It may be possible that there is a Sicilian crouching in the soul of every journalist worth his ink.
My recommendation for people who travel is to allow for a bit of serendipity in their trip. Malta, for Andree and me, was the serendipitous part of our travels to Italy and beyond. Why, it may be asked, Malta?
Because of Mary from Malta, of course. We met MFM while living in Bethel Connecticut some years ago, when the world was young and Europe was not on the point of economic collapse. Mary and her husband lived next door, and Andrée and she struck up a friendship that revolved around Malta, a mystery my wife had not yet penetrated. Andrée is a voracious reader of mysteries -- and people.
When after several trips to Europe we became poorer and poorer – owing mostly to politicians on this side of the pond who do not know how the economy works – Andrée decided we ought to give Europe one more fling before it disappeared down the rat hole of history. There are some sentient beings on the planet, Mark Steyn among them, who think Europe is already a basket case. Greece has about it the foul odor of decomposition, Spain is on the edge, and Italy, where we were bound, is suffering from McCawber’s syndrome:
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness, “Mr. McCawber says to David Copperfield. “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and… and, in short, you are forever floored. As I am.”
As a good part of Europe is. As the United States will be if the country, as seems likely, continues on its pointless route to economic Hell in a hand basket. Prior to our trip, Italy was spending about 25% more than its income in revenue.
The faltering world economy may put an end to much European tripping. Battered by inflation, the dollar is a shadow of its former self. Europe is running out of money. China, the West’s financier, is dealing in funny money. The American president, the most profligate spendthrift in U.S. History -- not excepting President George Bush the second -- had weeks earlier sent a mild reproof China’s way: He warned that if the maximum leaders of that country did not readjust their currency to comport with reality, the United States would frown upon them.
This inconsequential threat caused the gaggle of fascists in China to laugh behind their hands at the American boobies.
The only good news on the horizon before we left was a small item in an obscure site advising that Hugo Chavez, the tyrant of once prosperous Venezuela, was down with something fatal and had but two years to live before sulfurous devils dragged him off to perdition. Mr. Chavez sought medical care in Cuba, possibly a fatal mistake, although he certainly was wealthy enough to scout out a capitalist doctor in, say, Vernon, Connecticut.
The death by bullets of Muammar Gadhafi days before we left raised our spirits briefly.
But all this is politics, and I was under orders from wife Andrée not to write about politics during the trip. I was permitted to take notes. This was to be a vacation after all. We were supposed to enjoy ourselves and avoid quibbling with Eurobots, as well as any stray vacationer we should meet in our travels, about “your Goddamed politics.” No computers, no newspapers, no political discussions, nothing, nothing, nothing before us but Virgil’s buzzing bees, Dante’s immoral Commedia and, soon to surround us, Homer’s “wine dark sea.”
Behind me, I was leaving some work that needed to be done, Connecticut’s bizarre politics, and the ubiquitous Dannel Malloy, who has had during a comparable period more face time since having been sworn in as governor than – if such a thing can be believed – the omnipresent Senator Dick Blumenthal, the former attorney general of Connecticut.
Both Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Malloy changed their monikers once they achieved their ambitions. Dannel used to be known, while mayor of Stamford, as Dan Malloy, while the senator used to be known as Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. In time, journalists peppered by Mr. Malloy’s all too frequent press releases, may find themselves longing for the rather uneventful administration of former Governor Jodi Rell. The former governor had been criticized by the media for gaps in her calendar, during which Rell allowed herself ample time to do nothing. There are no unsightly gaps in Mr. Malloy’s crammed calendar. Mr. Malloy is Wilson rather than Coolidge. H.L Mencken compared the two, and honed in on the essential difference.
“The American people,” Menken wrote, “though they probably do not know it, really agree with Jefferson: They believe that the least government is best. Coolidge, whatever his faults otherwise, was at all events the complete antithesis of the bombastic pedagogue, Wilson. The itch to run things did not afflict him; he was content to let them run themselves… He never made inflammatory speeches. He engaged in no public combat with other statesmen. He had no ideas for the overhauling of the government… Wall Street got no lecturing from him. No bughouse professors, sweating fourth-dimensional economics, were received at the White House… The worst fodder for a president is not poppy and mandragora, but strychnine and adrenalin. We suffer most when the White House bursts with ideas. With a World Saver preceding him (I count out Harding as a mere hallucination) and a Wonder Boy following him, he begins to seem, in retrospect an extremely comfortable and even praiseworthy citizen… If the day ever comes when Jefferson’s warnings are heeded at last, and we reduce government to its simplest terms, it may very well happen that Cal’s bones, now resting inconspicuously in the Vermont granite, will come to be revered as those of a man who really did the nation some service.”
