Editor’s Note: The IthacaTompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau set the Internet ablaze last week by jokingly encouraging would-be tourists to visit the Florida Keys instead.

After the story, the editors of the Ithaca Voice and the Florida Keys Keynoter agreed to a *friendly* competition to determine the following question: “Which is the better place to live, Upstate New York or South Florida?”

We’ve each outlined our reasons in separate editorials and are putting it up to the voters to decide who is right. Let the game begin!

See here for the other side: Hands down, Florida Keys are better than Ithaca

[socialpoll id=”2254594″]

Why Ithaca is a better place to live than the Florida Keys

From the Ithaca Voice:

Upstate New York is a demonstrably better place to live than South Florida.

This is not a subjective opinion. It is a judgment formed instead by reason, from evidence that ranges from the anecdotal to the statistical to the divine. After all, why else would God send a hurricane every few years to try and wipe Florida off the map?

That’s a joke. What’s not a joke is this: In South Florida, men shoot off their testicles while trying to clear their guns. They get bitten by alligators and then charged with “trying to feed the animal.” (These things may be funny, but they’re not jokes.)

Florida’s crimes are so perverse and so extensive that the national media loves compiling them in lists. In Ithaca, the most newsworthy arraignments are for acts of civil disobedience and accompanied by quotes from Henry David Thoreau. Your most notorious criminals are cannibals. Ours are vegans.

In Ithaca, our mayor was elected at the age of 24. He’s 27 now. Most people in South Florida have grandchildren in their 30s.

In Ithaca, we have free and fair elections. Florida’s electoral system is a noxious mix of rights restrictions, Tea Party extremism and hanging chads.

Central New York is heir to a rich intellectual and political tradition that includes Frederick Douglass, abolitionism, and the birth of the women’s rights movement. Florida was founded by Spaniards seeking gold and later converted into a slave state.

Ithaca is where Cornell professor Carl Sagan unlocked the mysteries of the cosmos, launched the first manmade object to make it outside the Solar System, and penned global bestsellers about astronomy. Florida’s best-known public intellectual is Rush Limbaugh.

The other side, no doubt, will argue that it’s cold in Ithaca. Shocker. We’ll take a little wind chill and four seasons any day over the swampy, malarial jungle you call home.

It’s hard to imagine a place more beautiful than it is here. Of course, there’s our nationally-recognized wine county. Then there are the streams that race through our cities, and the natural falls that are the envy of the world, and lush forests with endless trails for exploration.

Ithaca is the North American Seat of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. (Does anyone need more evidence of divine support for our side?) We are at the heart of the locavore movement.

Hardly a week goes by without Ithaca getting some “best of” award: as the smartest city in America; as the most exciting in the state; as one of the most “enlightened” places to live; and, of course, as the best college town in the U.S. The list goes on.

By comparison, even your own media recognizes South Florida’s wretchedness. As CBS Miami reported, citing national studies:

“Miami is the most miserable city in the country, Fort Lauderdale seventh. Miami is the worst-run city in the country, we have one of the worst commutes, we are the most vain Americans and Miami Beach is one of the trashiest cities for spring break.”

It never ends.

A new study claims we are the worst tourist kleptomaniacs.

Apparently, when we travel, we steal more stuff from hotels than people from any other American city.  A whopping fifty two per cent of us surveyed admitted to having sticky fingers at hotels, a lot worse than the thirty nine per cent national average.

Did you catch that? Floridians, who counts tourism as perhaps their key industry, suck at traveling.

The author of the piece asks in the headline, almost helplessly: “Is South Florida really that bad?” Let us answer this one for him: Yes, yes it is.

To make the distinction with precision: South Florida is where you go to die. Upstate New York is where you go to live.

— Jeff Stein,

Editor | Ithaca Voice

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.