Closed for Business

By Ian Aikens | September 7, 2019

Did you see the article in the news about Faro Italian Grille, a popular eating spot in Laconia, closing early this summer for lack of workers? (See References below).

While the current low unemployment rate (if you can believe the government’s figures) is good news for those in need of a job, the other side of the coin is the current economic situation is creating havoc with businesses trying to survive. What caused this dilemma and what could be done to alleviate it?

The most obvious factor is the lack of foreign workers due to the ever-increasing crackdown and curtailment of immigrants into this country. Regardless of how one feels about legal and illegal immigration, the unavoidable fact is that American businesses need foreign labor to survive. The US economy has 7.6 million jobs open but only 6.5 million people looking for work. (The subject of work force participation and the growing number of folks dependent on government programs is a whole other subject that I may delve into at some point in the future).

Since the Department of Labor began tracking job turnover 20 years ago, this is the first time the pendulum has swung this way—and the gap is growing each month. Interestingly, while it’s common knowledge that employers have been short on workers in the science and technology field for years, the labor shortage has now crept down to blue-collar jobs like healthcare aides, restaurant workers, and hotel staff. Rather than the oft-heard proclamation that immigrants are “taking jobs away from Americans,” the reality is there simply aren’t enough native-born Americans to (willingly) do those jobs to keep the economy moving along smoothly. In the various hearings I attended in Concord this year, an oft-repeated complaint I heard was healthcare facilities in dire need of workers. “Who will take care of our old folks?” was a common theme.

Speaking of old folks, a huge part of the problem is the changing demographics of American society. Baby boomers, those who were born from 1946-1964 and about 80 million strong in the US, are retiring en masse these days. According to the AARP, 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every single day (that’s nearly 7 every single minute), and some sparsely populated states have a very high concentration of them. Maine has the most at 36.8%, and New Hampshire is a close second. While 65% of baby boomers plan to work past age 65, it turns out that 60% of retired workers had to stop working earlier than planned due to layoffs and health issues. In addition to the growing number of folks on the older end, families are having less kids these days, which means fewer young people in the future to do the work.

Another factor that comes into play here is students staying in school longer these days and entering the workforce later. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of “kids” enrolled in post-secondary degree-granting institutions increased by more than 52% between 1990 and 2014. When you look at college dropout statistics, this is a terrible trend: one-third of college students drop out entirely, and more than half enrolled take more than 6 years to graduate. Furthermore, 28% of students drop out before they even become a sophomore. At community colleges, it’s even worse with 43% of students dropping out with no degree. This is often due to the majority of students taking remedial classes for what they were supposed to learn in high school. This trend of staying in school longer and longer and extending childhood doesn’t bode well. No wonder one hears so much these days about college students turning into snowflakes and “triggered” simply by viewpoints different than their own.

Back in California, I rented out a room to a graduate student who at age 30 had never worked at a regular job for even one day in her entire life—and she was still going to school. (I often remarked to others that by the time she’s done with all her studies and is ready to get a job, it will be time to retire already.) A friend of mine who hails from Europe once told me that it’s not unusual in Europe for “kids” to study until their mid-20’s and then go to work. With more and more calls lately for “free college” to beckon young people to stay in school longer when staggering numbers of them—those who actually finish college—end up taking menial jobs not even in their fields of study, this makes no sense. Especially when there are already plenty of jobs that need to be filled. Granted, they may not be glamourous jobs, but there’s still something valuable about independence, practical work experience, being out of the ivory tower, and growing up, even in 2019.

So, back to the original problem for businesses like Faro’s, where do we go from here? While “open borders” are hardly feasible in the current political environment, how about something like the Bracero Program, which was established by President Roosevelt by executive order (unlike his infamous Executive Order 9066 which directed the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans) in 1942 and lasted through 1964? It allowed nearly 5 million Mexican citizens to enter the US legally and temporarily work on farms and railroads, and in factories, while many young Americans were overseas in the military in WWII. Like any government program, it had its share of bureaucratic problems, but it did serve the useful function of bringing in workers that were desperately needed—and giving people living south of the border an opportunity to earn a better living here. (Some call this exploitation, but you have to compare the working opportunities in Mexico versus what they faced in the US—if it was that much worse here facing “exploitation” and discrimination, why did they choose voluntarily to come north?)

Hilariously, while researching this article, I ran into another government program that definitely did not pan out. It was established in 1965 shortly after the Bracero Program ended, when American farmers complained to the government that the Mexican workers had performed jobs that Americans refused to do and their crops would rot in the fields without them. Leave it to a government bureaucrat to come up with a real zinger: called the A-TEAM, which stood for Athletes in Temporary Employment as Agricultural Manpower, its grand plan was to recruit 20,000 American high school male athletes to work on farms in California and Texas during summer harvest seasons. The end result: fewer than 3,500 of the A-TEAM signed up for work, and many of them soon quit or went on strike complaining of the back-breaking work, oppressive heat, low pay, and poor working conditions. Needless to say, the zinger was zapped after the first summer. Moral of the story: US businesses need foreign workers to do a lot of the lesser jobs that native-born Americans simply will not do.