All this is high praise coming from Menken, who tends to write with hatchet in hand, and his prophesy has been borne out. The White House is now occupied by an energetic disturber of the peace, and people are beginning to long for some kind of normalcy. They won’t get it from Mr. Obama or Mr. Malloy.
Before we left, Republicans on the presidential stump were still beating each other up; President Barack Obama was lashing the Tea Party and greedy Wall Street millionaires who had contributed so generously to his campaign; CBS News reported that in Cleveland an “Occupy Cleveland” protestor told police she was raped in her tent.
The OWS (Occupy Wall Street) movement was, before we left, putting forth some exotic buds.
From the Daily Cardinal, a University of Wisconsin paper:
“A neighboring hotel's staff alleged voiced concerns about having to recently escort hotel employees to and from bus stops late at night due to inappropriate behavior, such as public masturbation, from street protesters.In Manchester, New Hampshire, the Union Leader reported:
“In addition, officials agreed further occupation should not be allowed to continue without restrooms on site to avoid further public health violations.
"’You can't be affecting the safety and health of other people around you,’ Madison Fire Prevention Officer Jerry McMullen said. ‘With the public health violations and the complaints I've heard, I don't believe it meets the spirit of the ordinance to a street use permit.’"
“A city woman is accused of pimping a 16-year-old girl she met in Victory Park during the Occupy NH demonstrations.”
Hardy protestors in Providence Rhode Island preparing to confront an early winter storm looked to George Washington for inspiration, the Associated Press reported:
"’Everyone's been calling it our Valley Forge moment,’ said Michael McCarthy, a former Navy medic in Providence. ‘Everybody thought that George Washington couldn't possibly survive in the Northeast.’"However, winters are neither kinder nor gentler than some police: “But the dangers of staying outdoors in some of the country's harsher climes are already becoming apparent. In Denver, two protesters were hospitalized with hypothermia this week during a storm that brought several inches of snow.”
And in New York, the epicenter of the OWS movement, the Daily News reported:
“Fights are erupting among Occupy Wall Street protesters, so much so that one corner of Zuccotti Park has emerged where protesters say they won't go for fear of their safety.”A millionaire siting had been reported by the San Francisco Chronicle at the Occupy Oakland site:
“As Mayor Jean Quan finished fielding reporters’ questions Friday afternoon at City Hall about the clash between police and protesters earlier this week, she was suddenly drowned out by cheering coming from Frank Ogawa Plaza for Occupy Oakland’s newest celebrity guest: documentarian and political activist Michael Moore.”While anecdotal comparisons have been made between the Tea Party movement and the anti-capitalist OWS, no reports on the Tea party movement thus far have featured frequent fights, pimping opportunities, masturbation, or millionaire anti-capitalist Palm D’Or recipient documentarians. Tea Party folk do not erect tents or stroke erections in public.
It is always well to note points of difference when one makes comparisons.
Peter Schiff, who ran in a Republican primary in Connecticut against other Republicans running against the sainted Mr. Blumenthal, invaded “Occupy Wall Street” and attempted to engage New York protestors in polite conversation. When he disclosed that he paid around 50% of his income in taxes, the crowd was aroused. How much more than 50% would be a “fair share,” he asked?
Confronting a woman who apparently thought that rich people stuffed their pillow cases with their ill-gotten gains, Mr. Schiff said he could easily sell his business for a nifty profit and retire in luxury if greed were his only motivation. But in that case, the people he employed would be out of work. This aroused the crowd. Finally when Mr. Schiff told the protestors that he employed over a hundred people in his business and asked a particularly voluble lady how many people she employed, the crowed lapsed into silence – for about 3 seconds, after which they were aroused.
The week before we set off, members of the Italian cabinet were fisticuffing each other. The south of Italy is in a bad way, the north less so, and some in the North do not wish to carry the south on their sagging shoulders. Everybody in Europe looks to salvation from Germany and dislikes Germany which, along with China, is expected to bail out Greece, the pauper of Euroland.
