Despathy: Echo chambers, social engineering and legal plunder

Observations From the Statehouse- Part 2

by Alison Despathy

As a concerned citizen of Vermont, mother of three children and new grandmother who cares deeply for people and the future of Vermont, I decided I was going to visit the statehouse weekly; Check out the scene, attempt conversations and see how the “sausage was made” so to speak. I share my humble experience and observations here with the hope that for those Vermonters not paying attention, please wake up, it’s time, Vermont needs you. 

  1. The polarization and imbalance in the statehouse is severely problematic. Necessary debate and conversation are desperately lacking. Many go through motions in committee because the supermajority has the numbers and a high percentage will vote lockstep party line regardless of their constituents wants and needs. Maybe a little tweak here or there to a bill but movement is essentially guaranteed. The steamroll over Vermonters is in full effect. 
Alison Despathy
  1. Many are well aware of the situation we face in Vermont. The statehouse is currently an echochamber greatly suffering from a lack of thought diversity, critical thinking and independent spirit. Legislators outside of the ruling party are trying hard to hold the line and protect Vermonters from the dangerous wave of the supermajority but without the numbers, it is futile. 
  1. Hands down, the Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Energy and Government Operations were the worst echo chambers. No real debate or research came through here. Senate Natural Resources was 100% Democrats, the only real thinking came from those testifying in committee which was easily shut down and ignored. I hold sympathy for Senator Robert Norris(R) in the Senate Committee on Government Operations surrounded by Senators Ruth Hardy, Becca White, Tanya Vyhovsky, Alison Clarkson and Anne Watson. A group think committee if I ever saw one. These were difficult committees rooms to visit, I had to bite my tongue often. Pulitzer Prize Winner Walter Lippmann’s quote often surfaced in my mind while in these committees, “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.” 
  1. Some legislators would run from me when I attempted respectful debate or offered alternative ideas. Minds were made up, pressure was on and actual processing was nil. I am not sure what happened to collaboration, open minds and good old fashioned arguing. Politics is organized arguing and without real debate, we will not get there. How dare anyone question the plan, or attempt to offer another avenue. I was a wrench in the gears and many did not want to slow down the machine. They were making “progress.” The supermajority collective hive mind brings harm. Can these legislators think and act independently? Can they create legislation that serves instead of burdens and infringes?
  1. A high percentage of the supermajority “big bills” emphasized restrictions and a loss of options. For example, school options were severely blocked by a bill intended to eliminate public funding for the majority of private and independent schools. This was softened due to a successful counter campaign, however issues and limitations still exist. Senator Ruth Hardy told me they were working to eliminate discrimination in schools. Essentially this bill used the excuse of preventing discrimination to invoke its justification of cutting funding to schools outside the public school system. Monopolized education by the public school system does not serve the children of Vermont. Again, we have lobbyist legislation working to secure their special interests at the expense of Vermonters.
  1. Additional roadblocks and limitations came in the form of restricting options for heating systems, child care and pregnancy care. More are on the way for transportation, building, and fuel. To think that there is a one size fits all answer for Vermonters is naive and tyrannical. This mentality reflects a myopic move by social engineers who believe they hold the answers and should make decisions for everyone. Access and education are the key, not coercion and limitations. We are not robots to be trained up by the supermajority or poked and prodded down the path the legislators determine is best. People can make their own decisions.
  1. Many Legislators rely on lobbyists and special interest groups to write legislation. Many legislators are dependent on the lobbyists ‘solving’ the problems and doing legislators’ work. Will this special interest generated legislation hold the people and state of Vermont at the forefront? Of course not. Many times legislators will support these bills crafted by special interests when they are dressed up in faux environmental or social justice language or messaging-  Affordable Heat Act, Childcare for All, Suicide Prevention. These bills are wolves in sheep’s clothing. 
  1. The payroll tax (Act 76) for childcare is in a class of its own. Besides the S.5 invasion into your home and wallet, one of the most egregious moves by the supermajority, Act 76 determines how we spend our hard-earned money beyond the taxes already paid. This attempt at a redistribution of wealth is wrong and doesn’t work when most in Vermont do not have wealth. There are options for those struggling to afford childcare. This burden to Vermont citizens and businesses will be hard felt as many struggle to pay loans from covid lockdowns, flooding, increased expenses and inflation. How many businesses will close due to this added expense? 
  1. This payroll tax should tell Vermonters all they need to know about the supermajority- they believe they can spend your money best. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to save for retirement, pay healthcare bills, cover groceries, or do not have children. Money will be taken from you, but it’s only ‘a little bit’. It does not matter how worthy the cause, Act 76 shelters its theft behind social justice. There is a phrase for this form of taxation, it is called legal plunder as best explained by Fredric Bastiat in his book The Law

Out of control is the best way to describe this past legislative session. Already two laws have been contested as unconstitutional- Act 45 and Act 15. With the supermajority in place, many Vermonters are actually afraid when the legislative session begins. What will they do next? How many more fees, taxes and price increases will be implemented? Will Vermonters be able to continue to afford to live in Vermont? How will businesses take a hit? Vermonters should not suffer anxiety attacks when the session begins. Elected legislators are there to serve the people so why do so many Vermonters feel attacked, ambushed and abused during the legislative session? 

