Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Dearth of Babies

There are jobs for anyone who wants to work here in Maine but nearly every small contractor and small business person I hear from tells me they cannot find enough help. It’s true in western Maine and in the Portland area as well. South Portland’s famous Scratch Bakery recently opened a branch facility in a converted gas station down the street from our South Portland home. Called "The Toast Bar," it was packed with customers. Then, suddenly, it closed.

Why? The Portland Press Herald reported last month that the new bakery couldn’t get enough people to work there. Further out in Cape Elizabeth, a recently-built restaurant called the Bird Dog Roadhouse shut its doors for the same reason. My wife and I drove by and noticed the empty parking lot as well as a sign on the door saying:

Due to an acute ongoing staffing shortage, we’ve reluctantly hit the “pause button” here at BDR. We are not closing. We have a beautiful restaurant, a wonderful location, and fantastic guests. Our business is sound. All of our employees and vendors are paid. We are simply pausing restaurant service operations until proper staffing levels can be achieved…

The economy is booming and wages are rising, so what’s going on? Lots of things; for one, people just aren’t having babies like they used to. Last Saturday, Forbes reported CDC data showing fertility rates in the USA at a record low for 2018. Just to keep the population stable, each woman must have 2.1 children in her lifetime. In the US, however, that rate has declined to just over 1.7 and is still going down. It’s the lowest since the 1970s when Roe V Wade was enacted and abortion skyrocketed. Their headline read: “Another Record Low: Will The U.S. Fertility Rate’s Collapse Ever End?

Not unless and until marriage rates increase, according to economist and researcher Lyman Stone. His 2018 research study called: “No Ring, No Baby: How Marriage Trends Impact Fertility” makes a solid case that married women of child-bearing age have by far the most children, but fewer and fewer young women are getting married. He cites several possible reasons including student loan debt, but also that women now are generally more educated than men, making it harder for them to find compatible mates.

The biggest factor, Stone hints, is: “Changing cultural norms and values about sex, family, and religion may have reduced the value of the marriage proposition and tightened the criteria for ‘eligibility’ for marriage.” Is he saying that young people today lack the values of their parents and grandparents? Not explicitly, but he hints strongly at it. Unless you live in a cloistered religious community and never watch television, you'll see the evidence. I’ve written several times on this subject (a sampling here) and I’m not hopeful that the trend will reverse anytime soon.

If I’m right, it would seem that the only way to avoid economic decline would be to increase immigration. It has been increasing, but most of the unskilled, nearly-illiterate, illegal variety, or of “asylum-seeking” Africans, most non-English-speaking, coming over our southern border. Unable to support themselves, they tend to be more of an economic drain than a boost. If we simply returned to pre-1965 immigration policies that required immigrants to be sponsored and ineligible for social services, and then we eliminated chain migration for relatives who were not self-supporting, our country would be much better served.

As it stands now, every 2020 Democrat running for president is pro-abortion. The last pro-life Democrat candidate was Jimmy Carter in 1976. For more than forty years now, preserving Roe V Wade seems to be the most important issue for the Democrat party. Since the Roe V Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, there have been more than a million abortions every year in the United States. That’s about 50 million Americans who were never born. If they had been allowed to live they would have had at least another 50 million children of their own. Even if Roe V Wade were repealed by Trump-appointed judges, the legality of abortion would simply revert back to the states and not be likely to decline very much.

Although most would deny it, open borders is now the Democrat’s second most important issue. Every 2020 Democrat presidential candidate claims getting rid of President Trump is their biggest goal, but then what have Trump’s priorities been? Appointing conservative (pro-life) judges and stopping illegal immigration are highest on his agenda. That’s what got him elected and if present trends continue, those issues may well propel him into another term.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Our Ever-Widening Gulf

Have we become a mutual scorn society? As the gulf between left and right in America steadily widens, it’s gotten to the point where primary divisions in our country are not racial anymore; they’re political. According to an article by Yoni Applebaum in the latest Atlantic:

In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion. As hostility rises, Americans’ trust in political institutions, and in one another, is declining.

