Sanborn — The porch

As I was performing the annual fall ritual of bringing in the porch furniture, I thought it might be a good time to reflect, pause and ponder that specific American architectural institution: the porch. In America, we have front porches, side porches, back porches, entry porches, screened porches, three season porches, four season porches, and of course the topless deck which I would consider to be a poor man's porch although these babies ain't cheap to build.
Porches have been around for thousands of years dating back to prehistoric times when Fred Flintstone and his caveman brethren would sit outside their caves under an overhanging piece of ledge and discuss the day's hunt or activities down at the tar pit. They'd sit, drink, tell stories, and watch the sun go down until Wilma and Betty started yelling at them to come in. That scenario has continued uninterrupted into modern times.

The word "porch" is derived from the Latin word "porticus" or the Greek word "portico," both signifying the columned entry to a temple. According to Wikipedia, "The portico allows entrance to the inside from the exterior and can be found on vernacular and small scale buildings." But, you also had "loggias" which were "accessed only from inside and intended as a place for leisure. Thus, it is found mainly on noble residences and public buildings."

Porches did not appear in European architecture and thus were not brought to the colonies when originally settled. It is unclear how the porch became such an important element in America, but by the mid 1800s they began to appear, and over the next century became prevalent. Some of the first front porches in the Americas were on the shotgun style homes built in the South. Obviously, in the warmer climates there, the porch not only extended the living space of the home but provided a place to sit and catch a cool breeze.

By the early 18th Century, porches began to appear on many different style homes, including colonials, Greek and Gothic Revival, farmhouses, and the popular stick style homes so prevalent in the Northeast during the late Victorian period. One of the main features of these ornately decorated Victorian homes were the expansive porches, which often wrapped the entire exterior of the structure. The porches usually had intricate balustrades and ornate angled "y" shaped brackets at the tops of the support columns. There were also sleeping porches off upstairs bedrooms which spurred the use of modern window screens to prevent the mosquitoes from late night snacking.

The porch became a center for socializing and entertaining family and friends on warm summer evenings. They bridge the gap from the inside to the outside world. People would go for after-dinner strolls and end up on a neighbor's porch to discuss matters of triviality and importance along with a fair dose of gossip, I expect. But the importance and use of porches began to decline with the invention of air conditioning, the television, and the automobile. No longer did one need to sit outside to cool off, you didn't want to miss the evening TV shows, and the evening stroll was replaced by a ride down to the drive in for a burger. Pretty soon porches began to shrink down to the size of something not much bigger than a phone booth and then the phone booth shrank down to nonexistent. The porch many times is now just a place to stand out of the rain while digging for your car keys.

But there is hope. They are coming back. And the PPSU is helping. Yes, The Professional Porch Sitters Union was founded in Louisville, Kentucky in 1999 by avid porch sitter Crow Hollister to help celebrate our porches. His motto is "Sit down a spell. That can wait." Truly, I am not kidding here. Look it up yourself. This is my kind of union. They are definitely nothing like the Teamsters, but they have rules, and the rules are: there are no rules, no regulations, no agendas, no dues, no committees, no scheduled meetings, no membership requirements, and no meeting minutes. And, as near as I can tell, the meetings are not necessarily the dry kind, if you know what I mean.

Membership is spreading with locals now in Ashbury Park, New Jersey; Georgetown, California; Jessieville, Arkansas; Fort Collins, Colorado; Mountainair, New Mexico; Westbrook, Connecticut; and close to home in Waterville, Maine! It would appear to me that the Lakes Region would be prime territory for a PPSU of our own given the abundance of porches and great subject matter such as the Pumpkin Fest, the future of Motorcycle Week, the Patriots, Meredith's traffic problems, or protecting the WOW trail from vandals and druggies. Oh yeah, we could also talk about porches and real estate. Feel free to contact me if you'd like to be a founding member. Spring is right around the corner. Really.

There were 114 residential sales in October in the twelve communities covered by this Lakes Region Real Estate Report. The average sales price came in at $360,939 with a median price point of $230,000. October is traditionally a good sales month and there were 112 sales last October. I can attest to the fact that porches were attached to many of these sales.

