Non-Public BOS Session Scheduled (October 7, 2019)

By Muriel Bristol | October 5, 2019

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their rather lean agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, October 7.


The BOS meeting is scheduled to begin with a Non-Public session beginning at 5:45 PM. That agenda has one Non-Public item classed as 91-A3 II (e).

91-A:3 II (e) Consideration or negotiation of pending claims or litigation which has been threatened in writing or filed by or against the public body or any subdivision thereof, or by or against any member thereof because of his or her membership in such public body, until the claim or litigation has been fully adjudicated or otherwise settled. Any application filed for tax abatement, pursuant to law, with any body or board shall not constitute a threatened or filed litigation against any public body for the purposes of this subparagraph.

It would seem that the Town faces still – or faces again – litigation by someone who does not agree unanimously.

The BOS intend to adjourn their Non-Public BOS session at approximately (*) 6:00 PM, when they intend to return to Public session.


The Public portion of the agenda has New Business, Old Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.

Under New Business are scheduled two agenda items: 1) Silver Street Reconstruction Discussion (David Cormier Jr.), and 2) Approval of In-Town Trick-or-Treat Crossing Guard (Jeffery Zajicek).

Silver Street Reconstruction Discussion (David Cormier Jr.). Mr. Cormier would like to discuss reconstruction of the Silver Street intersection.

Approval of In-Town Trick-or-Treat Crossing Guard (Jeffery Zajicek). While it is difficult to imagine this not getting approved, it might be a bit of a spoiler to put “approval” right in the title.


Under Old Business is scheduled nothing at all.

“That government is best which governs least.” – Henry D. Thoreau


Other Business That May Come Before the Board has no scheduled items.

“The best rulers are scarcely known by their subjects.” – Lao Tze


Finally, there will be the approval of prior minutes (from the BOS meeting of September 23, 2019), the expenditure report, Public Comments “Pertaining to Topics Discussed,” Town Administrator comments, and BOS comments.


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

State of New Hampshire. (2016, June 21). RSA Chapter 91-A. Access to Governmental Records and Meetings. Retrieved from www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91-A/91-A-3.htm

Town of Milton. (2019, October 4). BOS Meeting Agenda, October 7, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/miltonnh/files/agendas/10.7.19_bos_agenda.pdf

Youtube. (1965). Cone of Silence. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eUIK9CihA&feature=youtu.be&t=19

Non-Public BOS Session Scheduled (September 9, 2019)

By Muriel Bristol | September 9, 2019

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have this morning posted belatedly their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held tonight, Monday, September 9.

A correspondent points out that the scheduling of this meeting, at such short notice, violates RSA 91:A, to wit:

Except in an emergency or when there is a meeting of a legislative committee, a notice of the time and place of each such meeting, including a nonpublic session, shall be posted in 2 appropriate places one of which may be the public body’s Internet website, if such exists, or shall be printed in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town at least 24 hours, excluding Sundays and legal holidays, prior to such meetings.

That is to say, notifications of Monday evening meetings should be posted no later than Saturday. The prior agenda did state that there might be a BOS meeting on this date (*Next Meeting Scheduled For: September 9th, 2019 (Pending Board of Selectmen Approval)), which hardly satisfies the notification requirement.

Our correspondent might have overlooked the escape clause: except in an emergency. But who decides if this is an emergency? Likely the selectmen themselves. (There are public entities that declare emergencies as a matter of routine, to circumvent union rules).

This might still be a legal meeting, provided the selectmen go so far as to declare an “emergency,” which might be interesting, and telling, in and of itself. How cynical are they, exactly?


The BOS meeting is scheduled to begin with a Non-Public session beginning at 5:45 PM. That agenda has one Non-Public item classed as 91-A3 II (c).

91-A:3 II (c) Matters which, if discussed in public, would likely affect adversely the reputation of any person, other than a member of the public body itself, unless such person requests an open meeting. This exemption shall extend to any application for assistance or tax abatement or waiver of a fee, fine, or other levy, if based on inability to pay or poverty of the applicant.

The BOS intend to adjourn their Non-Public BOS session at approximately (*) 6:00 PM, when they intend to return to Public session.


The Public portion of the agenda has New Business, Old Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.

