This legislative session has certainly put the cap on the question: Is Vermont trending toward a socialist state? This is not a difficult question to answer when considering the proposed legislation subjects, the outcomes from votes taken in session and the lopsided results when the count is known following the votes.
Previous to this year, there was the marijuana vote (passed) signed by the governor into law. There were firearms issues that made sportsmen, shooters for recreation and professional target shooters very upset at the outcomes of those votes; once again, the governor signed into law.
So now we are back to more firearms proposals, we have a $15/hour minimum wage bill in the works, the fuel tax hike has passed, the abortion measures have passed both houses. These actions are not indicative of the state I grew up in.
Prior to passing all these freedom-restricting proposals, the newer influx of idealist elites who have arisen to control have seen to it that business and industry that the state once had, made its exit. That happened over a period of years and with those unfortunate losses, hard-working folks with decent jobs moved to another state where affordability in everyday living is more aligned in a common sense and good judgment mode.
Vermont’s demographics show a state with a high percentage of benefit recipients and retired folks, the latter becoming less because of pure economics and tax burdens poised to go off the charts with the present mindset of lawmakers. More and more retired people are taking up residence in more tax- and fee-friendly states, of which there are many to choose from. One of the huge monsters in the house is the pension fund liability, and its associated potential problems for the taxpayers: $4.5 billion in a state this size is nothing to sneeze at, but that’s where we are. Stakeholders calling in the chits would do untold damage and send Vermont into a huge tailspin financially. Most taxpayers do not know this fact.
Vermont is at a major crossroads, it being: Do we put the brakes on the trending in effect now, or do we continue on the path we are on which, in one word, is “socialist?” One of the trademarks of socialism is the divestiture of wealth and property that individual persons own. If you look at things closely, you will see chipping away at the freedoms and liberties of firearm use and control of same; the burdensome Act 250 exercises that business endures every time an addition or change is made. The three-year process to get approval to operate in the case of a car dealership on the Clarendon/Rutland Town line is absolutely preposterous. Here again, it is control, one of the characteristics of socialism.
Do we continue to debate and vote on abortion or not? Do we continue to redistribute wealth by scheming and maneuvering in Montpelier so it doesn’t look like taxes and fees are being raised but the Vermont resident sends more and more of his savings to the state? And on and on it goes.
We can shut this socialist machine down in the next election, but it will require every voter to vote and know who represents what. We can no longer take things for granted and say “Well, he or she is a good guy, a good neighbor; they will vote in our best interests.” The research has to be done. Know what the voting records are of all candidates and incumbents, and vote according to your wishes and needs. Business as usual has to stop, because that has placed us where we are.
In 2020, corrective action is sorely needed to be employed, and candidates elected who will start spending tax dollars as though it was their money, and get back to sound budgeting, wise spending and common sense legislation. The dream world stuff has failed. Let’s get back to basics and fix things for survival in the long term, not the train wreck disasters that are coming in the mode we are in now. It can be done. It must be done.
James B. Hall lives in Center Rutland.