As to the more recent trend of extending childhood well into what used to be adulthood, that’s a trend worth reversing. Of course, if students themselves, their families, their donors, and their banks are willing to pay the costs, no problem, but not at the public trough. The only real benefactors of sticking it to the taxpayers are the institutions that charge more with the additional “free” tuition money floating around, and of course all the bureaucrats who feed on the largesse. One good suggestion I ran into was for employers in the real world (voluntary economy) to reduce educational requirements and increase internal on-the-job training. If they can’t get more foreign workers in here to help out, that’s just what they might be forced to do anyway.

More foreign workers, fewer useless degrees, more real-world working experience—that might help businesses like Faro’s in the future, but too late for this season.


Drapcho, Adam (Laconia Daily Sun). (2019, August 1). Weirs Restaurant Closes for Lack of Workers. Retrieved from

Faro Italian Grille. (2019). Faro Italian Grille. Retrieved from

Celestial Seasonings – September 2019

By Heather Durham | August 30, 2019

We will have the pleasure to see this month in our night sky, weather permitting, several wonderful celestial events. These include the usual sweep of stars and constellations, but also glimpses of galaxies, planets, comets, changes of moon phase, and the Fall equinox. Enjoy.

September 3

Mercury at superior solar conjunction

This elusive planet will pass very closely to the sun. It is often lost in the suns glare. This marks the end of Mercury‘s apparition in the morning sky and its transition to becoming an evening object over the next few weeks. It will also pass apogee at a distance of 1.37 AU from Earth making it appear very small and distant. (, 2019).

September 4

C2018 W2 (Africano) at perihelion

This comet will make its closest approach to the sun and might be visible from Rochester in the morning sky at 20:59 when it rises 21 degrees above the northeastern horizon. While this is not expected to be seen with the naked eye, it might be visible with bird-watching binoculars.

September 8

Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn

The Moon will be 11 days old when the moon and Saturn share the same right ascension. The two objects or make a close approach around the same time. From Rochester, they will be visible in the evening sky at about 8:09 PM. They will continue to be observable until around 2am when they sink below 8° above your southwestern sky.

Close approach of the Moon and Pluto

When the moon is 10 days old the pair can be seen in the evening sky at around 7:25 pm. They should be visible with binoculars.

September 23

September equinox

No matter where you live on Earth, the sun will rise almost due east and set almost due west on this, the Equinox of this coming season. The timing of this event will be 3:36 EDT. The sun has a right ascension of approximately equal to 12 hours.

September is a month for new beginnings. The days will be shorter and the nights longer until the December Solstice.

In Rochester, the astronomical twilight begins at 4:57 am, the sunrise at 6:32 am, then the astronomical twilight ends at 8:14 pm. Sunrise is at 6:32 am, sunset at 6:39 pm and the time at which the sun is at its highest point in the sky is at 12:36 pm.

September 24

Close approach of the Moon and M44

When the moon is 25 days old, the Moon and the beehive cluster, M44 will make a close approach of each other. The pair will be visible and the dawn sky rising at 1:49 AM and reaching an altitude of 45° above the eastern horizon before disappearing from view as dawn breaks. The pair may be visible using a pair of binoculars.

Moon Phases, September 2019, Rochester, New Hampshire

Moon Phase – Date – Time of Day

  • First Quarter – September 5 – 11:11 PM
  • Full Moon. – September 14 – 12:35 AM
  • Last Quarter – September 21 – 10.43 PM
  • New Moon – September 28 – 2:27 PM

Previous in sequence: Celestial Seasonings – August 2019; next in sequence: Celestial Seasonings – October 2019


Dominic Ford, Editor. (August 11, 2019). From the Inner Planets Feed. Retrieved from

Equinox NH 2019 Celebration. (August 2019). Equinox New Hampshire. Retrieved from Monthly Report, (August 2019). Monthly Map. Retrieved from (August 2019). September Equinox. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (August 2019). Conjunctions. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (August 2019). M44. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (August, 2019). September 2019 Equinox. Retrieved from


Celestial Seasonings – August 2019

By Heather Durham | July 31, 2019

Fiftieth Anniversary of Apollo 11 – Just Past

For the first time in human history, man landed on the moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969. Michael Collins remained in moon orbit with the command module, while two others descended to the surface in the lunar module. Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin served as the lunar module pilot of Apollo 11.

Apollo 11 launched from the Kennedy Space Center at 9:32 am on July 16, 1969.

