by John Stevens
Revenue sharing under any name didn’t make much sense when it was begun in 1972 and it makes less sense now. We gave the federal government tax dollars and they gave part of it back to states and municipalities. Of course each dollar we gave to the feds came back as about 25 cents. Revenue sharing, now called block grants, launched states and municipalities into a greater reliance on the federal government for money and mandates during the intervening 40 years. Historically, we had paid central government to provide national defense, foreign affairs, immigration policy and control of trade among states through federal taxation. We carefully defined those services by statute.
The Revolutionary War freed is from a domineering, tyrannical foreign government. Recently, creeping socialism, as indicated by our growing dependence on central government, has been leaping instead of creeping. We are dangerously close to embracing a domineering, tyrannical central government.
Prior to the advent of revenue sharing, Vermont town and city programs for schools, roads, police and other public services were locally controlled and paid for. We elected selectmen and councilmen to act on our behalf within the programs and budgets we democratically approved. More and more with the money we accepted from the federal government came a greater degree of state and federal control and participation. We gave away our authority and accepted dependency. We closed local schools and established regional schools with regional administrations. Our kids became commuters, many of them traveling three hours and more every school day. Regionalization created regional school bureaucracies eliminating local control. Today most Vermont public school related issues are controlled outside local government. Vermont adopted a statewide tax for schools, Act 60, and statewide control over local property assessments. That makes about as much sense as revenue sharing. Both revenue sharing and state controlled schools add unnecessary costs and have moved control of school matters further from us. The average cost to maintain one student for one school year has far outstripped the rate of inflation in Vermont.
Central government does not a great country or civilization make. Millions of people acting in their own best interests, unfettered by unnecessary government controls, constraints and taxation made this a great nation. It is the God fearing families with hard working husbands and mothering wives, who cement this nation’s people together.
To those who don’t think local control of our schools is good or that mothers don’t belong at home watching and guiding the moral, physical and intellectual growth of her children, who think a central government has better judgment than the heads of households, who think we must replace our traditional family unit and values with same sex marriages and/or unions, who think great people and great civilizations emerge from welfare states – to all of you I say HOGWASH!!!!! Your liberal agendas are leading us to financial ruin, family destruction and moral decay.
Our strength is in our diversity of looks, habits, beliefs and needs. Like all other living things, our diversity is our savior. Our diversity creates immunities, individual pride in family and community, traditions and the continuity of values from generation to generation. Without family life, without a mother and father to guide you, you might think you need a central government to care for your every need. Putting our eggs in a central government basket creates servitude as debilitating as slavery. We don’t need and we don’t want a suppressing central government or servitude.
Along with the advent of revenue sharing came increases in state and federal controls over American business. In the name of the environment, laws, rules and regulations were adopted that are now strangling most small businesses and many large corporations. Many are implemented for reasons that have no bearing to the environment. Building a profitable business that employs people and provides goods and services was an amiable goal in America. Today it is a nearly impossible task.
The liberal elite have taken control of our state and federal governments and will attempt to tax and spend us back to prosperity while we become totally dependent on them and a central government. You and I have little incentive to be creative and economically brave. We are being told we must rely on new and powerful central governments to supplant the efforts of millions of us who grow the local economies and who are raising future generations.
It is my hope that we don’t ever give up our hard earned rights to diligently work creating a home and environment where a husband and wife can raise children to a lifestyle similar to their own. If we become dependent on a domineering central government and reliant on federal handouts, we will have given up the American dream and the freedoms earned with human sweat, blood and tears.
Our current rush to embrace a political regime devoted to the subordination of individual rights is unprecedented in the United States of America. Other countries such as Germany, Italy, Japan, China, Ghana, Uganda, Cuba, The Soviet Union and others embraced totalitarianism. If we don’t learn from their mistakes – we are doomed to repeat them. It did not make sense in 1972 to send money to the government which would send a little back. It doesn’t make sense today.
John Stevens lives in Newport