Thursday, March 31, 2016

What About the Yacht Dwellers?

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) recently released a report called, Taking the Measure of Need in the Granite State. NHPI looks at NH issues, and also examines problems with the federal poverty guidelines.

The poverty rate in NH is the lowest in the nation, at 9.2 percent. The federal poverty threshold was created in the 1960’s. At that time, a research showed that a family of three spent approximately one third of its budget on food.  After that, official poverty thresholds were created by multiplying the cost of a minimum food diet by three. Over time occasional adjustments have been made to account for inflation. In 1995, the Census Bureau created a supplemental poverty measure, which didn’t replace the poverty threshold, but exists to provide alternative information.

No adjustments have been made for the cost of housing. These days, housing costs account for upwards of two thirds of a poverty level budget. That’s another problem, the poverty threshold does not account for geographic differences in housing or other costs. As we all know, NH has some of the highest energy costs in the nation – as well as some of the highest property taxes and housing costs. Rent, day care, and health care costs combined make up at least half of the average working family’s budget.

The report finds that jobs in NH don’t match up with the cost of living. Only 30% of the jobs pay enough for a single parent with one child to have an “adequate” standard of living. The availability of those jobs depends greatly on where one resides in the state. The further north one travels, the more likely it is that the region is dependent on low wage service jobs. The cost of living does not decrease proportionally.

We all know that young people flee our state to avoid crushing student debt. We know they don’t come back because the employment prospects are limited and the exorbitant property taxes limit their ability to buy a house. There’s a shortage of rental property, so the rents are too damn high. We also know that many towns rely on volunteers to serve as firefighters and EMTs. This creates a conundrum in an aging population.

What are we doing about it? Well….nothing. We rely on volunteers to populate our legislature. Many of them are old and retired, and their sole interest is protecting their pensions. Some are businessmen whose sole interest is either passing or preventing legislation that applies to their businesses. Some are younger people who have no visible means of support. They generally do have a lot of expensive video equipment and plenty of weapons.

We are a state that lacks any kind of vision for the future. We live in and are legislated by the past.

Senator Jeb Bradley has been tweeting out lovely photos of his climbs up our 4000 footers in our various state parks. The same state parks we fund with user fees. NH is the only state that does it, because every other state was smart enough to realize that it doesn’t work. We are so miserly that we’ve created a mess. To fix the state parks would require a large infusion of cash. Our visionless legislature has been kicking the infrastructure can down the road for decades. You have only to drive down East Conway Road to see the results of that brilliant strategy. It would have been cheaper and smarter to keep up the maintenance of our roads and bridges all along, but that would have meant spending money, and we don’t do that here. As I’ve said far too many times – we prefer to pay the pound of cure. NH would rather amputate a limb than buy a band-aid.

The NH Senate will be voting on extending the NH Health Protection Plan (NHHPP) this week. Our Republican brethren don’t want to do it, because only people who can afford health insurance deserve it. The 50,000 low-wage workers in our state that are currently covered by the NHHPP apparently aren’t “deserving.” Greg Moore, the head of Americans for Prosperity in NH, was quoted at a hearing on the bill, as saying that “we aren’t getting a return on our investment,” when it comes to the NHHPP. The health of our residents isn’t worth investing in. It’s all about money for the Moores of the world. When everything has a price, nothing has any value.

Moore is a mouthpiece for the Koch Brothers, the funders of Americans for Prosperity. He was included in secret budget meetings last year. The Kochs aren’t creating any jobs here, other than Greg Moore’s. Luckily for the Kochs, we know that money is speech, and they get to speechify aplenty in a state where they have no investments other than AFP and the Free State Project.

The Senate is intent on attaching a work provision to the NHHPP. These are people who have been marinating in Reagan mythology for so long that they’re unable to accept reality. The welfare queen was a myth, and so is trickle down economics. When the NHHPP was first proposed, State Representatives Laurie Sanborn and Neal Kurk penned a letter to the editor 
that bemoaned the fact that “low income yacht dwellers” would be taking advantage of “free” health care. Has anyone found a low income yacht dweller in NH? The Republicans in our legislature believe that workers will quit their good paying jobs so that they can get “free” health care. Because that “free” health care will pay their rent and buy their groceries? These same legislators conveniently forget the fact that low-wage workers pay taxes. The same taxes that fund the NHHPP. 

The report from NHFPI shows that we use an outmoded tool to assess poverty, in a nation (and our state) where it is increasing. It’s difficult to imagine that this is an accident. The wealthiest country in the world doesn’t want to have accurate information about the poverty of its citizens, because that might require doing something about it. Right now, we’re more than content to blame that poverty on the poor.

published as an op-ed in the April 1 edition of the Conway Daily Sun 



"We are a state that lacks any kind of vision for the future."- Susan The Bruce.

Not true.

Vermont has passed it's state budget including $48 million dollars in new taxes and fees and this is a state that already has sales, income tax, expanded medicaid and high real estate taxes.

And what about those yacht dwellers?

If you'd taken the time to research the facts columnist Bruce this would reveal that droves of people and many businesses are leaving high taxation states like Vermont and Massachusetts and coming to New Hampshire.

What exactly are you proposing Susan Catfishesque Bruce? Of course your not interested in running for the legislature. Why that would get in the way of your traipsing down to Concord and pushing muckraking, deception and poor journalism techniques. You might actually have to do something instead of talking about doing something.

What an idea.

Steven J. Connolly

susanthe said...

As usual, you're off topic, Steven.

Someone who can't use the proper form of "your" shouldn't criticize anyone's writing.


Someone that doesn't understand reality and facts shouldn't be posting fiction, deception and lies....

Steven J. Connolly

susanthe said...

You're such a whiner, Steven. It's tiresome.

Lazy, too. You've never learned grammar or the fine art of rebuttal. Prove me wrong, Steven. You saying that I'm wrong is meaningless. Your credibility here is non-existent.

Artemisia said...

Droves of businesses are not coming to NH. What a daft remark. Here's a company that could easily have come to New Hampshire, BUT THEY DIDN'T. I know I'd go where the workers and the research are. When our GOP state reps say, OUT LOUD, that our state university "shouldn't try to be world class," business hears it.

Junior Mints said...

The Koch backed FSP must have received its marching orders to turn NH into low wage banana republic state like South Carolina. A desperate lower class uneducated and desperate for any job. Ruled by an untouchable upper class. No middle class to speak of.

No offense to The original Banana Republics. At least they were transparent in their brutal oppression.

Junior Mints said...

I came back to post of a clip of Ian Bernard's last night's radio show. He and his buddies were demeaning and mocking the Democracy Spring protesters. Those demonstrators are doing the hard work to bring freedom and liberty to enable our individual and collective socioeconomic capacity and address abuses of our justice system. Naturally the Commander of FK freeduh fighters can't get down on that - it's helping other people other than white guys. What a right wing cheesy goatee wearing poser. I think he may be a secret Koch agent just like the tools who started Cop Block. He was bitching about the demonstrations against Citizens United. Seriously. I couldn't bear listening past minutes.

Second topic: Anyone notice FK and FSP is silent about the NC and MS laws to take away liberty and freedom of movement for our LBGTQ brothers and sisters?

Look forward to your next blog post.