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  Oh Lawdi Lawd!
Wilmers, News’ Free Market Field Holler

“Unshackle Upstate,” mentioned 5 times in a 515-word Buffalo News cheerleading routine entitled “Wilmers Backs ‘Unshackle’ Plan,” is a classic doublespeak piece of PR bilge. Likely, it was thought the oh-so-clever alliterative title would conjure an uplifting scene from Amistad in the bewildered minds of the working herd. Picture it: M&T Chairman Bob Wilmers and Buffalo Niagara Partnership CEO Andrew Rudnick dressed in tattered Brooks Brother’s rags with heavy legislative chains chafing their decrepit flesh, pleading righteously: “Give us free! Give us free!”

Freedom, a word often used to manipulate the public in this frightening era of PR hackery, is relative and selective. A “free” profit-driven institution always seeks the lowest common denominators of cheap labor, lax environmental restrictions and state subsidies. In this case, your job isn’t going to Mexico or China like last time; instead the noble abolitionist “Unshackle Upstate” movement plans to bring those working conditions right to us. First, of course, working conditions need to be lowered to the levels of other states in the U.S. Be patient, ya’ll!

It’s doubly painful to lament the loss of worker’s compensation rights, Medicaid payouts and binding arbitration locally when they’ve long been lost in most other states. From a business perspective, “Unshackle Upstate” does make sense, as the sense of business is a heartless pursuit of profit, referred to in tycoon code as “economic growth.”

If all goes well for the oppressed “Unshackle Upstate” chain gang, reforms will be enacted that could conceivably create jobs—crappy jobs. Economically depressed upstate residents should be so lucky as to get a job on a state-funded brownfield site cleanup, fall off a scaffold into a pile of toxic waste and have no legal recourse. Sadly, this is exactly the kind of “freedom” we need to compete with neighboring states like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Let’s show ‘em we ain’t in no Appalachia, put down yer’ wittlin’ sticks, pick up yer banjers and sang a song’a freedom! Whoo-eeyy! (Bang! Bang!)

The legislative initiative, backed by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and several upstate town and county chambers of commerce, puts potential fears to rest by explicitly stating, “This is not an exercise in administering corporate welfare.” Phew! It does come off as a little dishonest and defensive, considering the plan calls to “Give regional boards under private sector control authority for spending some of the money targeted by the state for economic development and community infrastructure.” It’s not too surprising Bob Wilmers would endorse a plan that gives him and his control board cronies further control over public funds. Sounds like a sure-fire recipe for “economic growth” to us.

The plan does offer some less offensive, commonsense approaches, such as utilizing our cheap hydroelectric resources and lowering high taxes. Some of the plan is good, most of it is bad, but all of it follows the rhythm of the wealthy chain gang, national and international. The rights of workers are being stripped on 6 of the 7 continents, and Antarctica don’t hardly count ‘cause all they’s got is penguins, I figger.

Typically, the News piece quotes both Wilmers and Rudnick ad nauseum, serving as a consummate mouthpiece for the BNP and the M&T chair. “I urge business leaders to support those legislators, and only those legislators, who do just that,” the News even threatens on Wilmers’ behalf. The tone has been set by The Bob and our pathetic, only local daily is dutifully emitting a loud guttural moan.

An “upstate caucus” will achieve some or all of the desired deregulations, tax breaks and reforms—further proof that no one cares about your carpel tunnel. Shucks, the world seems to be gettin’ more freer every day.



Idiot Box by Matt Bors
Big Fat Whale by Brian McFadden
Perry Bible Fellowship by Nicholas Gurewitch
Bob the Angry Flower by Stephen Notely
Deep Fried by Jason Yungbluth

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