Blogger extraordinaire (and Wizbang guest author emeritus) Will Franklin is back, and he’s apparently not lost any of his style and insightfulness during his hiatus. And has his absence been sorely missed.
One of his more recent postings hit home (no pun intended) for me. He looked at a study of the business tax climate of the several states, and correlated them to their “redness/blueness.”
Naturally, we here in New Hampshire were near the top of the list, coming in at #8. (Massachusetts, often the butt of my derision, came in 36th.) Will lists us as a “blue” state, based on the 2004 presidential election. It’s a good a standard as any, but at least in our case, it’s not a really fair standard.
Yes, Kerry won New Hampshire in 2004, to our shame. But we are hardly a “blue” state, as Will himself points out. We’re more “purple.”
Our sitting governor is a Democrat. I voted for him two years ago, and I’m leaning towards doing it again this year. We tend to give most governors a second term; they have to really irritate us to bounce them out as one-termers. (the guy Governor Lynch defeated, Republican Governor Craig Benson, was an abrasive, arrogant technocrat who rubbed way too many people the wrong way during his single term.)
On the other hand, our legislature is held by the Republicans, as is our entire Congressional delegation (all four of them). The Democrats are a feisty minority here in New Hampshire, but still a minority.
So, on the other hand, are the Republicans. The largest party affiliation in New Hampshire is no party affiliation — declared independents like me who simply don’t feel like subsuming ourselves to either group, but picking and choosing our candidates, our issues. Last election, I split the top four spots on the ballot evenly — Bush (R) for president, Haddock (D) for Senate, Bradley (R) for House, and Lynch (D) for governor. I voted in the Democratic primaries in 2004 (Lieberman) and 2000 (Bradley), but went Republican in 1996 and voted for Bob Dole.
But back to the issue of tax friendliness and New Hampshire. We tend not to trust the government too much, so we do what we can to keep them out of mischief. The most corrosive influence on government seems to be money, so we do what we can to limit their access to it.
- To call our legislative salaries “tokens” would be an insult to video games and subway fares. Lawmakers get a grand total of $100 per year. (Plus mileage and other compensations, but they’re largely negligible.) One simply cannot live on the pay of a lawmaker, meaning that our representatives have to either have real jobs or be independently wealthy. If they have real jobs, they don’t have the time to devote to full-time lawmaking. If they’re wealthy, they tend not to be too interested in jacking up their own taxes. It might not be the best system, but it tends to work for us.
- That legislature is also the third-largest deliberative body in the world. (The US Congress and one other that I’ve never managed to track down are larger.) Our Senate has 24 members, our House has 400. Whereas the average member of the US House has roughly 600,000 constituents, the New Hampshire Representative has, on average, 3,000. There’s a damned good chance that you personally KNOW your Representative — or, at least, know someone who does or can find them in the phone book. That means if you have a bitch with the state, you can get hold of someone pretty damned easily — and they know that if they blow you off, it’ll come back and bite them on the ass — as has happened several times.
- We are the only state with no state or local sales or income taxes. The opposition to “broad-based taxes” is a tenet of faith among us New Hampshirites — for decades candidates had to practically swear on a bible to oppose them, or give up any chance of winning.
- We are, largely, a rural state. While Manchester — my current home town — has about 10% of the entire state’s population (just a smidgen over 1.1 million people), the state overall only has 13 cities, out of 234 “incorporated communities.” As such, social needs that are often met by large bureaucracies in larger areas are the concerns of local groups, sometimes even private ones — and nobody knows you like your neighbors, especially in small towns.
No, we’re hardly perfect. We have our shares of problems and issues. (For one thing, look at the neighborhood we live in — Vermonsters to the west, Hosers to the north, Maineiacs east, and Massholes south.) We tend to be very homogenous, and a tad suspicious of strangers. We lack a lot of the “cultural” and other resources that a lot of people value.
But overall, New Hampshire is a damned fine place to live, and that study that Willl cites is just one more piece of evidence affirming what I’ve known all my life.