Under New Business are scheduled four agenda items: 1) Economic Development Committee Member Appointment, 2) Wakefield Pantry Outside Services Presentation (Howie Knight), 3) Employee Appreciation Luncheon, and 4) Library Construction Update (Betsy Baker), 5) Preliminary Update with Avitar Regarding 2019 Reevaluation Update; 6) Police Chief R. Krauss: 6A) Emergency Service Zone Acceptance, 6B) Highway Safety Grant Acceptance, 6C) Computer Replacement, 6D) Accept Rx Dropoff Box Donation, and 6E) Dog Warrant Update; 7) School Board Building Permit for Sign Waiver Request, and 8) Town Building Rental Agreement Preliminary Discussion.

Economic Development Committee Member Appointment. “Selections” are not to be preferred to elections. If there is insufficient citizen support or interest for running for election to Town committees, it might be time to start reducing the number of Town committees.

Wakefield Pantry Outside Services Presentation (Howie Knight). Welcome, Mr. Knight. Let’s hear about it.

Employee Appreciation Luncheon. Because the proposed greater-than-inflation raises and COLA just do not express enough appreciation.

Library Construction Update (Betsy Baker). Hopefully, we will hear that this is on time and under budget.

Preliminary Update with Avitar Regarding 2019 Reevaluation Update. Various commenters have mentioned a very large increase in the land component of their valuation. Some have said theirs have nearly doubled since the 2016 Corcoran fiasco. A near doubling would be ridiculous on its face.

These valuations are grossly inflated and the housing bubble on which they are based is expected to burst quite soon. Will there be one of these magical town-wide button-push revaluations when the bubble bursts?

Police Chief R. Krauss: 6A) Emergency Service Zone Acceptance, 6B) Highway Safety Grant Acceptance, 6C) Computer Replacement, 6D) Accept Rx Dropoff Box Donation, and 6E) Dog Warrant Update. What strings might be attached to those grants? The grantor often wants to redirect Town resources to their own ends. Cheap for them, we still pay the employee benefits for employees redirected to someone else’s end.

School Board Building Permit for Sign Waiver Request. Town entities do not have to go through their own convoluted procedures? If they are not important, how about waiving them for all of us?

Town Building Rental Agreement Preliminary Discussion. Let’s hear it.


Under Old Business is scheduled one item: 9) Milton Mills Flag Pole Discussion Follow-Up.

Milton Mills Flag Pole Discussion Follow-Up (Robert Graham). At the last meeting Mr. Graham sought to tap the Durgin Fund to replace Milton Mills’ flagpole. His estimates varied considerably, but would drain the funds’ disposable interest monies (roughly $13,000) – intended for the benefit of all of Milton’s citizens – by a third to a half. Well might those citizens question the universal benefit of such an expenditure.


Other Business That May Come Before the Board has no scheduled items.


Finally, there will be the approval of prior minutes (from the BOS meeting of August 19, 2019), the expenditure report, Public Comments “Pertaining to Topics Discussed,” Town Administrator comments, and BOS comments.


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

State of New Hampshire. (2016, June 21). RSA Chapter 91-A. Access to Governmental Records and Meetings. Retrieved from www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91-A/91-A-3.htm

Town of Milton. (2019, September 9). BOS Meeting Agenda, September 9, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/board-selectmen/agenda/board-selectmen-agenda-67

Youtube. (1965). Cone of Silence. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eUIK9CihA&feature=youtu.be&t=19

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.


References:

Drapcho, Adam (Laconia Daily Sun). (2019, August 1). Weirs Restaurant Closes for Lack of Workers. Retrieved from www.laconiadailysun.com/news/local/weirs-restaurant-closes-for-lack-of-workers

Faro Italian Grille. (2019). Faro Italian Grille. Retrieved from www.faroitaliangrille.com/

Standing Idle

By S.D. Plissken | August 23, 2019

Long ago I was given a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s other book, the Silmarillion. No movie has been made to date – you would have to read it. Early in the story, a Hephaestus-like demi-god Aüle anticipated his creator’s intentions and made his own creatures, the dwarves, without authority. He was rebuked by his creator for having done so.

For thou hast from me as a gift thy own being only, and no more; and therefore the creatures of thy hand and mind can live only by that being, moving when thou thinkest to move them, and if thy thought be elsewhere, standing idle. Is that thy desire?

