Hey, remember that article in the Boston Globe, of all places, about New Hampshire having an official, state-employed “pirate” go and raid Massachusetts for businesses? Well, the Glob’s editorial board noticed it, too — and figured they better say something about it. Then, when they realized that they couldn’t really argue the points, they decided to say “it doesn’t really matter anyway.”
The Globe raises some indisputable points. Yes, we do live in a global economy. And yes, New Hampshire does have lower services than Massachusetts to go along with the lower (far, far, far lower) tax burdens. And yes, our property taxes are a lot higher than Massachusetts, along with a lot of other states.
But those points, as accurate as they are, aren’t really that relevant.
Yeah, it’s a global economy. But the kinds of jobs we’re “stealing” aren’t the kind that readily lend themselves to relocation on a global scale. Moving 50 or 100 miles is not that big a deal for a business, especially compared with hopping around the globe. In my home town, we have a McDonald’s, a Burger King, a Friendly’s, a Denny’s, a KFC/Taco Bell, a Dunkin Donuts, a Pizza Hut, and a Wendy’s all within the same half mile or so of one road. Along with a New England seafood chain (Weathervane) and a local pizza place, for that matter. And while the national chains do compete on a national level, they also have to keep a very close eye on their immediate neighbors and keep track of what they’re up to. In just the last few years, both the Mickey D’s and the BK literally tore down and rebuilt themselves. (Mickey D came back considerably bigger, and BK smaller, for the record.)
Yes, New Hampshire has considerably fewer public services. And guess what? We’re OK with that. We are more efficient in their use. We are more self-reliant. We have a stronger private charity climate. And if people want those public services, then they’re free to move south and sponge off the Massholes — and a lot of people have. They don’t want the responsibility that comes with freedom, and are willing to surrender some of their independence for security and being taken care of? More power to them. I’ll help them pack. I’ll even buy them a map and give them a buck or two for tolls.
Our property taxes are high? Yup. But those tax rates are set at the local level. Each town or city (we have 13 cities!) set the rate. If residents don’t like the rates, they can go talk to their local elected leaders and give them an earful. Or they can show up at Town Meeting and actually have a direct say in the matter. Here, the phrase “you can’t fight City Hall” is greeted with derisive laughter — we not only can, but often do. And there have been occasions when almost entire Boards of Aldermen or School Boards have been kicked out of office when they irritate too many of their neighbors.
Our way isn’t the Massachusetts way. But it works for us.
How’s your way working out for you, Bay State?