Here are some facts every school kid should know about his hometown of Niagara Falls before he grows up and moves out of the area.
According to studies conducted by the Tax Foundation of Washington, D.C., the city of Niagara Falls, N.Y., enjoys the distinction of having the highest taxes on real estate in proportion to the value of that real estate in all of the 789 counties with populations of more than 65,000 in the United States.
New York state residents, in turn, have secured the distinction of paying the highest state income, sales and excise taxes in the 50 states known collectively as the United States of America.
This combination of state and local taxes has bestowed upon the people of Niagara Falls the credit for being the highest-taxed people in America in proportion to their income and taxable assets -- an accomplishment indeed when you consider the city's relatively small size.
While the USA population has nearly doubled since 1960, causing some to fear population explosion as a serious threat to the earth's resources, Niagara Falls, N.Y., has demonstrated a committed effort to fight this growing global threat.
Niagara Falls leaders working both locally and at the state capital in Albany achieved a 50 percent decline in the city's population since 1960. According to statistics published by the United States Census Bureau, the United States population in 1960 was 179,323,175. By 2010, the U.S. population exploded to 308,745,538. Conversely, Niagara Falls' population in 1960 was 102,395. By 2010, it was 50,193 -- approximately the same population the city had in 1922.
One of the Niagara region's greatest assets is hydropower -- the electricity caused by the motion of water. About a billion dollars of electricity is generated annually by the fall of the Niagara River -- enough to give everyone in Niagara Falls inexpensive or free electricity.
The New York state government -- who helped participate in securing for the people of Niagara Falls the right to pay the highest taxes in the USA -- also, in 1957, arranged to assume management of their local hydropower through an agency called the New York Power Authority.
Before NYPA took over management of local hydropower, according to "Compton's Encyclopedia" (1956 edition), both local industry and residents enjoyed "cheap and abundant" locally produced electricity. This helped create a prosperous and growing city called "The Power City."
Within several years of NYPA assuming management of Niagara's hydropower, the power was diverted from local usage to more important destinations like New York City and elsewhere.
Niagara Falls went from using the blustery, arrogant and and unseemly name "The Power City" to the more humble and apt "powerless city."
According to Electric Power monthly, a U.S.-government publication filled with fun facts and important information, people in Niagara now pay the third-highest electrical rates in the USA, while the frugal people of New York City and eight other states enjoy lighting their homes at lower cost with hydropower generated in Niagara.
Today, the people of Niagara Falls get their power from a company called National Grid, which generates power by burning coal and other expensive methods. National Grid is owned by investors from England, completing a picture where the greatest natural hydropower in the world is used by people who live far away from its source, while the people who live closest pay more than almost anyone else -- and due to their generous and uninformed natures, have the luck of helping people in the world-renowned and exciting Big Apple get cheaper electricity, while simultaneously helping investors in the faraway and picturesque British Isles to increase their personal portfolios immensely.
Many children who grew up in Niagara Falls do get to use the cheaper power generated in Niagara Falls as soon as they move to New York City or any of the eight other states that get Niagara Falls hydropower.
Eight million tourists visit Niagara Falls annually, according to the people who run the Niagara Falls State Park. It is ranked as a Top 10 tourist destination in America by prestigious sources including Forbes magazine and Yahoo.
Niagara Falls is the only place in the world that gets millions of tourists and enjoys high levels of poverty.
Niagara Falls' downtown is adjacent to the state park, and passing tourists often comment on the city's striking resemblance to a ghost town, while across the river appears a boom town with the same name. It can be quite pleasant to be the butt of strangers' jokes.
The good people who run the state park worked successfully to help create the ghost town appearance of Niagara Falls by their policy of routing tourists -- through signage, mapping and information centers -- to veer away from the downtown business district and head directly to the state park. The state park's goal is to get tourists to spend money on products and services sold inside the park at souvenir stores, restaurants, parking lots and attractions.
