A Father’s Journal: In the dark on being a Nutmegger as GE turns out the lights
Published 5:51 am, Thursday, January 21, 2016
Sometime this year I will become a Nutmegger. I will have lived more than half my life in the Constitution State. My children were born in Connecticut. And at some date in 2016 (not exactly sure what day), I will turn my back on the influence of foreign princes and potentates (maybe governors) and embrace my adopted Connecticut home.
I am accepting my Connecticut way of life about the same time that Connecticut is not doing so well, if you believe the news accounts. Our infrastructure and highways are crumbling. We have raided our highway fund so many times it is laughable. Our pensions are woefully underfunded, our trains are slower now than they were 60 years ago and now General Electric, the giant corporation headquartered in our fair town for the last 42 years, decided to move. Just as I am embracing my Yankeedom our state is telling me, “Last one out, turn off the lights.” GE gave a warning this summer when they said they were unhappy about the upcoming budget, taxes and the way the state was doing business. They said they were going to look around.
They did and they found Massachusetts just right up the road. Apologists for the current state government say, “See, it isn’t about taxes. Massachusetts ranks right with Connecticut as one of the worst states to do business in.” They brag that in some studies we beat them, and in others they beat us. We both seem to be in the mid-40s out of 50 states, indicating that there are very few states under us. It is not something I would have bragged about before, but as a Nutmegger I must. I am practicing my chant of, “We’re 46th … We’re 46th.” I wonder if we could find a maker of foam hands that say 46th. Probably not in Connecticut. Maybe there are some in Massachusetts.
In pointing out why they chose to move, GE mentioned that there were numerous colleges within the Boston area with high tech reputations. More than Connecticut? That can’t be. How could people think that? I had to find out what the world thought so I did an internet search. First, I compared their Harvard to our Yale. I started typing into a search engine and noted the engine’s suggestions, indicating the most popular searches. Yale came up with club, football and Yale-New Haven Hospital. That’s not bad. I wish club wasn’t first. When I typed Harvard, the search engine populated the field with Business Review, club, and business school. Okay, they beat us in terms of pure business for GE. But we came up with a world-class hospital.
How about our big school versus their MIT? MIT’s first pop up was acceptance rate, and then they wanted to help me find Mitt Romney. UConn, our preeminent university, had variations on basketball. To be fair since I moved here over 20 years ago, UConn basketball — both the women and the men — have kicked the crap out of any Massachusetts’ team. Geno Auriemma, the women’s coach, has led UConn to 10 national championships in twenty years, the 10 championships are a feat only matched by John Wooden. This year Geno might surpass the legendary Wooden. Seriously, if college basketball was a deciding factor every fortune 500 company would be squeezed into our tiny state.
After losing GE, our governor told Hearst Connecticut Media that, “This is not the time for anyone to finger point.” Of course he doesn’t want anyone to point fingers. He knows the direction the vast majority of fingers would point. This new anti-finger-pointing platform is coming from the same governor who is constantly in the national news for finger pointing at numerous governors in other states, telling them what they are doing wrong. I searched “Connecticut Governor attacks” ... and up popped four recent finger points. I am glad to see he has now changed his ways.
GE paid $1.8 million to our town coffers, gave our first responders needed equipment and was a leading philanthropic organization. That’s tough to lose. There are rumors that they might turn the GE site into a tech center or maybe part of a university. Whatever they end up doing, I hope we learn something. I have just got comfortable being a Nutmegger and I would like to stay.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His column appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at Tlawlor@mcommunications.com.