Froma Harrop - American manufacturing back in action

Reports of NASA's Juno spacecraft's entering the orbit around Jupiter lit a sparkler in this American heart — on the Fourth of July, no less. It showed that Americans still have what it takes.

To keep spirits orbiting, let's note another recent American feat that few could have imagined a couple of years ago. The United States is now gaining, not losing, factory jobs. This glad trend has some sobering asterisks attached, but there's no denying this: There are now nearly a million more factory jobs in this country than there were in 2010. Many of them are coming — surprise, surprise — from China. China, meanwhile, has lost about 6 percent of its factory positions from four years ago.

Why do Americans seem to know more about Jupiter's 67 moons than about the turnaround in factory employment?

Reason No. 1 is politics. From Donald Trump on the populist right to Bernie Sanders on the left, trade agreements have become the obsession, the all-purpose villain behind U.S. factory closings and "movings" to low-wage countries.

In documenting the brutal departure of U.S. factory jobs, the candidates' rearview mirrors have been quite accurate. We're still down over 7 million manufacturing jobs from a peak of about 19.5 million in 1979.

But any serious plan to address the future of blue-collar America must focus on what's actually happening now. What's happening is automation. Robots enable manufacturers to make lots of stuff with relatively few workers. The ability to do the job with far fewer humans goes far in canceling the advantage of low-wage countries. (Lower U.S. energy costs have helped, too.)

This is how General Electric could move 4,000 jobs from China and Mexico to a new appliance plant in Louisville, Kentucky.

"We have (only) two hours of labor in a refrigerator," GE CEO Jeff Immelt explained, "so it really doesn't matter if you make it in Mexico, the U.S. or China."

Another reason many don't know about the improved outlook for factory work is that most of the new manufacturing jobs are in the South — especially North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The rattling job losses occurred in the industrial Midwest. Conditions are better there, too, but many of the region's laid-off workers still suffer.

The asterisks:

— The technology that lets U.S. companies slash the labor content of their products is something anyone can use. Foxconn, a supplier for Apple and Samsung, recently replaced 60,000 Chinese workers with robots.

— The new factory jobs require more training. The workers must be able to program and oversee fancy machinery. They need to be flexible, to move to another task as orders change. Happily, the pay is much higher.

— Advances in automation seem destined to reduce human workforces even more, here and everywhere.

— Brexit chaos has made the dollar stronger. That makes U.S. products more expensive on the global market.

We should probably abandon hope that a Trump stump talk on U.S. manufacturing will delve in reality. That U.S. factory output and employment have been trending upward is something Trump may not even know. In any case, it's not useful information for his purposes.

But Trump's thundering vows to bring factory work back to this country by the container shipload do everyone a disservice. Robotics are upon us. Peddling a dated vision of U.S. factories humming along with thousands and thousands of workers is just another con. China won't be able to have that soon.

To restore prosperity to blue-collar America, we will need a moonshot program to retrain and rebuild. A country that can send spacecraft spinning around Jupiter should be able to pull that off.

(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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Sanborn — Yankee Doodle dandies

Summer is officially here! We celebrated the Fourth of July and it has been hot, so the beaches are full. There were fireworks displays, cook outs, and traffic jams in Meredith. Home hunters are out en masse and more homes are coming on the market for them to see. So if your Uncle Sam is up looking for a property, here's a few listings born on the first of July (not the fourth but close) and actually may be dandy.

Check out the home at 98 Burleigh Hill Road in Sanbornton if you are looking for some privacy and a place to set off some fireworks of your own. This 1973 vintage, 2-3 bedroom ranch style home has 1,270 square feet of living space, a large living room with fireplace and hardwood floors, a country kitchen, two enclosed seasonal sun porches, a family room in the basement, and a two car detached garage with an extra bay for a workshop. The house sits on a 3.5 acre lot on a great country road with easy access to Route 93 and shopping at Exit 20. This great property is offered at only $189,000.

There's another ranch on a private 5.21 acre lot at 34 Keyser Road in Center Harbor where you can set off bottle rockets to your heart's content. This 1,400 square foot, three bedroom, two bath home was built in 2004 and has never been on the market before. It has a great open floor plan with a living room that has cathedral ceilings and gas fireplace, a bright eat-in kitchen with center island and hardwood floors, a master suite, a deck for grilling, and a two-car attached garage. It really looks pretty nice to me at $310,000 and it is in Center Harbor so you've got a low tax bill to boot.

