Jim Hightower - Thumbs down on the 'gig' economy

Pouty, whiney, spoiled-bratism is not nice coming from a four-year-old — but it's grotesque when it comes from billion-dollar corporate elites like Uber and Lyft.

The two internet-based ride-hiring brats call themselves "ridesharing" companies, but that's a deceit, for they don't share anything — their business model relies on folks needing a ride to hire a driver through the corporations' apps. With the bulk of the fare going to out-of-town corporate hedge funders.

The tow outfits have swaggered into cities all across our country, insisting that they're innovative, tech-driven geniuses. As such, they consider themselves above the fusty old laws that other transportation companies, like taxis, follow. So Uber and Lyft have made it a corporate policy to throw hissy fits when cities — from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Houston to Portland — have dared even to propose that they obey rules to protect customers and drivers.

The latest tantrum from the California giants happened in Austin, when the city council there adopted a few modest, perfectly-reasonable rules, despite the screams of PR flacks from both outfits. The petulant duo then used fibs and high-pressure tactics to get enough signatures on petitions to force a special election to overturn the council's action. Naturally, being brats, they gave the city an ultimatum — "Vote our way or we will leave town" — and assumed that Austin's tech-savvy voters would flock to do whatever the popular ride-sharing service wanted.

But they picked the wrong city. First, they ran a campaign of blatant lies, as though Austinites wouldn't question them. Then, they shoved a sickening level of corporate cash into their campaign, apparently thinking that the sheer tonnage of ads would win the day for them. However, the slicks from California turned out to be uber-goobers. Despite spending $9 million (more than the combined spending of all city council candidates in the past decade), they went down, 56-to-44 percent.

Since they didn't win their campaign, Uber and Lyft have now left town in a huff leaving their 10,000 Austin workers/drivers behind to fend for themselves. Since their workers are considered contract employees, there will be no severance package or unemployment benefits for them.

This is part of the new "gig economy — the latest corporate buzz-phrase from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. CEOs are hailing a Brave New Workplace in which we lucky worker bees no longer have to be suck in traditional jobs with traditional hours, traditional middle-class pay scales, traditional benefits, traditional job security, and all those other fusty "traditionals" of the old workplace, In fact, in the gig economy, you're not even bothered with having a workplace. Rather, you'll be "liberated" to work in a series of short-term jobs in many places, always being on-call through a mobile app on your smart phone or through a temp agency. How exciting is that?

Well, they use "exciting" in the sense of distressing and nerve-wracking. The gig economy means you're on your own — you're not an employee, but an "independent contractor," with no rights and no union. You might have lots of calls to work this week, but there'll be many weeks with no calls. Don't get sick, injured or wreck your car, for no health care or workers' comp are provided. A pension? Your retirement plan is called "adios chump."

This "alternative work arrangement" is not a futuristic concept — it's already here and spreading fast. And it's not just ride-hiring gigs either. Some 16 percent of U.S. workers are now in this on-call, temporary, part-time, low-pay, you're-on-your-own economy, up from only 10 percent a decade ago. Corporate chieftains (backed by the economists and politicians they purchase) are creating what they call a workforce of non-employees for one reason: Greed. It directly transfers more money and power from workaday families into the coffers of moneyed elites.

Their gig economy is aptly named, for "gigs" are crude four-hook fishing devices that are dragged by commercial fleets through schools of fish to impale them, haul them in, and cash in on the pain. And if you don't think the gig economy is painful, why don't you ask the 10,000 Uber and Lyft workers in Austin how they feel about it?

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

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Lakes Region Profiles — Set your course for waterside dining

By Mary O'Neill

Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group

 

You will never go hungry on Lake Winnipesaukee. Whether you own a waterfront home or launch your boat for the day, do not bother bringing any food. Some of the best and most unique dining in New England can be accessed from town docks on the shores of the big lake.

The striking village of Meredith invites the foot to roam and the choice of dining is extensive. Upon arriving at Town Docks Restaurant, Pat K. from Birmingham, UK said on TripAdvisor, "The setting could not be better, right on the banks of Lake Winnipesaukee." A short walk towards Main Street will bring you to George's Diner, where one patron from New York described the meal as "diner food from heaven." Other restaurants easily accessible from the town docks include Camp, Lago, Lakehouse Grill at Church Landing, Giuseppe's Pizzeria, Sunshine and Pa's, Flurries, and Mame's.

Charming Center Harbor offers several choices for boat-to-destination eating. Canoe consistently delights. "One of our favorite restaurants on the plant earth...it never disappoints us," exclaimed one couple from Massachusetts. Or try Lavinia's, located in the historic 1820s Coe House, which, among other things in its storied past, served as an underground railroad location during the slavery era. A couple from New York remarked, "We had been past Lavinia's many times and admired the beautiful, immaculate, artfully lit building...we decided to give them a try...wow are we glad we did...fabulous, interesting, innovative, delicious food in a beautiful setting." There are other spots to try in Center Harbor including delightful Dewey's Ice Cream Parlor and Café.