It took 2 years to locate the appropriate location for landing. Neil Armstrong was the first to set foot on the lunar surface, followed 19 minutes later by Aldrin.

These men located and brought back to Earth, 47.5 pounds of lunar material. The astronauts returned on July 24, 1969, after spending 8 days in space.

There were and are many celebrations for this 50th anniversary. This past January, the U.S. Mint released a 50th anniversary coin.

August 1 – New Moon

The new moon begins a two-week waxing (or increasing) phase that culminates in the full moon. Once visible, this would be a superb time to view other celestial events because the waxing crescent is visible in the evening sky.

August 8 – Venus at Perihelion

During which Venus is at its closest approach to the sun, a distance is 107,477,000 km. (66,783,111 miles).

August 9 – Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation

Mercury reaches elongation at 18.3 degrees from the sun. It might be viewed at dawn depending upon the weather conditions at that time.

August 12, 13 – Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseid Meteor showers come from a debris stream that surrounds the 133-year orbit of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Beginning in 1865, a young filament from the stream gives a mini peak display before the maximum shower occurred. At peak, meteor rates may reach 60 or more per hour.

These particles slam into Earth’s atmosphere so fast that it doesn’t take a large particle to put on quite a fantastic show. Actually the meteors are no bigger than a grain of sand or a pea. The show is produced by the kinetic energy that changes to heat caused by friction in the upper atmosphere,

Although these may not be that prolific this August due to the full moon, there should be 10-15 meteors per hour … a substantially lesser amount that in other years like 2016.

This month’s shower should be at its strongest right after the comet passes along the portion of its orbit that meets the Earth’s orbit as well as after it passes near the sun.

August 14 – Venus at Superior Solar Conjunction

While not visible with the Sun in the sky, Venus may be seen passing through the evening sky.

August 15 – Full Moon

August 30 – New Moon

Having two new moons in the same calendar month happens only once in every two to three years. (New moons are not lit, so there is nothing lunar to see).

Next in sequence: Celestial Seasonings – September 2019


Lewin, Sarah. (2019, January 8). Perseid Meteor Shower 2019: When, Where & How to See It. Retrieved from

Powell, Martin J. (2019). Mercury. Retrieved from

Sky & Telescope. (2019). Meteor Showers. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, July 30). Apollo 11. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, July 27). Moon. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, March 11). Perseids. Retrieved from


Railing About Rail

By Ian Aikens | July 31, 2019

The last public hearing I attended in the legislative session in Concord that ended on June 30, 2019 was anything but encouraging. It was regarding SB241, which would authorize funding for the “project development phase” of the capital rail project and extend commuter rail from Boston to either Nashua, Manchester, or Concord (or all 3 cities). For hours I listened to one proponent after another urge the committee members to approve the bill, and I ended up being the sole member of the public to speak in opposition to the bill.

One proponent called it a “no brainer” since 80% of the funding would come from the federal government. Just how a government that is $22,000,000,000,000 (and counting) in the hole has “free” money to dispense was never clarified to the committee members. One committee member asked one of the proponents if inserting the project into the 2019-2028 Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan (a big black hole) meant that the remaining 20% needed would already be funded. In other words, the money’s already there, so why not spend it? Indeed, placing a costly project in a big black hole with little visibility for the taxpaying public would be great for special interest groups, and that’s how government boondoggles are born. Many of the speakers touted how rail would create jobs and revitalize towns, cut down on traffic congestion, increase business at Manchester Airport, improve the environment, bring tourists to New Hampshire, and keep the young from leaving the state. The only benefit I didn’t hear mentioned was that it would spur the return of the Messiah.

Now let’s take a quick look at the history of rail in this country. It served a practical purpose as the country was developing and spreading across the continent transitioning from horse and buggy and water transportation, but once automobiles and air travel become affordable to the masses, rail transport became outmoded and impractical. Passenger rail was always used more by the elite, and ridership peaked around 1920 and never recovered. Despite the rosy claims of its proponents, virtually every rail project in the country features overestimates of ridership, underestimates of the building costs involved, constant and ongoing taxpayer subsidies, deferred maintenance with incredible backlogs—and a band of highly paid consultants served well by the perpetuation of the myths of rail. Outside of a very densely populated city like New York, and possibly Chicago and San Francisco, rail transit in this day and age is not economically feasible. Planes are faster and less expensive for long distances, and cars and buses are more convenient and less expensive for short distances. A few examples of the dismal record of rail projects from around the country: 1) Nashville’s Music City Star, which began operating in 2006, was requiring a taxpayer subsidy of $28 per ride by 2016; 2) Orlando, Florida’s SunRail, a 32-mile commuter rail line, opened in 2014 to such low ridership that by 2016 the government agency running the line admitted that the fare revenues weren’t enough to even cover the costs of operating and maintaining the ticket machines used to sell tickets to riders; 3) Salt Lake City opened up a commute line north to Ogden in 2008 and another line south to Provo in 2012. Through 2015, the Utah Transit Authority had already spent $2 billion on capital improvements and maintenance of rail lines that carried only 8,330 roundtrips per weekday. That’s a cost of $1,000 per resident, and the actual fares collected covered only 18% of the total transit costs. At losses of $35 million per year, it would actually have been cheaper for the taxpayers to buy every daily roundtrip rider a new Toyota Prius every two years.

