalo taxpayers declined from $154 Million to $149.8 Million over the same periods. The cause of the local budgetary crises and malaise is therefore patent and inevasible on the facts. If you reject science and logic, you may however, as a matter of a First Amendment right you might want to invoke against what you might represent is the tyranny of science, prefer to base your views on this matter on faith. It is NAFTA, after all, say what you please, everyone knows. Pragmatic? Yes! You would then be relieved of answering responsibly on the facts and logic of the present analysis, which could be in some part wrong (especially as it is only most briefly presented here). Where are those missing links, you might with greater voice demand. But even though the case here is lacking in many details that might very well have been specified, and so is pro tanto not complete, such unprincipled opposition misses the very point. So what? You might very well ask in possibly persuasive rhetorical reply.
Who, however, benefits by distracting the general public with a falsification of the cause of the late budgetary crisis?
When the Common Council of Buffalo, New York, unanimously passed a resolution in the midst of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review (NPT) being undertaken by the U. N. this past May, endorsing the demands by acclamation of over 1,000 cities at the Conference of U.S. Mayors in June of last year (2004), seeking that the Bush Administration adhere to Art. 6 of the treaty and begin negotiating nuclear disarmament, on recognition that the problems of the cities in this county are being caused by a long endured, inordinate military budget driven by the dual threat and fabricated threats of nuclear war, the editors of the Buffalo News viciously suppressed any report, however brief, disdainfully holding that unanimous act and official view by our City Council were purely not news.
When we were told by people who do not (or who do not yet) represent anyone, or who would not (or actually could never) present any proof, that the source of the budgetary or fiscal crisis for the County is NAFTA, the Buffalo News promoted that knowing mislead as a very big story. And story (i.e. fiction), however most superficially plausible, it indeed is.
What again is the actual cause of now the County's budgetary crisis? Is it possibly a very complex matter to decide, where all the named factors may have some weight and reasonably minded individuals may reasonably disagree as to their relative importance? Clearly not. It is not one factor among many that might be intelligently apprehended and analyzed for their respective contributory effects. Apart from all the structural dynamics and wrong policy decisions at all levels of government that do contribute to the area's economic malaise, who, in addressing those figures could reasonably deny what the Conference of U.S. Mayors realized last year? The fabricated threat of nuclear war is at the source of the current "conventional war" in Iraq (or, in its being "conventional" only insofar as it is conventional, not ignoring the use of DU). If Erie County had that $800 Million it would not have any budgetary crisis whatsoever, no matter how severe the other economic problems affecting the region are (including serious worker dislocation and permanent job elimination further promoted by NAFTA). It is not merely the decisive cause; it is inarguably the sole cause. That is why the attempt by those of power and upcoming influence to hide it from general recognition. Each to his or her chosen part in willing to be made use of for the cause.
Another distracting rationalization is that the budgetary crisis is entirely reducible to the acts of a corrupt local administration under Erie County Executive Joel Giambra, and not to any structural causes or remote national factor or factors. If Joel had the $800 Million, he would simply have spent it on more ludicrously overpaid and made-up jobs for his friends and relatives or on more expensive office furniture, etc.; so, it is dismissively advanced, we need not delve into any economic or national issues at all. This ignores that the deed for which Giambra was (and still is) corruptly rewarding himself was in fact for massively cutting back on the social budget and demagogically reducing property taxes at critical junctures, as local Republican office holders were doing nationwide, undeniably and with the clearest strategic intent to make the anticipated costs of the many and ceaseless wars now not such a prominent further burden. Who would benefit by a taxpayers' revolt against the costs of this immoral and politically unjustifiable war? So, there is reason sufficient for promoting misleads as to the cause of the unanticipated Erie County budget crisis. If Erie County could only restore its tax-base by the return of jobs being taken away by NAFTA, etc., then we could certainly afford this and other wars, would appear to be the underlying calculation, however chimerical the proposed means. An alliance of the Pat Buchanans and the Jack Davises with the newer (actually generally abstentionist) "left" against the WTO (World Trade Organization), NAFTA and CAFTA, is the way that establishment supported mislead is going down. We need not go to infinity to find a convergence of the far right and the far left. It is happening here and now. You are a witness.