The right sees mainstream media (MSM) as in bed with the left while the left disdains alternative media like Fox News and AM radio as reactionary. According to a recent Gallup poll, 69% of Democrats trust MSM but only 15% of Republicans and only 36% of independents do. This should concern us because it’s a major shift. Gallup first measured Americans’ trust in MSM back in 1972 when 68% said they trusted it. In 1976 it was 74%.

It should be noted that that high trust level of 74% followed impeachment hearings against Republican President Nixon who had resigned two years earlier. As impeachment hearings on Republican President Trump proceed here in late 2019, MSM trust is down to 41% of all Americans. The widening trust gap isn’t just between Republicans and Democrats either. Only one in three independents trust mainstream media now.

When Democrats initiated impeachment hearings against Nixon, many Republicans in Congress supported them. Republican Senate leaders visited Nixon in the White House and advised him to resign. Impeachment hearings against Trump are completely one-sided and Mainstream Media coverage of Trump since his inauguration has been more than 90% negative.

When pollster Scott Rasmussen was interviewed recently by Sharyl Attkisson on her program Full Measure, he said:

78% of voters say that what reporters do with political news is promote their agenda. [Voters] think [reporters] use incidents as props for their agenda rather than seeking accurately record what happened. Only 14% think that a journalist is actually reporting what happened... If a reporter found out something that would hurt their favorite candidate, only 36% of voters think that they would report that. So voters are looking at them as a political activist, not as a source of information.

Ciaramella and Obama's pajama boy
On October 30th, Paul Sperry of Realclearinvestigations named the original Trump “whistleblower” as Eric Ciaramella, who worked in the Obama Administration at several levels including CIA and NSC, then continued under President Trump. Both MSM and Fox News still refuse to identify him. When Congressman Adam Schiff began his secret impeachment hearings, he refused to allow Republican committee members to ask questions about Ciaramella. Schiff still denies reports that his staff had contact with Ciaramella before he “blew the whistle,” and coached him about how to file his original report to the NSC Inspector General.

Obama's staff warmly welcomes Trump on his first day in office.
Eric Ciaramella circled
Sperry also reports that Ciaramella worked with Obama CIA Director John Brennan, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Vice President Joe Biden, and DNC opposition researcher Alexandra Chalupa who was investigating the Trump Campaign in 2016. If all that is true, it’s easy to understand why Adam Schiff won’t allow questions about him. Schiff, however, insists he is protecting the “anonymous” whistleblower from potential physical harm, ostensibly from Trump.

According to the Daily Wire: “Mark Zaid, the attorney for the Ukrainian whistleblower, stated just days after President Donald Trump was inaugurated in January 2017 that the ‘coup has started’ and that ‘impeachment will follow.’” It’s hard to dispute that Trump-hating Democrats and Republicans have had their knives out for Trump from day one of his presidency — even before as the Justice Department Inspector General Daniel Horowitz is expected to report December 11th. Trouble is, it’s not just the pundit class that’s deeply divided on impeachment. It’s the entire American populace.

When extended families get together next week for Thanksgiving, the more prudent will avoid discussing politics because divisions run deep at that level too. In most families, however, there’s always someone who will bring it up. Then there will be someone else who cannot let a remark slide and will feel compelled to respond. At that point, whoever is hosting should respectfully request that discussion of politics be off-limits for the day.

Thanksgiving 2019 may be the last at which imposition of such limits will be possible. Next year’s Thanksgiving will come only three weeks after election day. No matter which way the voting goes, tensions are bound to get even higher.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

What's Under There?

Remember digging a hole at the beach with your pail and shovel? It’s pretty easy to dig in sand when its grains are held together somewhat by moisture. Dig down far enough though and the hole fills with water. Then its sides collapse and you end up with a shallow depression. Well, that’s something like what we found when replacing a 35-year-old foundation that had been heaving up under a large garage on one of the properties I manage. First, we moved the garage off to the side. Then Colin Micklon and his crew at Micklon Tree and Landscaping dug out the old foundation which had been built on blue clay at the bottom of a hill near Kezar Lake.

Hitting blue clay
Colin got down to an undisturbed level, or “virgin ground,” as it’s called in the trade. Then he set up a pump to suck out accumulating groundwater, trucked away all the fill, and got ready to build a crushed-stone base for the new foundation. Then a nor’easter arrived last month with all that rain. On top of groundwater from several springs in the hillside, it was too much and the blue-clay sides of the hole sloughed back in. While Colin and his crew dealt with that, I consulted my research materials to understand why the blue clay was there.

