Forum, Sept. 13: Look at the Actual Effects of Policies

Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Look at the Effects of Policies

I have to believe that op-ed contributor David Winston (“Elites Are Still Disconnected from Voters,” Sept. 3) does a good job advising congressional Republicans. If the only goal is to be re-elected, then why not focus on issues like class differences and the media, talking about “elites” and “influencers” instead of issues?

If people in middle America feel as if they are not being heard, perhaps it is because people like Winston work hard to keep it that way. He spends 20 paragraphs reporting on his focus groups, in which he found that people did not feel heard by those in power. He did mention, in one paragraph, that for his audience, “dealing with getting by paycheck to paycheck is a bigger priority than the political spat of the week or the latest media preoccupation.”

What would happen if Winston led focus groups and wrote about the issues affecting many people, pointing out the actual effects of policies such as the recent tax cut, assaults against the Affordable Care Act, union-bashing, decreases in state support for higher education and more?

The June 5 edition of The Economist makes a salient point: “The lack of belief that Washington can act to voters’ benefit is regrettable because the federal government does still have an impact on individual finances, and could have a bigger one. ... Perhaps the most corrosive effect of believing that government won’t make a difference is that it abandons those to whom it really could to the whims of ideologues.”

Corlan Johnson


Save Bridgewater School Building

In Jim Kenyon’s column in the Sunday Valley News regarding the future of the Bridgewater Elementary School building (“Ahistorical Bridgewater,” Sept. 2), he quoted Bridgewater Historical Society member Bob Kancir, in response to the idea of preserving and repurposing the building, as saying, “it’s an old building; it’s not a historic building. ... If you go around Vermont, there are tons of building like this.”

To be very clear, we are not trying to preserve the school building because it is a historic building. We want to preserve it because it has been the center of the Bridgewater community for the last 100 years and is a valuable asset of the town. By preserving it we would be repurposing the building into a community center that would be a valuable resource for the town and surrounding areas.

A number of area organizations have expressed an interest in a new community center. The building could provide space for a preschool program or licensed day care. It would also serve as the emergency shelter for the town and a much-needed space to hold town meetings.

Preserving the building would eliminate the cost of demolishing it, and of building a new meeting-community building at the new fire house. It would also enhance the town’s ability to be designated by the state as a “village center,” which would bring financial and tax incentives, training and technical assistance needed to attract new business.

This is one of those rare win-win situations where there is almost no downside risk.

Hank Smith


The writer is a member of Bridgewater’s Save the School Building Committee.

Protect, Value the Natural World

The tragic story we read of the moose drowning in South Hero, Vt., has my attention (“Moose Drowns in Lake Champlain,” Sept. 4). I spoke with a gentleman at Fish and Wildlife who filled me in on a few facts, principally that the incident occurred within the bounds of a Vermont state park, and that the number of people crowding the moose with their cameras is not yet known.

(It was later reported that the moose may have been infected with a parasite called brain worm.)

The message I left at the governor’s office and conveyed in my conversation with the Fish and Wildlife agent is simply this: If we lose our respect for the natural world, if we lose our common sense and the moral imperative to tread lightly in observing nature, we will lose our world.

Solar panels and reducing carbon footprints may be helpful, but if we as individuals cease to know how to care for nature, many more disasters like the moose story will ensue.

I wonder how we became thoughtless hoodlums who consider the natural world to be a playground, ours for the taking. When our governor signed the bill legalizing marijuana for recreational use, I decided that if it were up to me I would criminalize recreation. We have people roaring through the wetlands on their ATVs, crashing through the woods on fat-tired bicycles, all manner of destructive behaviors that we not only condone but promote.

Clearly, our state government seeks revenue through recreation, tourism and agritourism. I’d sooner see the focus on teaching our school children how to protect and value our natural world and not make a mockery of our beautiful state.

With good examples, our children and newcomers will learn a great deal that our once-rural population understood about how to keep the world alive, both domestic and wild.

Suzanne Lupien


Businesses Helping the Environment

I would like to applaud Salt hill Pub for switching from plastic to cardboard straws. It is heartwarming and good to know that local businesses care about the environment and respond in proactive and positive ways to keep our planet healthy.

Statistics (science!) from the National Park Service show that 390 million plastic straws are used every day. Yes, every day. And each one of those straws takes 200 years to decompose.

Like most plastic trash, straws end up in our oceans threatening the ecosystem, including the lives of all sea creatures. When businesses voluntarily make changes in the way we use disposable non-necessities like straws, plastic bags and other mere conveniences, we all benefit.

Pam Skillman