Last Monday’s meeting of the Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) had an almost mythological moment in the “Other Items That May Come Before the Board” portion of the meeting.

Before they vanished last July into a month-long series of workshop meetings, the BOS gave “guidance” to the Town department heads to prepare their budgets based upon salary increases of 2% for merit and 1.7% in Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) [!!!].

And then the BOS’ thoughts turned elsewhere. And it would seem that their creatures, the Town department heads, lacking their own volition, then stood idle in the matter of their annual CIP Plan submissions. Sound a bit familiar?

Chairman Thibeault: Another item that has come up is a request from the Planning board for an extension on the CIP process, and I’ll ask Bruce to speak to this.

Town Planner Bruce Woodruff: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I’m Bruce Woodruff, Town Planner. The Planning Board has requested extra time to present their annual Capital Improvement Program report to you. As you know, the policy document that you approved does state that the report has to come to you in that first week in September. What I wanted to tell you is that the … all of the submission documents from all the various people that propose Capital Improvement projects didn’t get to the Planning Board until just before August 6th of this year, and they were all supposed to be in by … the middle of June.

Selectman Rawson: Hmm.

Town Planner Woodruff: Now, we are catching up a little bit. And, as I said, we were supposed to begin to review all of those compiled project submissions starting on July 2nd. We didn’t get all of these until August 6th, so there’s about a month and four days that we’re behind at this point. And so, really, what the Planning Board is asking is this: they’re asking to change this deadline date for submission from September 5th to October 16th, which coincides with the day after their required Public Hearing on the Capital Improvement Program.

Selectman Rawson: I’m fine with that.

Chairman Thibeault: I’m fine with that. I make a motion to grant the Planning Board an extension for the CIP submission of October 16th.

Selectman Rawson: I’ll second that.

Chairman Thibeault: All in favor?

Entire BOS: Aye.

Chairman Thibeault: Alright. Next up is approval of minutes.

Returning to the BOS “guidance” for 2% merit increases. Would you say these Town department heads turned in a particularly meritorious performance in that matter of their CIP submission deadlines?

And the Town Planner? He appears by his own statement to have pretty much spent a month and four days just tapping his foot, waiting for the Town departmental submissions. Or perhaps he is simply too polite to mention publicly his constant dunning of Town department heads during that period. Or perhaps he warned the BOS in a timely manner that its creatures were standing idle past their deadline?

As we have just seen, none of that constitutes a Town problem. We’ll just put off the deadline. The BOS is unanimously “fine with that.” Think no more about it.

They would feel just the same if you missed your tax payment by a month and four days. Right?

Right, they would have no problem with your being late either. No interest penalties. Because missing a deadline would be the same for you, as it might be for any other creature, say, even a Town department head. You might deserve a merit increase too. Well, in context, for you it would have to be a merit tax cut.


I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. – Douglas Adams


References:

Tolkien, John R.R. (1977). The Silmarillion. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001

Town of Milton. (2019, August 19). BOS Meeting, August 19, 2019. Retrieved from youtu.be/0qUQttNemPY?t=1614

Wikpedia. (2019, August 8). Hephaestus. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hephaestus

 

Non-Public BOS Session Scheduled (August 19, 2019)

By Muriel Bristol | August 17, 2019

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, August 19.


The BOS meeting is scheduled to begin with a Non-Public session beginning at 5:00 PM. That agenda has one Non-Public item classed as 91-A3 II (c).

91-A:3 II (c) Matters which, if discussed in public, would likely affect adversely the reputation of any person, other than a member of the public body itself, unless such person requests an open meeting. This exemption shall extend to any application for assistance or tax abatement or waiver of a fee, fine, or other levy, if based on inability to pay or poverty of the applicant.

The BOS intend to adjourn their Non-Public BOS session at approximately (*) 6:00 PM, when they intend to return to Public session.


The Public portion of the agenda has New Business, Old Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.

Under New Business are scheduled four agenda items: 1) Fire Station Driveway Parking Repairs (N. Marique), 2) Casey Road Restrictions and Parking (K. Golab), 3) Milton Mills Flag Pole Replacement Request (R. Graham) and 4) September Meeting Schedule Adjustment (due to Labor Day Weekend).

