John Klar: Way to reverse downward spiral is to reduce size of Vermont’s government

By John Klar

There are basically three types of people in Vermont: those who don’t work, those who work and those who work for the state. Of course, some who don’t work want to; some who work for the state are paid little, and are devoted. But broadly, this striation into three groups has created problems.

The group that doesn’t work gets free health insurance, the fourth highest welfare benefits in the nation, free oil, free food, and rent subsidies. Most of those who work for the government get cheap health insurance, paid leave and job security. Those in the middle — private workers and businesses — face high health insurance premiums and are guaranteed only steadily increasing taxes. It is this disconnect that is destroying Vermont.

John Klar

I work as a Vermont recovery coach, trying to help people in addiction overcome their difficulties and rejoin society. I don’t judge them, and we coaches try to help people with fundamental supports like family, jobs and housing. Recent efforts for both substance abusers and ex-convicts emphasize help in housing and employment, and the Vermont government continues to expand efforts at “affordable housing,” while expunging criminal records and otherwise removing stigma to help such people get back on their feet. But such programs cost money, which comes from taxpayers — that middle group for whom there is no help, just increasing weight.

Examining this economically, we see that the government has this all “bass ackwards.” The government keeps bloating in regulations, salaries and taxation. This pressures those who work for a living (especially young and underskilled workers) into despair, poverty and insecurity, which in turn increases suicide, domestic violence, criminal behavior, neglect of children and drug use.

Gov. Scott’s Opioid Coordination Council determined that the two chief areas to focus efforts to reverse the opioid crisis are prevention and recovery. But both of these, as we see here, have economic aspects. Prevention entails not just education but security in health, housing and employment — people do well when they have purpose and loving support. These happen to be the focus also of recovery, to turn things around.

The current Vermont policy is to assist people on street opioids with Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) — mostly Suboxone or methadone. These drugs are provided at taxpayer expense and cost much more than street heroin. There is no stated effort to wean people off these drugs, and very few resources to do so.

Thus, the Vermont government’s plan is to increase spending on housing, food and employment for those in substance abuse treatment. But the costs for those recovery benefits are indirectly imposed on the workers and businesses who are already greatly burdened — Vermont has some of the highest taxes in the country, the highest costs of living, and one of the worst business climates. This vicious cycle ends badly, as a child could see.

The way to reverse this downward spiral is to reduce, not expand, the size of Vermont’s government. Fewer regulations and related expenses for businesses will improve incomes, decrease housing expenses, encourage investment, and instill hope. This will reduce suicides, domestic violence, and illicit drug use. This is not “trickle-down economics” because it does not call for cuts in taxes for the wealthy — it calls for cuts in spending by the bloated dome. More than 500 state employees are paid over $100,000 annually, and state salaries increase regularly despite stagnant growth for non-state workers and businesses — this disconnect is real, and accelerating.

Presently, the Vermont Legislature is pushing to increase regulations (especially to “save” the planet), impose new taxes and hire state employees to impose both. The progressives literally believe and openly state that this “grows” the economy and “increases prosperity.” Being cloistered in the elitist world of those with cheap insurance, guaranteed high incomes, and growing power over regular Vermonters, they are disconnected from economic reality, however well-intentioned.

The antidote to Vermont’s fiscal and cultural decay is less government, not more. Let us all spread this message and restrain the runaway government bureaucracy that is destroying our state in a misguided effort to save us, like a dragon eating its tail.

Farms close, bureaucracy grows. Schools close, bureaucracy grows. Health care shrinks, while administrative expenses and bureaucratic hurdles rise. Real estate taxes spike, workers flee, businesses close. But the business of “governing” flourishes. New gun laws are imposed. And the band plays on.

That dragon is coming to its head and has little remaining to devour.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. He is running for governor in 2020.

Image courtesy of Public domain
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13 thoughts on “John Klar: Way to reverse downward spiral is to reduce size of Vermont’s government

  1. When major corporations suffer with massive overheads, including a crushing, monthly, pension payout, they file bankruptcy in Federal court. One concession they ask for is to be relieved of their pension program. If the Fed grants it there are two options. Either the Fed can pickup a percentage of the monthly payout, or not. Regardless, the pensioners are standing in deep doodoo or are submerged. United Airlines received authorization in 2002, to default on their pension obligation during chapter 11 proceedings. Most pensioners experienced a 50% or more reduction in their monthly payments.
    When VT goes to file bankruptcy, as it seems sure to have to, it could likewise default on its pension obligation. If you’re not currently collecting it’s not so critical, you have time to adjust your plans. But for those who are collecting, it will be devastating. Their lives will be violently disrupted. And what makes it such a tragedy is the current legislature shows no concern. They focus on pushing 1200 new bills, and TCI and GWSA. Maybe they think these will produce revenues to save the pension plans. But, TCI is only a shell of an idea. There are no concrete plans for implementation, no starting value for the carbon tax, no rate of increase, no guarantees on rate of return of collected taxes, no plans for dissolution of the plan is a failure. TCI is totally open ended. TCI administrators (non-state employees) will have free reign to do whatever they desire to line their own pockets and if the state fails to comply or meet the TCI goals, those oligarchs can fine or sue the state, including individuals. All this is what Vermont faces for trying to be the progressive little state, trying to lead the nation in saving the world. Food for thought: how can destroying VT’s economy, and people be progressive? How can it save the world when it can’t save itself?