Stepping onto the town docks in historic Wolfeboro creates the immediate impression of a place with creative scope that evokes a desire to explore. You will not be disappointed as you discover many options for a sun-filled luncheon or sunset dining experience. Bailey's Bubble has been a Wolfeboro tradition for many years. A visitor from Massachusetts called it "a Wolfeboro icon, a must go... there is something wonderfully nostalgic about stopping at this little shop." Ellen P. from Newton, Massachusetts had this to add: "I have been going to Bailey's for 50 years...and the ice cream is still as delicious as it was when I was a child." At Nolan's Brick Oven Bistro, one out-of-town visitor thoroughly enjoyed his meal and simply wrote, "The locals favor this place – enough said!" Wolfe's Tavern at Wolfeboro Inn, Downtown Grill Café, Garwood's Restaurant, Jo Green's Garden Café, Wolfeboro Dockside Grille, Wolfeboro Diner, and others provide a plethora of diverse options all within easy access to the town docks.

In Alton Bay, Shibley's at the Pier is a must. Judy S. from California called her visit there a "happy accident... if we didn't live on the West Coast this would be a standard... the food is excellent... the view is spectacular!" You also do not want to miss Pop's Clam Shell – "best fried clams in the Lakes Region" according to Bob C. from Boston – or Stillwells Ice Cream.

The Lyons' Den Restaurant and Tavern is located a few steps from the Glendale Town Docks in Gilford. "It is a great romantic place with a great view and sunset," said Thomas W. from Plymouth, Massachusetts. Jason S. called it "a gem on Lake Winnipesaukee."

The options in Weirs Beach are as varied and fun as the place itself. Anthony's Pier Restaurant thrilled one visitor from Boston with the "great view...overlooking the beach and the lake." Other interesting places to try include Lobster in the Rough and Faro Italian Grill, where "our meals were absolutely done to perfection," according to a visitor from New Jersey.

With boating season now upon us, it is time to board your boat and chart your course to superb dining. Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire, covering 72 square miles with 240 miles of shoreline, is considered a playground for water sports – swimming, waterskiing, wakeboarding, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing... With more than a hundred restaurants accessible by town or venue docking, dining on Winnipesaukee could be considered a sport unto itself.

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, and can be reached at 366-6306. rocherealty.com

 

Wolfeboro town docks

Tie up at the town docks in Wolfeboro or in other waterside towns and enjoy an adventure in dining.

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Sanborn — Winni Waterfront Sales Report, April, 2016

By ROY SANBORN

There were 14 waterfront sales on Winnipesaukee in April 2016 at an average of $1,439,577 and a median price point of $817,500. That compares to seven waterfront sales last April at an average of $1,112,286 and a median price point of $900,000. So things are buzzing on the lake this year!

The entry level sale last month was at 89 Stonedam Island Road in Meredith. This is a 1,720-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bath home built in 2006 with lots of upgrades, including cherry cabinetry, oak flooring, wainscoting, granite counters, a gas fireplace and lots of large windows to bring in the light. There's a farmer's porch, a large back deck for grilling, and a two car garage under. The house sits on a 4.2 acre lot with a large lawn leading down to 500 feet of waterfront with a dock and bunkhouse to camp out in. The waterfront is a little marshy, which obviously affects the pricing. It was first listed in August of 2014 at $629,900, again in December 2014 at $599,000, and then again in March 2016 at $499,000. It found a buyer at $470,000 after a total of 443 days on the market. It is assessed at $466,300.

The median price point representative for the month is at 110 Cattle Landing Road. This property consists of two 1930-vintage two-bedroom seasonal cottages and a detached garage on a 0.8 acre lot with 103 feet of water frontage. This property was listed in June of 2013 for $1.1 million with no takers, brought back in May 2014 at $850,000, and finally found a buyer at $810,000. Total time on the market was 879 days and the current tax assessed value is $795,700. I expect there could be a new house there any second now...

