By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – I have many happy memories of the year I spent covering Newton City Hall many years ago.

OK, they aren’t that happy, but they’re memories.

So I noted with interest Monday night’s debate over whether or not to make it mandatory that Newton residents clear a path along their sidewalk after a snowstorm so people can pass without risking life and limb.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

After three hours of debate, they approved a two-year trial period for an ordinance requiring residents to clear the walk within 30 hours after a storm, with failure to do so punishable only by a finger-wagging letter.

Pretty lame stuff, but hey, that’s just the way we do things around here so often, endless arguing and agonizing over the prerogatives of every slacker and NIMBY-ite before taking basic steps for the obvious benefit of the broader community.

I thought of Newton’s waffling yesterday as the new census results showed Massachusetts continuing to lag far behind many other states in population growth, a gap that will soon cost us a congressional seat and precious federal funding.

Watch Jon’s WBZ-TV report:

I asked Harvard economics professor Edward Glaeser what high-growth states like Washington, Utah and Georgia have to offer that we don’t, and he said the key element is new housing.

While we’re struggling through a Byzantine maze of zoning restrictions, lawsuits, and pervasive Nimbyism, other states are lapping us by providing the affordable housing that families crave.

Our seed corn for the future, in the form of young people coming out of our world-class colleges and universities, take one look at the crushing cost of living here, especially the housing costs exacerbated by the shortage, compare that with the ready housing and, often, better weather and comparable cultural resources of other states, and guess what?

They’re outta here.

But don’t worry, Massachusetts Nimbys and policymakers.

We don’t need political clout, federal funds, and a solid, growing middle-class to sustain our tax base.

Spring will come and melt the snow. And the economic growth of the future will grow on trees.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

Comments (33)
  1. dan says: has always been 20 20 hind sight here and beat goes on

  2. Hoofarted says:

    I don’t think Houseing is the only reason that people are leaving or not moving to MA.

    The other big problems with MA are:

    – Taxes, they tax the hell out of everything. Sales tax, excise tax, property tax, tolls,
    – Fees, there are fees for everything in MA, from fishing and hunting to parking in state parks to.
    – Laws/Bannings, If one person gets hurt doing something they try to make a law against it, law about it, or flat out ban it…
    – Schools, while the education is good here, the people running the schools are not. They are “zero tolerance”, no common sense , rule nazi’s and everything is cut and dry with them. A kid brings tweezers to school and they expell them because it is “zero tolerance”…
    – Hacks, people are tired of not being represented, or being represented by politcal hacks…someone that is only in it for the money or power. Knowing that whenever they write to their senator, representative, mayor, councilmen, etc. They will either be ignored completely or given some form letter that shows they are being ignored.

    People are tired of being treated badly and move to a state that respects them and their views.

    The only reason I am still in this hole is because of my wifes family. She has some sick relatives. Once that situation changes we are out of this state as well…

    1. Ron says:

      Ummm, hate to break it to you, but MOST of your list applies to EVERY state, especially the last 3 – infinitely more so on the last 2.

    2. massman says:

      You will be missed.

    3. S says:

      And MA recently decided to take away consumer rights too. It is now illegal for people to exercise their own free will and choose to purchase their own health insurance if their employer happens to offer a plan. Talk about taking away freedom – where else is it illegal to purchase a legal item just because you have another way of obtaining a similar item? (And don’t get started on the cost differentials – there are other reasons that someone might choose to make this type of decision; the whole point is that MA just took away the ability for residents to make their own choice!!!)

      Consequently, I’m trying to figure out how to rearrange my life so that I can leave this state where the government thinks its appropriate to control whether or not I can purchase a completely legal item. If MA doesn’t stop interfering in people’s lives there won’t be anyone left who wants to live here – and then who are they going to tax?

  3. Jax Riley says:

    It’s overly expensive, you are taxed to DEATH, it’s hostile, it’s rather dull…it’s nota nice place to live.

  4. timma says:

    i own a house in NH and Mass and im counting the days until i can bail on this state! VIVA AUNTIE ZETUNIE!!!!!!!!

