Froma Harrop - Cure for very expensive cities is moving vans

A funny thing didn't happen on the way to the digital revolution. It failed to empty out the cities. If knowledge workers could communicate from anywhere, the futurists figured, why would they subject themselves to the traffic and noise of urban life? They could easily move their screens to a mountain chalet, beach house or Mediterranean cafe.

The opposite happened. Instead of spreading out, many members of the "creative class" scrunched themselves into a handful of acres in a few select cities. As a result, housing prices have exploded in London, New York and San Francisco — and are rising fast in Boston, Seattle, Denver and other centers for tech and finance. The elite apparently want to be around good restaurants, high-end shopping and other elites.

And so what happens to the longtime residents of modest means and new arrivals serving the gentry's needs? When an influx of genius coders pushes small-apartment rents into the thousands, working families of four get pushed out.

The solution to the high cost of shelter is to increase the supply, say some economists, real estate interests and politicians owned by the real estate interests. In cities bounded by water, that means increasing population density.

That can be part of the answer. Some decaying industrial areas may be ripe for new development. But here's the problem: Many of the most desirable urban neighborhoods are desirable precisely for their quirky small houses and low-slung apartment buildings. Local shops and restaurants line their main streets. Replace these structures with a forest of sterile towers and you destroy what made these areas valuable in the first place.

Zeroing in on London, The Economist blames "faulty land-use regulation" for the city's high cost of housing. It prescribes building on the "green belt," which was created to preserve open space around the central city — and scoffs at rules protecting views of the iconic St. Paul's Cathedral. (Guess only the penthouses would have the views.)

Like much of the "build, baby, build" crowd, the magazine parades its agenda behind the banner of diversity and fighting income inequality. Well, let's ask. Would turning our old cities into soulless Singapores make these places more affordable?

The Economist complains that population density in central London is only half that of New York. Thing is, the rent for a centrally located one-bedroom apartment is 22 percent higher in New York than in London. In hot real estate markets, increasing supply can also hike demand.

For example, building booms in Williamsburg and other gentrifying parts of Brooklyn have attracted more moneyed people while leveling the tenements where poorer folk used to live.

There are remedies for the high cost of housing. One is to move elsewhere. It could be to a lesser neighborhood or nearby town served by public transportation. (Clamor against high rents tends to focus on upscale districts.)

And don't forget the other great metropolises in this vast land of ours. Columbus, Omaha, Nashville, Baton Rouge and Spokane, to name a few, cost a lot less. They have great bars, hip districts and housing to die for.

As for the lower-income residents who remain in expensive cities, one fix is to pay them commensurate with the cost of living. A $15-an-hour minimum wage in the pricier locales makes total sense.

In sum, the notion that only a handful of ZIP codes can quench 21st-century ambitions is strange. The technology that lets Cleveland make video calls to Honolulu ought to be used. As for mingling, there's now a Starbucks everywhere.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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Susan Estrich - This is real

This is not a television show.

This is not one of those audience response things that measure how loudly we scream and or how many balls we throw.

No, this is our democracy, of Presidents Washington and Jefferson and Madison and Jackson and Lincoln and Roosevelt and, yes, Reagan and Obama.

And Donald Trump?

No.

Is there anyone who doesn't know, really know, that it isn't right?

Listen to their arguments: It's okay to elect an unqualified megalomaniac neo-fascist with no experience in government who openly insults and stereotypes the very people who we have protected as equals because, after all, what can he really do anyway?

Sorry, but what an unbelievably stupid argument. We should elect someone to the most powerful position on the face of the earth, with the power to destroy the earth as we know it, because, what the heck, it doesn't matter?

It does matter. At least accept responsibility. If you want to elect a qualified idiot as our president, then you have a right to do that under the Constitution. But you don't have the right to convince anyone it doesn't matter.

It's bad enough that Democrats have to deal with the ardent "Bernie lovers," most of whom, like Bernie Sanders, are brand-new members of the party and have not yet had the fun of living through losing. I have, and I promise, really, they haven't missed a thing. However, I sympathize with their passion. I had all that "heart and soul" of the Democratic Party back in 1980 when Democrats were divided between those who thought Ronald Reagan couldn't win and those who thought he couldn't lose. Anyway, he won, and I don't think anyone would say the troublemaking I was so proud of at the convention (I had 44 minority reports, Bernie-ites) in any way aided his performance. On the other hand as, as Bill Clinton once consoled me, the advantage of a landslide is that nothing you did, or could have done, mattered.

Useful advice for life: Don't sweat the big stuff — unless you can control it.

I know the "Freakonomics" tale of the two embarrassed economists who meet at the polling place only to immediately blame their wives for forcing them to go. Voting, Florida 2000 notwithstanding, is not a very efficient use of time; no single vote has more than an infinitesimal chance of mattering. And yet, it has always been for me the magic of democracy, the symphony in which all these strange sounding instruments come together to make magic. And it's a symphony we can control.

