Friday, December 20, 2013

The first post

Hello to all my readers, and Merry Christmas!

This is a new blog, my fifth.  For the benefit of my international readers, Massachusetts is one state in the United States of America.

On the right is the State Seal for Massachusetts.  The flag of this state is the middle of the seal on a white background.

The knickname for this state is the Bay State, a reference to the Massachusetts Bay, the part of the Atlantic Ocean that is our eastern neighbor.

Also for the benefit of my international readers, the word "matters" has two definitions in the English language.  For that reason, I cannot predict how the word will be translated into other languages, but I chose that word to be part of the title of this blog because both of those definitions were appropriate.

The word "matters" can mean "topics".  In this context, this blog will be focused on topics that relate to the current politics, the current economics, the history and the future of this state, and other things that relate to this state.  That is one of my goals.

The word "matters" can also be a verb.  When I say that Massachusetts matters, I'm saying that this state is important to the rest of the United States.  Massachusetts is important to the rest of the country, for many reasons, and so, both of the definitions of the word "matters" are, I believe, accurate and worthy of being included in the title of this blog.

Early Massachusetts history

Before the United States existed as a unified nation, we were a collection of thirteen colonies.  The people in those colonies had been sent here by the King of England for economic reasons.  He wanted additional sources of revenue for his nation.  Our purpose as a colony was simple.
  1. find things that had potential economic value

  2. develop them, in order to turn potential economic value into real economic value

  3. sell them, and

  4. return some of the profits to the king.
An alternative goal was to send salable products back to England on the same ships that were still bringing people to this state.

Any products that survived an ocean voyage on a wooden sailing ship (this was the only transportation method that was available at that time) would be sold in England.

Some ships were destroyed during the voyage, due to a bad combination of ocean storms and the fact that a wooden ship can only withstand a limited amount of physical abuse from a storm.
In the early 1770s, colonists had already been living in Massachusetts for a century, but their relations with the then-current king were not good.  He had imposed many taxes that made it difficult for the colonists to provide for themselves and their growing families.  He had also imposed many regulations that many people were upset about.  For example, the British soldiers who had been sent here to enforce the king's orders insisted that they should sleep in the homes of the very people who were supposed to obey their orders!  This practice has now been explicitly forbidden by the third amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Massachusetts was a politically active society

An event took place on March 5, 1770 that helped to shape this nation's history.  It is called the Boston Massacre.  The following quote is copied from the home page of the Boston Massacre Historical Society.
The Boston Massacre was the killing of five colonists by British regulars on March 5, 1770. It was the culmination of tensions in the American colonies that had been growing since Royal troops first appeared in Massachusetts in October 1768 to enforce the heavy tax burden imposed by the Townshend Acts.
A "regular" is the name for most of the British soldiers, those below the officer level.  They are the ones who shot into a crowd that was loudly protesting the presence of some British troops on a Boston street.  Some of the people who were shot died from their injuries, thus making them some of this nation's first martyrs.  The place where the massacre happened is marked with a plaque that is embedded into the street.

The first armed resistance to British rule happened in Massachusetts.  I told that story in my very first essay.

One of the earliest one-day rebellions against British taxes happened at a Boston dock on December 16, 1773.  The event was called the Boston Tea Party.  British subjects drink tea often, but on that day, the "party" was very different.  Massachusetts colonists dressed as indians.  They boarded ships that contained tea, waiting to be unloaded (and therefore taxed).  They threw the tea into the waters of Boston Harbor as a protest against the excessively high tax that would have been due if the tea had been unloaded.  A replica of that ship is still docked in Boston.  The public is welcome to visit it and the museum that is aboard it.

Copied from a page on the website of the Boston Tea Party Historical Society:
It is estimated that hundreds took part in the Boston Tea Party.  For fear of punishment, many participants of the Boston Tea Party remained anonymous for many years after the event.  To date it is known that 116 people are documented to have participated.  Not all of the participants of the Boston Tea Party are known; many carried the secret of their participation to their graves.

The participants were made up of males from all walks of colonial society.  Many were from Boston or the surrounding area, but some participants are documented to have come from as far away as Worcester in central Massachusetts and Maine.  The vast majority was of English descent, but men of Irish, Scottish, French, Portuguese, and African ancestry were documented to have also participated.  The participants were of all ages, but the majority of the documented participants was under the age of forty.  Sixteen participants were teenagers, and only nine men were above the age of forty.

Many of the Boston Tea Party participants fled Boston immediately after the destruction of the tea to avoid arrest.  Thousands witnessed the event, and the implication and impact of this action were enormous ultimately leading to the start of the American Revolution.

Some of the Massachusetts contributions to this nation

The state of Massachusetts, like every other state, has a constitution.  The Massachusetts Constitution, I am proud to say, is even older than the U.S. Constitution because it was ratified in 1780, nine years before the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  In fact, it is the oldest written constitution in the world.

These men all have two things in common.  They all were born and raised in Massachusetts, and they all became the President of the United States.

Copied from a wikipedia page:
  1. John Adams, President #2

  2. John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, and President #6

  3. Calvin Coolidge, President #30

  4. John F. Kennedy, President #35
In addition, George Herbert Walker Bush, who was President Reagan's Vice-President, was also born in Massachusetts, although he lived in Texas when he was elected President #41.

Current economic information

A U.S. government agency called the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a large amount of information on a wide variety of economic topics.  They even collect economic information on each one of the fifty states.  This page has some of the economic information that is focused on Massachusetts.

At least one future essay on this blog will focus on the recent economic history of this state, including the fact that we have had several Republican governors whose leadership has been beneficial to this state.

In fairness to our current Democrat governor, who has wisely decided to avoid a lot of questions that would be difficult to answer during a reelection campaign, the current economic situation in this state is doing pretty well.

Copied from a November 8, 2013 article in the Boston Herald:
A recovering housing market and resilient consumers boosted the Bay State economy in the third quarter, but federal fiscal policies continue to restrain growth, according to a University of Massachusetts journal.

Massachusetts real gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent, well above the national rate of 2.8 percent and more than double the state rate of 
1.7 percent in the second quarter, according to the latest MassBenchmarks published by the UMass Donahue Institute in collaboration with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

However, in fairness to the last four Republican governors, a new Republican governor would improve the Massachusetts economy even better and faster.

Future essay topics for this blog

I will write essays for this blog whenever I see an issue that relates to this state that I think is important to those of us who are fortunate enough to live in this state.  One essay is already being written about the last four Republican governors, the Democrat governor who preceeded them and the Democrat governor who followed them. That man is also the current governor.  A comparison of the two Democrats and the four Republicans is interesting.  Watch for that essay soon.

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