Roper: Paying people to move here is still not good policy

By Rob Roper

A recent headline boasted, “Attracted by the promise of $10,000, new workers start arriving in Vermont.” Great. How many? Eighteen. Forty-seven when you include the non-working family members who tagged along. The article goes on, “Acknowledging the success of the program, Gov. Phil Scott’s administration proposed that the state spend $1 million in the coming year.” Wait a minute. The success of the program? By what metric?

The governor has said in the past that we need to attract 10,000 new workers a year to replace what we are losing. This program, at ridiculous expense, scraped up 18. Only 9,982 to go! How is that a success? It’s pathetic in more ways than one.

Rob Roper

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

But, worse than this failure of numbers is the damage this program will do to Vermont’s brand over the long term. In his best selling book on leadership, “Start with Why,” Simon Sinek offers a cautionary tale from General Motors. In the 1990s, facing lots of competition and losing customers, GM started a program of offering “cash back” incentives to buy their cars — anywhere from $500 to $7,000. But, in the 2000s, GM realized that this approach was fiscally unsustainable. They were losing money, so “GM announced it would reduce the amount of the cash-back incentives it would offer, and with that reduction, sales plummeted. No cash, no customers.”

This is exactly what Vermont is doing with this poorly considered program. If the message you are sending is that Vermont is a place we have to pay you to come live, ultimately the lesson you’re teaching the world is “don’t move to Vermont without a check.” And, this is a less sustainable business model for Vermont than it was for GM.

Sinek’s point was to illustrate the difference between manipulation and inspiration. GM tried to manipulate its customers with a gimmick, but that’s not a long-term winning strategy. True success — real leadership — comes from building a brand that people aspire to be a part of without the gimmicks.

We will always be able to count the number of people brought into the state through a government program (even numbers as small as 18), but it’s not as easy to count the number of people who don’t move to Vermont because they didn’t get their $10,000 bucks, or would never move to a state so unattractive they had to pay you to live there, or those who leave because they feel like paying full freight in a state that uses their tax dollars to bribe outsiders to come in is a rip-off only a fool would sit still for.

They’re saying this program is a success? I’ll ask again: by what metric?

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Flickr/

10 thoughts on “Roper: Paying people to move here is still not good policy

  1. So Vermont digger is no longer having thumbs up thumbs down for rating of the comments. Clearly from what I was seeing logical thoughts were getting many thumbs up. It’s really tough to spread propaganda when you’re called out on the stupidity, and then everyone clicks on in agreement. Meanwhile socialist dogma gets big thumbs down!

    Even with al the censoring they still couldn’t keep people from calling them out on the foolishness, their argument is inherently very, very weak.

    A chink in the armor of propaganda, good to see people calling them out on the b.s.

  2. When Vermont has to pay people to come and work in the state then this tells me something is inherently wrong with our policies. Everything from tax policies, education policies, health care policies, social policies etc. Gimmicks are just that “gimmicks”, short term band aids for deep rooted problems.

  3. There are very astute people commenting with vast knowledge. I’ve seen many articles about people moving out and the state will pay people to move in (well documented).

    I have a Q and not the time, how many people have left the state and when, a documentation. The schools have declining enrollments, which means to me that families are leaving.

    This would be interesting news for people to view and attack Montpelier.

  4. VT is like an inverted cake without any frosting. They kick out the good workers, ruined business, family values at the top from the 50’s era and now pay people to move here that in this day don’t have the attitudes of those that left.

    I would say that the down turn started more than 50 years ago (1969) when Phil Hoff was Governor (the 73rd Governor of Vermont from 1963 to 1969,) moved here in 1951. Ran for Governor in 1962

    From the Burlington Free Press: A look back at ‘The man who changed Vermont’

    It’s been downhill ever since as Lynn states. I like the comment.

  5. So much for making Vermont more affordable, I can remember a time when companies came to Vermont because of our work ethic.

    In 1997 my son married and moved to Charleston South Carolina settling in Mount Pleasant. At one of his first interviews for a job they followed him into the street because they realized he came from a part of the country that still had a strong work ethic, he now owns that company.

    The first mistake Vermont made 50 years ago was establishing Central Planning in our state, then compounding the problem with Act 250, in case you haven’t noticed we have been in decline every since. The notion these events were good for us is not born out by the decline I have witnessed during this period, in fact more has been done to break our spirit and discourage our work ethic than anyone could have imagined at the time of their inception.

    The concept of a strong work ethic seems foreign to our leaders who continue the frenzy of fruitless planning and hollow advertising campaigns to rebrand our state through clever marketing techniques. Our free market enterprise system is routinely penalized by the policies and programs that have robed us of one of our greatest treasures, the highly sought after commodity known as a work ethic.

    • HIGH TAXATION, moochers like Sanders, drug use and bad public education without local consequence has caused the downfall not 1 single action or person. Continue that failure with Montpelier being chock full of left wing fanatics that haven’t a clue what work ethic is of how just bad trying to survive in VT is. Communism does not work – “leaders” in Montpelier continue the destruction by playing to failure.

  6. You are so right Rob……

    On top of that, we’re making the loyal customers, who support all these things…PAY MORE! Because, Vermonters, you’re taxes are going up, up and up. And in this increase they aren’t even able to fund the retirement accounts, nor have they made any accommodations to stop the future blood letting.

    It’s a complete con job, snake oil, PR Stunt. I will give them credit, it was one of the very best roll outs, it went world wide with it’s free advertising, that was seriously impressive. Meanwhile ask any business person who vacations here if they heard the following joke.

    Want to make a million dollars in Vermont? Bring two.

    Everyone knows this joke, it’s too true, year after year after year….

    • Vermont should have a” truth in moving” statement to those moving in. Tell them all the taxes and other cost.

      • VT taxes buying property IN and selling on the way OUT! No other state taxes people so much. Money grab and where does it go – to help what?

        • The transfer tax is sometimes higher than my real estate commission, couldn’t agree more!

Comments are closed.