Are We Becoming a Drive-through Society?

454960_529028-20151123-Hannaford-TA few weeks ago, I was looking over a letter to the editor an area resident had sent into my office at work. She was criticizing self checkouts at stores and uses of kiosks instead of servers at her favorite restaurant. She ended the letter with a very intriguing question. “Are we just becoming a drive-through society?”

A week later, I discovered in my mailbox an advertisement for “Hannaford to go.” My local Hannaford Bros. store just recently became equipped with the relatively new checkout service that is spreading to more of the chain’s locations.

The service essentially allows you to pre-order your groceries online, then when you are ready, drive to a specific spot behind the store, ask for your groceries and wait for staff to bring out your items all bagged so you can load them, pay and be on your merry way. They even cater to customer specifics. “Like your steak extra thick? Your bananas a little green? Let us know. We hand select your order fresh the day you pick it up,” is what the mailed advertisement says. Am I the only one who finds this incredibly silly?

The city of Plattsburgh, New York was in the process of approving the system in their location in mid February. The first sentence in a Feb. 23 article regarding the store in The Sun Community News reads “Hannaford shoppers soon will be able to stock their fridges without the hassle of walking aisles filling a shopping cart.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but there are certainly lots of things in life I consider to be a hassle. Paying taxes, getting a loan and things labeled “easy open” that aren’t easy to open are hassles. I really don’t consider walking aisles and filling a shopping chart as the most difficult of daily tasks.

Quite the contrary, I see this system as more complex and even more time consuming. Instead of simply reaching for items off a shelf, you have to look them up online and specify preferences. I prefer to pick the best looking meat or tomato myself. Customers are then asked to allow a minimum four-hour time period for store workers to find and bag their items. Oh, and for a $5 fee, you can ask for a specific time to pick up the groceries. To quote Star Trek III here, “the more they over think the plumbing, the easier it is to stuff up the drain.”

Now, make no mistake. The system is actually quite beneficial to those with disabilities. That much is certain. But what about the rest of us? Yes, we live in a fast-paced world where work is essentially nonstop for many of us. But are we that much in a rush? Are we so concentrated on making up for lost time that a universal activity like grocery shopping is cutting too much out of our lives?

Drive-throughs at fast-food restaurants have been around for a long time. Self checkouts at stores are growing in popularity. But have we really come to this point?

Ironically, those who want to save those extra minutes are missing out on an important element of life that stores provide—the feeling of community. Places like Hannaford are the informal, unscheduled city park gatherings, the brief random family reunions we don’t expect. Just think about how many times you have asked someone “hey, guess who I saw at the store?” or started a sentence with “I saw so-and-so at the store and they said…” Indeed, many people have met their future husbands and wives while trying to find the least browned head of lettuce.

Through these chance encounters, you might learn that your cousin’s neighbor is back in the hospital or your former co-worker’s daughter is going to graduate from high school this spring. That will usually follow with a “Wow, is she that old already?” You might talk about the presidential election or how the winter wasn’t too bad this year and what is blossoming in your backyard. Think of how any times you’ve spoken to strangers about the funny thing the cashier just said or when you held the door for the elderly couple. That small action might’ve just made their day.

I know I’ve had many such encounters and I’ve never once thought the “Hannaford to go” would be so much better. Sure, finding parking spots, remembering something you need that’s on the exact opposite side of the store and finding long checkout lines can be a bit irritating, but all it takes is a tad bit of patience and then you move on.

So, returning to that letter writer’s question if we are becoming a drive-through society, Hannaford has given us the answer. No, we aren’t. We already have become one. And as a casualty, the drive-through society has caused a lot of things to become obsolete, not necessarily technology, but our own values like human appreciation and human patience. We shouldn’t let human interaction be next.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at

The Internet: The New Frontier of Terrorism

hackedWhat’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word “terrorism”?

I’ll bet images of bombs and explosions went through your mind—maybe thoughts of 9/11 or Paris as well. That’s no surprise. That’s how we’ve illustrated the word for a very long time. But we cannot rely on that illustration alone anymore.

A terrorist’s main goal is harm others. But the other main goal is to keep finding new ways to harm others. After every single terrorist attack, the result is brand new rules, regulations and practices that enhance security measures aimed to prevent a similar incident from occurring again. But there’s a new frontier for terrorists where there are very little guards or restrictions—the Internet.