Here in the United States, 40% of every dollar is borrowed money, and if taxes truly are “investments,” we are overinvested in a losing proposition.
Most people who know something about the economy know that Mr. Obama knows nothing about the economy. People surrounding the president who remember their Econ 101 course have fallen silent because they already have committed themselves publically to the Obama Way.
An unusual October snow storm, a Nor’easter, visited us four days before our departure, an awesome omen. Huge branches of oak trees, their crowns still full of leaves and unable to bear the weight of the snow, are lying in my front and back yard, along with downed wires. It took me three day and much scurrying to clean up the mess. I also cleaned up the front yard of one of Andree’s friends.
Among some Italians, omens continue to matter. Shakespeare’s Cesar thought they were important, though the omens were always sifted through his outsized hubris. Others trust to God. Atheists trust to fate. Here in Connecticut, what Henry Mencken used to call the booboise trust to Democrats.
Friends who inhabit the mighty town by tawny Acragas
which crowns the citadel, caring for good deeds,
greetings; I, an immortal God, no longer mortal,
wander among you, honored by all,
adorned with holy diadems and blooming garlands.
To whatever illustrious towns I go,
I am praised by men and women, and accompanied
by thousands, who thirst for deliverance,
some ask for prophecies, and some entreat,
for remedies against all kinds of disease – Empedocles
Sicily is that part of Italy that appears on the map as if it were being booted by the boot, which is the rest of Italy, and it has always resented the impudence, first of Greece, then of Rome, and finally of the new nation of Italy, a nation younger than the United States.
Much conquered, Sicily has acquired over the years useful inner defense mechanisms. It nods to the conqueror, while giving him the finger in its pocket.
First the Phoenicians, then the Greeks, then the Carthaginians, then the Romans despoiled Sicily. Rome depended on the island for grain to feed its soldiers and increasingly imperious emperors. Sextus, the son of Pompey who was executed by the Egyptians, situated himself in Sicily following the assassination of Julius Caesar and finally brought the Roman triumvirate to favorable terms by withholding from Rome the grain crop.
The spirit of Sicily has ever been the spirit of the ancient Roman Republic, that space of time too brief between the Roman kings and the advent of the Caesars, every one of whom was deservedly roasted by Suetonius in his “Lives of the Twelve Caesars.” Suetonius, to be sure, treaded softly on the reigning emperor Hadrian and his forbearers; one does not want to bite the jewel encrusted hand that feeds one. But he let loose on many of the others, belaboring them about 200 years before Rome fell and the barbarians put an end to the empire, which resettled itself in Alexandria while Rome rotted, the plaything of soon to be Christianized barbarians.
Coming into Sicily, one is struck by the fortress-like cliffs, perpendicular to the sea. Palermo, the capital city, is sprawling. Here, as in Rome, the drivers are half mad. Later, our guide, an effervescent Daniela, will tell us that there is here, as in most countries, a north-south bifurcation. The north of Italy and Sicily is hard working, goal oriented, the south more placid.
The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento is one of the most important archeological sites in the world. Here one finds the remains of the great ancient temples of ancient Akragas: the Temple of Hera (Juno) Lacinia, Concordia, Heracles (Hercules), Olympian Zeus (Jupiter), Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri) and Hephaistos (Vulcan). Further down, on the bank of the Akragas river, near a medical spring, stood the Temple dedicated to Asklepius (Eusculapius), the god of medicine. At the mouth of the river was the harbor and emporion (trading-post) of the ancient city. The pre-socratic philosopher Empedocles was pleased to call Akraga home, and many were the moderns who sang its praises, including Goethe, Guy de Maupassant, Alexander Dumas, Anatole France, Murilo Mendes, Lawrence Durrell, E.M. Forster, Francesco Lojacono, Nicolas de Stael, Salvatore Quasimodo and Luigi Pirandello.
The best preserved of the ancient temples is Concordia, pretty much complete but for the roof, always made of perishable wood.
The temple is surrounded by a defensive wall. As Christianity arose before and after Constantine’s reign, the temples were abandoned. They became places to pasture animals or quarries used to recirculate stone, the temple blocks carried off and placed in church walls. There is an early Christian cemetery abutting the Temple of Concordia. The wall is hollowed out in several places, providing sepulchers in which Christians tucked their dead to await the resurrection. There is something more than poetic in the notion of a defense wall containing tombs in which early Christians sleep the sleep of the just, impervious to the madding world about them.
