Sunday, January 15, 2006

Mass. exodus

According to the Census Bureau, Massachusetts was one of only three states to lose population last year, and the only to shed citizens two years in a row. The Boston Globe’s token conservative Jeff Jacoby puts some of the blame on cold winters and a sluggish job market, but saves the bulk for an entrenched and unresponsive government:

I suspect that fewer and fewer people want to call Massachusetts home not because of its oppressive winters but because of its oppressive and demoralizing political culture. In the state that produced Michael S. Dukakis and Sen. Kerry, the concerns of ordinary citizens are so often met with disdain, while the political class lets nothing get in the way of its own appetites and priorities. A state legislature that stays in session year-round? A supreme court that turns same-sex marriage into a constitutional right? Public ''authorities" that answer to no one? In most of America, no way. In Massachusetts, no problem.

On Beacon Hill last week, the big issue for Massachusetts lawmakers was whether tuition should be reduced for illegal aliens at the state's public colleges. On Capitol Hill, the senior senator from Massachusetts was busy implying that Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. is a racist and a liar. Is it such a stretch to imagine that an awful lot of Americans look at Massachusetts and think: How can people stand to live there? Or that a fair number of Massachusetts residents eventually decide that they can't stand to live here?

This is a state in which a tax cut can be decisively approved by the voters yet never go into effect. In which grocers can be prosecuted for pricing milk too low. In which archaic blue laws decree when shops may and may not open for business. In which a $2 billion Big Dig ends up costing $14 billion. In which Ted Kennedy keeps getting reelected.
It goes without saying that the state Republican party in Massachusetts is moribund, capable of capturing only the governor’s seat as a check against Beacon Hill. My congressman, John Olver, only has to run a handful of commercials every two years and he’s re-elected without a second thought despite having achieved nothing perceptible in all the years I’ve lived here. I have to commute to Connecticut for work and now I’m paying taxes to complete that rapacious Big Dig in Boston. Yet, even after costing seven times the original price tag, Massachusetts officials don’t betray a hint of embarrassment over the boondoggle:

"The project is a success," declared Massachusetts Turnpike Chairman Matthew Amorello. Asked if after the leaks, the cost overruns, and the politics he'd do it all over again, he said, "absolutely."
It was so cold here today.


Anonymous said...


I live in North Carolina. You'd like it here. Bare minimum of political BS. Nice climate, nice people, work ethic, good economy, high tech, military bases wanted and supported, beach nearby, mountains nearby. Oh, and I am heading to the range tomorrow.

Anonymous said...


I don't think you'd like living in CT much better. The Democrat party is just as corrupt as the MA one.


Des said...

Re: Jacoby's article--
a) Who cares if the legislature stays year-round, and sleeps on cots in the hallways?
b) It is exceptionally likely that the Americans of 2051 will look back at the same-sex marriage battles as we do upon past efforts to halt interracial marriage (which seemed equally necessary to the defenders of mainstream tradition then).
c) Political bodies that fail to represent the public interest-- ah, woe and strife, if only Mass. residents were fortunate enough to live in any of the 49 states where such things do not occur.
d) Without knowing about it, the illegal alien tuition issue seems stupid to me, too. Whether it's the central legislative topic in Massachusetts today, I have no idea.
e) Don't know about the racist bit, but a child could see that Alito is a liar. (At least on his "I've been told I joined, but I didn't inhale" amnesia front.)
f) An awful lot of Americans look at just about ANY area of America and think: How can people stand to live there? New York, Texas, Florida, California, Michigan, Maine, the Carolinas, the Dakotas, Arizona, Minnesota, Iowa... where is this mythical state that gets a 90% approval rating?
g) Every other thing Jacoby mentions-- propositions that somehow evaporate, underpricing laws (be it milk or gasoline), public works that mutate in cost, calcified politicos-for-life, states that become the private property of one dominant party-- is a condition that can currently be applied to somewhere between 30 and 50 U.S. states. 51 if you count D.C. You can probably throw in Guam.

Not that any of these things are good. But to list them as unique evidence that Massachusetts is the embarrassing anomaly of the nation is a crock. People are moving out of Massachusetts because Ted Kennedy was mean to Sam Alito? Right. The only thing Jacoby proves with his red whine is that he feels as appreciated as Coach K would shopping for a summer house in Chapel Hill. Which may be a very real problem for Jacoby's self-image, but why should we care? If he's not just filling column space and really believes the political climate is why Massachusetts is (allegedly) hemorraghing population, why is he still there?

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