If you need something a little bigger, check out the cape style home at 16 Calef Hill Road in Tilton. This 4,000 plus square foot home has fresh paint, new flooring, and new stainless appliances in the eat-in kitchen. There's a formal dining room, living room, and large family room with cathedral ceilings, built-ins, and floor to ceiling fire place. Upstairs are four bedrooms plus a two bedroom in-law apartment. The well landscaped two-acre lot is fenced for Fido and there are stone walls, a stone patio, brick walk way, gardens, and a couple of fish ponds. Car lovers will appreciate the five car garage. Looks to me like something to celebrate at $329,000.

If you want to watch the fireworks from Long Bay in Laconia, check out the property at 65 Deerfield Turn. This stylish contemporary home was built in 2005 and offers 2,476 square feet of living space, three bedrooms, and two and a half baths, a large eat-in kitchen, family room with vaulted ceilings, hardwood flooring, and gas fireplace, plus a first floor den that could double as a fourth bedroom. Upstairs is a large master suite and two guest bedrooms. This move-in ready house comes fully furnished and with a golf cart so you can get down to the fireworks show for $394,900.

As of July 1, there were 996 single family residential homes on the market in the twelve communities covered by this report. The median price point was $285,150 meaning that half the homes available were under that price point and half were over that. The current inventory level represents about a 9.7 months' supply of homes for sale.

P​ease feel free to visit 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 7/1/16. ​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 - A cancer spreading in the world

Cancer in humans is one of the worst illnesses a person can have. If it is caught early, doctors can often arrest the growth or progress of the cancer through the use of surgical procedures, radiation, and/or the use of chemotherapy. While it exists, It is an extremely difficult time for the patient and family. It requires continued monitoring by the medical professionals, to persistently probe and search for any indications that the cancerous growth has metastasized, or spread to other parts of the body. If that constant or on-going medical surveillance is not done, the cancer may spread and the patient could die sooner than he or she might have.

Compare the human body to the world in which we live. There are places in the world body where terrorism is a cancer. As it is with the person who has the first stage of cancer, and with those in the medical profession working diligently to eliminate it, if the world body chooses to ignore or not vigorously fight to remove the cancer of terrorism, it will metastasize and spread . . . and, it has. The question is, are we and the countries of the world doing all that can be done to eliminate the cancer of terrorism from the world body? It appears not.

In November of 2014, the Atlantic Monthly put out a report on terrorism, showing how it has been spreading world-wide. The report showed that in 2013, five countries, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria, suffered 82 percent of all the deaths from terrorism – a 61 percent increase in just one year. In addition, 24 other countries had 50or more terror-related murders.

Terrorism is metastasizing significantly. In 2000, there were 3,361 deaths from terrorism. By 2013, that number had grown to 17,958. The University of Maryland's Global Terrorism Database has information on more than 125,000 terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2013. That amounts to an average of eight terror attacks a day for 43 years. And, the frequency of the attacks and resulting murder rates are increasing. Terrorism has spread significantly into Africa, Asia, and Europe, with growing numbers in South and North America. A section of the report concluded that military force was not effective in eliminating terrorism and suggested that political solutions were more effective. That seemed to contradict logic as the report itself has shown, and as we have witnessed, the ever expanding growth of terrorism shows no end in sight. As this is being written, the horror of another terrorist attack at the airport in Istanbul has flooded the airwaves.

If you make something cheaper, or if you make it easier to do, more of it will happen. The corollary to that is if you make something more costly, or if you make it harder to do, less of it will happen. In looking at the persistent growth of terrorism, and its infliction of savagery on those they conquer, it is clear that those who oppose terrorism have simply not made it more costly or harder for the terrorists to expand their war activities.

In our own country, we are witnessing an uprising of the people who are upset with our government. That upset is not directed at one party, it is aimed at all parties and the professional politicians who serve self more than they serve the people. The upset is also directed at the bureaucratic system which also serves self more than the people, and imposes regulations that have the force of law with a number of those regulations being in violation of our Constitution.
The very essence of government is "police power," the ability to enforce laws and take the actions necessary to ensure the safety of citizens . . . at the local, state, and federal levels. A great deal of the upset in this country is because the government is not effectively exercising its "police power" to confront terrorism domestically and at its roots, internationally.

What our citizens are experiencing is not unique to this country. There is unrest across the globe as citizens react to the failure of their governments to ensure their safety. "The people" expect and are demanding their governments forcefully address the terrorism problems that are spreading worldwide. Moving people to different countries to escape terrorism creates even greater problems. If the root cause is not addressed, moving people to other environments only serves to accelerate the spread and growth of terrorism. The forced mixing of cultures, languages, dominant religions, social structures, and more, can only cause more of the upheaval we are witnessing in Europe.