The Old World is a theatre of ruins, which is to say it is a place of lessons unlearned, a land of walls breeched and overcome.
The new Sicily is opened to all, a land of fierce cliffs, churches like fortresses atop high wind-swept hills, many of them under cultivation, honest eyed people, clusters of civilization swarming shops or sipping an espresso while talking together in a quiet plaza, all bathed in sun and surrounded by the breathing sea.
The last time we were in Spain, Andree raced down to the surf to put her foot in the Mediterranean, the font of Western civilization. Here, she was able to race on the water’s edge of both the Mediterranean and the Ionian Sea, that body of water that kisses Greece, the bottom of Italy’s boot and the Eastern portion of Sicily.
Here one finds Syracuse, one of the great city states of Magna Grecia, and the imposing Cathedral of Syracuse built by Bishop Zosimo in the 7th century over the great Temple of Athena, six columns of which still can be seen incorporated into the walls of the cathedral. In the eighth and seventh centuries BC, various crises – famine, overcrowding, and perhaps most especially the relentless search for commercial opportunities and ports -- induced the Greeks to settle in southern Italy. It was this spirit of enterprise, the piety of the Greeks and their absorbent culture that now spread outwards to Sicily and southern Italy.
It was as we were leaving Sicily for Malta that we first heard on Sky News of the fall of Silvio Berlusconi’s government. Italians are used to fallen governments, but this collapse, followed by the fall of Greece and the anticipated fall of Spain, was of a different order of things. Here were fallen countries hollowed out on the inside by a populist demand for comfort, security and ease on the cheap that no government can afford.
Malta, the home of the Knights of Saint John, is two tear drops of islands in the Mediterranean south of Sicily.
The Knights Hospitaller or the Order of Hospitallers or simply Hospitallers were founded by Blessed Gerard about 1023 and evolved into a military-hospitaller order during the first Crusade. It was chartered with the care and defense of the Holy Land, operating from Rhodes and later Malta after the re-conquest of Jerusalem by Islamic forces.
After much wandering in the world, the Knights of Malta were established when in 1530 the King of Sicily, Charles V of Spain gave to them the island of Malta, Gozo, now a part of Malta, and the port of Tripoli in perpetual fiefdom in exchange for a nominal annual fee of one Maltese falcon
The Ottomans, led at the time by the Sultan Suleiman, known in the West for sound reasons as “The Magnificent,” were not pleased at the rehabilitation of the knights, and in 1565 Suleiman sent an invasion force of about 40,000 men to besiege the 700 knights and 8,000 soldiers and expel them from Malta. Both Sicily and Malta throughout history were necessary stepping stones for conquerors of every stripe to gain access both to the Mediterranean and Western Europe.
To his own Ottoman subjects, Suleiman was known as “The Lawgiver.” The historian Lord Kinross captures the man in a brief description:
“Not only was he a great military campaigner, a man of the sword, as his father and great-grandfather had been before him. He differed from them in the extent to which he was also a man of the pen. He was a great legislator, standing out in the eyes of his people as a high-minded sovereign and a magnanimous exponent of justice.”Then as now, Sharia law, the divine law of Islam, was unchangeable, but the law known as the Kanuns, or canonical legislation, depended entirely on Suleiman’s will. Cannon law covered large areas of social law, criminal law, land tenure, taxation and such. And it was here that Suleiman’s made his mark, First collecting all the judgments made by the nine Ottoman Sultans who proceeded him, Suleiman eliminated duplicate judgments, chose carefully between contradicting judgments, all the while taking care not to violate sacred laws, and molded all into a single legal code that enabled his growing empire to adapt to changing circumstances. In their final form, the Kanun laws became known as the kanun-i-Osmandi, the Ottoman laws operative for the next three hundred years.
In 1565, Suleiman sent to Malta an invasion force of 40,000 men to besiege and expel from Malta 700 knights and 8,000 soldiers. He had already been successful in expelling the knights from Rhodes. Suleiman’s ambition was to gain a base in Malta to launch another assault on Europe.