Nothing yet of that error, however, is etched in depleted uranium (a very hard stone). So I again appeal, if any of you may know, is there even only one office-seeker in any of the present local office races who has the integrity to educate the general public on what the costs of this war are, including the fiscal fall of now the County of Erie? Please have that person or those persons contact me so we can work through what needs to be done now, before it may be even too much later. At my request on March 12th, 2005, National Priorities.org calculated the costs of the Iraq War for Erie County, a locality for which they were not then reporting. The figure they submitted to me on March 28th, 2005, was $790 Million as of the end of February 2005. I then requested that they include the costs they calculated for Erie County in the general list at their web site, so those figures could be verified by anyone. They were most accommodating: Those figures for the cost of the Iraq War to Erie County taxpayers as well were subsequently posted there for anyone to access. The cost of the war for Buffalo taxpayers was initially being reported by National Priorities.org during that period as $154 Million. It was unnecessary to ask for those figures for the city.
At my request on March 12th, 2005, National Priorities.org calculated the costs of the Iraq War for Erie County, a locality for which they were not then reporting. The figure they submitted to me on March 28th, 2005, was $790 Million as of the end of February 2005. I then requested that they include the costs they calculated for Erie County in the general list at their web site, so those figures could be verified by anyone. They were most accommodating: Those figures for the cost of the Iraq War to Erie County taxpayers as well were subsequently posted there for anyone to access.
The cost of the war for Buffalo taxpayers was initially being reported by National Priorities.org during that period as $154 Million. It was unnecessary to ask for those figures for the city.
Since that time, National Priorities.org has revised all their figures for states and localities throughout the country based on the latest IRS income figures. Actual income levels in Buffalo and Erie County County have, not surprisingly, fallen from the previous fiscal year. Accordingly, the costs for Buffalo and Erie County were revised slightly downward. The adjusted figures copied from their web site appear below.
We need to reach all candidates for local office who may not be closed to understanding and admitting that the cost of this one morally and politically unjustifiable war is the principal reason for the budgetary crises afflicting our city and county, without which the crisis in the city and now the county simply would not exist (whatever else the real problems of the region might residually be without this war).
Buffalo and Erie County are not exceptional in the country: it is a guns or butter issue for us all. Please have any receptive candidates for local office in WNY contact me so that I may go over the ramifications of this with them in some detail.
The summary and abstracted part of table appears in following.
The state-level costs are computed based on how much each state contributes in tax revenues, according to IRS data. The local-level costs are based on the state costs, and on relative population and incomes in each location. These numbers were updated for the latest IRS data in May, 2005.
(Last updated: May 26, 2005) United States Entire U.S. $204.6 billion United States per Household 1,938 United States Per Person 727 New York Entire State 17.2 billion Albany 60 million Ardsley 9.4 million Binghampton 25.4 million Broome County 147.9 million Buffalo 149.8 million Chautauqua County 97.6 million Dobbs Ferry 15.6 million Erie County 764.7 million East Hampton 1.6 million Greenburgh 145.5 million Hastings-on-Hudson 13.3 million Herkimer County 44.3 million Irvington 13.3 million Jamestown 17.1 million Madison County 58.2 million Monroe County 688.8 million Nassau County 2 billion New Paltz 2.7 million New York City 6.4 billion New York County 1.5 billion Oneida County 176.4 million Onondoga County 390.6 million Rockland County 406.7 million Rome 24.5 million Stony Brook (CDP) 25.8 million Suffolk County 1.9 billion Syracuse 76.8 million Tarrytown 15.9 million Tompkins County 75 million Ulster County 157.8 million Utica 31.5 million Westchester County 1.2 billion By MARTY SAWMA