The largest sale for the month was over in Wolfeboro at 428/450 Sewall Road. This property consists of a main house and separate three-story studio workshop, which, when combined has 10,328 square feet of living space, 24 rooms, 10 bedrooms, and 12 baths. That's a whole lot of space! The open-concept main home has all the bells and whistles, including a designer kitchen, butler's pantry, first-floor master bedroom suite, a great room with two-story stone fireplace, and office on the first floor. Upstairs are two more guest suites, a gym and library. The lower level has a fabulous family room with stone fireplace, home theater, wine cellar, and three more guest rooms. The 3,000-square-foot studio/workshop has additional bedrooms in case you run out of space in the main house or Cousin Eddy comes for an extended stay. Both buildings have commercial grade elevators. The 1.1 acre lot has extensive landscaping and stonework and the 200 feet of southwest exposure frontage has an oversized two-slip boat house to die for. This property was listed in October 2013 at $7 million with a price increase to $7.5 million a few months later and was on the market for 776 days. It was relisted in April 2016 at $6.995 million and sold at $6.375 million apparently to a buyer in waiting. It is assessed at $3.665 million.

There was only one sale on Winnisquam in April and that was at 168 Black Brook Road in Meredith. This is a 1996 vintage 2,900-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bath colonial-style home on a 0.91 acre lot with 154 feet of frontage. This was a bank-owned property, so there are lots of unknowns and some repairs to be done. It was listed at $599,900 and was bid up to $618,000. It is currently assessed at $603,900.

 

Pl​ease 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 11, 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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Susan Estrich - Trump? No kidding?

Donald Trump: the Republican Party's nominee for president?

Yes.

Could there be some last-minute twist, some redemption, an unfinished Frank Capra movie?

No. There are no backrooms anymore. Delegates are enthusiasts. Try convincing them — I have — to switch. They don't. We put our faith in democracy, but it's a risky business.

The Republican Party is about to nominate a man who belongs on a television stage, not in the Oval Office. His appeal has absolutely nothing to do with policy, which he doesn't pay much attention to — nor does anyone really ask him about. No, his appeal to many is that he says the unthinkable. He makes sexual references that have given rise to a new cottage industry: "How to Talk to Your Child About Trump." He insults women with a nasty wink that I thought had been banished, at least from any respectable public face. Nope. How about period jokes? Yup. And jokes about penis size? Indeed. (Have you noticed people staring at hands more lately?)

Never in history has a man marched to the nomination with more baggage and less shame than this man.

If you're not scared, you should be. This is happening.

Forget about an open convention. This will be four perfectly produced evenings of Trump, interspersed with tributes to Ronald Reagan and George Bush. The people who become convention delegates by working phone banks, night after night, week after week, are not about to enter the convention hall and suddenly change their minds. Barring video proof of the Donald committing a felony (at a bare minimum), he gets the nomination. No open convention can save the party from the delegates.

Donald Trump is great for the comedians and commentators and pundits who have found manna in the man who knows television better than most of us ever will. Trump jokes abound. Even the president tells them.

The thing is, the man could be president.

Could he win? Why even ask. A year ago, we all said he had no chance of getting the nomination, and of course we were all wrong.

With two candidates in the race — one of whom, despite her very different qualifications, carries a few valises of her own — the answer is of course he could win. Sexism lives. Big surprise. And it is far more difficult for women to get to the top of the executive heap (rather than the legislative ladder) than it is for men. Just look at California, as blue as can be: two women in the U.S. Senate, and never a female governor. The pattern that holds at the top corporate levels holds in politics, as well. Anybody could lose a race, but a female somebody surely could.

And then, as the world looks on, our great democracy having become a laughingstock, only one question will be left.

Who did this to us?

Who debased our democracy to the extent that we would entrust the most powerful weapons in the world to a man with absolutely no experience to guide him, and no respect for what he doesn't know? Who turned us into bobbleheads with no principles of our own, nodding along to a movement armed by anger and little more?

Look to your left. Look to your right. Look in the mirror.

No one has turned us into anything that wasn't there. The question is whether the better angels of our nature will ultimately triumph.

(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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DuBois — The Valley of Flowers, the gateway to extraordinary hiking

Rocky crags below summit of Saddle Peak

Rocky crags below summit of Saddle Peak

By Gordon DuBois

The following article is the fourth in a series on hiking trails that you may want to consider tackling as you make plans for your summer backpacking adventures. Over the next few months I will share my experiences of multi-day hikes. I hope this series will assist and inspire you to take advantage of the many trails that await you, not only in New Hampshire, but throughout the Northeast and beyond.

In 1865 Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune, is credited with writing the famous phrase, "Go West young man (and woman) go West," as part of an editorial promoting western expansion. Three years ago, my daughter Annemarie and her husband Derek took up Greeley's mantra and headed west to Bozeman, Montana from their home in Burlington, Vermont. What better place to relocate if you enjoy fly fishing, hiking and being centered among some of the most spectacular scenery and national parks in the country? Last week, my wife Nancy and I flew out to Bozeman for a family visit and for me it meant getting in another hike to the peaks surrounding the Gallatin Valley, also known as the Valley of Flowers.

