A separation is fast approaching. A great schism looms on the horizon, threatening to split a region in twain. Sooner or later, New England is coming apart.
Most people probably think of New England as a single, semi-homogenous area, all centered around Boston. When the denizens of the great, free western parts of the United States rant and rave about everything that’s wrong with America today, they point to New England. They point to high taxes and high cost of living. They point to crowded cities full of crime. They point to smothering government regulations on anything and everything.
And they’re right. And wrong. Such gross generalizations would be appropriate for half of New England, but completely inappropriate for the other half. The two sides of this region, the less-inhabited Arcadia to the north and the major population centers in the south, can be like night and day. We could go back and forth all day long with state-to-state comparisons across the whole region, but why not embrace a flair for the dramatics and cut right to Massachusetts vs. New Hampshire?
New Hampshire is relatively sparsely populated, while Massachusetts lives up to the steretype of overcrowded New England, having over five times the population density. With the aforementioned density comes a higher crime rate, which is around three times that of its northern neighbor. To top it all off, Boston’s notoriously-high cost of living contrasts sharply with Manchester a mere stone’s throw away, which managed to top Forbes’ list of cheapest cities to live. We’re clearly not talking about the same animal here.
Where the contrast between the two really shows is in their opposing philosophies of governance. On top of federal taxes, Massachusetts has a sales tax and state income tax rate of 6.25% and 5.25%, respectively. New Hampshire’s rates, respectively, are 0% and 0%. Prospective Mass. gun owners must navigate through a morass of laws, permits, and regulations in order to purchase, possess, and bear any arms. Go right across the border and you can buy a gun from a friend and immediately thereafter display it in public with pride, all without Johnny Law hindering your peaceful gun-toting exuberance. Finally, on public service, Massachusetts boasts 160 state representatives (one for about 40,000 people), paid almost $60,000 a year each. New Hampshire’s 400 state reps (one per approximately 3,200 citizens), on the other hand, are each paid a comically-low $100 per year.
We could go on and on, but the point stands: we’re clearly not talking about the same New England. Denizens of the free Arcadian north have been trying to make this case for years. The Free State Project in particular has even compiled a list of reasons why New Hampshire is far superior to its southern neighbors, especially in the domain of a free and independent society. Massachusetts, on the other hand, gets stuck with the gleefully mocking Free Lunch Project. The whole affair ressembles bickering siblings living under the same roof; siblings who could be well-served to move out and go their separate ways.
The face-off between the two New England towers will happen sooner or later, and it would be wise to adjust accordingly now. The Arcadians will go their separate way, free from Boston’s grasp. And it will be a welcome divorce.