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Forum, Dec. 12: Light in the darkness Sunday

Published: 12/11/2019 10:00:22 PM
Modified: 12/11/2019 10:00:14 PM
Light in the darkness Sunday

If the winter darkness and news of the day have you feeling down, beautiful voices growing stronger with the candlelight might be just what you need. This Sunday, at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., two performances of the Christmas Mystery at Rollins Chapel in Hanover are sure to leave you feeling uplifted.

This choral retelling of the Nativity story features local high school senior girls as angels, boys as shepherds, and local men lending their voices as elder shepherds, the wise men and Joseph. The performance starts in a dark chapel with the sound of angelic voices and the growing light as angels enter holding candles.

A highlight of the pageant is the performance of We Three Kings, when the wise men arrive with a young page in tow and present their gifts at the manger. The spirit of giving continues with the song O Come All Ye Faithful, as audience members bring new unwrapped gifts for local needy children to the manger. Gifts will be donated to the Haven and Listen.

Why is it a mystery? The identity of Mary is a closely guarded secret until the performance. She is a member of the previous year’s graduating class, and is chosen by a secret vote of her angel group. Celebrating 103 years, the Christmas Mystery in Hanover is one of the longest-running pageants in the country. The performance itself is supported by donations that may be made upon leaving the chapel. All are welcome to this free event. Bring your family, friends and neighbors.





Vermont’s discriminatory tax

I read in your pages that Vermont’s statewide property tax for education is forecast to go up by 6% in the new year (“Education tax rate might go up 6%,” Dec. 5). If so, you report that this will be the largest increase in the past decade. I wonder why. Enrollment has been in steady decline for many years. The population is aging. Act 46 is being implemented to require school district consolidation. Pay for teachers is not great. In theory, there should be a need for fewer of them, and fewer schools. And yet, has there been a year in the last 10 or 20 when this tax rate has not increased?

This is what happens when spending decisions are taken out of the hands of those who pay the bills and placed in the hands of those benefiting. For as long as this tax has existed, education spending decisions have been made by school boards largely staffed by parents of school-age children, teachers and advocates for more and better schools. These boards have passed a large share of their bills to the state for collection, and thanks to the “homestead exemption,” the state has passed a proportionally larger share of those bills onto nonresident and commercial property owners by means of a property tax that discriminates against them. Most Vermont homeowners receive the exemption, a rebate designed to ensure that they pay taxes on a sliding scale proportional to their income, which is forecast to increase only about 2.5%, as against the 6% increase forecast for all other taxpayers.

In that it discriminates against property owners on the basis of residency, Vermont’s homestead exemption is clearly unconstitutional. The problem is, getting someone else to pay your bills is very popular, while objecting to such discrimination is made to look bad. The rationale is that second-home owners can afford to pay a higher tax. But ultimately, such cost shifting will collapse under the weight of its own success, killing the goose that lays the golden egg, and many others besides.



Stop funding cruel policies

The Senate has introduced funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection for more than $26 billion. These are the agencies that have separated thousands of children from their parents at the border, and we still do not know the exact number of these separations because these agencies did not bother to document which children belong to which parents at the time of separation. They continue to harass tourists and residents traveling on Interstate 93 and are being investigated for illegal arrests.

This is happening while many New Hampshire citizens with children are having their food stamps cut.

Congress will be making final decisions on a budget in the next week. It is imperative that our hard-earned tax dollars are used to strengthen our families and communities, rather than funding cruel and unnecessary immigration policies.



Trenchant takes on day’s topics

The following are a few observations inspired by current events:

Those whose stock in trade consists primarily of offers of public money in exchange for votes, as well as those whose votes are up for bid, should think twice before yammering about quid pro quos.

Since true virtue doesn’t call attention to itself and genuine morality doesn’t give a fig about its image, virtue signaling and moral preening must actually be something else. Probably hypocrisy.

I have to wonder about the value of the degrees awarded to those for whom massive debt is an unforeseeable consequence of massive loans. Or the value of the votes of those who are incapable of unraveling the mysteries of the absentee ballot yet feel themselves to be competent to participate in elections anyway.

The presidency of Donald Trump and the candidacies of his Democratic challengers would seem to indicate that we need more voter suppression, not less.

It would also seem that climate activists must be bound to cede the moral high ground to anyone with a smaller carbon footprint than their own, but I don’t get the impression that this is often the case.



Drive the grammarian’s crazy

Whats’ up with the Apostrophe Protection Society’s demise (“Apostrophe advocate acknowledges his cause is lost,” Dec. 7)?

Say it isnt so!



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