Rail doesn’t fare much better when you look elsewhere in the world. France’s first high-speed rail train, which ran from Paris to Lyon, did earn enough operating profits to repay its construction costs by 1992, but later lines built all lost money, and by 2013 the country’s rail program had accumulated debts of over $50 billion. While most people are aware of Japan’s “bullet train,” did you know that the Tokyo-Osaka rail corridor is the only line that has ever been profitable in Japan? The reason for this rare rail success story is because the corridor is extremely high density (about 50 million people) and automobile ownership is low. As the government built new rail lines in lower-density corridors where car ownership was higher, those rail lines were all big money losers for the taxpayers.

Closer to home, the Downeaster provides good historical data to see how rail has worked out locally. The Downeaster, which has been running ten trains daily between Boston and Maine since 2001, makes stops in Exeter, Durham, and Dover. The first thing rail proponents always tout is that rail creates jobs and spurs economic development. A study looking at job growth paired similar cities, as far as access to infrastructure, to see how they fared since the Downeaster started running. Epping was paired with Exeter and Dover with Rochester. After 12 years, the results showed that Exeter had lost 300 jobs, Durham’s total number of jobs was virtually unchanged, and Dover had added just over 1,000 new jobs. The study’s conclusion that having a rail stop in Exeter did nothing to stop the job loss there pointed more to general economic conditions in the area and the nature of local economies (more manufacturing-oriented or service-oriented). The study found that Dover’s impressive job growth had more to do with being a large service center than trains having a stop there because Epping and Concord also saw greater job growth over the same period, and neither city had passenger rail service. The study concurred with what the director of Harvard’s Rappaport Institute had to say in the summary of a study of the MBTA commuter rail system: “The history of commuter rail in Massachusetts suggests that while commuter rail can be helpful, it generally has not revitalized communities or reduced sprawl.”

So, if government is going to be involved in the transportation business, wouldn’t it make more sense to put those tax dollars to better use? And, if the goal is to get more folks to their destinations faster and cheaper, buses are a much better bang for our bucks. The express buses that run along the I-93 corridor move 550,000 people per year for $750,000. Compare that to the Downeaster, which, mind you, is considered a “successful” rail project, and moves 530,000 riders per year for a government subsidy of $8.4 million. Furthermore, with bus lines, changes in employment and development patterns can be adapted to much quicker and economically by adding or subtracting bus lines as needed (or not). The same flexibility will never be there with rail transit.

Looking to the future, rail makes even less sense with the imminent arrival of driverless cars. The new technology will allow elderly and disabled folks to get around so much easier. While this might add to congested highways, the new technology will be able to handle the additional traffic safer and more efficiently due to the reduction of human error. Furthermore, cars are getting cleaner and more environmentally-friendly every year, so we should applaud technology that makes life easier for more folks. Clearly driverless technology will mean even less people will choose to use rail transit.

One would think with the well-publicized rail disaster in California that was supposed to link San Francisco and Los Angeles in two hours that has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars and will never be finished, that should have quelled any enthusiasm for such a project in New Hampshire. But no, I heard at least one rail advocate at the SB241 hearing mention a possible future high-speed rail line between Montreal and Boston as a goal to strive for. With estimated subsidies of $10 per rider to maintain rail service from Boston to Manchester and $60 per rider from Boston to Concord—a price tag of $5.5 million per year—why would anyone think a Montreal to Boston project would turn out any better than the California debacle? I caution readers to consider the words of Willie Brown, the former Speaker of the California State Assembly and former Mayor of San Francisco (a politician I never cared for, but one who occasionally would cut loose with an unusually frank statement of political reality): “News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone. We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it. In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.”

Finally, to end on a positive note, even though SB241 became law on June 6 without the governor’s signature and millions of “free” taxpayer dollars will be spent to study the feasibility of the capital rail project, at least all three of Milton’s state legislators (Abigail Rooney, Peter Hayward, and Jeb Bradley) voted NAY on the upcoming boondoggle. A small glimmer of hope for fiscal sanity!


LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

O’Toole, Randal. (2018, October). Romance of the Rails: Why the Passenger Trains We Love Are Not the Transportation We Need. Retrieved from

Eliott-Trafficante, Josh. (2015, May). Does Commuter Rail Create Jobs? Retrieved from

San Francisco Chronicle column, July 28, 2013

Not the Fourth of July

By Ian Aikens | July 8, 2019

Isn’t it strange how even the name of the holiday being celebrated last week with parades, barbeques, flag-waving, and fireworks has morphed from “Independence Day” to the “Fourth of July”?  It almost seems like an intentional purpose to make people forget what the Declaration of Independence was all about and why it came into being.