Fire Station Driveway Parking Repairs (N. Marique).  Hello, DPW? When you are out repairing roads, could you repair our driveway also? Otherwise, I’d have to make an expense request.

Casey Road Restrictions and Parking (K. Golab). We saw this before as a request for authorization of a neighborhood yard sale.

Milton Mills Flag Pole Replacement Request (R. Graham). Apparently another expense request.

Strictly speaking, there is no requirement that Milton Mills have a public flagpole at all. While Milton Mills does abut the State o’ Maine, it is nowhere close to Canada. There is little danger of anyone wondering if Milton Mills is still within the territory claimed by the United States of America.

Now, if Milton Mills were to secede from Milton, for which I understand there is some sentiment, this could be an agenda item at their first BOS meeting. Hint: all it took to create Milton in 1802 was 900 people and a church. You have both, and much more besides.

September Meeting Schedule Adjustment (due to Labor Day Weekend). Pro forma. Does anyone imagine that the BOS will not be giving themselves a Labor Day Weekend?


Under Old Business are scheduled four items: 5) Town-Owned Properties Update, 6) Auction Property Status 7) Law Firm Selection and 8) Budget Process.

Town-Owned Properties Update. Still with us (and some still dilapidated), unless a property auction is to be scheduled.

There was that request for divine intervention in the matter of the old fire station because the BOS missed its warrant deadline. Then the BOS missed the NH House divine intervention filing deadlines. But NH Senator Bradley obliged, after a fashion. There is a “sale pending” sign out there now.

Auction Property Status. If this is not a scheduling request, then the status is no property auction scheduled.

Law Firm Selection. Hopefully, the BOS have selected a law firm that knows that the Town cannot invent beach restrictions, put their signs on State highways (all of Milton’s major streets), sell fire stations without voter authorization, or do any of the other things that have had to be reversed.

Budget Process. Presumably, this concerns the Joint Budget Committee-Board of Selectmen hearings regarding departmental budgets that were discussed at prior meetings.

Unless, the BOS intends to reverse the “guidance” for tax increases that it gave at its last meeting. Regrettably, that has been their “process” for far too long. This could be its chance to begin righting its course.


Other Business That May Come Before the Board has no scheduled items.


Finally, there will be the approval of prior minutes (from the BOS workshop meetings of July 11, 2019, July 15, 2019, and July 18, 2019, as well as the regular Bos Meeting of July 15, 2019), the expenditure report, Public Comments “Pertaining to Topics Discussed,” Town Administrator comments, and BOS comments.

The Town Administrator has planned comments about an Economic Development Committee (EDC) Recording Clerk request. Because the Town needs another expense item on its budget.

After the Public session, the BOS meeting is scheduled to continue with another Non-Public session beginning at 5:00 PM. That agenda has one Non-Public item classed as 91-A 3 II (c).


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

State of New Hampshire. (2016, June 21). RSA Chapter 91-A. Access to Governmental Records and Meetings. Retrieved from www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91-A/91-A-3.htm

Town of Milton. (2019, August 16). BOS Meeting Agenda, August 19, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/miltonnh/files/agendas/08-19-2019_bos_agenda.pdf

Youtube. (1965). Cone of Silence. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eUIK9CihA&feature=youtu.be&t=19

Milton and the Income Tax – 1911

By Muriel Bristol | August 15, 2019

The United States was created during its revolution as a loose confederacy of independent states, which then were drawn closer together under the constitution of 1789.

The federal government could not tax citizens of states directly. It could impose tariffs on foreign goods and it could vote “direct taxes.” Direct taxes were apportioned to the states by the relative sizes of their populations. Each sovereign state would then determine in what manner it would raise its apportioned share within its own borders.

With the exception of a Federal income tax imposed briefly as a Civil War emergency measure (see Milton’s US Excise Tax of May 1864), high tariffs and direct taxes were how the Federal government financed itself for the 120 years between 1789 to 1909.

Enter the Progressives, both Democrat and Republican.

DEMOCRATS’ TARIFF VIEWS. Want the Income Tax and Reduction on the Necessaries of Life. Washington, April 15. – For more than four hours the Democratic members of the senate conferred in an effort to agree upon a policy toward tariff legislation. At the end of that time it was announced that they had decided to support an income tax amendment and would present a solid front against any Republican opposition to an income tax for raising revenue. The conference also went on record favoring a general reduction on tariff schedules, particularly those relating to the necessaries of life (Portsmouth Herald, April 15, 1909).

