News From Burlington, Vermont - MORE HOT AIR from a COOL CLIMATE


            One of the things that used to bug me about living near Burlington VT was the amazing quantity of feel-good gobbledygook spewed continually by all the angst-ridden ‘progressive’ hand wringers there. Here is one very recent example, from the September 2, 2001 WCAX-TV news transcript:


“The original Burlington Women's council self-destructed after a power struggle. The city council revoked the group's public funding. Now, four years later, Ruby Perry leads a revamped organization, re-named the Women's Coalition of Burlington. ((Ruby Perry/Women's Coalition of Burlington: "The name change reflects the difference in the organization. It's an organization of organizations. It's a coalition of organizations that have come together to work for similar purposes.")) Perry was hired six months ago as part-time director. ((Over the past year, a dedicated group of people came together and met regularly to hammer out a structure that was ultimately accepted by the city council for funding.")) Perry says the coalition won a vote of confidence when the city authorized a thirty thousand dollar budget. Other organizations that help women, such as the Women's Rape Crisis Center, will control it. Perry will answer to a steering committee of representatives from each member organization. She says the mission is to advocate change, globally and locally. ((Perry: "I think what needs to change in Burlington is probably what needs to change in the world. There needs to be less violence toward women, there needs to be more money towards education, there needs to be a recognition of the health of the environment.... But we haven't yet determined what our focus will be.")) Perry is putting together the coalition's first public event, an appearance by Native American Winona LaDuke, who was presidential candidate Ralph Nader's running mate. ((Perry: "I think maybe that reflects the direction that we'll go in. Bringing a woman of her caliber to Burlington is a real service to not just women in the city, but to everybody.")) That's what Perry believes will keep this coalition alive and effective. Andy Potter, Channel Three news, Burlington.


            They spent six months of meetings ‘hammering out a structure’ that could get funding from the city of Burlington. They hammered out that structure, Burlington has coughed up $30,000, but still nobody knows what this 'structure' is going to do. The purposes stated thus far are confusing, vague, and totally uncertain. Didn't they know why they wanted this coalition in the first place, what it was supposed to accomplish, why it needed to exist? Evidently not. The first item on the list was covered though - they knew it would need public funding.

            $30,000 of public funds may not seem like THAT much money. But it’s  still $30,000, and you can bet in another few years it will balloon to $50,000 or $75,000. For now though, they only need $30,000 – so that groups that talk about problems can begin to come together and talk about problems. Why? If I lived in Burlington I would be outraged that my money could be utterly wasted, thrown away with such abandon. This is a perfect example of why some people don't trust government to take charge of our affairs, our health care, our retirement funds... this 'progressive' willingness to flush taxpayer funds down the toilet instead of spending those funds responsibly and carefully and effectively.

While this new Women’s group has not yet even determined what its focus is going to be - women’s issues, the environment, educational funding, who knows, they themselves don’t know – all of these issues have advocates everywhere you turn already. What is the first activity planned by this coalition? They are inviting someone (a woman, of course, and a Native American which is worth bonus diversity points) to come to Burlington - to talk. If this 'caliber' of guest-speaker was really worth listening to in the first place, she would tell Burlington to stop wasting their money funding yak-groups and use it directly on the problems. Not gonna happen.

            How about finding some old people, or some poor kids, or some handicapped people, who could benefit from SOME WORTHWHILE use of that money, instead of giving it to the hot air machine to talk, talk, talk still more? How about buying fans or air conditioners for old people who can’t afford to escape the summer heat? How about fixing up and donating bicycles to poor kids, or replacing some playground equipment? I can think of endless ideas that may not be fantastic but would at least be using the money to help someone – instead of a group helping themselves to someone’s money.

But no, don’t fix problems. Instead, spend the money talking about the problems and demanding that other people actually DO something about them. The results of this approach stink but you can still feel good about yourself. If I lived in Burlington, I might try to start a publicly funded group to determine why so much money is wasted on publicly funded groups.

Welcome to Burlington Vermont. Good luck making sense of it; I tried for years and it only gets worse.

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