P​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 11/18/15. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012

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Bob Meade - Can we afford FREE?

Most people are now probably aware of the words spoken by MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber concerning the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Professor Gruber opined that they depended on the people being too stupid to understand the legislation because, if they did understand it, the bill could not have been passed. His words have brought to mind a number of times when Senator Sanders or Secretary Clinton made some of their campaign promises. For example, the promises of "free college tuition," "free health care for all," and "equal pay for all." Their words cause one to wonder if they do not comprehend the free enterprise system and the role of government as dictated by the Constitution.

First, it must be understood that every single penny spent by the government has, or has had, its origins in some business enterprise. The government taxes those businesses on their profits. The government taxes the owners and the employees on their earnings. The government imposes on citizens and their employers, a cost for what are somewhat inappropriately called "benefits" (Social Security and Medicare). The government charges "licensing fees" on everything from permission to get married, or to catch a fish or to hunt game for food, or to drive a vehicle. Everything that government does, whether it's building or repairing a road, sending a rocket into space, giving out a Pell Grant, and so much more . . . everything had it origin in some business enterprise. So, how well have some of those government ideas that taxpayers have and are paying for, working out?

— President Johnson began the "War on Poverty" back in 1965. That program has so far cost taxpayers about $20 trillion without making any significant change in the level of poverty in this country. If anything, it has diminished the incentive to work and created a "dependent" class.
— Also in 1965, the student loan program basically had the federal government becoming the guarantor of the student loans. Today, it is estimated that outstanding student loan debt exceeds a trillion dollars.
— President Lyndon Johnson also introduced Medicare in 1965. That program for people over the age of 65 or those who are permanently disabled now has about 50 million subscribers. It also has over $36 trillion in unfunded liabilities.
— In 1977, President Carter created the federal Department of Education. Education is one of those things not mentioned in the Constitution and is therefore something that the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution leaves to the states or to the people. This department, which many consider a usurpation of states rights, cost the taxpayers a whopping $140.9 billion dollars in 2014, not including the student loan program.

Because it is currently being used as a political promise, this article will focus on the student loan program and the Clinton–Sanders "promise" to provide "free" college tuition at state colleges. The other items cited above will be covered in subsequent articles.

There are currently 6.8 million students enrolled in four year public colleges, and another 6.2 million enrolled in 2-year community colleges — 13 million in all. The average cost in a four year "public" college is $17,474. If education were "free" at public colleges, it is quite likely that the two year colleges would not survive as they are, but would become a part of the state's four year college systems. The math works out to be that "free" college would cost the taxpayers and addition $227.2 billion each year. Of course, that number will grow significantly as, if you make something cheaper or easier to do, more of it will happen. The Census Bureau reported that there are 105.9 million full-time workers. On that basis, "free" public college, would cause each worker to pay an additional $2,150 in federal taxes, with that number growing each year.

There are other consequences that also need to be considered. Costs at private colleges or universities, on average, are double the amount paid for attending public colleges. It may well be that regular four year enrollment in the private colleges will decline, with those students opting to get their first four year degree for "free." Perhaps the private institutions would become more geared to advanced degree programs to compensate for their loss of their four year student base.

Another consequence may be that the "free" public college will entice retired senior citizens to enroll in the public institutions, thereby creating a significant difference not only in age, but in the curriculum being offered and the accommodations necessary to serve the senior citizens.

Of course the most immediate consequence would be that former students who now have that one trillion dollars of student debt, will want to be absolved of that debt. Ergo, add another trillion to the legacy we're passing on to future generations.

And, let us not forget, if the federal government dictates that the states provide "free" college education, usurping yet another "states right," does the Constitution become subordinate to the whims of politicians?

Was Professor Gruber right?

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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Froma Harrop - Must Boomers take the rap?

In the course of human events, many things need fixing. One of them is the cost of Medicare, climbing rapidly as baby boomers enroll in large numbers. We can argue over how to contain this major federal expense, and we should. But assigning blame for the problem on anyone born between 1946 and 1964 seems an absurd way to go about it.