By August 18, the plight of the knights was becoming desperate. Expected aid from Sicily had not arrived, possibly because orders from Philip of Spain to the Viceroy of Sicily were so subtly worded as to allow the Viceroy himself to decide whether or not to commit troops to Malta. The Viceroy dallied, fearing that a committal of troops and a loss in Malta would expose Sicily to ruin, until the battle in Malta had almost been decided by the abandoned Knights. Finally, the Viceroy was forced by the indignation of his own officers to commit a modest contingent.
The final effort by the troops of Suleiman the Magnificent, a scholar of military campaigns and one of the greatest military strategist since Alexander the Great, came on August 23. Except for Fort St. Elmo, the fortifications held. But the force of the last attack was thrown back with great sacrifice. Working through the day and night, the garrison, its numbers far diminished, repaired the breeches. Even the wounded took part in the defense. On June 23, the Ottoman troops lost commander Dragut, the most skilled admiral of the Ottoman fleet. Turkish commanders neglected communications with the African Coast; they had used their massive fleet effectively on only one occasion. In crowded quarters during the summer months, Ottoman troops had fallen ill. No attempt was made to watch and intercept Sicilian reinforcements.
A final effort was made on September 1. By that time the fighting spirit of the besiegers was flagging, and the remaining troops in Mata were encouraged by the prospect of deliverance. The Ottomans first heard of the arrival of Sicilian reinforcements in Mellienha Bay. Not realizing the force sent was small, they broke off the siege and departed for home on September 8. At parting, the Hospitallers had 600 men under arms. Of the 40,000 besiegers, 15,000 returned to Constantinople. The Great Siege of Malta would be the last military action in which a force of knights won a decisive victory.
Today, Malta is a rock of stability in the Mediterranean. A comparison with Sicily is instructive.
Both countries have been besieged by conquerors over the years, in most cases the very same conquerors. Both countries are fiercely patriotic. Both Sicily and Malta suffered indiscriminant bombing by both Germans and the Allied states in World War ll – indiscriminate because civilian populations were not spared. We are familiar with the Nazi Blitzkrieg of London, but four times as much ordinance was dropped on Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Gozo, a part of Malta, had no air defenses at all during the war, and yet the island was bombed mercilessly by the German Luftwaffe – until Americans engineers placed an airbase in defenseless Gozo and American airmen started dogfighting with the Germans. Only then, did the citizens of Gozo, who had taken refuge in caves, return to their shattered homes. And many there were in Malta who lit candles in their churches for American airmen.
On April 9, 1942, a 500kg Luftwaffe bomb was dropped on the Rotunda (Church of Saint Mary) in Mosta, Gozo. The bomb pierced the church’s dome during a service when the floor of the church was crowded with people. The ordinance did not explode and no one in the church suffered the slightest injury. The dome, the fourth largest in the world, was repaired when architects refashioned a new dome around the bomb shattered old dome. Among the people at service in 1942 was a relative of one of the tour guides who spirited us through the church, then a young boy. He recalled the bomb sliding hundreds of feet across the floor, the vast hole in the dome, plaster dust filling the air, and his astonishment when the bomb, later defused and now shown to tourists who visit the scene of the miracle, came to a stop before the feet of his surprised family.
Time not only heals old wounds, it wraps them in imaginative narratives, the swaddling clothes of all art. Saint Paul’s Cathedral in the city of Mdina (pronounced M, as in the letter “M,” DINA), a Phoenician fort in 700 BC, is built on the site where governor Publius was reported to have met Saint Paul following his shipwreck off the Maltese coast.
All the buildings in Malta are made of the same limestone, organic pearly white blocks of hewn stones produced by marine life with hints of yellow and pink.
Malta confronted Europe’s most recent conqueror, self-indulgence, some twenty years ago. The country has reorganized its business products and reduced the price of labor by pairing back its entitlements. Over its battlements, it saw the enemy advancing: Italy did not. Much of Europe did not.
Here in Connecticut, Governor Malloy has just unionized day care workers. In Malta, the home of Hospitaliers, volunteers do such work at a minimal charge, if at all.