Whenever I see an excavator or backhoe digging, I pull over and look in the hole. It’s the only way to see what is under the surface, right? That’s basically what geologists do when compiling data on what they call Maine’s “surficial geology.” About fifteen ago I purchased several sets of data from the Maine Geological Survey (MGS) on Lovell and the surrounding area. The MGS arranges its research to correspond with green quadrangle maps from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) you’ve probably seen hanging up in various places.

USGS map Center Lovell Quadrangle
My house is located on the southwest corner of the green map called the “Center Lovell Quadrangle.” Surrounding that are the Fryeburg Quadrangle, the Pleasant Mountain Quadrangle, the North Waterford Quadrangle, and so forth. I purchased those about forty years ago when I first moved to Lovell. I used them in my classroom to teach local geography, to guide me in my deer-hunting expeditions, and to explore cellar holes in abandoned settlements all around the area. The University of New Hampshire has an online collection of USGS Maps going back to the 1890s.

Those maps are great for seeing what is on the surface like old logging roads, jeep trails, elevations, streams, and so forth, but don’t offer any information about what is under the surface. The Maine Geological Survey (MGS) surficial geology maps I purchased were based on data compiled up to 2002, but they’ve since been updated. Teams of state geologists visit each quadrangle periodically and look into whatever excavations are going on at the time, gravel pits, cellar holes, road cuts — wherever they can get peeks underground. They compare visible data with evolving theories about which of at least four ice sheets to have come and gone over this area during the past two million+ years did what.

After purchasing fourteen acres on Lovell’s Christian Hill back in 1980 or so, we began building the house in which we now live. First I cleared the trees, then hired Tommy Barker to dig the cellar hole. (Colin was in kindergarten then.) There’s only a foot or so of topsoil above what’s called “hardpan,” which goes about fifty feet down to bedrock. That, according to the above data, was laid down by a glacier, but which one? Was it the last one that melted back about 11,000 years ago? Or was it one the ice sheets that came and went before it hundreds of thousands of years earlier?

There were no geologists around to consult, but my guess is it was probably all of them. We know the last glacier best and it was estimated to be 1-2 miles thick and very heavy. It had boulders, sand, gravel, and clay contained within it which dropped wherever it melted. Earlier glaciers did the same. They all dropped material which was then compressed by the weight of subsequent glaciers. Maine’s hard pan is like concrete, extremely difficult to break through, and impermeable to water.

That blue clay we encountered near Kezar Lake seems to have been deposited during the last warming period around 11,000 years ago when meltwater was held back by an ice and debris dam and formed a much larger lake geologists call “Lake Pigwacket.” It was many times the size of what’s now Kezar Lake. All this surficial geology overlays bedrock, and it seems that Maine’s bedrock is among the most diverse on the entire planet — but that’s a column for another time.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Half Century of Change

There were a hundred guys in my high school class. At the 50th reunion last Saturday, I learned that a third of them are dead. Keith Academy was a private, Catholic prep school for boys in Lowell, Massachusetts that closed in 1970. Also at the reunion were survivors of a similar-sized class from Keith Hall, the Catholic prep school for girls across town. They, however, had lost only eight. On a screen, reunion organizers from both schools displayed graduation pictures of the men first, one at a time. I recognized them all and wondered what killed them, but I’d been in Maine for forty-two years and out of touch with all those people.

Keith Academy
A former classmate looked me up and left a voicemail with a pronounced Boston accent months ago but I was ambivalent about going. I sent in the $50 to keep my options open and put the date in the calendar on my smartphone. My parents sent me to Keith Academy but I had wanted to go to Tewksbury High with my childhood friends. For four years I felt out of place there.
This had been a small ranch. It has quadrupled.
I drove down early so I could visit the Tewksbury, Massachusetts neighborhood in which I had grown up. The dead-end street I remembered with thirty small capes and ranches on quarter-acre lots, seemed shorter. I’d walked up and down it thousands of times during my childhood — to the bus stop and back every day, then again on my afternoon paper route. Almost every house had doubled in size although there were far fewer children living in them.