For years now, we’ve talked about how identity thieves don’t need to swipe a purse or wallet to conduct their lawless deeds anymore. They can do it from miles away, with no direct contact with the person, and they can do it in a matter of seconds.

So if the “kid in his basement” we like to imagine can hack into your vital information, why can’t a terrorist halfway around the world do it?

The warning signs are right in front of us. In December 2014, Chinese hackers breached the computer system of the Office of Personnel Management, compromising the identities of millions of federal employees. A year before that, Russia compromised White House and State Department e-mail systems in a campaign of cyber espionage. Then of course there’s North Korea’s alleged hack of Sony Pictures amid the release of “The Interview.”

But those weren’t done by terrorists. And identities of federal employees only scratch the surface of national security breaches. But as more of the things that run our world become computerized, the more they are put at risk.

The events of 9/11 happened because a handful of men were able to bypass airport security, successfully take over control of airplanes, and fly them into buildings. But what if instead of boarding and hijacking the craft, one could just hack into its computerized counsel and take it wherever they wanted to? Security researcher Chris Roberts claimed to have partially taken control of a plane he was on last year.

While the evidence of this hack is sketchy at best, there are bigger targets that impact more people that can make the far-fetched plot of “Red Dawn” seem a little less far-fetched. What if a terrorist group were able to seize the systems that keep our power on, purify our water and control our money, factories and communication lines? The only thing scarier is that they already have.

About a dozen times in the last decade, sophisticated foreign hackers have gained enough remote access to control the operation networks of our power grid, according to top experts who spoke to The Associated Press. 

AP discovered through a yearlong process that a real cyber attack on Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity that serves customers in 21 states and Canada, resulted in a frightening breach of information. Hackers gained access to detailed engineering drawings of networks and power stations from New York to California — 71 in all — showing the precise location of devices that communicate with gas turbines, boilers and other crucial equipment attackers would need to hack specific plants, as well as additional diagrams showing how those local plants transmit information back to the company, meaning attackers could hide their activity.

In 2013, hackers accessed the control system at the Bowman Avenue Dam, a small flood-control structure in Rye Brook, about 20 miles north of New York City. In March, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who attributed the attack to Iran, called it a “shot across the bow” and claimed that the hackers “were saying that [they] can damage, seriously damage, our critical infrastructure and put the lives and property of people at risk.”

While a small dam may sound insignificant, it’s only the beginning of a new kind of warfare that we are just now really starting to understand. And while no such hacks have caused any large power blackouts or communication cuts, those who conduct these attacks are gaining knowledge through these smaller attacks on how to possibly strike a larger cyber blow on the U.S.

Such a blow would be a perverted convergence of 21st century technology and medieval war tactics like blockading enemy ports and bombing factories and railroad lines to cut off crucial food and supply lines to the people. And that can be very effective.

No more do our enemies need to strategize plots to gain access to weapons or build explosives. No more do they need to find sneak through borders or airport security. They can use the ultimate weapon—the maximum amount of destruction with the minimum amount of effort.

If the motivation is there for those who want to harm us, they will always find a way. We need to combat those efforts with our own motivations to protect our computers that protect us. If we don’t, we’ll have a serious problem—a problem that hitting “refresh” is not going to fix.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at

New York Needs to Change Voting Laws

gettyimages-511409358It’s the first thing you ever learn about government in school—that we vote to elect our leaders. Then years later, you prepare to walk into a booth at a polling place in New York and then you are denied the ability to cast a vote, as simple as being denied orange juice at a restaurant because they’re out.

More than 2.5 million people voted for the remaining presidential hopefuls in Tuesday’s New York primaries. More than 3.2 million people who aren’t registered as a Republican or Democrat, but as an independent or third party member, could not partake in a pivotal moment in this election season because of its closed primary system. And many of them are not happy about that.

But why now? New York has had a closed primary for a very long time and it’s never been a controversy that matches the magnitude that we’ve seen in the last week. Well, the nominations are usually locked up by the time New York votes so it essentially doesn’t make a difference. But New York hadn’t seen a primary where both parties’ nominations were undecided in decades and many people wanted to be part of that process. And many couldn’t.

New York has an incredibly restrictive voter registration system. State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, an independent from Long Island told The Associated Press that “it’s hard to register to vote. It’s hard to get an absentee ballot. There’s no early voting in New York. There’s no voting by mail. If you want to vote in New York you really have to want to, and even if you want to vote sometimes they won’t let you vote.”

