Sunday, November 25, 2018

Be Glad You Don't Live in Connecticut

What's going on here?

I just got back from Publix after having waited 20 minutes for someone to show up behind the seafood counter. People cooled their heels even longer at the meat counter. A dazed-looking employee walking the aisles finally fetched someone.

Earlier in the day I went to the neighborhood CVS. Same problem. Nobody works there anymore. The entire store had maybe four people covering everything, and two of those were in the pharmacy. The line was eight deep at the checkout, with no cashier in sight. (An earlier visit to Walgreen's turned up even fewer employees. It was like a ghost town.)

But the real kicker was a Bank of America branch, where yesterday one teller was servicing 10 to 12 customers, many obviously waiting to get back to work, while four suits sat in offices doing nothing. Getting to a safe deposit box was like trying to breach Ft. Knox.

Let's face it. Customer service is all but dead. The chains, apparently under pressure to bolster the bottom line, have cut staff until there is almost no staff left.

My wife says to stop complaining. It could be worse. We could still be living in Connecticut where problems are much worse than standing in supermarket lines.

Our home for many years, Connecticut is a beautiful state with a long coastline and the worst taxes in America. When we took up residence in Florida, it was like getting a raise.

Connecticut is the stereotypical and somewhat fictitious suburban state, next to New York City with commuters going to and from every day, grey flannel suits playing bridge in air-conditioned railway cars. But it's also an insurance and defense hub, even without General Electric, which fled to more tax-friendly Massachusetts. (Stop laughing. Even Massachusetts has a better tax structure than Connecticut.)

We lived in the Nutmeg State for 25 years. Our family's roots are deep there. My wife's ancestors were among the first to settle in Cromwell.  My uncle was a dean at UConn, where our daughter got her undergraduate degree, our elder son, his dental degree and his wife, her doctorate in biology. Two of our grandchildren are students in UConn's engineering school.

On the surface, Connecticut is a glorious place -- great public schools (Florida can't hold a candle), great boating, culture galore, amazing history. Old Lyme, where we lived, was a center of American Impressionism in the early 1900s. Its galleries and art school are reminders of that time.

The state seemed to have everything going for it, but the politicians managed to screw things up big time. An epicenter of the radical left (our daughter may be the only Republican in Westport), Connecticut has tried to solve all of its problems by raising taxes, then raising them more, then some more after that.

The state now faces a $4 billion budget shortfall (the shortfall was $5 billion in 2017-18). The economy is stagnating, costs are escalating, businesses are fleeing, as are college graduates and retirees. Connecticut is one of four states losing population.

A recent Wall Street Journal article entitled, "What's the Matter with Connecticut," tallied the problems. The Democrat majority is tethered to the public unions, which take no prisoners. The state is drowning in debt, trailing only Illinois in how much state liabilities burden personal income. Its major cities are plagued by poverty and crime.

Even the UConn football team is an embarrassment. In closing out its season with another blowout loss, it earned the dubious distinction of having given up the most yards and allowed the most points in Division 1 season history!

Is there a bright spot in all of this? Yes. There is something to cheer about. The mighty UConn women's basketball team is the best on the planet, in fact the best on any planet. With an unmatched 11 national championships (the UConn men have three), a current string of 12 consecutive trips to the Final Four and All Americans galore, the ladies are the pride of Connecticut and proof that some excellence remains.

For those of us who follow women's sports, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and Breanna Steward are household names, and they are only a few of those who have hoisted championship banners since 1995.

Connecticut may not know how to balance its budget, but its women know how to play basketball.

I think about them while standing in line at Walmart's.


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