Though the general population’s knowledge of civics and the most basics of American history is severely lacking these days — close to 40% of the American public cannot name even one of the freedoms listed in the First Amendment — at least most folks know there was a war when the 13 colonies broke away from England sometime in the late 1700’s, the Founding Fathers conjured up some historical documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and our country was formed.  Most folks will recall there was some type of uproar over taxes or some such grievance, but that’s about it.  Shamefully, despite the massive amounts of taxpayer money spent on education these days — in most states, close to 50% of taxes collected go to schools — much collective memory has been lost.  When I was in junior high school, studying the Constitution was one of the major hurdles of getting through the eighth grade.  When I ask young folks these days about it, they all say that it’s not even taught at all — at least not in government schools.

How convenient to forget the past.  In fact, the Declaration of Independence was a radical proclamation by rebel British subjects that the purpose of government is to protect and uphold individual rights.  After 250 years, we take that as a given, but at the time, that was truly a remarkable revelation.  Government was created to serve the people, not the other way around.  In fact, the rebel colonists were so distrustful of government from their experience with the British government that the Articles of Confederation created such a weak federal government that it didn’t even have the power to tax.  (In retrospect, perhaps a good thing?)  The Founding Fathers were on to something new and profound, and it’s no accident that Americans experienced an incredible growth in prosperity after the signing of the Declaration of Independence (which was approved by Congress on July 4, 1776 but wasn’t actually signed until August 2, 1776) to be followed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights in 1787 and 1789 respectively.  A lot of thought went into designing a government that would be limited in scope and concentration of authority to prevent the abuse of power.  They very purposely came up with a government based on the rule of law, rather than the rule of man.

Sadly, if the Founding Fathers were here today to see what the limited government they created has become, they would faint.  Endless wars and Congress completely abdicating its responsibility and allowing the president to commit US troops abroad without congressional approval goes completely against the intent of the Founding Fathers.  And this is nothing new:  the last time Congress authorized and declared war was World War II.  The Founding Fathers specifically did not want a standing army because they knew it would lead to military adventures overseas — which is has — and felt a navy would be sufficient for defensive purposes.  They would be appalled at American presidents with the power to assassinate “our enemies” with drones without due process of law.  The surveillance state and rampant abuses by the NSA, CIA, FBI, IRS, FDA, and TSA would be another whopper for the Founding Fathers to grasp.  The utter lack of economic freedom, where every branch of government has passed a myriad of laws governing every aspect of running any business these days, would also have the Founding Fathers aghast.  If you ever take a look at bills that push for more controls with licensing and fee extractions, they often literally say “for the privilege (my emphasis) of operating a business in …”  The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew from experience that government itself is the greatest threat to liberty and designed a system to prevent such tyranny.  The welfare state and calls for more government guaranteed jobs, housing, education, healthcare, and just about every other need would be completely incomprehensible to the Founding Fathers as they intended the “pursuit of happiness” to be critical for human beings to thrive, not the “guarantee of happiness.”

In my travels to Concord earlier this year to give testimony in committee public hearings, it was disheartening to listen to person after person from vested special interest groups urge our elected representatives for more control over our lives with more laws, regulations, and taxes.  Of course, as long as they received the largesse for their particular group, that’s all they really cared about.  The fact that they were basically begging for alms from the spoils of mandatory charity didn’t seem to bother anyone, which shows just how far our society has evolved away from the ideals created in the Declaration of Independence.  It has become a largely overlooked and definitely unappreciated gift from those who understood the true meaning of liberty.

See also Milton and the U.S. Constitution


Harrison Elizabeth ( (2012, July 4). 9 Things You May Not Know About the Declaration of Independence. Retrieved from

Washington Times. (2017, September 13). 37 Percent of Americans Can’t Name Any of the Rights Guaranteed by the First Amendment: Survey. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, June 6). Declaration of War by the United States. Retrieved from


Concord Beat – Early July 2019

By Ian Aikens | July 1, 2019

As promised in my last article, this time I examined Jeb Bradley’s recent legislative record. I culled my impression not only from his voting record but also from the bills he either sponsored or co-sponsored. While Bradley has a tendency to allow individuals and their employers to negotiate voluntarily between themselves on important issues like pay and benefits, sadly, in other areas, he shows no reluctance to give government bureaucrats the power to mandate all sorts of things.