The author is a clinical nutritionist in St. Johnsbury.

8 replies »

  1. A question which I have regarding the way bills are written and laws are passed has to do with consequences for the seemingly common practice of throwing “stuff” (blatantly unconstitutional bills) at the wall in hopes that something sticks. Our elected officials take an oath to uphold and defend our constitutions. There must be consequences for those that openly defy their oaths, and I am not talking about at the ballot box at some point down the road after openly defying, and bragging about their actions. I believe that Leg. Council is not properly advising Legislators for what ever reason, and in my opinion, also deserves some substantial sort of consequences. Firing, disbarment, removal from office, there needs to be consequences lest they, acting like petulant kids keep acting out because they know there are no consequences. How would you prosecute a suspected intentional violator of their solemn oath ? The Supreme Court which decides what laws are constitutional, needs to then investigate whether there is an intentional disregard for their oath. These are just thoughts, and my opinions, but the lack of consequences for disingenuously drafting, and passing unconstitutional laws needs to be addressed !

  2. Would that Patrick Finnie’s plea for consequences bear fruit. Sadly it won’t because the vote is the established fix. If we were all trained in dealing with narcissists or lobbyists (is there a difference?) we might have a chance, but most of us who are aware aren’t trained to deal with either. We’re also busy dealing with basic survival….and many who are aware dull their minds by helplessly burying their heads in the sand; generalities I know, but it seems to be the case in my circle of friends and acquaintances.

  3. Again I posit the question, Is it bad enough yet? I think not. The destruction thus far has been too slow and incremental for people to get too worked up about it. Things will change once it gets bad enough. That is why I have said for better part of at least 5 years let the ship sink. Let them have their way. Let them prove to us their ideas work. Then we can be there to pick up the pieces. The only thing the conservatives have done so far is leave the state and the go along to get along Republicans have done nothing but prolong the demise of this once great bastion of freedom.

    • The Ethan Allen Institute, the great bastion of all things conservative does basically nothing to stop the onslaught. Just like the old guard republican RINOs who supported and voted for Joe Biden because of their TDS. As George Carlin opined, “it’s a club and you aren’t a member”. The average Vermont voter has no clue about anything for a few reasons.

      Like the author says, families are too busy raising children, paying the bills and high taxes as well as buying food and almost $4.00 per gallon gas and $5.00 per gallon heating oil. Secondly, the education system in Vermont and the media are geared to dumb down the students and the general public. The schools aren’t preparing kids for life, they are indoctrinating future activists for the party. The media is not free anymore, it’s another wing of the progressive movement in VT. This makes people lazy and afraid of their government. This is on full display in Washington DC.

      Why did the legislature need new laws to protect them against the public? Why do they try to disarm law abiding firearms owners and pass unconstitutional red flag laws? How do they pass unconstitutional laws with the legislative council is there to guide them away from such laws? Where is the honesty in our supreme court and why are they a usual rubber stamp for all things liberal or progressives? And then you have the call for packing the US supreme court because there aren’t enough liberals there to pass more unconstitutional laws.

      The oath these lawmakers take to defend the constitution is not a joke, but that’s how they treat it. They raised their hand, and they swore under the pains and penalties of perjury, but there are no pains to be had and they know it so they lied.

      I have to agree with the previous comment. It hasn’t gotten bad enough yet to change people’s minds, but it will. We are 3.5 months away from the next torture meeting of our so-called representatives. Are you ready for the next financial whipping or maybe the next lock down since we have another election coming next year also. Have you had enough yet or can you withstand the next round of steel your money for the good of the party and their social engineering.

      While republicans snooze and hide from the realities of their failures to be the opposition party, we will have to suffer more until it all breaks. You can thank all those family members, friends, people at the office and the rest of the 240,000 Vermont voters for turning Vermont into just another blue state $hit hole like the rest of them where freedom has died, and the people are nothing more than worker bees for the hive in Montpeculier.

  4. The greatest social engineer of all time:

    Barack Hussein Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. The blue collar Vermonter laughs at the elitist politician every day, and says “You just don’t get it, you have no understanding of the world around you.” Members of our once great and grounded legislature live in a fictitious world, where manifestation have taken place over reality and virtue signally takes precedent over love and understanding. Looking back, this will be viewed as a dark time in history, and they will be mentioned by name as cowards who traded their souls for wealth and a sense of belonging.

  6. Lawfare is warfare. Considering the type of “legislation” the despots put through, the war against civil society should be clear to those with eyes to see and ears to hear. I, for one, believe the time has come for defunding them as they are installed belligerent occupiers. They serve no purpose for the public good. The invisible enemy is visable and they are the domestic terrorists if the Truth is to be told accurately and factually.

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