By John Klar
Recently, the state of Vermont announced that pension and health benefits for state employees and teachers are underfunded to the tune of $4.5 billion (in a tiny state of just 627,180 residents). Then, in protest against Trump administration rule changes, it diverted some $750,000 from state coffers (each year, indefinitely) to fund abortion services through Planned Parenthood rather than continue to accept federal subsidies which had been proffered since 1970.
Many Vermonters, like most Americans, are struggling to pay their property taxes. I live on land passed down to me from my great-great-great-great-grandfather, in a house I built by sawing timbers on the 6.5 acre lot, on a foundation I constructed with granite block. There is no mortgage — and also no running water, no septic system, no plumbing or electric, and the driveway is impassable without four-wheel drive. But our real estate taxes are just under $2,500 annually, roughly equivalent to a $65,000, 30-year mortgage at current rates. Yet, in 30 years that phantom tax mortgage will not be paid off — it will be massively larger.
Vermonters love their state, but most are struggling to afford to live here. Many are paying $10,000 or more annually in real estate taxes on family land, which is often in a “current use” conservation program — but still the taxes escalate. Retirees sell up and live in RVs, “going mobile” to avoid taxes. Young people seek tiny houses to shrink what the Vermont government can siphon off from their incomes. But still the government bureaucracy swells, regardless of the underlying economy.
Vermont boasts the fifth highest property tax in the nation, but the 24th lowest median income, and the 19th lowest home values. In stark contrast, neighboring New Hampshire has the second highest real estate taxes — but no sales tax, and the sixth highest median income in the nation. Meanwhile, Vermont offers the fourth largest amount of welfare benefits per capita in the nation, granting $42,350 annually in pre-tax equivalents:
Vermont offers a minimum wage higher than most of its neighboring states, so why would some choose not to work? Americans on welfare in Vermont can earn over $20 per hour based on the pre-tax wage equivalent of their assistance benefits. That equates to a $10.36 per hour difference — more than double — the earnings for residents working minimum-wage jobs in the state.
Concurrently, that $4.5 billion pension shortfall was calculated using an absurd state prediction that all future pension investments will fetch an annualized return of 7.3%. This is an ambitious (if not fraudulent) accounting gimmick. Real market returns (even without a cyclical economic contraction or stock market correction) will fall short of these rosy falsehoods, so that pension deficit is thus likely at least $8 billion. Placed in perspective, that $750,000 that Vermont gave away this year butting heads with Donald Trump (using taxpayer dollars) would amount to $8 billion in approximately 10,667 years! Or, if Vermont bolstered its pension at the rate of $750,000 daily, the funds would balance (if benefits were capped!) in about 29.2 years.
Whatever one’s position on government-funded abortions, Vermont took the money for pre-planned ideological warfare at taxpayer expense. These are elected legislators and officials, who act with utter impunity. Vermont could never borrow $8 billion legally, so to promise and then not fund these pensions is a blank check with no voter oversight.
Government only grows bigger — whether state, federal or local. Eventually, governments become parasitic viruses that devour their host victims, which is precisely what is occurring in Vermont. The 49th in population (only Wyoming is smaller), Vermont is an easy target for the progressives who have long targeted it for socialist subjugation experiments. Just as the Vermont Attorney General and Governor openly dip into Vermonters’ pockets to fund abortions and transgender surgeries, so have progressives long salivated at the idea of conquering this tranquil state precisely because it is tolerant. A 1972 Playboy magazine article (“Taking Over Vermont”) laid out the plan now maturing to fruition:
“The short answer to all this — revolution — is impossible when armed revolt by the citizenry at large would inevitably be put down by the military might at the disposal of those in control. We see the best way out in rededicating this nation to its heritage: reopening the frontier, where alienated or deviant members of society can go to live by their new ideas: providing a living laboratory for social experiment through radical Federalism; and tutoring effective political communication in a multimedia society . . .The goal of this takeover would be to establish a truly experimental society to which new solutions to today’s problems could be tried, an experimental state which would serve as a new frontier and encourage imaginative local innovation [and], by its example, spur change to society as a whole.”
Those “alienated and deviant members of society” are indeed imposing their new ideas on Vermonters: labeling natives racist, championing the progressive front of extremist abortions, transgender surgeries, schoolchildren activism, carbon taxes, and minimum wages. As desired, the locals are fleeing their native lands:
….recent research from the Legislature suggests that it’s working-class and middle-class residents that Vermont is at risk of losing. By proportion, only a small number of wealthier households come to Vermont.” “Blue collar workers, those with low and moderate incomes … have decided to move away from Vermont,” Gov. Phil Scott said at a press conference Thursday…. Vermont’s wealthy new arrivals tend to be on the younger side, between 26 and 44, with incomes over $200,000 a year — including both single and joint filers.
Vermont’s progressives are deliberately heaping financial burdens on native Vermonters, even as they pile government rewards on welfare recipients, government employees, and favored progressive interests like Planned Parenthood, and “social justice” groups. Black Lives Matter and Antifa are welcome: locals are denigrated and condemned. The state is infamously offering $10,000 payments (from poor Vermonters’ pockets) to wealthy out-of-staters to relocate here.
That 1972 Playboy article was prescient:
Blumstein and Phelan acknowledge the potential explosiveness:
The first great test of the experimental program will be the safeguarding of the rights of the indigenous population…. At a widely publicized vigil in front of Calvin Coolidge’s birthplace at Plymouth, they reiterate “Jamestown Seventy’s” warning that “If the new majority becomes involved in fragmented political bickering, the traditionalists might maintain the balance of power” despite our numbers.
It has taken nearly 50 years for the hippie conquistadores to seed their Bohemian denizens in Bernieland. After a failed effort in the late 1990s to “Take Back Vermont,” the real “first great test” is brewing. The “new majority” will indeed be fragmented, then dispersed, as the indigenous Green Mountain population is woke and galvanized into a voting block of its own. Vermonters’ tolerance of these foreigners has expired. In 2020, Vermont will flip red, sharply reversing the fortunes of those who misjudged this brave little state. The natives simply can’t afford not to reclaim their heritage.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. Originally published at American Thinker.