First a little background on Bradley himself. He has been active in New Hampshire politics since 1986, when he was first elected to the Wolfeboro Planning Board. He was elected to the New Hampshire House in 1990 and re-elected five times. He was elected to Congress in 2002, but in an upset he lost his seat to Carol Shea-Porter, an anti-war activist, in 2006. He was elected to the New Hampshire Senate in 2010 and served as the Majority Leader from 2010-2018. He currently serves as District 3 Senator, representing 19 towns in Carroll County, Waterville Valley in Grafton County, and Middleton and Milton in Strafford County. Outside of the political sphere, he ran an organic bakery, a painting business, a real estate office, and even worked as a street magician in Switzerland at one time.

Now down to business:

HB1319 – Prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Bradley co-sponsored the bill and it was signed by the governor. While it is proper to prohibit all discrimination on government property and for all government services, since “the commons” are owned by all taxpayers, is it really the proper role of government to dictate to private (voluntarily-run) businesses who they must serve? In the olden days, the argument that a traveler had few, if any, choices when traveling, so it would have been uncivil to allow a private business to deny lodging to a traveler may have been plausible, but in this day and age with most businesses scrambling for more customers, it makes little sense to mandate fairness. Besides, the biggest obstacles to more choices for consumers these days are government regulations and occupational licensing.

SB1 – Granite Caregiving Act of 2019. This bill was vetoed by the governor, and Bradley had the good sense to vote NO on it. This would have actually been a tax on earned income—which in any other state is called an income tax—but politicians produce flowery-named titles for bills that might not otherwise be well-received when they are trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes. This TAX would have been deducted out of all employees’ wages at the rate of .5%. While it would have been a nice fringe benefit for employees, and there is broad-based support for “Family Leave,” once you inform folks that they have to pay for it themselves, support for the program drops dramatically. This would have a mandate too—and the only opt-out would have been for companies that already offer the benefit.

SB10 – Minimum wage up to $12.00 per hour. Bradley voted NO on this one. Another mandate forcing businesses to pay employees more than their skills are worth on the open market. There’s been plenty written about minimum wages and their consequences over the years, so it should come as no surprise that those on the bottom of the economic ladder are hurt the most by these mandates. Those with the lowest skills just starting out lose out on the opportunities to advance their skills. It should also come as no surprise that minimum wage laws were originally pushed by union workers to keep non-Caucasians from competing for their jobs. The racism continues today, but they call it a “Living Wage.”

SB148 – Notification to public employees of right to join or not join a union. Bradley was a co-sponsor on this bill. While one part of this bill that requires new employees’ personal information to be released to unions is alarming, overall this was a net good bill because of the requirement that new employees be informed that they have a choice of joining a union or not. No mandatory forced extortion to join the union or lose your job.

SB255 – Dementia training for direct care staff in residential facilities and community-based services. Co-sponsored by Bradley, this bill demonstrates that he believes that those who choose a residential home for their loved ones don’t have sense enough to choose a facility where the health care workers have adequate training for the jobs they perform. It also assumes the residential facilities have no business interest in maintaining properly trained employees and need to be nudged by a mandate. What business can survive if its reputation is marred by poor care of its customers?

SB270 – Establish tax credit against business profits tax for donations to career and technical schools. Another bill co-sponsored by Bradley, this one would serve to help finance apprenticeships and training programs at technical schools that teach their students actual job skills for the real world, rather than traditional schools supported by tax dollars that do little to prepare students for the working world. An added plus is the tax credit serves to deprive government bureaucrats of more money to waste.

SB272 – Enforce the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Bradley co-sponsored this bill, which would force health insurers to treat mental illness as seriously as physical illnesses. Of course, we all want extra goodies we don’t have to pay for, but all these extra services increasingly mandated by politicians and bureaucrats—that’s why the cost of medical insurance and services continue to increase dramatically. Besides, I’m not so sure all this obsession with mental health is so healthy. With the ever-increasing number of new laws, bans, and mandates—that’s enough to increase mental illness in itself.

SB274 – Mothers with newborns on Medicaid entitled to “free” home visits. Another bill co-sponsored by Bradley, this is a new, small entitlement program. I have nothing against mothers—either with newborns or older children—but who will pay for these special home visits? After all, they’re not free. If Bradley and the other co-sponsors were to personally pay for these home visits themselves, that would be highly commendable, but forcing everyone else to pay—that’s forced giving.

SB279 – Requires health insurers to cover fertility treatment on all policies. Another bill co-sponsored by Bradley. Not everyone is interested in having every sort of medical option (that they will have to pay for), so forcing all insurers to cover more and more expenses drives up the costs for most people (and employers who could otherwise pay their employees more). Health insurance—like all other services that folks (and their employers) pay for—should have as much variety as possible to suit individual needs of consumers, but mandating more and more services results in less choices for all.