Foes of Medicare and Social Security have long tried to corral resentment against baby boomers to weaken public support for these programs. Some supporters on the left do likewise in an effort to move more resources toward programs serving the young and the poor.

Boomer-bashing may be entertaining, but it's not smart analysis. It's become the fashion nevertheless.

Boomers should "repent," Washington Post writer Jim Tankersley declares with no hint of humor. He charges, "Boomers soaked up a lot of economic opportunity without bothering to preserve much for the generations to come."

Two interesting notions here. That economic opportunity is a fixed quantity that gets used up. That Americans belonging to a set age group act in unison, hold the same political views and are all rolling in dough. Tankersley thus calls on "boomer candidates" to reduce carbon emissions and head off a debt crisis. Is he talking about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush or Bernie Sanders? They're different, you know. And what is our author doing about his fellow Generation Xer Ted "I don't believe in climate change" Cruz? Generation Z may someday demand an explanation.

Let's be mindful that America doesn't control everything that happens on this planet. That makes throwing the book at one of its age groups even odder. "They opened global trade and watched millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs vanish," Tankersley writes. Actually, several million of those lost factory jobs were the boomers'.

Without a doubt, older Americans on average have had an easier time of it economically than members of Generation X and certainly the younger millennials. And there are limits to how much working Americans can pay for programs serving retirees. But let's discuss these issues in a rational way.
The Urban Institute projects that couples retiring in 2011 will draw $200,000 more from Medicare and Social Security than they paid in taxes to support the benefits, Tankersley notes. "And yet almost no one suggests that boomers should share the pain of shoring up those programs."

The Urban Institute should know better than to lump Medicare and Social Security together. That entire $200,000 is tied to Medicare.

Social Security is self-funding. Until 1983, it was strictly pay-as-you-go. Workers were taxed just enough to support current beneficiaries. Recognizing that a surge of retirees would put great pressure on the workers later on, both political parties did ask the boomers to help strengthen the program. Social Security tax rates were raised. So was the age for receiving full benefits. And for the first time, Social Security benefits were taxed for those earning above a certain amount.

Baby boomers have been building up the Social Security trust fund for over 30 years, which is why the program's finances are in fairly good shape.

Medicare is another matter. Much of its funding comes from the Treasury, that is, income taxes. It's been victim to the ridiculously inflated cost of health care in this country plus quite a bit of fraud. The good news is there's lots of low-hanging fruit to be plucked for savings.

Generational names do provide useful shorthand for Americans sharing certain experiences by virtue of their age. But let us judge individuals by the things they do, not the year they were born in.

(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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Lakes Region Profiles — Health is wealth in the Lakes Region

By MARY O'NEILL

Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group

In between writing his epic works, the Roman poet Virgil (70 BC–19 BC) came up with many expressions of truth, one of which is generally accepted as valid today: the greatest wealth is health. Though some may disagree with it being the greatest wealth, few would argue with the premise that health is wealth. Few too can argue with the fact that the Lakes Region of New Hampshire is a healthy place to live. In case you are ever in a position to debate the issue with unbelievers, here are some propositions to put forth.

The Lakes Region is Peaceful: The peaceful setting of the Lakes Region is healthy for you. Stress is a killer. Stanford University Medical School released research stating that stress is the cause of at least 95 percent of all illness and disease, and the Center for Disease Control states that 90 percent of disease is related to stress. Harvard Medical School had this to say: "Too much stress for too long creates what is known as 'chronic stress' which has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and may also influence cancer and chronic respiratory diseases...stress affects you emotionally as well, marring the joy you gain from life and loved ones."

It is not to say that high-stress occupations do not exist in the Lakes Region. But when you leave work, few in this area have to deal with long commutes through dense highway traffic and hundreds of other stressors. With this in mind, there is no question that peace reigns in the Lakes Region. There may not be informative studies on the subject, but common sense dictates that looking out over a beautiful lake, mountain, or forest does more for a person's peace of mind and soul than continually looking out on a mass of buildings and pavement.

