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Author Topic: Great article on New Hampshire  (Read 2700 times)


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    • The Light of Alexandria
Great article on New Hampshire
« on: October 06, 2003, 01:41:11 pm »

This is perfect... And from a writer who really likes the FSP....

Here's hoping that 'crazy' NH
may forever stay that way
Guest Commentary

WHAT A difference a day makes. On a recent Sunday night I was in Barnstead stroking the horns of my father's lovably rotund goat, Pete. On Monday afternoon I was standing in the doorway of my new apartment in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

"Hold up!" a maintenance man shouted good naturedly as I was closing my door. "You'll need your phone book, right?" I thanked him and began absently flipping through the yellow pages like a miner peering into long unexplored shaft: What gems, food, entertainment, and otherwise, awaited me in my new home? Quickly, I realized I had strolled into the wrong cave.

"Hold on," I said. "This phone book is in Spanish."

The maintenance man gave me a sympathetic look much akin to the one Charlie Babbit gave his brother Ray in "Rain Man" when he said he could only buy his underwear at Kmart in Cincinnati. "If you need to, you can special order one in English," he said.

It may make me seem hopelessly un-cosmopolitan to the likes of Howard Dean and John Kerry, but I'm not sure this bilingual thing is doing anyone much good. I watched that bilingual Democratic primary debate and was struck by the newfound and hearty embrace of the virtue of inefficiency. The eight candidates smiled eagerly as each question was recited twice, once in English, once in Spanish, the whole process taking twice as long as it should have.

I'm not sure how many people the fine state of New Hampshire sends down to Washington per annum, but I can tell you our reputation precedes us here. Like most reputations it is equal parts appealing and unappealing, heroic and stupid. Apparently most people get their information on Granite Staters from television shows and films like "Mr. Deeds." (I wonder if Adam Sandler feels some latent guilt about portraying his home state as full of bumbling cow herders whose primary intellectual pursuit is untangling the rhetorical knots of Hallmark cards.)

I knew this before coming here, of course. If you'd like to really know what the rest of the world imagines your state is like, invite a television crew in. Last March I visited the set of the television series "The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire" in Plymouth, and was much amused by the confusion surrounding a wardrobe change. "Should I stick with the jean jacket when we switch scenes, or should I put on a flannel?" an extra asked hurriedly in the moments before the "Action!" call sounded.

Watching a television crew work on achieving New Hampshire chic, one gets the rare opportunity to more fully understand how the locals around Hooterville felt when the "Green Acres" crew started passing out pigs and overalls.

So, yes, there are a lot of "Did you help your Pa tend the farm before the big move?" kind of questions. But even more so, there is a sort of awe about our independence and work ethic. For those who advocate a sales or an income tax in New Hampshire (By the way: Do you miss your lakeside home in Massachusetts yet?), I can tell you, charge 4.5 percent more for every item under the sun and life does not get 4.5 percent better. Poor people just end up buying 4.5 percent fewer groceries for their children.

You can add to people's tax burden with an state income tax, but you'll only get more crying, bureaucratic "feel your pain" types getting paid $30,000 a year to write press releases, not better schools. You can cry and gnash your teeth waiting for the federal government to open its purse and solve all your problems, but here in D.C., with the largest concentration of federal largesse in the world, you can still walk two blocks from the Capitol building and see the kind of poverty you only imagined occurring in other countries.

Are property tax rates in New Hampshire too high? Absolutely. Tell it to the state legislators who just ignored the people's 2002 election demand for fiscal responsibility, and Gov. Craig Benson, who after a short, brave fight, gave in to them.

The frittering away of our personal freedoms and income does not, in fact, create a promised land. The promised land, for many, is where you live now.

Hold down the state for me while I'm gone, and know it is a beacon of freedom and personal responsibility for the rest of the country.

The other day I opened a bank account down the street. "Oh, you're from New Hampshire?" the teller said. "I hear it's beautiful up there. Lot of nature. I got to visit someday." Then she paused. "I heard you're all crazy up there, though."

Si, senorita.

And if the greater Washington metropolitan area is what passes as sane, God willing, we'll stay crazy.

Shawn Macomber is a freelance writer. He can be contacted through his Web site,

The Light of Alexandria By James Maynard

A history of the first 1,000 years of science, and how it changed the ancient world, and our world today.
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