At least the woods were pretty much the same
It was a sunny, Saturday afternoon in November. Sixty years ago there would have been a sandlot football game going on and dozens of other kids would be engaged in various playful activities on the street, but all I saw last weekend were two mothers teaching their toddlers to ride tricycles. No other children were visible.

Our old house
Not knowing who lived in our old house, I drove past it to the end of the street and parked. What I really wanted to check out were the nearby woods where I had spent most of my boyhood. About a dozen houses occupied what had been part of the old woods, but most of the white pine forest was still there. In the deepest part of it, I startled two boys beside a small campfire. About eleven or twelve, they reminded me of myself and my best friend Philip when we habituated the area. We chatted a while before I hiked back to my car.

St. William's School
Then I drove to St. William’s, my old elementary school about a mile and a half away, now also closed. I remembered the sandlot baseball games we played behind it but that field was gone. I looked at the entry door where we lined up to go back inside after recess. I could almost see the girls in one line and boys in the other, all of us dressed in our school uniforms with a nun supervising. I looked up at the classroom windows where I attended 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Some of my classmates at St. William’s went on to Keith Academy as I did, and Keith Hall too, but I didn’t see any of them at the reunion later that evening. That disappointed me.

At 68 now, I wear glasses and use hearing aids. There were over a hundred people in the hall at Lowell’s Mt. Pleasant Golf Club, all talking at once and the acoustics were terrible, especially for me with my hearing impairment. A DJ played sixties music much too loudly for my liking. Not only was it difficult to understand what people were saying, but I also made myself hoarse trying to talk over the din. Twice I walked over and asked him to lower the volume until after dinner when people would start dancing. He did but turned it back up minutes later.

After dinner I found myself standing next to another former classmate from out of town and told him I live in Maine now. He said he had flown in from Washington, DC and I asked how he happened to move there. He said he’d started working for a Democrat political consulting firm in Boston which led to fundraising for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in Washington. I almost said that put us at polar opposite ends of the political spectrum and then thought: “Nah.” I get enough of that with my column and Left & Right TV Show.

At about 9 pm I concluded that my effort to enjoy myself was unsuccessful and Michael Connelly’s newest novel was on the nightstand in my hotel room. I found my jacket and went out the door. I doubt anyone missed me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

In Old Maine Cemeteries

It was mostly in old, family cemeteries that we found graves of Revolutionary War soldiers. Last week my wife accompanied me on an exploration of rural Maine, one of my favorite activities. Since I’ve been up every road within a 25-mile radius of my home town of Lovell, Maine, It’s become necessary to range farther afield if I’m to survey new territory. Heading east, we found ourselves in the Hebron/Buckfield area with my dog-eared Maine Gazetteer. As a retired history teacher, I felt compelled to stop at every cemetery along the way because they provide a quick, thumbnail sketch of local history.

Well, I shouldn’t claim we stopped at every cemetery. From the road, I could tell if each set of plots was old or new. If I only saw modern, granite stones from the 20th century, I’d pass on by, but if I spotted weathering marble headstones, I knew they were from the 19th century. The oldest stones were dark slate and most of those were from the 18th century. Well-tended cemeteries displayed small American flags on graves containing veterans of America’s wars. Each flag was held up by an iron medallion stuck in the ground next to the headstone with an embossed insignia designating the war in which the soldier buried there fought.

Civil War veterans are so designated by an embossed circle with “GAR” in the middle for “Grand Army of the Republic.” Revolutionary War soldiers’ graves show a circle with a period soldier carrying a musket and wearing a tricorne hat. Some of those gravestones were of weathered marble if they survived into the eighteen hundreds, which many did. Acid rain has taken a toll on those stones, but the older, slate stones have held up well and the lettering remains easy to read.

Most roads lead into the center of town in Hebron which is dominated by the well-tended grounds and buildings of Hebron Academy. It was founded in 1804 by Revolutionary War veterans who were given land grants in town in payment for their service by Commonwealth of Massachusetts, of which Maine was a part — until 1820 when it became its own state along with Missouri. Notable Hebron Academy graduates include Leon Leonwood Bean, or L. L. Bean as he is better known, as well as Hannibal Hamlin who was Lincoln’s first Vice President. Other alumni include Freelan Oscar Stanley, inventor of the Stanley Steamer and Maine comedian Tim Sample.