  2. The ambitious “Global Warming Solutions Act” bill passed out of the Vermont House Energy and Technology Committee on a 7-2 vote and moved to the Vermont House Appropriations Committee.

    Here’s how the bill is shaping up as it moves through the system. In some respects, the bill has been watered down significantly, but it still retains many undesirable and impractical provisions.

    GWSA would convert the greenhouse gas emission aspirational goals of the Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP, to legal mandates, per state law. See table.

    Vermont has a Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP. The capital for implementing the CEP would be in excess of $1.0 billion per year for at least 33 years, according to the Energy Action Network annual report.

    https://outside.vermont.gov/sov/webservices/Shared%20Documents/2016CEP_Final.pdf
    http://eanvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/EAN-2015-Annual-Report-Low-Res-Final.pdf

    GWSA is a trojan horse for GROWING the size of Vermont’s LEFTIST, SOCIALIST government. See article

    It had almost 600 views after 36 hours.

    It uses ASHP articles and EV articles as dysfunctional examples to reduce CO2 required to implement the CEP

    http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-is-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket-regarding-foolish-energy

  3. There have been many reminders over the last 20-30 years coming from this corner of the planet about the very things written about here that are now home to roost.

    I don’t think there is a question on agreement……. Rather, it is do we have the will and fortitude to do it? The Republican party needs to be unified for starters, I think that is key, and I see John Klar as the leader to effectively bring that about. Montpelier is in sad need of a thorough top to bottom housecleaning, if it does not happen this year, God help us.

  4. Just as in baseball, you cannot promote worthy politicians to the professional level without a vibrant farm team. The populace can’t vote for those who choose not to run. Therefor, the Vermont GOP needs to, first and foremost, concentrate on developing strong town and county farm teams to cultivate and train more rookies if it ever hopes to do more than preach to the ever decreasing choir.

  5. Well said John. We all know there is a severe “bloating problem” with Vermont Government. When 12,500 people are on the Vermont state payroll for less than 625,000 residents and New Hampshire has only 5,600 people on state payroll with 1.3 Million residents….there is a serious problem which needs to be addressed.

    • Some one else had stated, not verified by me, that Government, education and medicine –
      Make up 40% of Vermont Employees. Not a lot of housing, food and things produced there.

      If education is efficient and effective that is good – but is it efficient or effective?
      Education Blob has HUGE over staffing – Actual “Classroom teachers” are
      a TINY minority. Look at your property tax bill

      Hospitals – mixed opinion of staffing per patient. Thousands at Burlington hospital.

  6. I never begrudged anyone from making a good living, but it’s pretty sad when you have over
    500 employed at the state making $100K a year when the average taxpayer is only making
    half or less…….. what’s wrong with that picture ??

    The other issue is how many people are on ” assistance ” that are not from this state, so why
    are they here …….., Oh yeah, Vermont’s easy handouts !!!

    Being the Government is bloated is one thing, the other problem is that the legislators have
    lost all direction or normal thinking, just read the 1200 Bills proposed for 2020……..

    It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad, wake up people !!

  7. It’s refreshing to see there is someone out there willing to face up to one of the many poblems in Montpelier.

  8. Vermont government is doing the right thing for Vermont government. Just like a business wishing to expand they expand their product lines or increase their services to bring in more money.
    Kind of sounds like what Vermont is stealing, I mean doing doesn’t it?

    • One big difference- government is NOT a business, does NOT PRODUCE income – it forceably takes money from those who do produce and redistribute it to others.

  9. Really, over 500 state employees make over $100,000.00 per that is surprising to me! Imagine the pension liability accruing for these regular workers What we are over 4.5 billion in the hole already and now add these individuals to the mix, unsustainable We are going to end up like Massachusetts with a pension deficit that will kill us down the road! Help!!

  10. Really, over 500 state employees make over $100,000.00 per that is surprising to me! Imagine the pension liability accruing for these regular workers What we are over 4.5 billion in the hole already and now add these individuals to the mix, unsustainable We are going to end up like Massachusetts with a pension deficit that will kill us down the road! Help!!

  11. Very well sated John, and ALL so true. We need to share with as many folks as possible, while there is still hope for saving this (once) wonderful state.

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