SB282 – Requires school districts and chartered government schools to provide suicide prevention training. Bradley was the primary sponsor on this one. Suicide, especially by a young person, is always a tragic event, but is mandating all teachers to attend two hours of suicide training annually going to actually save lives? I doubt it. More likely, it will be yet another administrative burden for teachers to fulfill in an ever-increasing list of required non-teaching duties. If politicians were really serious about suicide prevention among youth, perhaps they should consider making school attendance non-compulsory. First, there would be the obvious savings to taxpayers of not chasing down kids who hate being in school and often cause the most disruption. More important, forcing all kids to attend government schools—and face it, unless the family is well-off, the option of a private (voluntary) school is very limited—which are often dangerous (bullying, gangs, drugs) may actually increase suicides. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for everyone.

SB290 – Changes to New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program. This bill has several parts to it, but the main thrust is to reduce work requirements for those who qualify for what is essentially totally free health care—no deductibles, premiums, or co-pays. We’re talking about able-bodied adults here, not the disabled or pregnant women. Encouraging people away from self-sufficiency leads to dependence on others and ill will from tax-weary taxpayers. Fortunately, Bradley voted against the bill.

All in all, Bradley at best has a spotty record in Concord. His view of what government should be doing borders on paternalism at best and authoritarianism at worst.

[Editor’s note: see also NH SB 154 Amended and SB 154 on the House Floor].

Previous in sequence: Concord Beat – May 2019


LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2018 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, April 15). Jeb Bradley. Retrieved from

Concord Beat – May 2019

By Ian Aikens | May 21, 2019

I’ve been going to Concord almost every week for the last two months to give my two cents worth in public hearings on various bills making the rounds in the state legislature, I thought it might be interesting to see how Milton’s representatives measure up.  Forget the grandstanding and rhetoric one normally hears before elections – it’s only their actual votes on actual bills that count in assessing their records.

When I look at legislators’ voting records, I’m looking to see if they respect individual rights and if they treat their constituents like adults or children.  Are they voting for bills that put ever more laws on the books?  Are they voting for bills that make goods and services more expensive?  Are they voting for bills that make it harder to start a new business due to onerous regulation and fees?  Do their votes reflect that their constituents can decide how to conduct their own lives or do they need supervision from politicians to make the “right” decisions?  Do their votes reflect “Live and let live” or “There ought to be a law …”?

I looked at a varied range of current 2019 bills to get a rounded, comprehensive picture of Milton’s representatives’ records.  Milton’s House representatives are Abigail Rooney and Peter Hayward, and both were elected for the first time last November.  I am pleased to report that their records are quite good.  Generally, they have been mindful of their constituents’ pocketbooks and not into micromanaging their lives with meddlesome “feel good” laws that create more problems than they solve.  Both Rooney and Hayward have tended to vote the same way on almost all of the bills.  Here’s a sampling of their actual votes.


CACR11 – This bill would have prohibited a sales tax, but it was tabled in the House.  Both Rooney and Hayward voted against the tabling, so presumably that means they supported the bill.

CACR12 – This bill would have prohibited an income tax on earned income, but it was voted down by the House.  Both Rooney and Hayward voted against “Inexpedient to Legislate,” so presumably that means they supported the bill.

HB680 – This bill would have enacted a 65.03% tax – yes, you read that right – on vaping products, but I was at the committee hearing on this one, and there was a lot of pushback, so the bill was retained in a committee.  Both Rooney and Hayward voted against this bill.

HB686 – This bill would have added a capital gains tax to the interest and dividends tax that the politicians are still saying is not an income tax.  Both Rooney and Hayward voted against it.

HB2 – The House-passed budget of $12.9 billion, which includes $417 million of new taxes more than the governor’s budget, garnered a NO vote from both Rooney and Hayward.


HB564 – This bill passed in the House already and will make it against the law to carry a firearm on school grounds, unless school authorities give one permission to carry a firearm.  (Will the deranged who perpetuate school shootings be requesting permission as required?)  As you might expect, of all the hearings I testified at, this one attracted the most attention, and the room was filled to the gills.  Both Rooney and Hayward voted against the bill.

HB109 – This bill passed in the House already and mandates background checks for commercial sales of firearms.  (Will background checks nab the criminals who get their firearms from the black market?)  Both Rooney and Hayward voted against this bill.

HB514 – This bill, which passed in the House already, mandates a 7-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of firearms.  Again, I doubt the crazies and criminals will bother following the law on this one either.  Both Rooney and Hayward voted NO on this one.


HB186 – This bill, which passed in the House, will increase the minimum wage in stages, up from the current $7.25/hour to $12.00/hour by the beginning of 2022.  Most economists say minimum wages hurt those on the bottom of the economic scale the most because it denies the unskilled the opportunity to gain marketable skills, but evidently many politicians like to feel that they’re “doing something” to help the downtrodden.  Also, minimum wage mandates do nothing to increase the purchasing power of the downtrodden because the cost increases make goods and services more expensive.  Both Rooney and Hayward voted NO on this one.

