New Hampshire is complacent. As a state we seem to have accepted stagnation as a way of life and are just trying to figure out how to adapt to it. The vision of New Hampshire as an island of prosperity is receding as policymakers increasingly decide they must adopt rather than fight economic mediocrity.
Proposals at the state and national level to increase the minimum wage will hurt the job market, decrease the number of jobs available, and hurt the people advocates are trying to help. Specifically, the higher wage will make it more expensive to hire entry level workers and reduce opportunities for lower skill workers trying to build job experience.
Newspapers and publishers are rarely themselves the subject of newspaper articles. However, today I want to take the opportunity to write about Joe McQuaid, publisher of this newspaper, and the importance of newspapers in general to a healthy public life and discussion. Newspapers at their core are the foundation of all the other freedoms we have the luxury of taking for granted in a society so open and free that we don’t seem to notice anymore.
It is easy to become cynical about politics and partisanship and any other p word we aren’t supposed to like. The list of difficulties with modern politics is long and not that different from the supposedly but not actually noble past. The problem is that politics is practiced by people who are all too human, self-important, unaware of their own deviation from the typical, interested in ease not work, and a bit too excitable. In short, Pogo was right. “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
In the last year, the state didn’t have a tax problem but it had a large spending problem. The government collected taxes from us in almost exactly the amount predicted but it appears to have spent significantly more than the budget allowed it to do. The result is a budget hole the precise size of which is still unknown in Concord. The problem is not a shift in the economy or any circumstance beyond our control. Rather, it was an inexplicable failure to manage according to the financial rules laid down a year ago.
Please forgive me for returning once again -on the heels of last week’s column with the epic headline-to the subject of jobs in the Granite State, but the issue of jobs is more important than any other issue we face and is an area in which we continue to fail. No one wants a future in which New Hampshire is a lackluster economic backwater but that’s the track we’re on.
When did New Hampshire stop being New Hampshire? Whether one describes New Hampshire’s economy as mediocre, stagnant, or lackluster there is no denying that the latest economic news shows that we are no longer leading any economic charges but instead content to hope some crumbs drop from the tables of others. Once the envy of our neighbors, we may now be stuck as an economic backwater, another nondescript pea in the New England pod.
The return of warm weather to our state seems the right time for me to wax poetic about Canada again. To the chagrin of many, I hold up “the true North proud and free” as an example to be emulated south of the border. Bear with me and see if you don’t agree that the United States should be more like Canada.