Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Showboat Comes To Vermont

So now we can add Vermont to the long, illustrious list of states that have seceded, or have wanted to secede. Welcome, Showboaters, to the Green Mountain State! (Article from Time Magazine)

Some people in the state, who call their group Second Vermont Republic, hope VT joins not just the former Confederacy but Rick Perry and the Fightin' and Snortin' Texans of today in pulling our country apart. Bravo. More shallow thinking from the fringe, which apparently is an equal opportunity magnet for nuts and bolters from both right and left. 

And apparently, the left far-outs are just as capable of indulging themselves in fuzzy economics, fuzzy history and silly crystal ball gazing. 

You have to appreciate a bunch of guys, however, with flannel shirts, fancy cars, jobs with mega computer companies and a twisted sense of humor. At least I find them funny - I mean funny like a clown.

It's really just more media circus showboating and it's depressing to see it coming from Vermont, of all places, which gave us founding uber-patriots Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, Abe Lincoln's highest margin of victory in any state, and a 15% mortality rate in the Civil War, a rate higher than any other state.

Maybe they don't remember Abe. You know, that President who said at Gettysburg: The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. Yep, that Abe. The one who separatists assassinated with a bullet from behind.

What's even sadder is that the Vermont-firsters, like one of their leaders Thomas Naylor, are living in some sort of Disneyland of the North. Naylor says, for instance:"Not only would an independent Vermont survive. It would thrive, because it would free up entrepreneurial forces heretofore held in abeyance." 

And where would those mystical forces come from? Nova Scotia? You can be sure it won't be coming from the remaining United States, because the hostility and reluctance to invest for 100 years, if the experience of the Confederates is any indication, will be suffocating.

By the way, showboaters on both ends of the extreme fringe exhibit a reflexive compulsion to use high-fallutin' language to validate wobbly positions, their blah blah blahing obscuring the lack of deep analysis. Contrast Naylor's leaden prose with Lincoln's simple, powerful words. ("Heretofore held in abeyance..." Have they been consulting the Foghorn Leghorn Manual of Style?) 

Some economic facts of life... Vermont ranks a fair-to-middling 34th in per capita income in the United States ($35,493). You could count on that dropping by 20% even before secession became reality, as companies began moving their operations across the borders to NH, NY and MA, or QUE. So you'll be down to about $28,000 per capita before you can say "Freedom and Unity," the state's motto. That will put you down with states like Arkansas.

And making things difficult for "out-of-state" corporations, as another leader of the showboat movement hopes to do, will surely not help that Deep South level of performance. 

Moreover, there would be costs associated with a breakaway - for instance, all those nice federally-funded schools, roads, and so forth. Train tracks? Guess what? Airports - uh-oh. Any power plant, whether traditional or alternative, that took any kind of fed money? We'll be wanting them back, or at least will want you to pay for them. Plus a premium for causing the rest of us annoyance. You sure don't think the rest of us, who appreciate the Union even with all its difficulties and frustrating aspects - are going to actually let you keep infrastructure we all paid for, do you? Showboaters.

Now, I know that Vermont was a "republic" for about 14 years. And the Second Vermont Republic is somehow seeking linkage with that 220 year old "republic."

But, for much of that time there was no other country, as we understand the term, in North America. Indeed, all the colonies were mini-nations - states in waiting. None of them were forced to ratify the Constitution. Anyone of them might have stayed independent. Nevertheless, Rhode Island ratified in May of 1790 and the country was born in its current form. Vermont joined the Union less than a year later in March of 1791. So, you were kinda, sorta, almost unique for about 10 months. 

Get off the high horse. Get off the showboat. Join the real battle.

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