Nearly half of U.S. states now hold open primaries and 37 states have early-voting opportunities. The assemblyman has proposed state legislation that would allow an open primary system in New York.

This is a problem that frustrated both major parties last week. Two of Donald Trump’s children, Ivanka and Eric, admitted they couldn’t vote for their father in the primary because they missed the registration deadline. Many Bernie Sanders fans cried foul at the closed system, as did the senator. That’s not surprising because Sanders is popular among independents and has won many of the open primary states.

The deadline the Trump children missed was March 25—the last day to register to vote in time for the primaries. That was before any of the candidates had even visited the state. Even worse, the deadline to switch to one of the major parties for the sake of the primary was Oct. 19. That is, to use a favorite Trump word, a “disgrace.”

Does it seem fair that in many states, you can register as a Democrat or Republican on the day of the primary, but in New York, you had to do that before Halloween? Think about it. At the time of that October deadline, Scott Walker had just dropped out of the Republican race, there were still five Democratic candidates and Deez Nuts was still ranking in the polls. Could we know way back then that Trump and Cruz would dominate the primary map? Could we know back then that Sanders would not only still be in the race, but win eight contests in a row? Could we know the New York primary would actually mean something? Now, it wouldn’t be right for people to switch parties at the drop of a pin, but half a year seems a little excessive. That’s not including the purging we saw Tuesday in Brooklyn, where more than 100,000 people couldn’t vote.

It’s not just about the primaries though. The point of primaries is to turn out party loyalists of course, but there’s little doubt that harsh restrictions have hindered voters across the board. In the 2012 presidential election, just 58 percent of New York City’s registered voters participated, and just 56 percent took part statewide. That’s not a primary. That’s a general election, when voter turnout is at its highest.

In fact, The Washington Post reported in that election that New York ranked 44th out of the 50 states and District of Columbia in terms of turnout. New York, tied with Florida, has the third largest number of electoral votes. Such an important state should not have that low a turnout.

Of course, there’s the argument that New York will go Democratic anyway so many don’t see a point in voting. The state hasn’t gone for a Republican since 1988. But how many didn’t vote because they couldn’t vote or were turned away at the polls?

Put simply, it’s like being blacklisted. There’s no reason 27 percent of the state’s voters should feel punished for being uncomfortable of aligning themselves with either party. There’s no reason New York has no early voting or voting by mail or should have to predict how they’re going to feel about their party’s candidates in six months.

As Americans, voting is our most fundamental basic right. In no way should it be the most complicated one to exercise.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at

Why Do Young People Love Bernie Sanders?

Bernie Sanders

The 2016 presidential race has taken us on a road of many inconsistencies and surprises, but there’s one thing that has remained constant throughout—young people “feel the bern” more than any other candidate.

According to CNN exit polls, Bernie Sanders has consistently won a majority of voters aged 18-29 in many states that have held their primaries and caucuses, of voters aged 18-29 in many states that have held their primaries and caucuses, some with margins of 80 percent or more. So why are the youngest of voters flocking to someone who, if elected, would be the oldest president in our history?

Many are asking that question, including myself, so I set out to find out why. What I found wasn’t too surprising at first. It happened a year ago when young people turned on the television or went online to see who this old man shaking his fist was.  A year later, he is their white knight.

The objective that really propelled Sanders’ campaign was his proposal to provide free public college education, paying for it through a transaction tax on Wall Street trades. With tuition skyrocketing, this caught students’ attention and they have held on since.

Last May, The Wall Street Journal reported that the average amount of student loan debt reached $35,000. Even adjusted for inflation, that’s still more than twice the amount borrowers had to pay back just 20 years ago. And that trend isn’t likely to reverse any time soon. Nationwide, student debt is now more than $1.2 trillion.

Combine those debts with stagnant wages and the fact that the middle class has seen little improvement in standard of living since the 1970s. These conditions are making it not just difficult to pay off student debt, but hard to pay for anything. In 2013, The Atlantic reported that young adults make an annual $2,000 less today than their parents did in 1980, adjusted for inflation. It’s a different world for them. It’s becoming nearly impossible for young people to even think about owning a home, opening a business or starting a family. That’s enough to keep young people awake at night.

