Reader Mail

Massachusetts Dreamin’

Opportunity costs in regulated America. Plus: The matter with Peggy Noonan. Oscar knights. Plus much more.

1.30.05

Send to Kindle

CALIFORNIA'S EDGE
Re: Lawrence Henry's Not Enough Edges:

I left Mass. for California 21 years ago at the age of 32. I had long held a sense that Mass. was a closed system with no room for people like me not already in the established group. Frankly, I was intimidated by the people on top because I felt toyed with and I did not believe that I would ever be allowed inside. It is also a fact that I never really liked that group anyway. My solution after much trepidation was to accept a job opportunity in California. The reason for the trepidation was that my family had a long history in Mass. (more than 300 years) and I liked the beauty of New England. I planned to follow the Red Sox by newspaper and by attending all their games in Anaheim.

The difference in life in California was noticed immediately. Everyone was busy and moving to get ahead. New businesses were starting up all around you. It looked to me like Lapalma Avenue in Anaheim had more businesses happening than I had noticed in over 30 years of living in my formerly beloved Worcester and Worcester County. Lapalma Avenue was really nothing special. It was really just one avenue of thousands just like it. That is the point. Small areas in California without even trying were way outperforming whole regions of Mass. Immigrants were flourishing and everyone was optimistic. An immigrant family in California will surpass a ten generation family in Worcester in less than 10 years.

Here is an account of my progress after 21 years in California. I have been involved in a leveraged buyout of a corporate division which later resulted in a lucrative IPO. I now own my own small company which is doing well and has growth potential. We are blessed to own 5 homes, 3 of which we rent out. I do not claim any credit for any of this because God is the author of our lives. I do know that a vibrant place like California allows God to work in a much more promising environment than Mass.

The January 28 article by Lawrence Henry is the best explanation I have ever heard for the stagnation of Massachusetts. The same old group running things the same old way will continue to get the same old results forever. People living currently in Massachusetts are very homogeneous in their thinking and will likely never change. The group in power is almost exclusively Democrat and anti-evangelistic in their view towards God. Republican governors being only a minor exception to the rule due the subconscious hope that they may curb some degree of excesses visited upon the people by the same old power group. Think Ted Kennedy and, for that matter, John Kerry. How can anything get better with the likes of those two around for life. When will the people of Massachusetts ever wake up? The answer may lie in Mr. Henry's article. Young people, immigrants, and time may be the answer but it will take a long time.

Thanks for the excellent article.
-- Ken Corman
Anaheim, California

Lawrence Henry's comments about Beacon Hill politicians not allowing increased airport capacity at Massachusetts airports other than Logan International is correct, but Worcester Airport is not the worst manifestation of it. Two airports much closer to Boston are well suited to relieving the congestion at Logan.

Laurence G. Hanscom Field is run by Massachusetts Port Authority, the agency that runs Logan, and is located 15 miles west from the center of Boston. It has two runways, including a 7,000 foot long main runway, and is ideally situated along Interstate 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) to relieve the congestion at Logan. Unfortunately the wealthy suburbs like Lincoln, Concord, Bedford and Lexington that surround the airport do not want the noise and traffic that commercial air service into Hanscom would bring, so the airfield is devoted to civil aviation and very occasional Air Force transient traffic. (There is a tiny smidgen of commercial traffic, but it's limited to less noisy but smaller turboprops with less range; no jets allowed.)

The old Weymouth Naval Air Station just south of Boston, with an 8,000' strip, could also be opened up for traffic, but I would imagine that the rich southern suburbs (Cohasset, Hingham, Scituate) wouldn't like airplanes overhead either, if their fierce opposition to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's reopening of the old passenger rail lines to restore train service from Plymouth County into Boston South Station is any indication.

Worcester Airport's problem is its short runway that ends on a precipitous drop. It could be improved, but at significant cost. Much further west, Westover Air Reserve Base north of Springfield is a joint use airfield with the Air Force. . The towns of Amherst and Northampton have also been very vocal in their opposition to even the Air Force's modest operations there. (Passenger service was tried there some years ago, but with minimal success. Perhaps Westover's proximity to Hartford's Bradley International made service there superfluous.)

I guess my point is that Massachusetts citizens themselves are against opening up these airports to development, in which case the state can only blame itself for its lack of growth. The wealthy towns near these airfields have the money to fight expansion at these other airports, and their state representatives as expected do their bidding. The state suffers when the additional air traffic, and all the collateral business activity, goes to Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island. The greater good is thwarted, and the myopic politicians, focused on maintaining their seats, do not care.
-- Paul DeSisto, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

Mr. Henry makes a good point, however, regulation must be a major factor related to the loss of population. I recently had to present our products for review to the Board of Plumbers and Gas Fitters to become registered in the Commonwealth for sale to the public. This is the only state in the nation that has this requirement. You are required to be there in person, once for the sub-committee meeting and again for the full committee meeting requiring coast to coast travel twice. If everything is in perfect order, you may be approved for sale. If not, you must go through the process again. In any event we were approved. It will take quite a while to break even on that investment. While at one of the meetings, I went to the men's room. There was a bulletin on the wall from the Department of Health which gave no less than 12 specific instructions on exactly how your hands were to be washed after using the lavatory. Their Department of Environmental Protection has thousands of people dreaming up these important regulations. They really need another Boston tea party.
-- Thomas F. Neal