  5. justsayin' says:

    Keller should have elaborated more on the destructive political activites that influence inadequate and inefficient policies within much of MA.
    We should be able to do so much better but MA has been, and likely always will be, managed by a largely corrupt, self-indulgent, wasteful legislature. Hacks is too kind of a term. We have power hungry, liberal-minded, lawyers and judges running this state and I for one, have had enough. Plan on moving to the mid-Atlantic in just a few years. Previous posts are right, MA taxes are far too often the reflex response to budget deficits and mismanagement of taxpayers money. And Boston may have some good cultural aspects, great sports, etc. but it is a dirty city with limited jobs and poorly managed, aging, (surprise!?) public transportation……see ya!

  6. Denise says:

    if it wasn’t for my Mom I would be outta here too!

    The thing that cracks me up if XY & Z are so wrong and obvious to EVERYONE – then why doesn’t it get changed? Why does everyone still keep voting the same jokers in year after year… they don’t change anything! Last time I voted – I voted for all new people… CLEAN HOUSE!!!! and maybe we can clean up the state! but if we keep giving everything away to those that don’t contribute a dime to the upkeep – what do you expect??

  7. Dave says:

    MA is a pathetic JOKE! We are supposedly the smartest people in America, yet why am I surrounded by IDIOTS everyday!?!? The weather sucks, the people are rude, nasty, and miserable, and everything is so expensive there is NO excuse for the cost of living. It’s polluted and filled with violent cities! If you work you are penalized, but if you live off the system you live a great life!

    My way out of MA is ticking! Hopefully within the next few years! This state is a tragedy and a miserable place to live!

  8. Bob says:

    Moved out 5 years ago!
    And took the business with me too, best singular decision I made in a long time.
    You can thank your Governor, who you overwhelmingly voted back into office.
    You can still take more abuse you say?
    Well it’s coming!

    Good-bye Bat-State, sorry I meant Bay-Sate…….

    -the entitlement mentality is a mental disorder

  9. Joe says:

    China is less socialist than Massachusetts.

  10. Cynic says:

    This state is great. I live off welfare and receive the following benifits

    Housing 90% paid = 960 dollars a month
    FOOD- 525 a month
    EBT cash withd- 400 dollars a month
    State medical – infinite

    I love using this system…

    Keep working, people like me on welfare depend on YOU!

  11. blackbear1 says:

    Are you blind ,deaf, inattentive or unaware what is going on all around you?? Keller is correct on this one.

    1. Ashley says:

      if you feel so strongly why dont you get involved?

      hopefully you know a thing or two about politics first. Because Kellers next article will be about how dumb your compaign was.

      i’ve been policitically involved since the 90’s… jim vallee, jen callahan, deval patrick and obama.

      i hear there are some nice three story houses near the incenerator in woonsocker Rhode island.. why dont you move there and stop complaining, then i wont have to read your critique’s of other peoples words… so pathetic

  12. KathyD says:

    What about those Red Sox?

  13. massman says:

    Why don’t all the people whining about how bad Mass. is, tell us what state you’d prefer to live in, and why? MA consistently ranks high in education, IQ, wealth, health, and well-being. We have relatively few natural disasters compared with other areas. As far as political corruption, Mass., falls in the middle. Taxes. Our tax burden is ranked 28th. Conservatives, Mr Keller among them, dislike the liberalness of the state. It’s one reason I stay. My kids have a better probability of receiving a better education. There’s another. Texas, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Missouri are all trying to pass bills that would put creationism in classrooms. One less thing I need to worry about. Personally, besides the winter, I’ll take Mass. anyday. But I’m sure we’ll just hear more Mass. negativity.

    1. massman says:

      And I didn’t eve mention the sports teams.

  14. Robert Hamilton says:

    Housing shortage….expensive real estate….high taxes…..bad roads….bad weather…short summers…unfriendly people…..Mayor manino has kept Boston in a rut from growing…..need i say more….Glad I moved to Georgia…..

  15. Mark says:

    I’m glad to see somebody out there has a brain in their head. Yeah this State isn’t perfect but believe me I’ve lived in Florida and Alabama and I couldn’t wait to get back. Sometimes you don’t realize how good you have it till it’s gone.

    1. massman says:

      Thanks Mark. Glad to have people with sense moving to Mass., while others are moving out to hotbeds like Georgia, which ranks well below the national average in math, science, reading and writing. I’ll keep my kids here.