Lake Region's Seasonal Change and Cold Weather Have Significant Health Benefits: Here is another argument for your consideration. Forget about those endless days of warm weather in the southern states. Periods of cold weather have proven to be a healthy environment for many reasons. Studies have found that cooler temperature can help you sleep better and may improve metabolism while you sleep. Scientists have determined that our brains work better in cooler temperatures. Also, though most people think cold weather leads to dry skin and wrinkling, Harvard Health found that "moderately cold temperatures could be good for the vasculature because it trains blood vessels in the skin to be responsive." Scientists have also discovered that a change in seasons is beneficial to health and happiness. According to research published in Psychology Today, week after week of sunshine does not necessarily make a person happy, and if the weather never changes, a person starts taking the sunshine for granted.

Another factor to consider is that areas with periods of cold weather have an environment that is less hospitable for disease-carrying pathogens. Freezing temperatures kill off pests such as mosquitoes and ticks, keeping their population under control and protecting us from the illnesses they spread. In states with milder winters, pests are able to multiply through the winter and cause major outbreaks in the spring. Also, New Hampshire's lakes and ponds regenerate each winter when they freeze.
Cold weather reduces inflammation. For the same reason that putting ice on an injury works to reduce swelling, the treatment works throughout the body as well. Experts are discovering the list of ailments associated with inflammation is extensive, including debilitating conditions such Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Inflammation is also thought to be the culprit behind the visible signs of aging.
The Best Health Club is the One With No Walls: The best health club is the great outdoors. Leisure activities in the fresh air are important for mental and physical health. Here in the Lakes Region, outdoor activities abound – skiing, snowboarding, horseback riding, swimming, boating, hiking, golf, Nordic skiing, waterskiing, fishing, snowmobiling walking, gardening, sporting events, races, fairs, concerts...the list goes on and on.
The Lakes Region has an abundance of local health food stores to supplement a healthy lifestyle. These include Sunflower Natural Foods in downtown Laconia, Lakes Region Nutrition Center in Meredith, Natural Roots and Remedies in Gilford, and Gemini Health Emporium in Tilton. This area also has a wealth of farms which provide fresh produce, including Beans and Greens in Gilford, Winnipesaukee Woods Farm in Gilford, Spring Hill Farm in Sanbornton, Moulton Farm in Meredith, Surowiec Farm in Sanbornton and Mustard Seed Farm in Wolfeboro.

These are just three of many arguments for the Lakes Region being a healthy place to live. Elements of these are the basis for some of the following findings:

1. The latest report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that New Hampshire residents have the best quality of life in the country. This ranking is based on health, life expectancy, mortality rate, environment, safety, housing, access to broadband, education and income.
2. This is the fifth consecutive year that New Hampshire has topped CQ Press's list of "Most Livable State in the US," which is based on the criteria of many quality-of-life measures, including health, low crime and low poverty. Morgan Quitno Corporation of Kansas also named New Hampshire the "Most Livable State in the Nation" for eight consecutive years.
3. New Hampshire currently ranks seventh in the United Health Foundation's report of "America's Healthiest States." Some of the factors contributing to this ranking include our low incidence of cardiovascular deaths and our high number of physicians per 100,000 residents.
4. New Hampshire has one of the highest rankings in the country for senior citizens' health-related quality of life.
5. New Hampshire was picked the number one state for retirement in the country according to moneyrates.com. This rank was based on many factors including life expectancy, cost of living, climate, tax burden and crime rate.
6. Lake Winnipesaukee was rated the number one retirement place in the country under the category "leisure living for recreational and cultural opportunities" (rated by MacMillan Travel, 5th edition of Retirement Places Rated)

If health is wealth, then by all accounts, those who live in the Lakes Region are among the healthiest and therefore wealthiest people in the world.

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. www.rocherealty.com

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Michelle Malkin - The myth of H-1B job creation

Every day brings new headlines, ignored by the Washington press corps, of U.S. workers losing their livelihoods to cheap H1-B visa replacements. Just this week, Computerworld reported: "Fury and fear in Ohio as IT jobs go to India."

Yet, it remains an article of faith among Big Business flacks and Beltway hacks that H-1B not only protects American jobs, but also fuels miraculous job growth. The myths are recycled and regurgitated by the likes of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who claims that "foreign-born STEM workers complement the American workforce, they don't take American jobs."