This comes back to Sanders’ other main argument—income inequality. Sanders persistently mentions the disappearing middle class and his intention to place higher taxes on the rich and to break up the big banks. So what’s that got to do with the youth who have barely started working or maybe haven’t paid taxes yet? Well, this is the age group that grew up during the Great Recession. Many of these people have seen their parents go from prosperity to poverty in the last decade, but then saw tax breaks for the rich. The result is the creation of what some have called the “bailout generation”—the mentality being that government bailed out the banks, so why can’t they bail out me? Many believe Sanders is the candidate that can act on that notion. They believe he is the one who remembers those who feel they’ve been forgotten about in the U.S.’s economic structure, not just the powerful few.

Alright, so Sanders’ economics excite many. I said that didn’t surprise me. But what surprised me was that economics wasn’t the thing people mentioned first when I asked what made him resonate. It wasn’t free college or health care or even income inequality. It was his character.

“Human” was a word that came up often. They said he was a different kind of candidate, one who really cared about the common American. A new survey from Frank Luntz found that 31 percent of young Americans chose Sanders “as the political figure they like and respect most,” which puts him higher than Barack Obama, who drew large young crowds in his 2008 and 2012 bids.

A lot of people referenced his refusal to accept super PACS as something that makes him stand out. In a way, it’s a symbol to them that he not only wants to fight the establishment system, but he already has the ability to. After all, he has raised more money than Hillary Clinton in each of the last three months, despite Clinton’s delegate lead and large Democratic donors. He loses states, but his momentum continues and even grows.

That gives some a sense of hope that someone like Sanders can bring real change to the country they’re growing into—something they feel Obama promised eight years ago but didn’t really deliver.

Politics aside, Sanders should be given credit for causing such large numbers of young people to engage in modern politics. His ability to motivate young people to vote is something we haven’t seen since the days of George McGovern and, later on, Ronald Reagan. Even Obama’s appeal pales in comparison.

Frankly, I’ve been shocked that so many people my age have been paying such close attention to the race. They’ve been registering to vote, watching the news, watching primary results, educating themselves on the issues at hand, discussing them with their peers and most importantly, voting.

If someone like Sanders can excite these people to go vote for him the way he has, no matter the reason, then it excites me that this generation can actually become an involved and informed electorate. And that’s good enough for me.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at

How Important is the New York Primary?

19864001-mmmainThe battle for New York will might as well be called the battle of the New Yorkers. Not for many decades has a presidential primary in the Empire State been such competitive race for both parties. Not only because both front-runners are constantly on and off a clear track to the nomination, but because three of the five remaining candidates, two of which are their party’s front-runners, can call New York their home state.

Home states have become incredibly important in this year’s process—probably because all of them, perhaps with the exception of Bernie Sanders’ Vermont, weren’t certain victories for their occupiers. Sanders defeated Clinton 86 percent to 13 percent in Vermont.

Nevertheless, so far, all remaining have prevailed. Ted Cruz won Texas, Clinton won Arkansas (and birth state Illinois) and John Kasich’s sole victory is Ohio. Kasich had said he would drop out of the race if he didn’t win his home state. Marco Rubio never made that claim, but still left after Donald Trump defeated him in Florida.

It’s a simple unspoken rule of politics. If you can’t win at home, it’s highly unlikely the rest of the country will rally behind you.

That’s why New York is Trump and Clinton’s state to lose. A loss for either of them would seriously undermine their campaigns. It is the last home state in play, and although mainstream media says every state will potentially change the direction of the race, New York will really give us a glimpse of how the rest of the contest will look for both parties. And it’s not just because three candidates can call it home.

Remember, it’s the math that gives a candidate the nomination. And the math in New York is going to make a difference. For the Democrats, the 247 delegates at play are the most any state carries, with the exception of California. The Republicans have 95 delegates in play, the fourth most in the nation.

But most of both parties’ delegates—81 for the Republicans and 163 for the Democrats—are divided by congressional district. This explains the candidates’ strong presence in Syracuse, Binghamton, Rochester, Utica and Albany. Cruz even made an appearance in the Albany County town of Cohoes, which has a population of only 16,000. And Kasich held a Fox News town hall in Saratoga Springs, another small city. This is a big difference from previous contests where it’s basically a state-wide battle and candidates really focus where the most votes are—big cities like Detroit, Chicago and Seattle. New York is bringing the election to the most rural of voters.

Speaking of math, Clinton and Trump have held commanding leads for months and still do. In February, Clinton led Sanders by 21 points, according to a Siena College poll. On April 13, Siena released a new survey showing that Sanders, who has won eight of the last nine contests, has grown momentum and has narrowed it to 10 points. Trump is stronger in the metropolitan area, but even upstate he leads Kasich, his closest rival, by double digits.

