Editor’s note: This letter is by Lynn J. Edmunds, of Wallingford, Vermont. It is a response to a recent commentary by Paul Costello, executive director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development.
In reply to Paul Costello, and his recent commentary published at VTDigger and elsewhere (“Democracy and community leadership“), your concern for the power and future of democracy may seem real to you, but we are a republic, and as such each individual is afforded protections that your “democracy” does not provide. Our concern is that the Republic remains intact and not be turned into a democracy by those who do not understand the difference in these two forms of governance.
If “skepticism is rampant” [as you say], there must be a reason. We notice when Vermont Council on Rural Development pitches a climate change program for model communities and tells us we need change at a rapid rate. We also notice when you insist we be first in the nation and want us to “advance a carbon pricing or trading system for Vermont that would reduce carbon emissions and invest in the progress of Vermont’s economy.” But what effect would that have on average Vermonters when you must manipulate them to accomplish your goals?
We ask ourselves can this scheme compete in today’s marketplace. If it could, many of us would welcome it. But our fear is it cannot, and as a result of trying to force it on the market, it will need to be heavily subsidized. This would seem to be borne out by numerous attempts to pass a carbon tax over the last few years.
We also ask ourselves if a carbon tax were to pass could real Vermonters afford the cost of necessities like gas, oil and propane, with just a promise of lower electric rates to compensate for a lower standard of living. Are we supposed to pedal our bicycles 20 miles to work because we can’t afford gas for our cars? And how are we going to heat our homes after you run out of things to manipulate?
You claim your “democracy” is an experiment working toward a common good that cannot wait for solutions to come from Washington or Montpelier. So why do you solicit us directly? Is government not coming fast enough from the top down?
Like a Trojan horse you come to our town with collaborators inside your belly, waiting to begin the frenzy of activism that will ensue as you troll for support. Do you not see how using manipulation and subsidies to prematurely realize your dreams only suppresses economic development? How “dynamic” is that, and how high will the minimum wage have to go before we stop chasing our tail?
Is our town government not capable of governing itself to your standards of what a community should be: “the center of world democracy”? The inception of your organization dovetails precisely with the chronological evolution of United Nations Agendas 21/2030 — is that why you would have us striving to become a center of world democracy and a model socialist community?
We skeptics would prefer to keep our Republic.