Sitting daily reading the Banner and listening to national news, I’m greatly saddened by developments which beset my country, state and local governments. We’ve become involved in unwinnable wars and authorize unprecedented spending sprees to "rescue" giant corporations, Wall Street banks and special interest groups who keep the ruling class in power. Yes, America, the good old boy network is alive and well in our government, assuring handouts, grants and jobs in government for family members and constituents. We elect leaders to have our best interests in their hearts.

We were told by them as they ran for office, "Trust me, I know what’s best for you and your family." Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t seem to matter. The entitlement mentality has grown exponentially and now reaches out-of-control proportions. A 17+ trillion dollar deficit and a national debt that imposes $140,000 upon each family of 4 dooms our children and grandchildren to economic slavery into the next century. These so-called "saviors" of our government have painted themselves into a corner, printing money and making promises that cannot be kept. Vermonters have an old saying: "When you lay down with dogs, you come up with fleas." Politicians say: "If you want higher salaries, you got ‘em. If you want a bridge, no problem. Shut down the nuclear plant with no plan to make up for lost jobs or income, that’s ok -- just don’t forget me at the polls in November."

We’ve been left with unfunded employee pensions, decaying infrastructures, poorly performing schools, and adult children fleeing Vermont to find employment in other states.

Grover Cleveland said in his second inaugural address: "Under our scheme of government, the waste of public money is a crime against the citizen; and the contempt of our people for the economy and frugality in their personal affairs deplorably saps the strength and the sturdiness of our national character."

We stand at the rim of a moral and financial abyss. Speaking of America’s constitutional principles and laws, Cleveland also said: "Loyalty to the principles upon which our government rests, positively demands that the equality before the law which guarantees every citizen, should be justly and in good faith conceded in all parts of the land."

One of the principles set down by our Founding Fathers was that our Republic was to be governed by the rule of law and not by the rule of man; and no one should set himself above the Constitution. It would appear that somewhere along the line the founding principles have been discarded. Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention as a delegate, Benjamin Franklin was stopped on a Philadelphia street by a citizen, and the woman asked: "Mr. Franklin, what kind of government have you provided for us?" Franklin stated: "A Republic, if you can keep it."

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands.

JOHN ZINK

Bennington