Andree and I did not meet Erik Nelson while we were in Malta. Mr. Nelson hails from Stamford, Connecticut, once the stamping grounds of Mayor of Stamford Dan Malloy. But Mr. Nelson was there somewhere. At a small eatery near our hotel that makes the best pizza in Malta – where everyone speaks English, thanks to British imperialism – he very easily could have been a customer. Two years after Napoleon conquered Malta en route to Egypt in 1798, the British fleet seized the island from the French and remained there until the islanders were granted independence in 1964.
Some of the customers in the restaurant spoke Italian, and the waitress spoke Italian. Some spoke French, and the same waitress, from Germany we discovered, spoke French. But all the waiters, all the tour guides, all the service staff at the casino (not Indian owned) near out hotel, all the small business owners in Valletta – were all conversant in English.
Mr. Nelson is a refugee from Connecticut, a research analyst at FMG USA LLC, the U.S. arm of FMG, a fund of funds specializing in emerging and frontier markets.
FMG, across the harbor from Valetta, Malta’s capitol, runs funds that invest in markets from Iraq to Mongolia. FMG recently moved its corporate headquarters to Malta from Bermuda, and the company hired Mr. Nelson to head up their new office.
The hedge fund stampede to Malta has begun, according to recent story in Bloomberg:
“In 2010, nine companies from the British Virgin Islands, seven from the Cayman Islands and six from Luxembourg switched their legal domicile to Malta, according to the MFSA.Why are hedge fund workers moving to Malta from such places as Connecticut? Had they had private conversations with Mary from Malta?
“In addition, at least a dozen large U.K. hedge funds and funds of hedge funds have shifted part of their operations, including accounting and investor relations, to Malta.
“These include Clive Capital LLP, which has about $4 billion under management, Comac Capital LLP, which has $5.2 billion under management, the $1.2 billion commodities and energy hedge fund BlueGold Capital Management LLP and the $2.8 billion fund- of-funds company Liongate Capital Management LLP…
“As of early November, the number of funds located in Malta had grown to more than 500 with 8 billion euros ($10.7 billion) under management from 165 funds with less than 5 billion euros under management in 2006, according to the Malta Financial Services Authority, or MFSA."
When the British Empire receded, it left in its long recession a rich deposit. The English language was not the only legacy. English law was grafted onto Malta’s civil law system, as was the Western work ethic.
Andrew Frankish, the director of client relations for IDS Group, a South African fund services company that set up offices in Malta in 2010, put it this way: “They definitely work more like beer drinkers than wine drinkers.”
Islands, insular and with scarce resources, concentrate the mind wonderfully and lead to creative thinking about, let’s say, regulations.
Prime Minister Laurence Gonzi, sitting in his office at the Auberge de Castille, a palazzo that once belonged to the Knights of St. John, is dealing with a full hand. The fund industry has grown so rapidly in the last few years that he now wonders whether Malta – population 414,000 -- has financial analysts and accountants enough to handle the demand.
What accounts for the growth in business?
Malta has prepared for the upsurge. Companies in Malta pay a nominal income tax rate of 35 percent, but the taxers can be lowered to 5 percent or less for most foreign-owned corporations, and most capital gains and dividends aren’t taxed.
The Maltese have adjusted to Europe’s financial crisis. Investors, they realize, want transparency, which is why Malta requires quarterly financial statements and background checks for fund owners and directors.
Mr. Nelson, the Stamford, Connecticut replant says, “At the beginning of 2008, we started to see investor sentiment changing. Regulation, liquidity and transparency were becoming real factors in the decisions that investors were making.”
And the Prime Minister of Malta agrees: “We want to be a financial center of the highest reputation possible.”
At the same time, the government attends to its own balance sheets. It is not greedy. While the government takes in little in the way of direct taxes and maintains a low threshold of taxes, the inrush of firms now doing business on the island have boosted both employment and business spending for office space, hotel rooms restaurants and transportation.
Malta’s ambition is to boost financial services until it accounts for 25 percent of the country’s GDP by 2015. And the country is on track to meet its goal.
In Mid-January, TopRetrirements.com published its list of “Worst States to Retire 2012,” and Connecticut had the distinction of placing first.
“1. Connecticut. We actually had a numerical tie for 1st place. CT won the tie-breaker because it has much higher property taxes, income taxes, and cost of living than Illinois. It offers no exemption for social security, and most pension income is taxable. CT had the 3rd highest tax burden of any state in 2009. The Nutmeg State does have considerable charm and some terrific places to live, if you can afford to live there.”