What is striking is how often it comes out all right. It's such a messy process — on a Tuesday no less, who would hold an election on a Tuesday if you wanted people to come — and it's just not just an election, but first there are these odd things called caucuses and, almost as strange, the open, and closed and half-open, half-closed primaries on different dates in the same state, and once you get through all that, you get two candidates, generally, either of whom, however much you may loathe their positions, is at least theoretically qualified to be president. It's one of those "reasonable people can disagree" things.

Except this time. We should've got John Kasich or Jeb Bush, at least Marco Rubio. What are we doing with Trump? And more to the point, how do we ensure that whatever went so very wrong in the Republican primaries doesn't repeat itself in the general elections?

Only this: by taking it as seriously as it is.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

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Sanborn — Permits, permits, permits

Let's talk about permits. There are a lot of different permits related to real estate. It is pretty obvious that if you are going to build a new house you have to go to your town or municipality and get the necessary building permits. The town wants to make sure everything is done to code and constructed correctly. Some people think requiring permits is just a way for the town to butt into your business, raise money, and annoy you – which they probably will do – but it really is all about your safety. You don't want your home falling down, structurally unsafe, or burning down around you some night from improperly installed wiring or heating devices. That's why permits are issued and plumbers and electricians need licenses. Buyers want to know that any work done on a home was permitted, done correctly, and inspected. Sounds fair, right?

What about renovations? You are also going to need permits to do renovations around the house like adding a room, building a deck, remodeling a bathroom, putting in a wood stove, taking out a wall and, yes, finishing off your basement. The general rule of thumb is that structural, electrical, plumbing or mechanical work will require a permit. If you are dealing with a reputable contractor to do the work, he will know what is required for permits.

But, you'd be amazed how many times real estate agents run across homes with fully finished basements and the town tax card lists the basement as unfinished. Now what? The seller's property disclosure has a question on it where the seller is required to answer whether he or she got all the necessary permits for any work to be done on the property. Sometimes the homeowners didn't know that a permit was required because they did the work themselves piecemeal over time and never gave it a thought. A trip down to the local building department to set the record straight and perhaps get an inspection and permit after the fact is my preferred approach to keeping everyone out of trouble in these cases.

Septic permits and plans are another important piece of paperwork to have whether buying or selling. It is nice to have the proof of when the septic system was built and that it was installed properly and inspected. Occasionally I see "construction approval" permits on file but there is no "operational approval" indicating that the State inspector never saw the system before it was covered over. Some systems were built prior to the State approval process and are still in use today. That's okay as long as the system isn't failing but its longevity might not be all that good. A septic inspection will help clarify the situation and is an extremely important part of the home purchase process. Any septic repairs done recently should have been permitted and as a buyer you'll want to make sure you see the documentation.

Another big permitting issue these days is waterfront Shoreland Permits and dock permits. Any work done on the shore front recently should have had a permit to cover the work done. If there is a permanent dock or boathouse on the property, you'll want to see a permit or proof that the dock or structure is "grandfathered." I like that term. The rules about waterfront structures and docks have changed over the years and our grandfathers did a lot of things that we couldn't get away with today! God love 'em. If a dock, boathouse, or deck on the shoreline was in place in 1969 it is "grandfathered" no matter what the size, shape, or configuration. They really did some pretty cool stuff before Big Brother got involved.

So if you are selling your home, make sure you have permits available for any work you've done recently to give to your agent. A copy of your septic plan and lot survey are pretty helpful, too. The more information you can provide to a buyer the better. If you are going to purchase a home and the seller doesn't have any documents available, you can check with the local building department to see if there is anything on file. Weather permitting, of course.

There were 89 residential homes sales in April in the 12 Lakes Region communities covered by this report. The average sales price came in at $352,884 and the median price point was $220,000. That's a lot better than the total of 63 homes sold last April an average price of $341,682.

P​lease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of May 15, 2016. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 677-7012

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Pat Buchanan - Who's the conservative heretic?

In his coquettish refusal to accept the Donald, Paul Ryan says he cannot betray the conservative "principles" of the party of Abraham Lincoln, high among which is a devotion to free trade.

But when did free trade become dogma in the Party of Lincoln?

As early as 1832, young Abe declared, "My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman's dance. I am in favor of a national bank ... and a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments and political principles."

Campaigning in 1844, Lincoln declared, "Give us a protective tariff and we will have the greatest nation on earth."

Abe's openness to a protective tariff in 1860 enabled him to carry Pennsylvania and the nation. As I wrote in "The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy" in 1998: "The Great Emancipator was the Great Protectionist."

During his presidency, Congress passed and Abe signed 10 tariff bills. Lincoln inaugurated the Republican Party tradition of economic nationalism.