Bill Gates, citing the National Foundation for American Policy, which is run by one-man Beltway advocacy research shop operative Stuart Anderson, testified before Congress that "a recent study shows for every H-1B holder that technology companies hire, five additional jobs are created around that person." Citing another NFAP study by economics professor Madeline Zavodny of Agnes Scott College, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce asserted: "2.62 MORE JOBS are created for U.S.-born workers for each foreign-born worker in the U.S. with a U.S. STEM graduate degree."

But even the reliably pro-immigration expansionist Wall Street Journal had to call out Bill Gates on his misleading testimony to Congress regarding oft-cited NFAP job-creation figures. First off, the data set was confined to S&P 500 technology companies, which "excludes the leading users" of H-1B visas — offshore outsourcing companies from India such as Infosys, Wipro and Tata.

Moreover, Carl Bialik, the newspaper's "Numbers Guy," reported that the study Gates cited to claim amazing H-1B job generation "shows nothing of the kind. Instead, it finds a positive correlation between these visas and job growth. These visas could be an indicator of broader hiring at the company, rather than the cause."

University of California, Davis professor Norm Matloff explained that Gates' false conclusion is a common analytical error known as Simpson's Paradox, "in which the relation between two variables is very misleading, due to their mutual relation to a third variable."

NFAP's Zavodny study was published by the American Enterprise Institute, sponsored by open-borders billionaire Michael Bloomberg's Partnership for a New American Economy and touted by the open-borders U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the pro-H-1B FWD.us.

Zavodny's study initially examined data from the years 2000 to 2010. She hypothesized that states with more foreign-born workers would have higher rates of employment among native-born Americans. Initially, she was unable to find a significant effect of foreign-born workers on U.S. jobs.
So what changed? In correspondence with John Miano, co-author of our new book "Sold Out" on the foreign guest-worker racket, and I, Zavodny revealed that when she showed her initial results to the study sponsor, the backers came up with the idea of discarding the last three years of data — ostensibly to eliminate the effects of the economic recession — and trying again.

Voila! After re-crunching the numbers at the sponsor's request, Zavodny found the effect the study sponsor was hoping to find.

Standard research practice is to formulate a research hypothesis and specify a study sample before the analysis has been completed. The practice of "data dredging" — that is, tweaking the sample data until one gets rid of "anomalous results" — is frowned upon.

To her credit, Zavodny provided her data to a curious software developer in Silicon Valley who was interested in immigration policy. The blogger, R. Davis, discovered a number of serious methodological deficiencies in Zavodny's work.

Most importantly, he documented that Zavodny's results are highly sensitive to the date range selected. When she studied the years 2000-2007, she found 100 foreign-born workers in STEM fields with advanced degrees from U.S. universities were associated with 262 additional jobs for native-born Americans. But change the date range a little bit to 2002-2008, and the exact same regression model shows the destruction of 110 jobs for natives, according to the independent researcher.

Also, Zavodny's "262 additional jobs" factoid deals not with H-1B visa holders but with foreign-born workers in so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) who have advanced degrees (that is, a master's or doctorate) from U.S. universities. About 45 percent of H-1B visa holders do not have advanced degrees (as noted above), let alone advanced degrees from U.S. universities.

According to public policy professor Ron Hira of Howard University, only 1 in 206 of H-1B workers at offshore outsourcing giant Infosys holds an advanced degree from a U.S. university. Even fewer of Tata Consultancy Services H-1B workers do — just 1 in 222. So there is almost no overlap between the highly educated workers in Zavodny's "262 additional jobs" analysis and the mostly entry-level workers who actually come to the U.S. on H-1B visas.

While industry lobbyists have to employ dubious and convoluted means to show H-1B creates jobs, it is brutally simple to show that H-1B workers take American jobs. Just ask the folks who trained their H-1B replacements at Disney, Southern California Edison, Toys R Us, Fossil and countless other companies across the nation.

This column is adapted from Malkin and Miano's new book, How High-Tech Billionaires & Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America's Best & Brightest Workers (Mercury Ink/Simon & Schuster).

(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)

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