On Sunday, a few hundred people rallied in Bainbridge, New York, a village of 3,300 between Binghamton and Oneonta, to promote the idea of upstate secession. The protest was organized by a group called the Divide New York Caucus, which wants to sever the state above Rockland and Westchester counties. Because actually seceding would require state legislative and congressional approval, man-with-a-dream John Bergener Jr. proposes divvying the state into two autonomous regions through a voter referendum, calling the new one New Amsterdam, and leaving a figurehead legislature in place at the state level. The pie-in-the-sky scheme is no mere intellectual exercise, its architect insists.

"Of course it's caused by frustration, but we're serious," Berenger told the Times-Union. "We've incorporated a political action committee to fund it. We're serious. There's no doubt that we're trying to do it."

The rally included Tea Party, gun rights, and pro-fracking groups bitter about downstate voters' support for the state's fracking ban and the gun-sale-and-storage-restricting SAFE Act. There was also some innuendo about upstate supporting New York City, in the form of a flyer promoting the rally that depicts a beaver chewing into a tree, with the trunk representing upstate and the upper portion representing the city, and the slogan "The Beaver shall not allow the Roots to feed the Tree. Instead the Roots will grow a new branch."

If we're talking economics, the case for secession is stronger on the New York City side—because upstaters are a bunch of moochers. In an analysis of state finances for fiscal year 2010, the Rockefeller Institute [pdf] found that New York City pays 45 percent of the state's taxes and other revenues, and receives just 40 percent of expenditures, a gap of about $4 billion.

Similarly, the city's suburbs pay out 27 percent and get back nearly 10 percent less. Compare that to upstate outside of Albany, where taxpayers shell out just 24 percent but get a whopping 35 percent off the government teat just by virtue of sharing political boundaries with the greatest city on earth.

Politically, too, the state has the city in a stranglehold, with our subways and buses, bridges, tunnels and airports, schools, and even how many cars we allow on the road subject to the whims of Albany's three men in a room. So it makes sense that there have been secession movements in the past. There was the 1969 Norman Mailer-Jimmy Breslin mayoral-Council president Power to the Neighborhoods ticket. The scribes proposed making New York City the 51st state "to free the city from the control of upstate legislators who don't care about the city but control our schools, police, housing, and money." (They also wanted to phase out private cars in Manhattan and create neighborhood control over the schools, housing, welfare administration, and the police.)

More recently, there have been state-level pushes for upstate secession, as well as Long Island independence, and Queens Councilman Peter Vallone spent a good part of the aughts arguing for New York City secession, or at least a Council vote approving the idea. Such a vote would, Vallone hoped, "send a strong message to New York state that they have to stop treating us like an unwanted stepchild." The would-be residents of New Amsterdam couldn't have said it better. Now they just need to get a few million more voters on board.