Vermont's Justin Morrill, who shepherded GOP tariff bills through Congress from 1860 to 1898, declared, "I am for ruling America, for the benefit, first, of Americans, and for the 'rest of mankind' afterwards."

In 1890, Republicans enacted the McKinley Tariff that bore the name of that chairman of ways and means and future president. "Open competition between high-paid American labor and poorly paid European labor," warned Cong. William McKinley, "will either drive out of existence American industry or lower American wages."

Too few Republicans of McKinley's mindset sat in Congress when NAFTA and MFN for China were being enacted.

In the 1895 "History of the Republican Party," the authors declare, "the Republican Party ... is the party of protection ... that carries the banner of protection proudly."

Under protectionist policies from 1865 to 1900, U.S. debt was cut by two-thirds. Customs duties provided 58 percent of revenue. Save for President Cleveland's 2 percent tax, which was declared unconstitutional, there was no income tax. Commodity prices fell 58 percent. Real wages, despite a doubling of the population, rose 53 percent. Growth in GDP averaged over 4 percent a year. Industrial production rose almost 5 percent a year.

The U.S. began the era with half of Britain's production, and ended it with twice Britain's production.

In McKinley's first term, the economy grew 7 percent a year. After his assassination, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt took over. His reaction to Ryan's free-trade ideology? In a word, disgust. "Pernicious indulgence in the doctrine of free trade seems inevitably to produce fatty degeneration of the moral fibre," wrote the Rough Rider, "I thank God I am not a free trader."

When the GOP returned to power after President Wilson, they enacted the Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922. For the next five years, the economy grew 7 percent a year.

While the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, signed eight months after the Crash of '29, was blamed for the Depression, Nobel laureate Milton Friedman ferreted out the real perp, the Federal Reserve.

Every Republican platform from 1884 to 1944 professed the party's faith in protection. Free trade was introduced by the party of Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

Our modern free-trade era began with the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Among the eight no votes in the Senate were Barry Goldwater and Prescott Bush.

Even in recent crises, Republican presidents have gone back to the economic nationalism of their Grand Old Party. With the Brits coming for our gold and Japanese imports piling up, President Nixon in 1971 closed the gold window and imposed a 10 percent tariff on Japanese goods.

Ronald Reagan slapped a 50 percent tariff on Japanese motorcycles being dumped here to kill Harley-Davidson, then put quotas on Japanese auto imports, and on steel and machine tools.

Reagan was a conservative of the heart. Though a free trader, he always put America first.

What, then, does history teach?

The economic nationalism and protectionism of Hamilton, Madison, Jackson, and Henry Clay, and the Party of Lincoln, McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, and Coolidge, of all four presidents on Mount Rushmore, made America the greatest and most self-sufficient republic in history.

And the free-trade, one-worldism of Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama enabled Communist China to shoulder us aside us and become the world's No. 1 manufacturing power.

Like Britain, after free-trade was adopted in the mid-19th century, when scribblers like David Ricardo, James Mill and John Stuart Mill, and evangelists like Richard Cobden dazzled political elites with their visions of the future, America has been in a long steady decline.

If we look more and more like the British Empire in its twilight years, it is because we were converted to the same free-trade faith that was dismissed as utopian folly by the men who made America.

Where in the history of great nations — Britain before 1850, the USA, Bismarck's Germany, postwar Japan and China today — has nationalism not been the determinant factor in economic policy?

Speaker Ryan should read more history and less Ayn Rand.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

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DuBois — Spring has Sprung: Hiking in the Three Pond-Kineo region

By Gordon DuBois

 

Early last week Sandy Price contacted a few of her trekking buddies and suggested a hike on the Three Ponds - Kineo loop trail, starting and finishing at the trail head off Rt. 118 on Forest Road 211. Now you may wonder why Sandy would want to hike these obscure and almost abandoned trails in the Rumney region. Well, Sandy is working on a list called "Red Lining". Red Lining means hiking all the more than 1,000 miles of trails marked in red that are in the AMC White Mountain Guide. Sounds like a crazy list but I know people who have completed it, or are working on this list. I joined her because I have hiked in this area and wanted to return and bushwhack to the summit of Mount Kineo. Fran and Dick, two experienced hikers, jumped on board and we set out on a beautiful warm spring day.

The Three Ponds area and Mount Kineo lie north of Rumney and west of Thornton. The trails in this section of the White Mountains offer delightful opportunities for day hikes to Stimson, Rattlesnake and Carr Mountains. Both the Carr and Stimson summits were once the sites of fire towers and the remains of these towers are still evident today. The trail system in this area also provides a pleasant day hike starting from Stimson Lake Road to the shelter on the shores of Three Ponds. The hike we chose to embark on is less well traveled and very obscure in some sections. In the AMC Trail Guide, it is not recommended for inexperienced hikers. A map and compass are essential and a GPS can be helpful.