The government's police power is to ensure the safety of its citizens. Using faculty lounge talk is not the way to confront the savagery that is taking place . . . that only offers encouragement to the terrorist. We need to employ our police power to its fullest to stop its spread and defeat terrorism.

We must eliminate the cancer before it's too late.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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Into the Eastern Belknap Range


By Gordon DuBois

I drove to a small parking spot just off Route 11 about a mile south of the Mount Major trail head parking lot. My goal today was to explore the eastern Belknaps between Mount Major and Mount Anna. Being a trail maintainer for the Belknap Range Trail Tenders, I wanted to know the conditions of the trails in this section of the range. These trails are not often used, yet provide some of the best hiking in the Lakes Region and are mostly free of the hordes of people who hike in and around Mount Major. When I drove past the Mount Major parking lot at 9 a.m. it was already filled with cars and some were parked on the highway. I knew I had made the right decision to begin my hike on the Jesus Valley-Beaver Pond Trail. After finding a small pull-off, I checked the map and noticed an old logging road connecting this area to the trail I was looking for.
The Belknap Range is likely the most popular hiking destination in central New Hampshire. It is interlaced with a network of over 100 miles of marked trails, most of which are maintained by the Belknap Range Trail Tenders. The Belknap Mountain Range is a prominent mountainous ridge that runs west of Lake Winnipesaukee in the towns of Gilford, Gilmanton and Alton. It is comprised of several prominent peaks including Piper (2,044), Gunstock (2,250), Belknap (2,382) and Major (1,786). A fire tower on Belknap and the cleared summit of Gunstock, as well as numerous scattered ledges on all the peaks, provide fine views of Lake Winnipesaukee, the Ossipee and Sandwich Range, and Mount. Washington. The range was named for Jeremy Belknap (1744-1796) who in 1784 published the first volume of the History of New Hampshire and in 1792 completed the work. The Belknap Range is part of a volcanic complex that surrounds Lake Winnipesaukee and includes Red Hill, the Belknap Range, the Ossipee Mountains and Merry meeting Mountain. They were created during the Mesozoic Era and the breakup of the Pangaea supercontinent. If you are interested in more information on the formation of the Belknap Range read "Stepping-Stones Across New Hampshire: A Geological Story of the Belknap Mountains" by Jay Long, 2005.

After beginning my hike with Reuben tagging along, I passed through a gate and made my way on the deserted road until I reached a well-defined and red blazed hiking and snow mobile trail. From here we could have hiked to the Boulder Trail and continued climbing to the summit of Major. Knowing that I wanted to stay away from the crowds I opted to continue in the valley south of Major. After an easy walk along this wide-open road we came to a beautiful large beaver pond snuggled between Mt. Major and Cedar Mountain. I stopped just long enough to catch sight of several ravens circling the pond and chattering back and forth. This reminded me of Bernd Heinrich's famous study of the social behavior of ravens and their remarkable ability to communicate by using over 100 different calls. His books "Ravens in Winter" and "A Year in the Maine Woods" are worth the read if you want to learn more about the fascinating social behavior of these amazing birds.
After a brief stay at the pond we moved on along the Jesus Valley-Beaver Pond trail to the junction with the Straightback Mt. Trail. Here we began the ascent of S. Straightback, passing through fields of blueberry bushes, which were in bloom. I made a note to myself to return here via the Blueberry Pasture Field Trail in a few weeks to pick blueberries. We neared the summit of Straightback, following a string of cairns that marked the trail along the bare rock outcrops. From the summit we followed the Belknap Range Trail (BRT) to the junction with the Precipice Path, blazed purple. In my opinion the Precipice Path is the most challenging trail in the Belknaps and one that should not be missed by any adventuresome hiker. Proper footwear is essential for this steep, rocky trail that drops off of S. Straightback into the valley of Hills Pond. Reuben and I descended into the valley, stopping for lunch before we began the climb up the rock face of one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the area. Even Reuben had trouble making his way up the rock ledges and needed several boosts from me to get over them. Since this recent dry spell the water flow over the falls was limited, but it still was an awe inspiring sight. The trail then followed a ridge line with views to the south and eventually we wound our way back to the BRT and returned the way we came, following the BRT to S. Starightback and then to the Straightback Mt Trail, back to the trailhead on Route 11.
This was a full day hike with great views, challenging even for an experienced hiker. If you're interested in hiking in the mid-section of the Belknap Range this hike is for you. It can also be combined with forays to Mounts Anna, E. Quarry, N. Straightback and Major. Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear rugged footwear. If you are hiking with your dog, as I usually am with Reuben, be sure to bring extra water for your loving pooch, as many of the small brooks and streams have dried up with this extended dry spell. Also, the tick population continues to grow and are commonly found in brush and undergrowth along the trail. Be sure to check frequently for ticks and do a thorough skin check when you get home.

