Sunday, February 11, 2018

New Hampshire At Risk? Merrill, Childs and Francese

The gathering storm which is New Hampshire demographics was explored in a 2008 documentary by Lorraine Stuart Merrill, Jay Childs and Peter Francese, called "Communities & Consequences" which depicted the state as aging--we are the second oldest state in terms of age of the people living here, and we have a problem  of young people moving away rather than settling here.

I have not seen the original film nor the sequel which is in production, a follow up exploring the lack of affordable housing, land development abuses and decline in school, health care and effective local governance.
3 bridges over Piscataqua at Portsmouth

I've only lived in the Granite State 10 years, a veritable new comer, but most of the problems I see seem to be problems of scale. Only 1.3 million people live here, and they are not evenly distributed, being mostly clustered near the Massachusetts border or along the seacoast.
Tugboats at Portsmouth

This is a state which until recently has been mostly rural, apart from the mill towns of Manchester and New Market and its legislature is decidedly and determinedly amateur. It is only of the largest legislatures in the free world, 495 Representatives, for a state of diminutive size. 
North Church, home to Daniel Webster

If the people of New Hampshire wanted to improve health care, they would have to recognize that given the cost of health care, they simply do not have enough people to support a first rate system. Even Vermont, which tried to create a state run health care system found it simply did not have enough people to support one.
Fall stream 

For problems like health care, likely New Hampshire would have to form a consortium with other states--the obvious partners Vermont, Maine and possibly Massachusetts. Then the folks of New Hampshire would have enough market clout to buy itself a better system. Unless, of course, Bernie Sanders got swept into the Presidency with enough legislators to put in a National Health system.
Lake Winnipesaukie 

But what really draws young folks to a state and keeps them there is an educational system.  

New Hampshire will never have an adequate supply of really well trained doctors until it has university hospital training programs here. Young doctors tend to stay close to where they are trained as interns, residents and fellows. 
Rte 1A Rye, NH

Rhode Island does not have a problem attracting young folks because it has three thriving universities, only one of which is a public, state university. 

The University of New Hampshire has attracted to its mother ship a faculty with glittering credentials, and the colleges at Keene and Plymouth have stars, but to really bolster community building, a lot more money would have to pour into these institutions. 
White Mountains

Until 2017, one could always say, "Never gonna happen." Nobody is going to allow the kind of spending which would be needed to prime that pump. Republicans would shout down spending with the dreaded, "Deficits, Debt and Doom!" 

Now, of course, none of that dreaded triple D seems to matter. As long as the deficit emanates from cutting corporate taxes, it's all good. Apparently, the deficit is not the problem. Debt is not a problem. It's the moral significance of how you got there.

Or something. I don't quite understand. 
Portsmouth from the Piscataqua River

There are some very smart people living in New Hampshire, but they have not, thus far, outweighed people of the other variety: the entrenched, the ignorant and the fearful. 

As Rhode Island discovered some years ago, the solutions have to originate from within, from long time Granite Staters who have street cred with the folks from Bedford, Kingston and Franconia.  
Plaice Cove, Obadiah Youngblood

New Hampshire is one of those places that has so much going for it, you wonder how the folks here have managed to resist becoming the most gentrified state in the union: Gorgeous lakes, a splendid coastline, proximity to the cerebral cortex of the nation, good connections to rail, sea and land transport. Two airports which could burgeon if allowed--one in Manchester and one on the seacoast. 

The wonder is how we have managed to remain somnolent when the world has been clamoring all around us. 
Rte 1A North Hampton, NH 

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