Statehouse Headliners: Abortion constitutional amendment is cover for state-mandated ‘economic equality’

By Guy Page

Last week a retired Vermont lawyer read my Feb. 26 Headliners column about Proposal 5, enshrining abortion as a constitutional right. He briskly replied:

“The proposed Constitutional amendment is very dangerous. It is offered as a means on perpetuating unrestrained abortion, but the Left knows its purpose is much more broad. It would allow for taxation and taking of property to ‘equalize’ treatment of people. This is a cover for Marxism. This may involve only the Vermont Constitution, but is actually implementation of the Sanders/leftist strategy ‘think globally, act locally.’”

Well, that was an eye-opener. I re-read “Section 1: Purpose” of Prop 5. You decide if he’s got a point:

“Chapter I, Article 1 [of the VT Constitution] declares “That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights.” Chapter I, Article 7 states “That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people.”

“The core value reflected in Article 7 is that all people should be afforded all the benefits and protections bestowed by the government, and that the government should not confer special advantages upon the privileged. This amendment would reassert the principles of equality and personal liberty reflected in Articles 1 and 7 and ensure that government does not create or perpetuate the legal, social, or economic inferiority of any class of people.”

Since Vermont joined the United States in 1791, our constitution has enshrined equality for all under the law, promoting economic opportunity and forbidding discrimination. But does our constitution direct law and government to guarantee economic equality, so that no-one should earn or own less than anyone else? Not so much. In fact, not at all.

But that’s just what Prop 5 seems to guarantee. Let’s pare down that last sentence to the part about economic equality: “This amendment would reassert that government does not perpetuate the economic inferiority of any class of people.” A Prop 5 government would see income inequality — for whatever reason, for whatever group of people — as unconstitutional. The only question remaining would be: in its pursuit of eliminating income inequality, to what lengths should government go?

Several income-equality bills now before the Vermont Legislature would presumably get a boost if we Vermonters add Prop 5 to our Constitution. These bills cover many aspects of life in Vermont:

  • Housing – To enrich the property transfer tax fund that supports low-income housing, H.168 would tax not just sales of properties, but sales of property-owning businesses.
  • Campaign financeS.47 would eliminate business corporations as eligible to contribute to Vermont political campaigns.
  • CrimeH.184 would let low-income people perform community service in lieu of paying civil fines, like traffic tickets.
  • Ethnic groupsH.178 would exempt Indian tribe property from property taxes.
  • Health careH.152 would income-sensitize health insurance premiums.
  • Minimum wage – in addition to the well-known S.23 guaranteeing an eventual $15/hour, H.137 would require equivalent earnings for salaried, non-hourly workers.
  • Income taxes – By taxing income over $500,000, H.136 would increase the Vermont earned income credit popular among low-income renters.

These bills may have merit. But if eradicating economic equality is made a constitutional responsibility of state government, good or bad, for better or worse, they’ll be harder to stop.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Bruce Parker/TNR

3 thoughts on “Statehouse Headliners: Abortion constitutional amendment is cover for state-mandated ‘economic equality’

  1. Let’stake a look at some of these proposals:
    H-178 – Exempt Indian Tribes from paying property taxes. Noble idea. Question – how are the tax receipts short fall funded?
    H-152 – Income sensitized health care premiums. Again, who makes up the difference between the standard premium and the reduced one?
    S-23 – Minimum wags at $15/hour. Had a guy shovel snow for one hour and got charged $67.00. Who needs a minimum wage?
    H-137 – Hourly and salaried workers receive equivalent earnings. If the sponsors of this bill had ever worked in the private sector, they would understand that these are apples and oranges. Hourly workers are compensated handsomely for as much as a minute of overtime while salaried employees get zip, zero, nada for the many hours they must work beyond the traditional forty hour week to shoulder their responsibilities. If hourly employees get time and a half for over time, in the interest of fairness doesn’t this bill require that salaried folks be compensated for their over time?
    H-136 – Taxing income above $500,000. Sounds great on paper however, if one of the overall goals of the legislature is to hold onto citizens as well as attract new comers, is imposing taxes on every thing that moves, a prudent way to achieve that objective?
    Trouble is no one asks the hard questions until the unintended consequences rise up and bite them in the you know where.

  2. I get what’s being said here but, since our legislature doesn’t honor or follow our constitution now why should any of us follow what they bring? If they only honor what they propose that’s in line with their ideology and ignore article 16 their rights will be as worthless as ours. There is a solution though. We can send these people packing at the ballot box. Time to reassess our future here in Vermont. If we don’t, it only gets worse. And where is the governor on all this?

    • This is a reply to DDeCoteau. There was a piece in vtdigger http
      s:// and I tried to post to it with the following:

      “During a 2015 debate for Vermont’s governorship, both Matt Dunn (D) & Phil Scott (R) suggested that “Vermont should have at least 700,000 people for the sake of economic development, and both believed we should grow the population by 100,000 lives. The population then was about 626,000 & now in 2019 it is projected to be about the same or lower. The numbers have been stagnant for 20 years.

      In Governor Scott’s 2018 State of the State message, he said, “We’ve lost nearly 30,000 students in the last 20 years” Since legalizing abortion in 1972, that number of 100,000 lives equals those aborted in Vermont. Over the last 20 years that means that 40,000 of these dead children would have been in our schools. Even allowing for 25% leaving Vermont for other reasons, this accounts for the 30,000 students lost as lamented by the Governor.

      the vitality of Vermont if they had been given a chance to live, be educated here and to become productive citizens. Yet, the killing continues”

      Mike Dougherty rejected the offering saying it was “off topic”. I pushed back but to no avail. Seemed to me that my comment was right on target as to where the babies went.

      Later I saw your post and just chuckled because it was in the same vein as mine. I didn’t say a word but later went back to see possibly if they had relented on my comment and found that they had removed yours. Did you notice?

      Am thankful for True North Reports.

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