New England Elite’s Short Sightedness

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Anybody with experience in higher education in the past quarter century or (I get the impression) elementary or secondary education within the past fifteen years has likely been presented with the notion that privileged people — by which is typically meant that source of all evil, the straight, white, conservative, and (even if latent) Christian male.  “Check your privilege” is the advice that accompanies them for their first quarter century of life and beyond.

Those lessons came to mind while reading David Holahan’s argument in today’s Providence Journal for remaining a Connecticut resident.  Writes the manager of public relations for Connecticut architectural firm Centerbrook Architects and Planners:

If you can’t find something to do here to cheer you up or to engage your mind and spirit, you probably won’t be happy anywhere. A recent article in the New York Post, of all publications, documented the allure of Connecticut living to outsiders; Town & Country Magazine followed up with a feature touting the “Golden Triangle” of Essex, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and their environs as the “New Hamptons.”

The magazine points out what many of us often take for granted, what motivates visitors to travel long distances to get here: there are a bazillion things to see and do and enjoy in just the one corner of the state that was the subject of the article. Last I checked, the stuffy old Hamptons had hardly anything to compare with what southeastern Connecticut offers.

That’s all well and good, of course, unless the thing that would be most conducive to one’s happiness is finding a way to be able to build a career and maybe one day have the leisure time to enjoy Holahan’s beloved Hadlyme Ferry.  As government grows in both taxes and in the number of requirements in laws, licensing, and regulation before a resident can do anything for which other residents are willing to pay, the economy will throw off fewer dollars to fund the niceties that folks like Holahan can afford to enjoy.

One imagines Mr. Holahan’s fellow passengers floating down the Connecticut river pondering the ways in which other people’s activities must be restricted in order to keep the scenery pristine (and, ahem, the established parts of the economy and government sufficiently free of competition to ensure the leisure time of the lucky few).

At the end of the journey, though, somebody has to pay the $350,000 or so every year to subsidize boat rides on what the Connecticut Dept. of Transportation calls “a quaint wonder.”  Based on numbers in a 2010 Hartford Courant article, tacking another $3 for every person and car that boards the ferry would bring the boat to profitability.  If people aren’t willing to pay that to a private ferry operator, why should people who are struggling to make ends meet have to pay it to the government?

As Holahan notes, fewer are willing to do so, and they’re leaving.



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