Tarrant: Legislators pay costly game of ‘kick the can’

by Kathi Tarrant

‘Kick the can down the road’ is a ubiquitous phrase in American politics over the last few years; in referencing the practice of kicking a can ahead of oneself while walking along a road; to defer conclusive action with a short-term solution. During the 1930’s Depression era, it was considered a poor man’s game. Today, how it plays on words—a game to metaphor—can seem trivial, but a turn of phrase as it plays out on the element of emotion can often lead to a kick in the head.

Kathi Tarrant

As it relates to the childcare crisis in Vermont, reps in my district have decided to champion this to the tune of $179 to $279 million, overseen by the House Human Services Committee. The range in cost is said to be dependent on government subsidies. Since government contributed to the problem in the first place via regs @ 2015, and with a rise in the cost of living and/or the breakdown of the family, the can appears to be getting kicked all over the place; upending a system intended to limit government; one that ushered in revolutionary ideas about reason, progress and civil society. 

Deferring action is an avoidance strategy. But not everyone defers action. Bill Stritzler, the managing director of Smugglers Notch Resort, and former chair of the Business Roundtable in 2009, recently testified at the State House that his company now offers free childcare. He also mentioned it only impacted payroll by 1.5%. 

Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Creative solutions and/or a can-do attitude offers more opportunities for growth potential than government subsidies. And since a civil society is predicated on progress, citizens—if given the chance–contribute to society in inestimable ways. Case in point: autists are now being recognized as gifted data analysts. Contrast this with the supermajority legislature behind closed doors in recent weeks, denying the press rightful entry as bills are being rushed through with a pay Peter to pay off Paul mentality, and with the express purpose of denying our own innate potential to manage ourselves, with stronger economic outcomes.

Helplessness is learned behavior.  

The dawn of the Enlightenment brought on tremendous gains. These gains were widespread. According to calculations using the 2017 World Bank and Maddison data for global GOP and the estimated world population from Our World in Data, extreme poverty fell globally by over 80 percent in the early nineteenth century to about 10 percent at present. And the improvements went well beyond material wealth. 

Beginning with the Enlightenment, essential, long-standing arrangements such as private property rights, the rule of law, free and competitive markets and limited government helped to improve the human condition. The Enlightenment ushered in revolutionary ideas about reason and civil society. 

Today, essential, long-standing institutional arrangements are being kicked around like there’s no tomorrow, and with conditions…things that have withstood over three hundred years; where world output per capita experienced a ten-fold surge in conjunction with a view of human nature that is realistic, and what the Founding Fathers had in mind. 

We were once asked to call upon our better angels. Today, we are expected to be angels as dictated by government. Equity i.e. weaponized empathy has become the new buzzword a.k.a. the Great Society, and is being used as a cover to foment division while impoverishing the mind. 

A long-term solution is a return to the tradition of freedom in political and civic affairs which compliments America’s constitutional design. And, to get the media darlings to align themselves with something akin to the Fairness Doctrine (balanced coverage), and the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 (truth). Until that time, ‘kicking the can down the road’ will remain a game that’s being played on an unlevel playing field.   

The author is a Waterbury resident and 2022 candidate for the Vermont Legislature.

Categories: Commentary

2 replies »

  1. Personal responsibilty is lost on people today. If you stall long enough, it becomes someone else’s problem.

  2. The government has failed the people of the once and future Vermont republic. People are literally dying left and right and their playing god on the job. All failures in our capitol. Time to take it back.
    Vermont had DOUBLE the Number of Fatal Cardiac Arrests in 2022 Compared to the Pre-Pandemic Average
    Despite significant excess mortality in both 2020 & 2021

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