Finding the grave of a Revolutionary War soldier in an untended cemetery off in the woods brought a certain sadness. While all veterans deserve respect, it seems the men who went out from their farms and shops and fought the most powerful military on earth deserve a bit more of it. They risked the most because even if they weren’t killed or wounded, should their side lose they would lose everything. The British weren’t kind to defeated rebels — as they’d shown over and over in Ireland. Those with the most property had the most to lose, and most who signed their names to the Declaration of Independence were men of means.

Those old, untended cemeteries were symbolic of something else that saddened me. They made me reflect on recent trends in public education, especially that study of the subject I taught. American History has been watered down by progressive educators both during my career and after. Fewer young people are learning what those first American rebels risked in the late 18th century when they demanded rights from England and staked everything they had on those demands. Few students today are taught what is unique about the United States of America — that no other country in history was founded on an idea.

That idea is that government exists to preserve our God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How much happiness one obtains in that pursuit is usually gauged according to individual initiative and perseverance. That’s what those Revolutionary veterans fought for and that’s what has been preserved by veterans of America’s subsequent wars — those buried under the rest of the little flags in those old cemeteries.

Today’s students instead learn a history emphasizing America’s carbuncles as if the United States were the only country to countenance slavery. Ignored are historical facts showing that virtually all nations practiced it, including American Indian tribes living here before Europeans arrived. All that is ignored now as students learn about “white privilege” and old white guys who owned slaves. De-emphasized or ignored altogether are old white guys who led movements to abolish slavery and who died by the thousands in that pursuit.

Men buried in those old cemeteries were not perfect and neither was their country. Such a thing is impossible this side of heaven, but ours is the country likely to get closest — if we stick to the ideas upon which it was founded. Keep that in mind on Veteran’s Day, November 11th.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Left & Right October 23, 2019

Newspaper publisher Mark Guerringue again sits in the left chair and we open with a question from the producer about whether President Trump has improperly profited from his business enterprises as president. I cite the now-dropped plan to use Trump's Doral facility for a G-7 meeting, a resort that has been losing money of late. I question whether Trump meant to let it be used free to taxpayers as he said. Mark cites a Washington Post story of 2500 instances where Trump has profited from government using his facilities worldwide, and that his sons are making plans for future resorts in Asia post-presidency. Mark raises a recent statement by former Ambassador William Taylor, who claims in an opening statement before his secret testimony to Adam Schiff's committee that there was a quid pro quo between Trump and the Ukrainian president. Not having read the 15-page Taylor statement, I question him about details. Mark said I" took my eye off the ball" and I asked what ball? I said the ball his eye seems to be on is getting rid of Trump and I see this Taylor statement as another in a series of "We got him now!" efforts to bring Trump down ever since his inauguration. Mark sums that up as old conspiracy theories. I see Trump's experience dealing with corrupt politicians in NYC as good background enabling him to deal with strongmen in the world. Mark suggested that I think "Cozying up to all the dictators in the world is good foreign policy." I respond that any US leader has to deal with scumbags and sometimes "cozy up" to them to get things done. It's the nature of the job. My stated position is that I agree with what Trump is doing domestically and in foreign policy. Compared to what the Democrat candidates want to do, I'm still with Trump in spite of his sometimes obnoxious behavior. I suggest that Mark looks at most recent political events in the context of getting rid of Trump. He says he isn't. He says there are clear reasons to impeach him: non-cooperation with the House impeachment efforts, emoluments, Ukrainian things, etc. Mark said I look at conspiracy theory web sites and get obscure information that supports my political views. I say I look at lots of web sites, including the ones he looks at but he only visits the ones that support his world views and not sites that offer contradictory information. With five minutes left, we take the second question from the producer: "Which candidates gave the strongest and weakest performances in the most recent Democrat debate?" Having only seen parts of it, I suggest that Buttageig gave a strong performance and Biden gave a weak one, that he's never seemed a very bright guy and now seems to be more and more confused about what he's saying, and maybe he's in the early stages of dementia. Mark saw little of it too, but he thinks Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttegeig did well. He doesn't think Biden has dementia. "I think Biden's always been Biden," and he thinks the primary process pushes Democrats to the left and Republicans to the right. I close with the 2200 dead babies found by an abortionist from South Bend clinics that Mayor Pete didn't mention for over a month. That the abortionist was an admirer of Adolph Hitler. Mark hadn't heard about it and I said that was because his web sites avoid those issues. He asked why I think they'd avoid the Nazi angle. I suggested that it was because Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger had views on eugenics similar to Hitler's and media would avoid mentioning abortion in that context.

