Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Worst State Capital

Spoiler alert. It's Hartford.

But I coulda told you that years ago.

Now it's official.


There's a little place, a coffee shop, here in my relatively-new home town of New Haven. It's called Blue State Coffee, it's pretty f'n good, but pretty overpriced. At least when compared to the pervasive amount of Dunkins that exist here, truly an epidemic of historic proportions. But it's great coffee, it's not a chain, and the two and only two Blue States are within walking distance of Yale. Yes, you get what you pay for. And they can get away with it because YALE.

I had a co worker who has since moved away, and although we'd disagree somewhat about those two things you should always talk about at parties and with strangers - politics and religion - we remain great friends. He used to joke about the liberal-ass lattes there, the prices, the taxes, etc. And I'd say, hey, I would've just gone to Red State Coffee where it's cheaper with no taxes, but it's falling apart, trashy, unsafe, and the coffee just sucks.

To be fair, Blue State Coffee is simply named after the Blue State in which it resides - Connecticut. And Connecticut sure has its problems. When that same co worker and I would chat about the perception of Connecticut; the yachts, the hedge fund mansions, the New England quaintness, VS the real Connecticut; the satellite dish infested boarded houses, the high cost of living, aging cities that feed off themselves, he'd often end with a comment such as, "Well it's a Blue State!" An obvious negative connotation, to him.

And he wouldn't necessarily be wrong, though I would smugly grin while pointing out the fact that Red States actually have the highest crime rates. Not to mention the highest illiteracy rates, the highest STD rates, the highest poverty rates, the highest obesity rates.... I could go on.

But I will say though, that there are good and bad examples of Red States, and good and bad examples of Blue States. Some of the things that make one good or bad are, of course, influenced by things beyond its control sometimes. I think Texas may be a Red State that is doing it right. Same with Alaska. But that may be solely due to a plethora of natural resources, that and its small population when it comes to Alaska. And states like Maryland are good Blue States, maybe due to a high concentration of federal government there. Minnesota as well, maybe partially due to its polite and efficient German influence. Who knows.

After living here over five years, however, I must admit that Connecticut is an example of a Bad Blue State. I see it everyday. More people move out than in every year. The state government just laid off 1000 workers and is cutting essential services yet is still running a nineteen-million dollar deficit. I see cities such as New Britain, Waterbury, and Bridgeport literally feeding off themselves, where the few brave souls who venture downtown to shop and stimulate the economy ironically are hounded by the parking authority hungry to give out $35 tickets.

Maybe it's the Libra in me, favoring balance and fairness, but that is what any government, any organization at that, needs to be successful: balance.

You can't cut your way out of your problems, just look at Kansas. But you can't tax your way out of them either. Look no further than our Capital, Hartford, where I literally can't think of any nice neighborhoods yet it's tax mill rate is 74! I'd never consider moving somewhere where the cost of living is just as astronomically high as your chance of having your car broken into. Or worse.

This state is like a forest fire right now, let's just hope it can be destroyed and rebuilt.

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