Federalism Along the Normanskill

Normanskiller: Me and the kids just got back from dumping some old tires and used oil in the Normanskill ravine! Now, we’re gonna take the afternoon off to spend some live free or die quality time together, just to put the finger in the face of the Patroon, who’s been sniffing around at the gate again, looking for his tithe. I’m so sick of him and his ilk and their crazy redistributionist schemes! They better watch their backs, ‘cause some day, we’ll come for them!!

Patroon Pieter Van Vreebenhuyck: There there, my little man, my little Normanskiller. Facts are facts, and you owe me for working my land fair and square. Pay me, or I’ll send a tax man with an itchy trigger finger, a man who likes to make his rounds at night. Because he has another job during the day, trying to fight back the Giant Hogweed that threatens every ditch between here and Boght Corners. He’s a nice little fellow. From Ghent.

Normanskiller: Oh yes, you send that tax man, and I’ll put a hole the size of West Troy in him as soon as he sets foot on my holdings. You can’t tax the land! It’s like trying to put a tax on the sun! How you gonna squeeze a dollar out of that? So send him on over. I’m ready.

Patroon Pieter Van Vreebenhuyck: That makes no sense at all, my gentle Normanskiller. Why, you’re starting to sound like one of those crazed Calico Indians, or, even worse, a New Scotlander! You know how it all works: I’ll just take some crops or meat or something. Come on. You know that’s my acreage you’re on. You signed a contract, so now pay up. There’s free land out west if you’re man enough to make the journey, and can farm it for a few years while fending off real Indians and other people out to do you harm. But we don’t have those rules here on the Normanskill. So pay up!

Guy Who Blocks the Flow: Hey, what has become of Upstate Ether? Now we’re in some sort of wacked-out historical hallucination?

DeWitt Clinton: Welcome to the new Upstate Ether, Guy Who Blocks the Flow! Nice to meet you! I’m one-time New York State governor Dewitt Clinton, prime proponent of the construction of the Erie Canal, that mighty channel of commerce that now runs from Waterford to Tonawanda, and is known as the “Barge Canal.”

Patroon Pieter Van Vreebenhuyck: Mister Clinton, Governor. Please, don’t mind the populists that sprout up occasionally here. We’re generally good folk, with a love for great men of politics like yourself. I know we have some mutual friends, Buffalonians, building a harbor that’ll bring more commerce our way. Oh how rude of me! Brandy and a cigar for you, Governor? This fine bottle traveled with me from Holland about 10 years back. It’s a fine malt. Why don’t we step into the back here where we might have a little more . . . privacy. Shall we?

Normanskiller (shouting from the crowd): DeWitt Clinton is a federalist whore!

DeWitt Clinton: Federalist whore, am I? Well I’d like to see how you Normanskill populists would fare without the support and protection of the mighty United States of America!

Normanskiller: We’d be fat, stoned and happy, dumping old tires and used oil into the Normanskill, the way our parents and their parents before them did! But now, with taxes to the Patroon, and taxes to the state, and taxes to the Feds, it’s all we can do to buy any tires and oil in the first place, much less to have extras to dump. You’ve destroyed our way of life!

DeWitt Clinton: And a jolly good thing that we did, you inbred, ditchweed yokel. There’d be no progress in this great land of ours if you and your kind were left to breed freely and make decisions about anything other than what type of offal you’re going to stuff into your pie holes from meal to meal. You, sir, disgust me. Good day!

Normanskiller: Clinton, you bastard, I know you’re a dueling man who put two bullets in a man’s leg a few years back. We could stand here and bark at each other like angry dogs, but why not settle our dispute in a matter of moments, the way that men do? Shall we say coon rifles at dawn?

DeWitt Clinton (pulls pistol from waistcoat, pumps four slugs into Normanskiller): I said, sir, GOOD DAY!

Normsankiller: I die! And I blame federalism along the Normanskill!

DeWitt Clinton: Now, about that brandy and cigar, Patroon Pieter . . .

Patroon Pieter Van Vreebenhuyck: Right this way, Mister Governor, right this way.

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