I have no doubt that, on its face, the above statistic [that Massachusetts is the only state losing population] is true. However, when you factor out illegal immigration, I believe California is also losing population to so-called edge states.
-- Steve Getman

FULL DISCLOSURE
Re: John Tabin's Impropriety Central:

While we are looking into tax money to columnists, could we see a break down by line item for tax funds to groups that lobby the government, i.e. NAACP, AARP, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, PBS, CPR, etc.? All would seem to be inappropriate. Think of how much money that would save!
-- Judge R.D. Canaday
Independence, Kansas

MISS PEGGY
Re: Patrick O'Hannigan's Gone Wobbly:

I couldn't agree more with Mr. Hannigan's perspective on Peggy Noonan's reaction to George Bush's inaugural speech. Ms. Noonan is a brilliant writer but it seems as though she would have preferred the tone and substance of a Rotary Club speech versus the customary grand ideas and challenges laid out in an inaugural speech. The United States doesn't do presidential elections and inaugurals only every four years to hear a president give a speech on his agenda to fill potholes. I find it troubling that a woman who helped write Ronald Reagan's "Shining City on Hill" speech would describe George Bush's proclamation for universal human freedom and democracy a reach. For those of us who are fans of Ms. Noonan, let's hope that she has a different perspective on George Bush's upcoming State of the Union address. In the meantime, keeping talking Mr. President about the fires of freedom burning bright as a guide for all those in oppressed countries. It appeals to us more than ethanol subsidies.
-- Thomas Miller
Wildwood, Missouri

Gone Wobbly indeed! I was more surprised by Peggy Noonan's reaction to the Presidents speech than anyone else's. Being a regular reader of hers I had been disappointed when she was absent during her months of working for his re-election. That commitment seemed to be to signal a resolve not often shown so openly by most people. I think however, that Mr. O'Hannigan has struck the nail squarely on the head, one of my favorite columnists has been trending more and more to writing from the heart than from her head. Just read a series of her pieces over the past couple of years and it does appear to be true. I don't know what it means to me in the end, I have continued to read her but have missed the substance that was previously there.
-- Roger Ross
Tomahawk, Wisconsin

I agree that Peggy Noonan needs careful attention. I cannot believe the same woman who has written so many beautiful books and speeches would lose her mind, like she did last week.

I think she has lived in New York too long. We suffered that fate when we lived in the D.C. area. Then we moved to Texas and bought a ranch and recovered our minds. I suggest a stay on our ranch next summer for Ms. Noonan, where she can help bail hay, work cattle, tend a garden, and see if that helps... We promise to not keep her out in the sun too long!
-- Beverly Gunn
Texan

Did anyone else see and hear Peggy Noonan's critique of President Bush's Inaugural Address with Brit Hume on Fox News immediately after The Speech? She said, in effect, masterful, powerful, a speech for the ages. And then, to read in the Wall Street Journal piece??? Is there one Peggy Noonan and an anti-matter Peggy Noonan extant? Could a Spectator writer be able to retrieve a tape of the Fox News analysis and contrast it with the written words? Inquiring minds must find out.
-- Dave Linehan
McLean, Virginia

Patrick O'Hannigan is dead-on regarding Ms. Noonan, although a little late. She slipped over into the appeasement column in my ledger with a nauseating WSJ editorial on the first anniversary of 9/11. Alas, whatever her credentials were long, long ago she is now simply another Eastern RINO, co-opted by the social scene and a natural desire to be loved by her misguided neighbors.
-- Steve Gingerich

I just wanted to thank you for your article about Peggy Noonan's recent articles. Like you, I like Peggy Noonan, but not unequivocally. In this case, I agree with you.
-- Karen Loman

Patrick O'Hannigan, not just coincidentally from the same old ancestral sod as Peggy, has presciently identified the next David Brock, well, sort of.

Anyone who has kept a mindful eye on Peggy's Wall Street Journal op-ed writings had detected a certain wistfulness on the madam's part for the good old liberal familiars. She identifies herself as someone who once bitterly resented men opening doors for her, along with other elements from the angry feminist's list of particulars. After 9/11, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, she found herself irresistibly drawn to the blue collar working stiffs who pulled piece of WTC debris after piece, as if somehow that manual labor was implicit and adequate penance for the decades of support for Clintons and Kennedys and Boxers and Lautenbergs that those fellows surely rendered and will continue to blindly render. And now the presumably faithful daughter of the Church finds herself troubled by a man whose faith in the same Founder grates on her ears.