We began our hike at the gated National Forest Road, number 211. This USFS road merges with the Hubbard Brook trail which leads to Hubbard Brook Road and into the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. This USDA Forest Service research station was established in 1955 as a major center for forest hydrologic research in New England. In 1988, it was designated as a Long-Term Ecological Research site by the National Science Foundation. The first documentation in North America of the long term effects of acid rain on vegetation and water quality were done here. The area is still active in doing cooperative research in the fields of soil physics and forest hydrology. The research being done in this experimental forest will also help in the understanding of climate change and its effects on forest ecology.

We began our hike on the Three Ponds Trail, which took us over Whitcher Hill, named after one of the first settlers in on the town of Warren. As we progressed along the trail it became difficult to follow, as the treadway became obscured with hobble-bush. Hobble-bush is very appropriate name for this shrub as it grows throughout the openings on the forest floor, tripping and ensnaring hikers in a web of branches. Even though Hobble-bush is bothersome to hikers, it throws out beautiful white and pink flowers in the spring. We could only follow the trail because of surveyor's tape that someone had placed on trees along the supposed route. Without the tape we would have had a difficult time finding the trail. Many wildflowers were in bloom throughout the forest floor, giving notice that spring had arrived and summer was fast approaching. All along the trail were hepatica, purple and pink trillium, spring beauties, wild oats, bedstraw, Indian poke and goldthread. Trout lilies were everywhere, shooting up their delicate flowers, signaling the beginning the trout fishing season. The oak, maple, birch and beech trees were throwing out their new leaves to bathe in the warm, spring sunlight. It was the perfect idyllic spring hike in New Hampshire, with no black flies (yet).

After crossing Whitcher Hill, we descended into the depression that holds the three ponds. We passed by Foxglove Pond (no Foxgloves in bloom) and in a swampy area we found a number of pitcher plants waiting for their spring meal. This plant grows in wetlands and is unique in that it doesn't look like a normal leafy plant. It's carnivorous, just like many of us, and devours insects by attracting them with a sweet nectar and then digesting them with a fluid that is similar to the juices in our stomachs, amazing! After stopping to admire the view we continued on our journey to Three Ponds, crossing a beaver dam and onto the Donkey Hill Cutoff. This was the first of many beaver ponds we encountered. From this trail we then swung onto the Mount Kineo Trail, which started as a snowmobile trail and reverted back to a wilderness pathway. We climbed steeply up the side of Mt. Kineo (3,313 feet) until we reached the height of land, where we began a bushwhack to the summit. This was about a two mile round trip diversion from the trail, but Kineo is on the NH 200 highest summits lists, so why not grab it.

Returning to the Mt. Kineo Trail we began the long descent to Hubbard Brook Road, Hubbard Brook Trail and eventually back to where we started the hike.

However, this adventure was far from over. Our hike off the Kineo Ridge took us into a beautiful valley and as we made our way along the trail we began to encounter a series of beaver communities. The beaver flowage and dams were extensive, flooding the trail in many sections. At one point we noticed a trail marker on a tree sitting in the middle of a beaver pond, and we had to make several detours. The trail from here on out was not marked and the footpath was non- existent. I believe the only ones using this trail are moose, deer, fox and coyote. We continued to be enthralled with the wildflowers blooming around us and the many beaver ponds that were active or dried up. Upon leaving the valley, we finally arrived at the junction with Hubbard Brook Road, which turns into Hubbard Brook Trail. As we neared the end of our hike, we encountered a barred owl, calling to its mate. We looked up and there he was overhead, sitting on a branch of a tree. We watched him for several minutes as he flew from tree to tree, staying close by. As we continued our hike he flew along overhead, perching on tree limbs and watching us, seeming to say, "I'm keeping an eye on you invaders!" After taking many pictures of this guardian of the forest, we left him and his mate, listening to their familiar call, "Who cooks for you, who cooks for you."

As we ended our day after hiking, a total of 16 miles in 12 hours and nearing nightfall, we looked forward to a cold drink. On our way down Route 118, we had a perfect ending to the day. We spotted a very large black bear roaming along the highway. We pulled over to watch him ramble along, stopping occasionally to watch us. It was the perfect ending to a day spent in the wonders of nature and being a part of the beauty that is all around us when we are on the trail.

As a footnote to this hike, I am reminded that anyone hiking or biking in the New Hampshire woods should obtain a Hike Safe Card. This card can be purchased on line from NH Fish and Game. The purchase of the card supports NH Fish and Game Search and Rescue efforts and you will be exempt from liability in repaying for rescue efforts if caused by reckless or negligent behavior. Remember to always plan properly and hike safe, happy trails.

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Pitcher Plant

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