Keelan: Self-reliant Vermont a relic of the past

….and so is work ethic and crime-free living

Unloading milk cans at the dairy, somewhere in VT during WWII – photo credit

by Don Keelan

The 2022 elections have been recorded, the lawn posters removed, and thank goodness, the TV ads are a thing of the past. With that said, what does it mean for the next two years? 

The political, social, and economic Vermont landscape is different than the one I experienced when I cast my first Vermont ballot in the fall of 1988. 

Don Keelan

One significant difference is how self-reliant the state, towns, and citizens of Vermont once were. That is not the case today with the dependency on receiving funding from Washington to get programs, even the most basic, underway. It is not limited to State government programs; many towns and cities depend on grants to accomplish even the most minor functions that were once in the annual municipal budget. 

A notable change: many citizens depend on the government and, in many cases, nonprofit organizations for food, housing, medical/dental, and addiction recovery services. 

Aside from the loss of self-reliance since 1988, Vermont municipalities have also lost local control. While we may elect our school board members, the State Board of Education in Montpelier controls the taxes raised from real estate.  These were once kept locally but are now funneled to Montpelier for redistribution. 

Another change in the State’s economic landscape is the shortage of folks willing to work. Many areas have been impacted. A local experience is worth noting: I did not receive any mail for three days in late October. One mail driver retired, one was out sick, and the other quit. Also, it is customary to see a note on our local bank’s door: “closed for the day–lack of staff.” 

There is also a critical staff shortage at local medical/mental health centers, day-care centers, police barracks, and schools. Then add food establishments and construction tradespeople.  Facilities have to close their doors or shorten their hours. Vermont is incapable of providing the services it once did.

When it comes to public school education in Vermont, there are plenty in denial over the last 30-year changes: enrollment is down between 30 to 40 thousand students, costs have doubled, if not more, and the recent test scores show a student population that is close to 60% below their expected grade achievement.

However, the most disturbing change I have witnessed is increased criminal activity, from petty incidents to major crimes. No street or home in the State is immune. Illegal drugs have taken an enormous toll on the State’s younger population, its medical/mental health staff and facilities, and its treasury. This unfortunate phenomenon was almost non-existent in 1988.

The fear of crime in Vermont, specifically Burlington, was not lost on the New York Times. On November 12th, reporter Michael Corkery in a multi-page photo/essay noticed how criminal activity is the number one issue in Burlington, once one of the safest cities to retire to or visit in America. Not anymore.

The Vermont Legislature is back in session. Its makeup is the most lopsided in recent history: 25% Republicans and 75% Democrats/Progressives (three Independents.) If the “body” follows its past and projected agenda, the State will continue its downward spiral. Self-reliance, personal responsibility, and local control are no longer relevant: Montpelier knows what is best for all of us and is prepared to let us know.  

Is it possible for the legislative leadership to adopt what Governor Phil Scott noted in his November 16th piece in the Rutland Herald:

“We’ll be debating the issues, which I will continue to do with civility, seeking consensus where possible, compromising when necessary, and agreeing to disagree or let the process run its course when we cannot resolve our differences.” 

Vermont has evolved into two distinct places since 1988. Its cities and towns are full of despair, and its second home and ski areas are abundantly enjoyable. The Legislature should take notice.   

The author is a U.S. Marine (retired), CPA, and columnist living in Arlington, VT.

Categories: Commentary

8 replies »

  1. Uh-oh…..looks like the Bennington Banner might be seeking one new editorialist after all. Finally, a “tell it like it is” column for all to see in Bennington. A town that completely destroyed itself thanks to leftist ideologies.

    I hope Mr. Keelan knows that Aldi is always hiring.

    It was only weeks ago, the Bennington Banner published one of its typical propagandized editorials which the masses lap up – proclaiming that the residents of Vermont have “much to be thankful for” for electing a super majority of democrats to the state legislature and finally entirely ridding itself of that pesky “checks & balances” system within our government.

    Vermont: The enemy of the people isn’t really crime. Or drugs. Or the lack of self-reliance. Vermont: YOU are your worst enemy. A people, i.e.: the government, who can no longer distinguish between reality and a veritable nightmare.

  2. NOT blaming the system that allows and puts in place the dependent state is NOT actually telling the truth… this is a systemic overthrow, using the IOT and climate change as core controllers and strong pullers…and fascist tyranny in gov’t who bends over for fascist funding from the whores on DC… going against the system now is a deadly undertaking. Just try it. If you do, you find yourself without a job, without a home, without transportation, without food, without clean water, and worst of all – without clean air to breathe.
    Talking around this issue does us no good.
    Speaking truth means just that – no holds barred.
    Appreciate the …err…effort though.

  3. Read your local small-town papers…they typically now include “news” items contributed by non-profits reporting on how successful the COVID relief programs were in “reducing poverty” and that they should then be made permanent. The Public Assets Institute founded by Act 60 proponent former Rep.Paul Cillo has been making that claim in regular contributions made to look like an important news item. The Public Assets Institute thinks a working person’s paycheck should be a “public asset”. The left destroys everything it touches.

  4. Leahy’s gone & with him the Gravy Train of Cash from DC for “grants & non-profits” for the Grant-Sucking-Chair-Warmers too. (GSCW’s) Maybe NOW they’ll HAVE to find REAL work but good luck with that! This isn’t anything new, years ago Troy Town got a $10,000 grant to replace the bandstand, completely do-able with donated materials & labor back then. I asked the (then) Clerk where the $10K went? “To STUDY the bandstand’s replacement” I was told, then there’s the Newport Renaissance Committee/Commission that gave $50,000 to a Montreal firm to come up with Newport’s new slogan, “Genuine By Nature”! Every penny well spent! Hopefully all these GSCW’s will return to NYC & take their “progressive” voting/agenda back home with them…Hope springs eternal..

  5. I work part time at the Springfield recycling center and see the influx of cars sporting MA CT NY and PA plates. It’s puzzling why these people are moving here until you realize they are coming from similar governments. The people leaving are those who want affordability. When we see more and more help wanted signs popping up we know these people are the ones who held those jobs and aren’t coming back. The inbounds as the Census refers to them are either financially well-off retirees or making good money remotely to avoid VT’s cost of living.
    This state will never be affordable or a good place to own a business ever again.

  6. 3 days, I am lucky to get mail once per week now! The more the state/government seeks to help, the more it creates the people to take advantage of that help. Why work when you can live on the progressive democratic programs, or do crime with no real fear of consequence?