Is Connecticut… Cool?

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Squantz Pond CT

Connecticut.

When you say the word, the rest of America sneers. Those people? With their boats and their Vineyard Vines and their white picket fences? Psht.

STOP talking shit about New England Massachusetts is HISTORIC Rhode Island is QUAINT Vermont is CRUNCHY Maine is RUGGED Connecticut New Hampshire is MAJESTIC
In a nutshell

There’s no such thing as Connecticut pride. People here are like, “Well I guess this is fine.” The trip to any comment section of any Connecticut publication is a hellscape of insane hatred towards the state and off-topic racism.

Every few months, the state’s flagship newspaper, Hartford Courant, publishes an op-ed from some wealthy couple who are so very very tired of having to pay taxes so poor people can go to school, even though their children have already benefitted from the world-class education system here so off to Florida!

via GIPHY

Yet in the blink of an eye, the whole world changed. COVID-19 spread across the planet — and especially the United States. It especially devastated New York.

Suddenly, after years of urbanization in America and elsewhere, people were fleeting the populous cities, looking for space. Air to breathe. A yard in which to play. A state in which people the Governor didn’t seem totally determined to ignore scientific evidence.

Is Connecticut… cool?

CT Gets High Marks for Coronavirus Response

Per this article in Vox (originally published in May, updated since then), Connecticut is one of only four states to meet “reopening criteria” for the state safely. According to covidactnow.org, Connecticut currently is in a stage of “slow controlled disease growth which meets international standards.”

Put that right on the ol’ tourism web page, I say. Still Revolutionary? Psht. Let’s try Slow Disease Growth. That’ll get ’em.

Connecticut: Slow Disease Growth
I missed my calling in life

Of course, they have to quarantine for 14 days, but you don’t make a COVID omelette without breaking some eggs.

Unsurprisingly, the boring things Connecticut is good at — education, health care, per-capita-income —  also apparently produces a population who listens to science?? We wear masks. We wash our hands. We avoid having giant motorcycle rallies.

It’s boring, but it works.

You can use that for free, Ned. I’m available future tourism requests.

CT Tries to Hold Police Accountable

Meanwhile, the Black Lives Matter movement has grown in breadth and scope, as protests were unleashed all across the country in response to the death of George Floyd. And others. So many others.

Black Lives Matter Protest
Johnny Silvercloud / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Yet what good are protests without action? If we chant that Black Lives Matter, but the government does nothing, what have we achieved?

In Connecticut, the General Assembly passed the Police Accountability Act, which I assume is good because the Connecticut Police Union sued the state over it.

You can check out the ACLU’s response to the Police Accountability Act here, but to summarize:

  • Police union contracts cannot supercede Open Information Laws
  • “Use of force standard” has improved, though not enough
  • Decertification of the police is still enforced by the police themselves and not good enough
  • Inspector General gives true independence towards investigation police-caused deaths
  • Slight improvements to qualified immunity, though the current situation is terrible

As a summary, the ACLU said:

The state of the law on policing is abysmal, and this bill includes some important pieces to begin changing the status quo.

Yet every single Republican voted against it and the police are against it, so it’s absolutely a step in the right direction. We need to do more, but kudos to Connecticut for doing something. I give us a B-. Which by Josh standards, is like an A+ for regular people.

Police Accountability Bill Vote
State Reps. Toni Walker (center), Robyn Porter (right) after vote.
Photo courtesy New Haven Independent

We must continue to fight, but at least our fights so far have not been without victories.

Welcome, New Yorkers?

As the world moved towards urbanization, no state seemed to lose more than Connecticut. Especially surrounded by two of America’s largest metropolitan areas, Connecticut could not change itself. We had abandoned our cities and invested in suburbs, and the investments had soured. Countless articles from the Times and Wall Street Journal told the story about Connecticut the failed state.

Yet suddenly, Connecticut is a hot real estate market, as New Yorkers flee the city and look for more space. Where else are they going to go, New Jersey?!

Anecdotally, I can confirm that Tinder has seen quite an increase of attractive New Yorkers who will probably eventually be willing to lower their standards. Just playing the waiting game.

Skeleton Waiting

A Shift in Attitudes

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of browsing the Connecticut subreddit or come across a “Connecticuck” meme, you’ll know that Connecticut’s chief exports are aerospace, insurance, and self-loathing.

Obviously Connecticut is a terrible place. There’s taxes! And there’s nothing to do! and sometimes I’m cold!

Yet suddenly, I’m starting to see… dare I say… positivity?! The other day I think I saw a person on reddit post about how much they like living in Connecticut on purpose?????

Confused Guy

I don’t know who gave these kids such dangerous ideas, but we have to do something before it’s too late. I won’t have my future children growing up in a place where people are “happy” or “doing okay.”

A Long Way To Go

Someone recently asked me if Connecticut is my favorite place, which I had no idea how to answer. Also I’ve only been to like 30 places? I feel like there’s at least 30 more I need to check out.

New Haven Green
This place does fill my heart, though.

It is not a perfect place. We still have two enormous problems:

  • Billions of dollars in unfunded pensions which will continue to wipe out tax revenues going forward
  • Enormous wealth disparities between affluent suburbs and impoverished cities

The first problem is an accounting one: You need to pay your bills. We’re just gonna have to suffer for like… two decades.

The second problem, however, requires legislative remedies. We can no longer allow towns to refuse affordable housing in fear of “changing the character of the neighborhoods.” As long as we force low-income residents into cities, the cities will struggle with all of the associated problems with poverty: crime, drug use, poor educational attainment, etc.

We have to find a way to invest in our cities and the people who live in them. You can tell a lot about a society by how it treats its poorest members.

And Yet.

I am proud of Connecticut. I think we’ve done a good job, and this state has reaped the benefits of making smart, informed decisions about its future. We have listened to science and reason and the valid concerns of protestors and the concerns about affordable housing.

Is Connecticut cool? Probably not.

via GIPHY

But we’re decent. And in a way, I think that’s better.

Now legalize weed.

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