Income Tax Amendments. Washington, May 22. – The coalition of Democratic senators and “progressive Republicans” has been broken so far as the income tax question is concerned, and amendments on that subject will be presented by Senators Bailey and Cummins (Portsmouth Herald, May 22, 1909).

But these advocates of a more “positive,” i.e., a more active, more powerful, and more intrusive, federal government managed to smooth over any differences. More positivity required more money, a lot more money, than tariffs and direct taxation could hope to provide.

Passed by Congress – July 12, 1909

The U.S. Congress passed a resolution on July 12, 1909, sending the proposed Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution out to the States for ratification.

Sixteenth Amendment: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Twenty-five States ratified the amendment between August 10, 1909, and March 2, 1911.

New Hampshire Rejects the Sixteenth Amendment – March 2, 1911

New Hampshire’s Progressive Republican Governor, Robert P. Bass of Peterborough, NH, pushed hard for passage of the measure. In so doing, he set aside New Hampshire’s own sovereignty in favor of some vague Progressive formulations about the needs of the federal government and the supposed dangers it faced. He asserted also the income tax’s “equity,” using a variant of the socialist dictum “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Depression-era bank robber Sutton would use that same reasoning some years later. When asked why he robbed banks, he supposedly answered, “Because that’s where the money was.” That is to say that banks, as repositories of money, were the ones best able to satisfy his “needs.”

URGES INCOME TAX. Gov. Bass Sends Special Message to New Hampshire Legislature Favoring Federal Support. CONCORD, N.H., Jan. 19. – Gov. Robert P. Bass today sent a special message to the New Hampshire legislature favoring the ratification by New Hampshire of the income tax amendment to the national constitution. “Loyalty to our country,” said Gov. Bass, “demands that we give to the national government every power necessary to protect and maintain itself under all circumstances and all dangers. An income tax is the most equitable form of taxation, because it draws upon the citizens directly in proportion to their ability to bear the burden.” The matter was made a special order in the house of representatives for next Wednesday. The special committee appointed to investigate the subject of railroad rates in New Hampshire organized today, and voted to employ as counsel Edmund B. Cook of Concord and Sherman E. Burroughs of Manchester (Boston Globe, [Friday,] January 20, 1911).

The New Hampshire House responded to the Governor’s Special request promptly. After 3 o’clock, on Wednesday afternoon, January 25, 1911, Rep. Ahern of Concord moved for a vote on House Joint Resolution No. 1, i.e., ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment.

On a viva voce vote the joint resolution passed and was sent to the Senate for concurrence (NH General Court, 1911).

A viva voce vote was a voice vote. So, no records of any particular yeas and nays would be kept, which was likely very much the point. (Therefore, there would appear to be no way to determine how Milton’s representative voted).

THE PUBLIC DRINKING CUP. New Hampshire Puts Ban on This Germ Distributor. Concord, N.H., Jan. 25. The knell of the public drinking cup in New Hampshire was sounded today when the lower branch of the Legislature, concurring with the Senate, passed a bill to give the state board of health authority to restrict the use of common drinking cups in public places. The bill is along the line of the one passed in Massachusetts a year ago. The House today also passed a bill providing for the registration of all cases of tuberculosis. This bill must go to the Senate before becoming a law. A resolution, ratifying the proposed income tax amendment to the federal constitution was passed by the House by viva voce vote and was sent to the Senate (Rutland (VT) Daily Herald, January 26, 1911).

[Tuberculosis was a health scourge at this time: a highly communicable, incurable, fatal disease. Withdrawing public drinking vessels made perfect sense. Authorizing at the same time an economically cancerous Federal income tax made much less sense].