Bozeman is named for the early pioneer and trail builder, John Bozeman, who in 1863 blazed the first trail through the Gallatin Valley en route to the gold fields in western Montana and Virginia City. It is also the home of Conrad Anker, renowned rock climber, mountaineer and author. He is known around the world for his mountaineering feats and ascents in the Himalaya and Antarctica. In 1999, he located the body of the George Mallory on Mount Everest, as part of a climbing team searching for the remains of the legendary British climber.

I could only spend a week in Bozeman, but Nancy decided to stay and spend time with her youngest daughter. So, I had to make the most of my time if I wanted to get in a few days of hiking. Bozeman, at 4,820 feet, sits among several mountain ranges: The Bridger Mountains, the Tobacco Root Mountains, the Big Belt Mountains and Horseshoe Hills, the Hyalite Peaks of the Gallatin Range and the Spanish Peaks of the northern Madison Range. To the south, about a two hour drive away, lies Yellowstone National Park and to the north on the Canadian border sits Glacier National Park. The opportunities for backpacking are limitless.

I had originally planned to hike to the summit of Mount Blackmore (10,154 feet) which is accessible from Hyalite Canyon. However, when I arrived at the canyon entrance, the gate was closed, obviously due to the level of the snow pack still in the canyon. Hikers from the east, like me, often forget that the Rockies and other western ranges are much higher in elevation and significant snow levels remain well into the early summer. Having been turned around at the Hyalite Canyon gate I decided to try my luck in the Bridger Range on the following day and climb Mount Sacagawea (9,650 feet) the highest peak in the range. The mountain was named for the legendary Native American Woman of the Shoshone tribe who help to guide Lewis and Clark on their Discovery Expedition from St. Louis, Missouri to the Pacific Ocean. The Corps of the Discovery traveled along the Missouri River and rested at the Three Forks which are just north of Bozeman.

The mountain peaks surrounding Bozeman were still covered with snow and I knew it would be a challenge to reach the summit of Sacagawea. I have hiked several other summits in the area, including Hyalite Peak (10,298 feet) and Storm Castle (7,280 feet), but these were climbed in summer, when most of the snow pack had disappeared. I checked my map and decided to hike the Truman Gulch Trail on the southwestern side of the range. The morning broke with clear blue sky and temperatures were expected to be in the 70s. Knowing that I would be hiking in snow, I brought some winter gear with me, including snowshoes. When I got to the trailhead, it felt and looked like a summer day. The foliage was green, flowers were blooming along the creek, birds singing their hearts out, and the creek running freely. I checked the trail ahead, no snow. After considering the pros and con of packing snowshoes I foolishly left them in the car. I began my hike thinking I would easily make the summit of at least Ross Peak (9,004 feet) or Saddle Peak (9159 feet) by following a series of ridges that hopefully would be free of snow and bring me to the Bridger Ridge Trail. Once on the ridge trail, which follows the spine of the Bridger Range, I would be able to summit Sacagawea.

At the terminus of the Truman Gulch Trail, I turned onto the Bridger Foothills Trail which would lead me to the Ridge. After a quarter mile the trail disappeared into 5 feet of snow. Without snowshoes I was wallowing in snow up to my arm pits. I quickly came to my senses and turned back, knowing I couldn't continue on this route. I then considered an alternative option: bushwhacking to the ridge, by following south facing ridges. Much of the snow pack had melted on the south facing slopes due to the angle of the sun. I looked at my map and began the steep climb, keeping free of the snow pack. I was beginning my climb at about 8,000 feet and bushwhacking or off-trail hiking is far different in the west, especially above 8,000 feet. Much of the climbing is free of snarly blowdowns, thick spruce waves, and the infamous krummholz.

As I climbed higher up the ridge my breathing became labored. I had to stop frequently to catch my breath, before continuing the laborious climb that I hoped would bring me to the Ridge Trail. As I continued my slow climb, the snow levels began to increase and I was slowed to a crawl in my attempt to reach the ridge line. Reality began to take hold of my ambitious plans and I came to realize that I couldn't make the summit of Saddle or Ross Peaks. I had to turn back and get off the mountain before nightfall. With that in mind I began a slow decent back down the mountain. As I made my retreat I heard the Bridger Range "calling me back" when the snow fields have vanished and the entire ridge of 20 miles can be traversed in one day. I'll return to Bozeman again soon to visit Annemarie and Derek, but also to hike the entire Bridger Range.

If you haven't made summer plans yet and you want to experience the high peaks of southwestern Montana, then start to plan now. Bozeman is a great city with lots of amenities and the Museum of the Rockies is also located here. There are hundreds of great hiking trails in the mountains surrounding the Gallatin Valley, just minutes from Bozeman. In addition, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks are within a day's drive. Make your plans now to experience the Valley of Flowers, the sounding mountains and trout-filled streams.

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