Thankfully for the profitability of the state park, the people outside the park -- with their poverty and high taxes -- cannot afford to have many businesses that offer tourists much of anything to do. Tourists therefore enjoyably spend their money in the park and do not have to worry that they are missing out on something exciting outside the park in Niagara Falls, N.Y. When tourists leave the park, they can go directly to Niagara Falls, Ont., which has numerous wonderful attractions.
What has been accomplished is a truly synergistic, binational effort between the Niagara Falls State Park and the smart businesspeople of Ontario.
The good leaders of Niagara Falls, N.Y,. should be commended for helping to lead a community willing to sacrifice their own welfare and profits to make strangers in Albany and Niagara Falls, Ont., wealthier.
The people who manage the park for Albany are pleased to advertise that they keep the state park in the tradition of its original designer, Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed the park with strict prohibitions against business being conducted inside the park, in order to keep the park entirely green and natural to help capture the primal wonder of the falls without the stain of commerciality on top of it.
Olmsted planned this would enrich the people of Niagara Falls, who could operate local businesses. They would become prosperous, while the state park remained natural and pristine.
The park management paved over much of the green in the park for use as a paid parking lot, multiple restaurants and souvenir stores. The good state park people nevertheless honor Olmsted by selling his picture on postcards in the park he designed but would not recognize if he came back from the dead to visit it.
A stroke of fortune came to Niagara Falls in 2003 when the good people of the state government removed 50 acres from downtown Niagara Falls and gave it to the Sovereign Seneca Nation. It was the first time in American history that part of an American city lost a core of its downtown by having it removed from America.
The congenial result is a tax-free, 50-acre nation (Seneca) that may operate -- besides having a monopoly on gaming -- any business from hotel to restaurant to retail, that competes, tax-free, against the Niagara Falls businesspeople who pay the highest taxes in the USA.
In just nine years, the new territory of the Seneca Nation has opened dozens of tax-free businesses that compete right next door to high-taxed Niagara Falls businesses. This has helped narrow down many unnecessary and superfluous business in Niagara Falls. Since the tax-free Seneca Nation opened its businesses, several dozens of local American-owned businesses have closed, helping their owners avoid the disadvantages of paying high taxes and other unhappy duties associated with the long and tedious hours of hard work running a business.
The present mayor of Niagara Falls -- a man named Paul Dyster -- seems to support the ideal that if someone has to pay the highest taxes in America, it might as well be the people living here. In four years, he has raised taxes dramatically while increasing the cost of government by paying his top aides record-breaking salaries for cities of this size and economic status -- paying out-of-town hires upwards of $100,000 per year.
The good mayor is silent about unimportant issues like getting a better deal on the Seneca compact; silent on local people, instead of Albany, getting the benefit of tourism or hydropower; silent on people getting off welfare -- corporate or personal -- and earning a living by their own exertions or developing projects with their own money.
And silent about the need of cutting government spending.
He is concerned with weighty issues like developing a train station that will seat up to 70 people per month, an Underground Railroad museum dedicated to the proposition that even if there was not any Underground Railroad history here, the concept is so noble that it justifies making up history to please the people who are politically correct and would like to have had that history here, even if it never happened.
The good and noble-minded Dyster enjoys the feelings of generosity one gets as mayor when one spends taxpayer money to fund amateur movies or to make his own street a historic district or to pick out acts and provide money to the billion-dollar Hard Rock Cafe to put on free concerts, so that the Hard Rock can sell concessions to earn more profits.
As much as any of the mayors who helped Niagara Falls achieve the unique distinctions mentioned above, good Mayor Dyster understands the advantages of not requiring residents of Niagara Falls to overexert themselves by running businesses, worrying about having extra money -- which is always such a burden to count, deposit in banks and invest -- or worry about how to spend money they don't have.
As one intelligent citizen proclaimed, "Even though he is clearly tax-and-spend, I'm voting for Dyster because I believe his administration will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would."
The wonderful people of Niagara Falls will go down in history as a breed apart -- happy folks who raise their children to grow up and move out of town to where the people are not the foils of government, marvelous people who elect and re-elect men and women who haven't a clue about what is really wrong with this town.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||Oct. 18, 2011|