THE INCOME TAX AMENDMENT. ONE of the results of the political overturn of last fall is the impetus that has been given to the ratification of the federal income tax amendment. This week the senate of North Carolina ratified the amendment by a vote of 42 to 1, and its passage, as far as that state is concerned, is assured. Ohio, which last year under republican auspices rejected the amendment, this year with democrats in control ratified it by an almost unanimous vote. During the year it is not improbable that 24 more states, the required number, will ratify and make the amendment effective. The roll of states that have adopted the amendment includes Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas, with North Carolina practically assured. Gov. Bass of New Hampshire has urged ratification and the situation in that state is favorable. Vermont, however, has turned down the amendment. In Maine favorable action is expected. In Massachusetts the house is regarded as favorable to it, and the governor is favorable, but the senate is in doubt. The final adoption of the amendment does not put any income tax law in operation. Congress must pass such a law before there will be an income tax. The legislation might not be passed readily. A graduated tax has been proposed, one that would bear lightly on small fortunes, but draw off a little of the swelling in. swollen fortunes (Boston Globe, January 27, 1911).

INCOME TAX IS APPROVED BY 13. Opposed by Virginia and Rhode Island. Senator Brown Sure States Will Adopt the Amendment. Thirty-Five Must Favor Measure to Do It. WASHINGTON, Jan. 31. – Before the adjournment of several state legislatures now in session the number of states that have ratified the amendment to the federal constitution providing for an Income tax will probably be considerably increased. Already 13 states have approved the Income tax proposition. Idaho being the latest to get onto the bandwagon. Others which have previously put their “OK” on the legislation are Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, Missouri, Kansas and Ohio. One house of the New Hampshire legislature has passed the ratification resolution and it is now before the other house. Virginia and Rhode Island are the only states that have so far refused approval. The majority, of the Virginia legislature thought that the adoption of the amendment would give the federal government and its officials too much authority to pry into the affairs of private individuals and state corporations. To make the amendment effective the ratification of 35 or 36 states – depending on how soon Arizona and New Mexico are admitted to the union – is required. The approval of 35 of the 46 states now in the union would be a three-fourths vote, enough to adopt the amendment. If the number do not ratify before the two territories now in the process of being made into states are formally admitted into the union, the ratification of one additional state will be necessary – three-fourths of 48 being 36. It has taken a year and a half for 13 states to give their approval. Senator Brown of Nebraska formally presented the income tax amendment to the senate June 17, 1909, during the tariff session of congress. Today Senator Brown expressed the belief that not a single state will ultimately withhold its approval. “I am confident,” he said, “that there will be unanimous verdict in favor of the Income tax amendment among the states. I have written to the proper officer of every state, calling their attention to the proposed amendment and pointing out the reasons for its adoption promptly. I have heard from every one of them, and upon their replies I base my expectations that no one will withhold ratification” (Boston Globe, February 1, 1911).

On Thursday, March 2, 1911, NH State Senator Hosford of Monroe moved that the whole Senate vote on accepting the Senate Judiciary committee’s recommendation on House Joint Resolution No. 1. (The Senate Judiciary committee was composed of Senators Charles H. Hosford of Monroe (R) (2nd District), Robert J. Merrill of Claremont (R) (7th), Alvin B. Cross of Concord (R) (10th), Alvin J. Lucier of Nashua (D) (20th), and John Pender of Portsmouth (R) (24th)). The Judiciary committee majority had voted (3-2) to recommend approval of the Sixteenth Amendment.

Nine NH state senators (39.1%) voted to accept that majority report of the Judiciary committee (i.e., indicating that they favored the Sixteenth Amendment): James O. Gerry of Madison (D) (5th District), Robert J. Merrill of Claremont (R) (7th), John W. Prentiss of Walpole (D) (8th), Arthur J. Boutwell of Hopkinton (R) (9th), Windsor H. Goodnow of Keene (R) (13th), Charles L. Rich of Jaffrey (R) (14th), Daniel W. Hayden of Hollis (R) (15th), Alvin J. Lucier of Nashua (D) (20th), and John Pender of Portsmouth (R) (24th).

Fourteen NH state senators (60.9%) voted instead to accept the minority report of the Judiciary committee (i.e., indicating that they opposed the Sixteenth Amendment): John Cross of Colebrook (R) (1st District), Charles H. Hosford of Monroe (R) (2nd), George S. Rogers of Lebanon (R) (3rd), Jonathan M. Cheney of Ashland (R) (4th), Charles H. Bean of Franklin (R) (6th), Alvin B. Cross of Concord (R) (10th), George H. Guptill of Raymond (D) (11th), Haven Doe of Somersworth (D) (12th), Charles E. Chapman of Manchester (R) (16th), Robert Leggett of Manchester (R) (17th), Michael E. Ahern of Manchester (D) (18th), Reginald C. Stevenson of Exeter (R) (21st), John W. Jewell of Dover (D) (22nd), and Clarence H. Paul of Portsmouth (D) (23rd).

