Population growth may not be the perfect measure of a jurisdictionâ€™s success - impoverished Bangladesh probably can do without any more people for a while - but some conclusions may be drawn from what the U.S. Census Bureau reported about Connecticut last week. The state has lost population for six straight years.
Yes, this means that farmland preservation has become easier and might be removed from the state budget if it wasnâ€™t so popular for providing virtuous camouflage for preventing construction of less-expensive housing in the suburbs. But of course the decline in population signifies far more than that - signifies Connecticutâ€™s declining attractiveness relative to the rest of the country.
If you want, blame it on winter weather here and air-conditioning that tempers summer down south. Connecticutâ€™s political regime will conclude, as it concludes from nearly everything else, that this decline in population means that the government, welfare, and politically correct classes still donâ€™t have enough influence on public policy.
But most people leaving the state are comfortably self-sufficient while many of those arriving are not, just as the jobs Connecticut has been losing have been higher-skilled and higher-paying while the jobs the state has been gaining are lower-skilled and lower-paying.
These are clues for those daring to question policy.
Of course, as the governor says, Connecticut should continue to welcome immigrants. But it would be better if they were legal immigrants and if state government was more concerned about how it may be encouraging emigrants.
The state doesnâ€™t necessarily need more poor people, since last week the Connecticut Data Collaborative reported that 11 percent of women in the state are living in poverty and that this percentage more than doubles in the stateâ€™s cities.
While quantifying poverty as the collaborative has done is useful, it only confirms what is already known in general. So the data isnâ€™t what is most important here. What is most important is to find political leadership with the courage to ask why, despite all the appropriations and prattle about poverty, it persists and even grows, and not just among women.
So where is Connecticutâ€™s inquiry into povertyâ€™s causes and persistence? Where is state governmentâ€™s audit of its poverty policies?
Or is poverty now just a business that government feels obliged to sustain?
Also inviting official inquiry are the brawls involving young people that keep breaking out at Connecticut shopping malls. There were three more on the day after Christmas at malls in West Hartford, Milford, and Trumbull.
The executive director of Citizens for Juvenile Justice, Leon Smith, offers the conventional explanation. â€śThe lack of activities and services really comes into play when kids have nothing but down time,â€ť he told the Connecticut Hearst newspapers.
But these brawls are a recent phenomenon. From the beginning of time, even before there were video games, kids have complained that there is nothing for them to do - that is, nothing except study and work. They used to manage to avoid boredom without rioting.
Some malls understand the problem better. They are excluding young people not accompanied by adults.
That is, the problem is neglectful parenting that views the malls as free babysitters, the same neglectful parenting that is the main cause of the social disintegration state government studiously overlooks.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.