One further note: Within a few weeks, a reroute of the Round Pond-Piper Link Trail (green blazes) will be completed and open. The very steep and dangerous section of the RP-PL Trail near the junction with the Old Piper Trail (orange) will be closed and the re-route will skirt the side of Belknap Mt., eventually joining back with the RP-PL Trail, just west of the Boulder Trail. New rockwork has also been completed on the section of trail that approaches the shore of Round Pond. Check it out. The BRATTS have been busy with trail work and will be continuing throughout the summer and fall to improve the many miles of trails in the Belknap Range.


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Michael Barone - Brexit earthquake hits Britain

Earthquakes seldom hit the British Isles. But one did late Thursday night and early Friday morning, as the constituency returns started pouring in on the referendum to decide whether the United Kingdom would remain in or leave the European Union.

Most polls had shown a small margin for remain, and betting markets made it an odds-on favorite. Hedge funds went long on the assumption "Remain" would win. It had the support, after all, of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, the leftist Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Bank of England President Mark Carney and the financial leaders of the City of London.

But as the returns came in, Brexit started running farther and farther ahead, toward its eventual 52 to 48 percent victory. If you look at the map of the results, you see that Scotland, which voted 55 to 45 percent against becoming an independent country in September 2014, was voting 62 percent "Remain." Northern Ireland, concerned about relations with the Irish Republic, voted 56 percent "Remain." London, with its large cosmopolitan immigrant population and rich financial community, voted 60 percent "Remain."

But in between London's M-25 ring road and the Scottish border, there were only a few splotches of "Remain" support. Manchester was pro-remaining, but Birmingham voted "Leave." The industrial North East, a Labour stronghold that Tony Blair represented in Parliament, voted 58 percent "Leave." So did the Conservative-heavy East Midlands, where Margaret Thatcher grew up.

On the doorstep of 10 Downing Street Friday morning Cameron announced he would resign by October and leave negotiating exit from the EU to his successor. That looks likely to be Boris Johnson, mayor of London for eight years until last month, who led the "Leave" campaign effervescently, with an appropriate pause after the horrifying murder June 16 of a pro-"Remain" MP in Yorkshire.

That decision will be made by the Conservative Party, most of whose MPs supported "Leave." Johnson, whose toffish self-mockery and humor masks a penetrating mind, would be an intellectually serious and widely popular leader. All the more so if Michael Gove, now justice secretary and "Leave" co-leader, becomes chancellor or foreign secretary. They are a definitive two-man refutation of the canard that only the stupid and racist supported Brexit.

The Labour Party is in worse shape. In May 2015 it lost all but one of its Scottish parliamentary seats to the Scots Nats. On June 23 "Leave" prevailed in the Labour Party's industrial heartland in the North of England. Its only faithful constituency is Corbyn's home turf, the gentrifying precincts of London. He looks likely to be voted out as leader, with no stellar alternative in sight.

On a visit to Britain in April, Barack Obama called on voters to remain and threatened that Britain would be "at the back of the queue" in any post-Brexit trade negotiations. Interestingly, the 48 percent constituency for "Remain" closely resembles the 51 percent Obama constituency of 2012.

Remain supporters were tilted toward the very highly educated and the uneducated, toward the metropolitan elite and racial and ethnic minorities, toward the very young — and away from the white working class and the relatively old. Both constituencies are geographically clustered, in central cities, sympathetic suburbs and university towns, where so many people drip with contempt for those without the good taste to live nearby.

Such people are quick to call Brexit voters racist, and clearly immigration was an issue on many of their minds. Britain has had record immigration, with many low-skill newcomers from Europe, while the EU prevents it from admitting more high-skill immigrants from elsewhere.

Angela Merkel's August 2015 decision to allow 1 million supposed refugees into Germany has triggered realistic fears of a flood of violently misogynistic Muslims. Johnson and Gove propose instead a point system like Australia's, to limit intake to those with high skills.

Something else motivated the 17 million who voted "Leave" — a healthy nationalism and demand for self-government. Most British laws are now passed by unelected EU bureaucrats in Brussels. You don't have to be a racist to prefer Britain's laws be passed by elected and removable members of Parliament.

Were the polls off? Not by much, and mostly because of one thing polls can't forecast — turnout, higher than May 2015 nationally, but more tepid in pro-"Remain" areas and especially high in the pro-"Leave" factory towns and English countryside. Could differential turnout be decisive here, producing a result most elites dread in November? Maybe. Donald Trump, who as votes were counted jetted into Scotland to promote a golf course, probably thinks so.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

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