NH Senate President William D. Swart of Nashua (R) (19th District) did not vote.

Milton’s state senator was among those that opposed authorizing a national income tax through ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment.

The viva voce vote on the amendment itself broke along the same lines as the votes on the Judiciary committee’s recommendation. The Senate clerk advised the House that the joint resolution had failed.

MESSAGE FROM THE SENATE. A message from the Honorable Senate by its clerk announced that the Senate refused to concur with the House of Representatives in the passage of the following joint resolution sent up from the House of Representatives: House Joint Resolution No. 1, joint resolution ratifying the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America (NH General Court, 1911).

The Sixteenth Amendment, having failed in the NH Senate, did not “progress” to Governor Bass for his signature.

Income Tax Killed. Concord, N.H., March 3. – The New Hampshire state senate, by a vote of 14 to 9, killed the resolution passed by the house some weeks since ratifying the income tax amendment to the national constitution (Portsmouth Herald, March 3, 1911).

Delaware Gets the “Final Honor” – February 3, 1913

Meanwhile, another ten states approved the amendment between March 16, 1911, and January 31, 1913, for a total of thirty-five of the necessary thirty-six states. At the end there was a bit of a “photo finish” for the “honor” of imposing a national income tax. Progressive President-elect Woodrow Wilson (D) wanted his home state of New Jersey to tip the balance, but New Mexico was also a contender. Unexpectedly, Delaware got in before either of them.

INCOME TAX IS NOW CERTAINTY. Amendment of Constitution Is Voted by States. Delaware Gets Final Honor. Washington, Feb. 4. The action of the legislature of Delaware in ratifying the income tax amendment to the constitution makes it part of the federal organic law. There was a lively race for the honor of being the pivotal state in the ratification of the amendment. To make it effective, the approval of three-quarters of the states was required. Up to yesterday morning thirty-five states had acted favorably and it was expected New Mexico would have the honor of “clinching’ the amendment, as its legislature was expected to take affirmative action yesterday. New Jersey was a close rival, and President-elect Wilson was very desirous that his state should swing first into line, but the fact that the New Jersey legislature did not reassemble until last evening put it at a disadvantage. In the meantime Delaware, which had not been in the limelight, got busy and ratified the amendment, heating out both New Mexico and New Jersey. Shortly after the news of Delaware’s ratification was received a Cheyenne dispatch announced that the Wyoming legislature had also ratified the amendment. The income tax issue was submitted to the states by unanimous vote of the senate and a 317 to 14 majority of the house on July 31, 1909. The amendment submitted was as follows: “That congress shall have power to levy and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states and without regard to any census or enumeration.” Alabama led off the procession or ratifying states on Aug. 19, 1909, and by the end of 1910 the amendment had been approved by eight states. In 1911 the number was increased to thirty. In 1913, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana and Minnesota fell into line, making the total thirty-four, ratification by two more states being necessary to adopt the amendment. The states that have rejected the amendment are Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Utah. Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia have taken no action on the amendment. Congress will enact a law to levy the tax, probably during the extra-ordinary session to be called by President-elect Wilson in March. The tax itself, its provisions and its limitations, are all left to congress. The new law probably would supersede the corporation tax and provide for a tax on all incomes above $5000, although there has been some sentiment in favor of making the limit as low as $4000. Congressional leaders who have been preparing for the final ratification by the states estimate an income tax would bring in about $100,000,000 a year to the government. Now that the tax is provided by the constitution, the proposed excise tax, framed by Democratic leaders in 1912 to meet the supreme court’s decision, which held a former income tax un-constitutional will be dropped, and some of its provisions may be included In the new law (Fitchburg Sentinel, February 4, 1911).

New Hampshire Gets Onto the Bandwagon – February-March 1913

For some reason, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire felt some need to vote superfluous affirmations after Delaware had already tipped the scale. The bandwagon effect, one supposes.