    2. Fatty_Arbuckle says:

      Good one Mark

  16. emom says:

    Population growth, wel lets see, how manyindustrial parks with business offices in them do we need, how many vacant buildings for sale are vacant and unused , strip malls have grown by leaps and bounds, How many over 55+ communities will be built only to be half vacant. In the last year alone my town has gained over 35 establishments that serve and sell liquor, including gas stations, liquor stores, small variety stores and resturants, WHY SO MANY. when willl folks realize there are more important things needed, low income housing, Oh I mean LOW INCOME< tell me that a home costing $175,000.00 – $250,000.00 is low income are you seri ous. not even close,. I saw homes in the 55+ communities way about $175,000.00 wow what a rip off. no wonder so many are empty and still for sale 2 years later. the government needs to step back and get out of the lives of the tax payers, OH BUT WAIT how many other states do just about the same thing. ALL DO AND EVEN WORSE THE JOB ISSUES ACROSS THE COUNTRY. sure living here is expensive, but living in oter states are not much different. and getting a job is just as bad. so if you can leave by all means JUMP SHIP AND HOPE YOU SAIL AND DONT SINK. I plan on staying as the rest of the country is no bettter…………………. what a joke this entire country has become, oh but the world is not complete that much better.

  17. Charlie says:

    Lived in Dallas,Southern California and, S.Florida, I love it here great school, all those other places extremely high crime rates, gotta send ur kid to private schools, once a new englander always a new englander, have a great day :)

  18. CEO says:

    How many Massachusetts politicians have to be indicted and convicted for people to understand this state is no good? We’re over-taxed for the services we receive (or don’t receive). The legislative environment here makes Massachusetts an expensive place to live and an expensive place to do business. The population trends show that Massachusetts if a far less desireable state to live in than all but 4 or 5 of the others.

  19. Lucy says:

    Agree. If Mass is so bad then why stay here? To just complain? How about running for office? How about doing something to make it better? If you aren’t going to commit to doing something then just be quiet. It gets really old and tired after a while. If it’s so better elsewhere then please do us a favor and just leave. Why stay and be miserable?

  20. Lucy says:

    Did he even answer the question? I don’t think he did.

    Mass has a lot of positive qualities. If it was so awful and ridiculous then hardly anyone would be here.

    We have problems but it’s not so bad. It’s not so much better elsewhere either.

    The grass is always greener over the septic tank.

  21. Auntie A says:

    Massachusetts is great if you grew up here, have family here, and/or are tied to a job here. Otherwise, it’s a rather sad place to live, especially if you’re FROM someplace else where the housing is cheaper, etc.

    I’ve lived in this state for 10 years and while I have a good job, don’t overspend, and live fairly frugally I have no hope in ever being able to buy anything bigger than a 1 bedroom studio anywhere other than out beyond 495 because I’ll never be able to save the money for a downpayment.

    I don’t think that’s likely to change. Affordable housing is a “joke” here because it completely overlooks the middle class income bracket of people who make too much to live in those “affordable” units but don’t make enough to buy. Folks like us, who are stuck renting year after year after year never seem to catch a break. So yes, I do agree with some of the sentiments expressed in this article.

    It’s not like we’ve got great public transportation (if you live anywhere outside of the “T”) or nice sunny weather.

  22. celine says:

    For anyone without family in the area/not born in Mass, without 2 power salaries in the family and with decent job opportunities elsewhere – it is an insanity to want to stay .

  23. andyme says:

    Mass is not a bad place to live, we have the ocean, mountains all within several hours. The porblem is the cost of living and the political control one party (The Dumbocrats) as over the whole governmental machine. The last three speakers hzve been either indicated or convicted and the topper is we keep voting in Barney Frank. In other parts of the country Mass is on the butt end of a lot of jokes, do yourself a favor and move with to NH or Maine. You can get into Boston and enjoy it and leave.

  24. Ed says:


    Does your opinion change of this issue if you factor in that Newton owns the sidewalk (not the homeowner), so they are essentially saying that private citizens are being made to shovel public property? That’s why this has been so contentious. The city is trying to avoid its responsibility (making public property safe and passable) by forcing private citizens to do it.

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