Islander's Blog

Goodman’s Gam

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I have never believed in making New Year’s resolutions. In most instances, people that make promises to do better, don’t. Then they feel guilty about not living up to their dream(s). Why would anyone want to set themselves up for a downfall? Better to start something and make it work (it doesn’t have to begin on 1/1/10). Without the big build-up of a resolution, there’s little downside should it fail, and an ego boost if it’s successful. The latter is more satisfying.

There is one resolution I’d like to see our town and county officials make. This goes for Congress as well. Start trying to work on behalf of your constituents, instead of dumping on the opposition. I think we’re all tired of slash-and-burn politics. Doing the right things for all of our citizens would be a welcome step towards the future.

Nantucket board members (all of them) are unpaid, or paid a pittance. I wish people on committees were there solely to do right by townspeople. Generally they are, but in many instances the power to govern is their abiding passion. When another member fails to fall into lockstep, that’s when the fireworks begin. Citizens are often given short shrift when addressing the officials. Public service means just that, serving the public.

To say 2009 has gone by in a flash is a good thing. This past year shapes up to have been the worst economic situation most of us have ever experienced. In a way, this may be our salvation. Both Nantucket and the United States were living too high on the hog and we needed a touch of reality. To be fair, a lighter touch would have sufficed.

Nevertheless, the penny-pinching most people have had to endure may help us start living within our means and not trying to run up credit cards to the limit. In some ways, this small sandbar has had it harder than many spots. I don’t include the rust belt in this case. Much of our green comes from tourism and well-to-do folks with vacation homes here.

When funds are low, people either don’t vacation, or they cut back on the amounts spent on their holiday. Nantucket isn’t Seven Flags or Disney World. We are an island, and paying to transport a family here for a week is expensive. That doesn’t include a place to stay, food and any type(s) of entertainment.

Then there are those second-house homeowners. As things have gotten rough, the well-to-do tighten their belts. In most cases, extraneous items are trimmed. The house repairs may be put off for a year or two, and dinner out every couple of days is limited to once a week. Less spending by cutting back on local services is badly hurting locals in the construction and food-service areas, not to mention less tax revenue for the town.

The upcoming year may not be an improvement over the recently departed annum, but I’m hopeful. I figure it couldn’t get any worse, and besides, those Wall Street moguls were given immense bonuses. Some of that ought to filter into our local economy. At the least, they could hire someone to slap a coat of paint on their shingled palaces, and go out to dinner twice a week.

When I moved to the island, there was little winter work. Work that was available didn’t pay all that much. The difference was that living here was cheaper by far than it is today. That, and people here were used to getting by with less. Nobody minded having less, because we weren’t used to excess.
If you live here, it becomes immediately apparent that everything other than scallops costs more than the mainland. What we do have over everyone else are beautiful beaches, moors, the ocean, and people who celebrate one another. Nantucket is a true community. There aren’t too many of them around any more.

I’m looking forward to 2010 and all of the good things to come. No matter what comes our way, we’ll weather the storms, be they economic, political or social. To live here you have to be willing to dig in, grit your teeth and smile in the face of whatever comes our way. Nantucket will be fine. We always are.
Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and monthly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

2 Responses to “Goodman’s Gam”

  1. Deborah Buress Says:

    I have just taken a job at the Nantucket airport and I look forward to becoming part of your community. I lived on Martha’s Vineyard for 11 years and loved that island. I expect that I will fall in love with Nantucket too. The price to live on an island is always more expensive but you will never meet nicer people. I am excited about being part of your island in 2010.

  2. David Says:

    Happy New Year, and welcome to Nantucket, Deborah. **David**

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