A newly-elected (November 1912) New Hampshire House passed another viva voce, or voice vote, in favor of passage, on February 18, 1913; and a newly-elected New Hampshire Senate voted –  this time giving its approval – 20 in favor, to 2 opposed, on February 19, 1913.

Samuel D. Felker of Rochester (D) was the new governor. He had failed to win election outright and had instead been selected by the legislature. (He was the newly-selected Governor). His signature completed New Hampshire’s after-the-fact ratification process on March 7, 1913.

Enabling Legislation – March 1913

Three states had rejected the amendment outright: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Utah. In Florida, it passed in just one branch of its legislature. Pennsylvania and Virginia took no action at all.

The Federal congress, being now authorized to impose national income taxes, set forth to do so immediately. In arguing for ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, its Progressive proponents had claimed originally that it would not affect anyone making less than $10,000 per year. The goal posts moved to $5,000 per year by 1911. After passage, that figure reached down to include those making $3,500 per year.

INCOME TAX DOWN TO $3500. With indications that the proposed Income tax “bill would levy tribute upon all incomes above $3500, Representative Hull has begun the task of forming that measure. There has been a tentative understanding among members of the Ways and Mean Committee that the income tax bill would apply to all incomes above $5000. As the estimates of the revenues under the new tariff law are being made, however, it is suggested that the $5000 exemption will be too high and that an income tax upon incomes to the excess of $3500 will be necessary to supply the deficiency. The new income tax law will absorb the existing corporation tax law which now produces nearly $30,000,000 annually in revenues. In the absence of definite figures by experts of the Ways and Means Committee as to the inroads upon the treasury will be inevitable under the Underwood tariff bill, it is now estimated that the income tax must produce between $125,000,000 and $150,000,000 annually. Originally, Mr. Hull, who is the income tax expert of the House, favored a one per cent tax on all incomes above $5000 designated as earned incomes. On unearned incomes Mr. Hull suggested a 1 1-2 per cent tax, and graduated higher rate (Portsmouth Herald, March 22, 1913).

Those Progressives pushing the Sixteenth Amendment promised a better world for which only the rich would pay. (Aren’t we being told that even now?) In 1913, the somehow villainous ultra-rich were being defined as those making above $3,500 per year ($90,000 in 2018 dollars).

Frédéric Bastiat warned against governmental systems “by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.” Margaret Thatcher warned that “eventually, you run out of other people’s money.”

But the Progressives were right, weren’t they? Only the rich have been taxed and Heaven was established here on earth. Well, no, it was Bastiat and Thatcher that were proved right. Income taxation’s definition of the rich “progressed” downwards to include nearly everyone and Heaven still awaits us.

Current Federal income tax schedules – after recent “tax cuts” – reach down to “touch” those making as little as $13,000. (That would have been those who were making as little as $507 per year in 1913).


The second of the ten planks in Karl Marx’s 1848 Communist Manifesto demanded “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.” 


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

Buenker, John D. (1981, May). The Ratification of the Federal Income Tax Amendment. Retrieved from object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1981/5/cj1n1-10.pdf

Find a Grave. (2009, September 9). Robert Perkins Bass. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/41750126

NH General Court. (1911). Journals of the Honorable Senate and the House of Representatives of the State of New Hampshire, January Session, 1911. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=n3BNAAAAYAAJ

Rothbard, Murray N. (2017). The Progressive Era. Retrieved from mises-media.s3.amazonaws.com/The%20Progressive%20Era_0.pdf

Wikipedia. (2019, July 22). Progressive Era. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Era

Wikipedia. (2019, June 18). Robert P. Bass. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_P._Bass

Wikipedia. (2018, September 24). Samuel D. Felker. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_D._Felker

Wikipedia. (2019, August 5). Voice Vote. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice_vote

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!

References:

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/rollcall/SB241/id/805575

O’Toole, Randal. (2018, October). Romance of the Rails: Why the Passenger Trains We Love Are Not the Transportation We Need. Retrieved from www.cato.org/events/romance-rails-why-passenger-trains-we-love-are-not-transportation-we-need

Eliott-Trafficante, Josh. (2015, May). Does Commuter Rail Create Jobs? Retrieved from jbartlett.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Does-Commuter-Rail-Create-Jobs

San Francisco Chronicle column, July 28, 2013