But besides the math, there’s also the thing that we sometimes forget about—the issues. I mentioned in a previous post how New York is arguably a good backdrop representation of the U.S. as a whole. Many of the national issues we hear about everyday are core concerns there as well—gun control, minimum wage, jobs, Common Core, infrastructure, police brutality and many more.

With Newtown, Connecticut right in its backyard, and the NY SAFE Act a common reference for gun control legislation, firearms are an explosive topic in the state. This is why The New York Daily News released its issue criticizing Sanders on his track record on guns the day after the Wisconsin primary, automatic ammunition for Clinton to use.

But Clinton has been criticized for standing with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo after he signed the state’s budget earlier this month that included a plan to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. While she touted the measure, she has supported a more modest raise nationally—$12 an hour—while her opponent has reached for $15.

On jobs, Donald Trump has resurfaced his attacks on trade deals that he says have relocated jobs, many manufacturing ones, from the upstate region to Southern states and foreign shores in the last few decades. This appealed to many voters in Rustbelt states that he won like Illinois and Michigan The billionaire has also attacked Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign promise to create 200,000 new jobs upstate, when a net loss was recorded during her first term. Trump also said he would’ve approved hydrofracking, a practice that the state officially banned last June after seven years of controversy. After his loss in Wisconsin, Trump is trying to secure a win and a big win in New York to help propel him to the nomination.

Like the U.S., New York has a variety of demographics, lifestyles and political beliefs. A Trump strategist correctly called it “two different states,” and a lot of area between. In that sense, it’s very healthy for New York to have such a key voice in this election. There are more states to go and more votes to count after April 19, but it will be interesting to see where the rest of the country goes once the “New York values” are put to the test.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at

Where America is Actually Divided


It’s a word we hear nonstop about our national politics, especially now. Mainstream media love to bombard us with stories using this dreadfully overused word and its various equivalents like “political polarization” to describe the disunity in U.S. politics.

And they’re right. But what they’re not right about is where the line of division is drawn — and the 2016 election has finally helped us find it. It’s not Democrats or Republicans that are divided. It’s the people and those who claim to represent them—the so-called “establishment”—the other word we constantly hear.

So far, this election has continuously defined all logic and rewritten the political playbook. In the spring of 2015, many were already putting it on the books—a shoe-in contest between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. Then came along Trump and Sanders.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are arguably the most opposite candidates of all those seeking the White House. However, they are the ones defining this election because they have one very crucial common ground — they are both challenging business as usual in Washington. Their message is hitting many who are tired of playing the game, and maybe most importantly, they want to tell the establishment that they aren’t being fooled on how the game is played.

The foundation for this new revolt against the labeled establishment is simple. People have essentially lost faith that members of our government have the slightest idea of what goes on in average American life.

This is nothing new in American political history, but it has really come alive during this election cycle, probably spawned by the economic woes the country has faced over the last decade. So many people worry about how they’re going to feed their children and pay their bills, but then they turn on their television and see elected officials they voted for arguing over who’s more of a Republican or Democrat. For many, that solidifies how big the gap is between them.

And it’s a big gap. For instance, every member of the U.S. Supreme Court has at least one Ivy League degree. The last four presidents went to Ivy League schools. That’s not to say common Americans don’t go to Ivy schools, but it’s safe to say a majority don’t. The 2011 Chronicle of High Education’s almanac finds only 0.4 percent of undergraduates attend one of those schools.

The 112th Congress consisted of 245 millionaires, according to CBS. To put that in perspective, only one percent of Americans are millionaires, but 66 percent of the 100 elected senators were millionaires, as were 41 percent of House members. According to 2015 findings by UPI, the median net worth of a member of Congress was $1,029,505 in 2013 — 18 times the worth of an average American home. With the exclusion of 2008, the net worth of members has increased since 2006, while the average American household has seen their net worth decrease 36 percent between 2003 and 2013.

It’s these numbers that get the electorate frustrated when their officials claim they “cannot live without their paychecks,” as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said of her fellow Congress members at a press conference in February 2015.

This makes it near impossible for Washington insiders to resonate with those who struggle to make ends meet. It’s hard for Americans to believe that politicians “feel your pain” when they claim to have left the White House “dead broke,” but get paid $275,000 for a single speech at a university. The “I’m not a career politician” tactic isn’t working anymore.