Fear not, Peggy, you need not linger for fear of hurting our feelings. Linda or Mona are manifestly happier with the conservative cause, and will be delighted to laud what you find so sad.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

Mr. O'Hannigan's comments on Noonan hit the bull's eye. I think Noonan writes beautifully, but she gets carried away by her own lyrical fluff sometimes. For example, I believe she was the person responsible for all that piffle about "a kinder, gentler America" and a "thousand points of light" in George Senior's inaugural address (his ONLY inaugural address, as we all remember). Cotton-candy prose from the feel-good style book may be tolerable when we're at peace, but no one's going to rally to the barricades in order to defend the proposition, "Have a nice day."
-- David Carter

DUBIOUS HONORS
Re: Shawn Macomber's Shunning Oscar:

FYI, the movie that brought me out to indulge in the popcorn cover floors of a movie theater, was Team America: World Police. Now what you must understand the last movie I saw in public with popcorn-covered floors was The Hunt for Red October.

So I am terribly upset that the theme song was not nominated for best song.

Of course the acting by the animatronic puppets was about as good as some I have seen on the small screen.

You can never satisfy everybody.
-- SFC Kenneth E. Miller USA (RET)
Tonica, Illinois

It's been a few years, but I remember seeing famed comedian and pro-am smoker Dennis Leary on a talk show, describing his voting process as a member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences (of which this academy really seems to be neither, especially with Mr. Leary as a voting member). His process for voting went something like this, from most votes to least: His friends' films, films with starring women he'd slept with, films starring people his friends were sleeping with, films starring people he wanted to sleep with, and somewhere in there I think there was a special dispensation for films about Boston. I have a hard time getting worked up about nominations when I know that the star of The Ref has a hand in picking this year's zenith of cinematic achievement. What about the smelly guy that works at the Blockbuster down the street that keeps trying to make me rent straight-to-video VanDamme films? Why doesn't he get a say?
-- Zac Beverage
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

My sentiments exactly. I didn't want The Passion of the Christ to be up for best picture at the OSCARS! And why anyone would want the story of Jesus's last days to be "honored" by HOLLYWOOD mystifies me. Mel Gibson's efforts were rewarded by the number of people who went to see his vision on the silver screen. The Oscar award is nothing more than an exercise in politics, anyway.
-- Cathy Thorpe
Columbus, Georgia

My opinion of the Oscars was fixed when the utterly forgettable "Annie Hall" beat "Star Wars."
-- Jason Stewart

Both movies cater to extremism and the voters were right to heed neither's call.
-- Dan Mittelman
Cherry Hill, New Jersey

KEEP MEMORY ALIVE
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell's What Terrible Things Were Done:

Thanks for one of my favorite websites.

My husband's grandfather died recently at the age of 84. He was a Polish prisoner in Auschwitz during the war and managed to escape.

Last year he took my in-laws to Poland and toured Auschwitz again. It was chilling seeing the video tape from the camp -- the wall where Polish prisoners were shot was right next to grandfather's barracks.

From all accounts the camp is in a beautiful area of Poland. My in-laws said however, that inside the camp, it is complete silence, not even birds make a noise.

The old with direct ties to this atrocity are dying out, and it is more important than ever that we keep these memorials alive and continue to remember for the next generation.
-- Joan Laszczak
Pinson, Alabama

LAW OF THE WOMB
Re: Ben Berry's letter (under "Rare and Legal!") in Reader Mail's No Presspassing:

Mr. Berry tries to make it seem like being "pro life" is a bad thing, and that women who murder their un-born children should not be judged. Why shouldn't they be judged Mr. Berry? People who murder are judged every day in this country. Granted, making abortion illegal will not stop all abortions, just as murder being illegal has not stopped all murders, or making drugs illegal has not stopped all people from doing and selling drugs. Your point about the legality or illegality of anything is actually pointless. If we based our laws on whether or not "all" people refrained from committing a given act, then there would be no laws at all. And by the way Mr. Berry, it is morally superior to be pro-life!
-- Greg Goff
Casper, Wyoming

Interesting response. I'll make this short. I stated that the anti-abortion forces in this country consider the termination of a human fetus to be murder. In fact, to terminate a fetus without the mother's consent within the second trimester in most states and in a few cases the first trimester is considered homicide, with the unborn child being the victim.

In response to Mr. Berry's second point about prohibition not stopping the use of drugs in this country, prohibition hasn't stopped homicide, theft, burglary, robbery, rape or fraud, either. Would he advocate abolishing all laws now on the books for the same reason?

Third, I passed no judgment upon any woman having an abortion. Right or wrong, abortion is legal in the United States and we are a country of laws. As to adoption, I firmly believe in the practice and encourage it.

What Mr. Berry has to realize is that people have to accept responsibility for their actions, and that includes conception of offspring. In the case of rape or incest the responsibilities reside with someone other than the pregnant woman and these are issues that must be dealt with by society. Society has spoken loudly for years concerning the legality of unfettered abortion, with only the courts upholding the practice.

But, I still stand by my position that EVERY conceived human being has a right to exist. If Mr. Berry disagrees with THAT, we can debate euthanasia next.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article