HB211 – This bill would prohibit employers from inquiring about salary history prior to an offer of employment.  The House approved the bill, and it is now in a Senate committee.  This bill treats employees like children who need protection from Big Bad Employers – shouldn’t it be between the employee and employer to figure out how much information each wants to share?  Hayward voted against this bill, and Rooney did not vote on this one for some reason.

HB253 – This bill would have made it against the law to inquire about a potential employee’s criminal background prior to an interview.  It also passed in the House and is now in a Senate committee.  The obvious goal here is to give felons a better chance to become gainfully employed after incarceration – a worthwhile goal – but wouldn’t it be better to have less laws on the books so there would be less felons struggling to rebuild their lives?  Especially in the case of victimless crimes.  Hayward voted NO, and Rooney did not vote on this one for some reason.

HB293 – This bill, which would prohibit employers from asking potential employees about their credit history during the hiring process, passed in the house with a voice vote.  There was a motion to table the bill but it failed.  While some people with bad credit still make excellent employees (and others with great credit end up not being such great employees), it might still be another helpful tool for an employer to determine if the employee is right for the company.  More important, it should be up to the employee to decide if he/she wants to consent to releasing their credit info, not busybody politicians with threats of civil penalties sticking their noses where they don’t belong. Hayward voted to table the bill, and Rooney was absent on that vote.


HB558 – This bill, which passed in the House but fortunately died in the Senate, would have made it against the law to give a customer a plastic straw unless he/she requested it.  The state would have been authorized to hire a “straw cop” to “provide enforcement, outreach and education” to the tune of around $100K per year.  Both Rooney and Hayward voted against this nonsense.

HB560 – This bill, which passed in the House and looks like it will make it through the Senate and become a law, will ban single-use plastic bags and mandate no less than a dime charge for each recycled plastic or paper bag stores give their customers.  I hail from California, where most of this silliness comes from, and I can assure you that it’s just a big nuisance for consumers and does nothing to make this a cleaner world.  First of all, it starts with a dime per bag, but believe me, that can and does increase.  Some counties in California are now charging a quarter per bag, and I’m sure that will increase, like everything else in California.  Second, people still like to use plastic bags because they are convenient, so banning stores from giving them out free only caused people to buy them in bulk for use at home.  So, plastic bag usage did not go down – the mandate only added an extra cost to consumers.  Then there’s the carbon cost of the reusable bags that people start bringing into stores to avoid the 10 and 25 cent charges – there’s a whole lot of “carbon footprint” that goes into producing those bags, not to mention that they have to be washed periodically.  Both reps voted NO on this bill.

Interestingly, there were three bills where Rooney and Hayward voted differently.  HB628, which would have mandated universal changing stations for people with physical disabilities in all places of public accommodation (constructed after 01-01-2021) that serve 1,500 people or more per day, passed in the House and is currently being considered by the Senate.  It is reasonable to require all government buildings to adhere to such standards, since all taxpayers in one way or another pay for government buildings, but forcing all private businesses to go to this extra expense is unnecessary in most cases, since most businesses already want to attract more customers.  Rooney voted against this mandate, and Hayward voted for it.

HB480, which passed in the House and looks like it will pass in the Senate, would allow legal sports betting.  Another laudable goal, since people should be able to spend their hard-earned money any way they want (and if those few who become addicted and mortgage away the house, let them suffer the consequences, not everyone else who enjoys a harmless pastime without excess), but this bill is a classic example of “crony capitalism.”  It limits the number of places that would be allowed to host such events to 10 and is extremely regulation-heavy, not to mention setting up a new “Council for Responsible Gambling” and hiring 9 new permanent government bureaucrats.  Citizens would be better served by just decriminalizing the activity and letting the market develop freely without all the micromanagement – and not limiting the competition.  Rooney opposed it, and Hayward voted for the bill.

Lastly, HB632, which would have eliminated the educational tax credit program, was tabled in the House overwhelmingly by members of both parties.  The program currently serves hundreds of low- and middle-income families who are able to choose non-government schools that better serve their children with voluntary contributions from individuals and businesses allowed to deduct the contributions as a credit on their BPT, BET, and I&D tax returns.  Keeping the current program in place seems like a win-win-win situation to me – better schools for those unable to afford private schools, less students for government schools to educate poorly, and less money for the government to waste—but perhaps Hayward viewed the situation differently, as Rooney voted to table the bill and Hayward voted not to table the bill.

All in all, I think both representatives have done a reasonable job so far in keeping the heavy hand of government on the lighter side.  Next time, I’ll take a look at Jeb Bradley, Milton’s State Senator, and see what his voting record looks like.

Next in sequence: Concord Beat – Early July 2019


Legiscan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from

The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy. (2019). Budget Visions:  2020-21. Retrieved from