So why then do people who don’t want career politicians rush to Bernie Sanders, who has been in Congress for 25 years? And why do people who don’t like billionaires rush to Donald Trump, who is a billionaire?

Quite simply, it’s because they are such a contrast to those we’ve seen run the presidency in recent memory. They don’t hold back that they are unsatisfied with the status quo and have tapped into the frustration that has drawn their large crowds and large number of supporters. They both declare that the middle class has been left behind. Unlike their opponents, both refuse to accept the support of so-called “Super Pacs”—something that by itself is a trademark of the establishment bandwagon.

We’re entering a time when that’s what many people are looking for. Many don’t care that Trump isn’t a “true conservative.” Many don’t care that Sanders “isn’t really a Democrat.” They want someone who will return the power of government to those it was intended for.

Should either win in November, it’s unlikely either will monumentally change the system. But the boat has been rocked too hard this time around to be forgotten in four years. The party nominations are still undecided and no one has won the general election yet, but one thing is certain. The establishment has already lost.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at

New York’s $15 Wage Path Is a Bumpy Road

gettyimages-481598326_wide-9eab7ed97adf14ee901e43fba331961ae4aa86c8-s900-c85In many cases over the last few decades of passing laws and statutes, as goes California so goes New York. It seems that way once again as New York state passed a plan as part of its state budget Friday that will gradually hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022—a day after the west coast state did the same.

The budget deal raises the minimum wage in New York City to $15 by the end of 2018, but it won’t reach that level in the city’s suburbs until 2022, The New York Times reported. The rest of the state will only see an increase to $12.50 by 2021, though the deal calls for it to eventually hit $15 as well.

It has been a long and bitterly fought battle. But as of now, the complete repercussions of such a process are unseen and to a degree, unpredictable.

Now, it’s no secret that New York City is expensive, to put it mildly.

According to the National Rent Report for April from Apartment List, the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the city is $4,450. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure that a wage of $9, the state’s current minimum, is livable, let alone sustainable. The state’s wage has increased 24 percent in the last three years, so a 67 percent increase over the next six years appears it will help low-wage workers struggling to get by.

While interning in Albany in 2014, I was assigned to attend a large Fight for $15 rally on the Million Dollar Staircase. There was an incredible amount of emotion in that room and the many patrons I interviewed were eager to tell me their stories of watching their hard-earned money evaporate.

But are driving up wages going to give those stories happy endings?

Many critics of the hike have said it would force the businesses these people work for to raise prices on products, cut hours, hire less people and worse, close up or leave the state. In essence, the argument against it is that it will further hurt the people it’s meant to help.

A lot of the criticism comes from upstate New York, which is already a job-starved region. The same day the state budget was passed, the The Climax Packaging plant in Lowville announced it was closing immediately, putting 157 people out of work, something that has sadly become all too common. And several of the upstate cities already rank as the poorest in the nation.

Indeed, Chris Churchill of the Albany Times Union wrote that upstate “dodged the minimum wage bullet” with lawmakers’ compromise to slow the upstate hike to $12.50 instead of $15 statewide. Says Churchill, “Here’s a question I never heard adequately answered during the so-called ‘Fight for $15’: How would upstate compete to attract desperately needed jobs and businesses with a minimum wage that matched the world’s highest?”

There’s a simple answer to that. They can’t. One giant factor that would incite businesses to avoid or leave is the fact that in the northeast, New York would stand alone in a wage that high. What would stop a business in southern New York from moving just across the border to Pennsylvania where the minimum wage currently only $7.25?

This is all before companies look to alternative ways to balance this hike. Automation in fast food restaurants already exists in many locations and will likely increase across the nation and delve into more industries—especially since the Fight for $15 campaign is now reaching into more states like New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan and Oregon.

Perhaps the compromise in New York highlights the best solution to the problem—variations of state wages by region.

Is it really necessary for someone living and working in Manhattan to have the same minimum wage as someone who is living and working in Watertown? Like California, New York has an abundance of varying political beliefs, preferences and lifestyles. And it’s not just upstate and downstate. The North Country, Southern tier, Capital Region, and central and western New York all have their different needs. If we can learn anything about this state’s economy, it’s that a one size fits all system doesn’t apply in this state.

It’s one of the biggest double-edged swords in the political arena. Can we help all people make a living wage and help business owners at the same time? They rely on each other, they both need each other to survive. A system must be devised that benefits both, or quite frankly, it will benefit neither.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at