Addison Eagle

June 11, 1999

It's Not the Environment, Stupid ... It's Greed

It seems like nearly everyday, we talk with yet

another hard-working, talented person who's at some

point in the process of leaving Vermont. Sadly we

live in a state that has been exporting its children,

especially the best and brightest, for years. Now

we're losing some of the best imports we've acquired

over the last ten, twenty and thirty and even forty



One simple answer is that they can't make a

living here. Sometimes what they do best is not done

in Vermont.

Sometimes their fellow citizens decide that they

and their specialty, and particularly their reckless

habit of telling the truth about what's going on in

their communities, should consider living and

prospering far, far away. If that sounds like

something that couldn't happen in Vermont, think


Why would their fellow citizens do this?

One not-so-simple answer is greed - greed which

takes several forms.

Greed in Vermont.

The OMYA case (arguably the worst decision by the

E-board since their 1993 denial of C&S Grocers'

petition - one that is still costing the state

millions upon millions of dollars) that's reported

elsewhere in this paper is one outstanding example:

All the talk, all the aesthetic and historical

rhetoric about the importance of basically rolling

back the clock on downtown Brandon - to the point that

one imagines strollers in hoop skirts, parasols, and

high button shoes wandering from building to building

in a slight revery over the architecture - all of it

goes out the window when the party of the first part

is willing to drop their suit if they get paid enough

money by the party of the second part.

Here we have a good old fashioned dollars and

cents type greed hiding behind quasi-environment,

quasi-historical consideration.

Even Governor Dean said he was "very, very

disappointed" with the board's decision. "There are a

lot of policy issues in the decision, and I'm not sure

the board appreciates what the implications are."

We would like to make it very clear that in this

example and the others to follow, there are good

people whose sympathies have been taken advantage of,

who get drawn into some of these hidden agenda

controversies. Unfortunately their presence often

helps give the appearance of a legitimate public

debate and helps divert attention from what's really

going on.

Perhaps the most incidious form of greed going on

in Vermont, the one that has hurt the state and its

people the most, is not about lining one's pockets

with big bucks, but is instead about power and

"designer" communities.

When we moved from Vermont to New Rochelle, New

York, in the mid seventies, we saw this sort of thing

going on there. The case in point was a nearby house

that went on the market. When an Afro-American doctor

and his family looked like they were going to buy the

house, his wealthy neighbor-to-be offered a far higher

amount to "protect" his neighborhood.

That sort of protectionism, we submit, is, and

has been, going on all over Vermont for many years

now. Not necessarily aimed against Afro-Americans

(although isn't Vermont still the "whitest" state?)

It is a form of an economic and ideologic racism that

keeps native Vermonters in their diminished place and

even is directed at flatlanders who come here without

realizing there is a "noble" experiment going on in

the laboratory that they think of as the State of


Those conducting the experiment need not concern

themselves with lining their pockets - they arrived

here with with all they need in income (a few

examples, the well known anti-growth protesters in

Williston who live off New Jersey shipping money; the

the husband and wife doctors from the Big Apple who

moved in recently with the idea that it was going to

be nice to live at a slower pace where nothing ever

changes, and even at the slower pace in their medical

practices, they had set aside plenty to get by on; the

wife and husband doctor and lawyer team who have been

here longer, but with about the same attitude; the

U.V.M. graduate who, being one year out of U.V.M. and

having worked hard in the 12 months following his

graduation, gave U.V.M. about a million dollars - the

list goes on and on, but its members are all people

with money and a desire for a status quo ... they want

Vermont to stop all forward progress.

General Electric's slogan for years was "Progress

is our most important product." What has happened to

that concept in Vermont? What if our foreparents

decided not to pave roads, that horses were good

enough; not to allow electricity into the state; not

to use up potential farmland for airports; and on and

on. We can't and shouldn't stop progress, but we sure

can hobble it. When we do, some get hurt far more

than others.

Make no mistake, real hurting is going on.

People losing their property. People going hungry -

or without medication - because their taxes have been

raised excessively. People losing their ability to

earn a living in their chosen field. People being

hurt by accidents caused by improperly repaired roads.

Why are people so willing to allow harm to be

caused (remember the statements by representatives of

the state saying that it was okay to sacrifice a few

hundred for the greater good of Act 60)?

The question has been puzzling us for a long

time. If people knew the harm some of their actions

are causing, we are certain they wouldn't do most of


On the other hand, maybe there's something in

nature that can explain this.

Ever watch a documentary on lions? When new male

lions take over an existing pride, they kill the cubs

and drive off the young male progeny so that

everything belongs to them and has their mark.

Sound like what's going on here?

Maybe. Maybe it's that simple. We are all the

product of hundreds of thousands of years of learning

survival. Only recently have we turned the behavioral

corner to become "modern man."