Rich and Poor

It occurred to me a few years ago that I’m a rich man. Many would doubt that if they knew the sum total of my assets and annual income, but it’s true if you accept the definitions of rich and poor my students and I developed over the years: “Poor” is having insufficient funds to supply adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. “Rich” is defined as having all those things and some extra besides. If you have a little extra, you’re a little rich. If you have a lot extra, you’re very rich. 

By that definition, I’ve never been poor because I’ve always had basic necessities. Early in my marriage, however, our family was below the poverty line as calculated annually by the federal government according to income and size of family. I was a low-paid teacher with a stay-at-home wife and four children.

Working the woodpile at our old house
Our house needed constant repair and maintenance. We drove a vehicle that did too, but never did we lack the basics. I had to learn carpentry, plumbing, and electrical skills to fix up my house, and I had to buy or borrow the necessary tools. I had to learn basic mechanics to work on my vehicles because they frequently broke down and I couldn’t afford to have someone else do it. I had to cut my own firewood for heat. Those were our circumstances for most of three decades.

My wife and me
About twenty years ago things changed. Opportunities came up and my income rose. I could start paying down the mortgage and other debts and after ten years I was debt-free. I considered taking early retirement from teaching and a few years later I did — while keeping the part-time jobs I always had. My income went down, but with no payments to make we still lived well. I spent more time on photography, which I enjoy very much, and now I’m making money with that too. Life is good. I have everything I want — another definition of rich.

Although I’ve written the following before in this space, it’s worth repeating. My wife will agree that the happiest times of our lives so far were when we had only those basic necessities and no more —  when we were under the federal poverty line. I worried about paying the bills many months, but we did it. We never threw food away and ate a lot of soup. We shopped at thrift stores and yard sales and we got excited when finding a nice piece of furniture or clothing cheap.

Our youngest in the old kitchen
My late father-in-law came up during the depression and his family didn’t have much. Still, I remember him saying: “I was happiest when we were eating onion sandwiches.” By that, he meant bread and onions were all there was to eat for a while. My own father was the same age and he also came up through the depression His father, my grandfather, was a binge-drinking alcoholic who often burned up his paycheck with booze. He made enough money as a street-car driver in the Carmen’s Union (of which he was president), and somehow kept his job, but his family lacked basic necessities. Those were not happy times for my father, the oldest of his six children. If not for my grandfather’s drinking, his family would not have been poor.

Sad evidence of poor money management
It might be claimed that America won the war on poverty. If we still have people lacking funds for basic necessities, it’s likely because, like my grandfather, they don’t manage their money well. Yes, there are people who have had serious health problems and have run up enormous medical bills. Even if they went bankrupt and had to go on welfare, their basic needs are still met — unless they spend unwisely. Unfortunately, that describes a rising number of Americans

More sad evidence

Their DBT cards are charged up at the beginning of every month but they run out of funds after the first or second week. Can that be helped? Not by government, it can’t. If their allotments were increased, it’s likely they’d continue to spend frivolously and still be poor for two or three weeks of every month. Maybe they’ll run out of food or heating oil. Maybe they won’t have enough for gasoline. Maybe they’ll be late on the rent or the electric bill or the gas bill, or all of those.

Schools used to teach something called “home economics,” but I don’t think it’s part of the curriculum in most schools anymore. Even if people learned those skills, a certain amount of self-discipline is still necessary. My grandfather lacked it, and too many others in America do too. Their numbers are rising. As my old friend, fellow selectman and “Overseer of the Poor,” the late Stub Eastman, said: “We have the poor, and the poor have us.”

Some things never change, and recent promises by 2020 Democrats won’t have any effect either.