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Archive - Aug 2006 - Editorial

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August 28th

A walk to spread the fires

Political movements that catch the public’s imagination can spread like a prairie fire across the nation. From town to town, state to state, the movement’s idealism is spread by word of mouth — fanned by media coverage and today’s internet — and fueled by millions of people wanting to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

The political movement that most fits this description today is global warming. Al Gore’s book “An Inconvenient Truth,� and the subsequent movie have done much to popularize the issue in recent months, taking off from previous works on environmental issues, including Bill McKibben’s landmark book, “The End of Nature.�

In an attempt to harness the eagerness of people to embrace this issue and make it the number one cause on America’s agenda, a well-publicized five-day walk is scheduled for Labor Day weekend starting in Ripton and ending in Burlington. That the walk starts in Ripton has much to do with the fact that McKibben lives there, that Robert Frost’s writing cabin is there, and that Middlebury College student Will Bates and a few others who helped organize the walk, could imagine no better place to reflect on Earth’s beauty and the reasons why it is so important to protect what is within our ability.

View: Quick Read | Full Article

Property taxes on our minds

Last week, Gov. James Douglas identified another election-year issue that will stir the public’s interest and, he hopes, earn him a few sure-fire votes. The issue is property taxes; or, more specifically, high property taxes. He against them, of course.

The governor’s plan is not to lower property taxes (he’s honest in admitting the state needs the money and it’d be reckless to cut taxes), but to keep the rate of the tax increases closer to the rate of inflation. For the past seven years, property taxes have increased an average of 7.4 percent annually, or double inflation, and the governor says that’s not sustainable.

Most Vermonters would agree. Just like it’s not sustainable for health care insurance to go up by two or three times inflation each year, neither can Vermonters afford such steep increases in our property taxes.

View: Quick Read | Full Article

August 23rd

Farm subsidy outrage

What follows falls in the realm of the “It-can’t-possibly-be-true category,” but it is and it’s an outrageous example of how this nation’s political system has become increasingly dysfunctional. The issue is farm subsidies, and the salient fact is that the federal government spent $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops since 2000 to individuals who do no farming at all.

None. Some of the individuals collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in crop subsidies without even planting a seed. Mary Anna Hudson, an 87-year-old resident of the River Oaks neighborhood in Houston, received $191,000 over the past decade, according to research done by the Washington Post and reported in last Sunday’s edition. Houston surgeon Jimmy Frank Howell received a total of $490,709 over the same period, while 67-year-old Donald Matthews of El Campo, Texas, built his dream house in the heart of rice country on an 18-acre suburban lot and he receives $1,300 in annual “direct payments” on the 17 acres that surrounds his elaborate home. Matthews, an asphalt contractor, readily admits he’s “no farmer” and disagrees with the government’s policy, but his desire to give the money back to the government was fruitless, so he now takes the money and has created scholarships for the local school and 4-H club.

View: Quick Read | Full Article

A walk to spread the fires

Political movements that catch the public’s imagination can spread like a prairie fire across the nation. From town to town, state to state, the movement’s idealism is spread by word of mouth — fanned by media coverage and today’s internet — and fueled by millions of people wanting to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

The political movement that most fits this description today is global warming. Al Gore’s book “An Inconvenient Truth,” and the subsequent movie have done much to popularize the issue in recent months, taking off from previous works on environmental issues, including Bill McKibben’s landmark book, “The End of Nature.”

In an attempt to harness the eagerness of people to embrace this issue and make it the number one cause on America’s agenda, a well-publicized five-day walk is scheduled for Labor Day Weekend starting in Ripton and ending in Burlington. That the walk starts in Ripton has much to do with the fact that McKibben lives there, that Robert Frost’s writing cabin is there, and that Middlebury College student Will Bates and a few others who helped organized the walk, could imagine no better place to reflect on Earth’s beauty and the reasons why it is so important to protect what is within our ability.

View: Quick Read | Full Article

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