Response to Don Keelan’s column
After reading Don Keelan’s recent dystopian column “It’s just not same Vermont,” (Jan. 5) I immediately checked social media to see if interstates 89 and 91 south were choked with cars, fleeing the state en masse. Instead, I was relieved to find the exact opposite: vacationers flocking to Vermont to enjoy our scenery, skiing, and nature.
Mr. Keelan bemoans how much has changed in Vermont since he arrived here in 1988. He emphasizes an increasing reliance by citizens upon our government and the resulting loss of self-reliance. He correctly points out that it is difficult for jobs to be filled, but without indicating why. He also argues that while school enrollment is falling, costs are rising, and students are performing “close to 60 percent below their expected grade achievement.” Curiously, he doesn’t identify the source of this information.
He also suggests that based upon the recent shootings in Burlington, there is a fear of crime throughout the state; “no street or home in the state is immune.” Mr. Keelan then shows his true colors: since the Democrats/progressives now enjoy a historic supermajority in the Legislature, “the state will continue its downward spiral,” with the bogeyman Democrats in Montpelier rendering “self-reliance, personal responsibility and local control” irrelevant.
It’s natural to wish that we were living in simpler times, where everyone got along. However, that just isn’t reality. As is the case with the rest of the country, Vermont is faced with increasingly complex social problems, which require creativity, and not whining about the balance of political power, in order to find solutions.
Furthermore, by many objective metrics, we are doing pretty well as a state. The week after Mr. Keelan’s piece was published, the Journal ran an article about a new study that ranks Vermont as the fifth best state in the country to raise a family. We rank third in the least violent crimes per capita; we have the lowest infant mortality rate and the lowest unemployment rate. We are eighth among the states with the least percentage of families living in poverty.
In 2021, US News and World Report ranked Vermont 11th best among the states, based on a variety of government data and other sources. In that study, Vermont ranked: 12th best in infrastructure; 15th best in education; 9th best in natural environment; third lowest in crime.
Could these lofty rankings be the result of the Democrats controlling the Vermont Senate since 1997 and the Vermont House of Representatives 25 out of the past 30 years?
If “our cities and towns are full of despair,” as Mr. Keelan posits, then why do so many people want to move here? Every week the Journal runs stories about new businesses opening throughout southern Vermont, often run by young entrepreneurs seeking a better life. Certainly, our larger cities have the same problems faced by municipalities elsewhere, but we are creatively trying to find solutions.
Lastly, if Mr. Keelan’s Republican Party ran credible candidates with original, constructive policy ideas, there would be more Republicans in Montpelier.
Nobody admits that Vermont is perfect. However, as a small state which still treasures the traditional values of neighborliness and cooperation, we are in a far better position than Mr. Keelan claims we are.
Bradley D. Myerson
National debt increase
It is interesting that Republican legislators, who supported spending and tax policies that allowed the national debt to increase by over $9 trillion dollars during the four years of the Trump administration, are suddenly so deeply devoted to stopping any future increases while Biden is president. They call for a balanced budget – total federal spending not exceeding total federal income. They see cutting spending on programs essential to the well-being of millions and millions of Americans as the only way to do this.
Democrats argue that making no increase in the debt limit and defaulting on debts already existing would risk a national and probably global financial catastrophe. They also see making too small an increase would risk well-being and going back on promises made to the American people.
Making reckless cuts in spending is not the only way to balance the budget or at least to cut borrowing. How about something like this: agreeing on a budget where annual spending will not exceed the total income that would be received if all American individuals and corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
David A. Durfee
Editor’s note: This letter is being republished to add a last line the author omitted in the original.