Reading Rob Roper’s recent article about Vermont’s contemplated “clean heat standard,” it was hard to absorb how our legislators can be so completely disconnected from their constituents. As ever-more fantastical utopian schemes are fashioned in small committee rooms, ever-more bizarre outcomes can be expected. These heat standards are a pernicious government creep that will only hurt Vermonters — but that likely won’t stop the Vermont Senate’s Natural Resources & Energy Committee from towing the Progressive Party line of domination.
Senator Mark MacDonald (D-Orange) kicked off a roughly 30-minute discussion trying to get to the bottom of exactly what the committee was voting on with the somewhat bizarre statement, “Before I kill someone to get their clean heat credits, I want to know what the charge is going to be. Embezzlement, scam, securities fraud?” (20:30-52:00)
But the absurdity got stranger yet. The senators struggle to understand and explain this new scheme — it is evident they don’t comprehend what they are asking everyone else to do. To his credit, Sen. Mark MacDonald repeatedly raises the obvious question — what is this and how do I explain it to my constituents? But then we hear this exchange:
Sen. Chris Bray: “Well for the person who says, ‘I don’t like that. I don’t want to be paying extra.’”
Sen. Mark MacDonald: “Well then, get a blanket for Christ’s sake.”
Coming off a long winter with record-high gasoline and heating oil prices, this flippant comment is far from amusing. Senators who would pass laws they can’t understand seem to have little understanding or compassion for the very real and increasing economic suffering of Vermonters.
But that explains why the Senate committee babbles on interminably without ever addressing the most glaring flaw with this proposed legislation — it is grossly regressive, and transfers wealth from poor people to rich people, just like EV cars and solar panels. Every time the progressives push to “save the planet,” they line wealthy pockets at the expense of poor Vermonters.
Consider this “clean heat standard” — is it equitable? The senators explain that the idea here is to tax people who choose to “pollute” by using fossil fuels, then transfer those funds to the “good guys” who are installing heat pumps. But many of those “bad guys” are elderly retirees on fixed incomes with ramshackle oil burners they are praying will endure one more winter so they don’t have to move in with their kids. The people installing brand new heat pumps, like those installing rooftop solar panel arrays, likely have funds or credit to do so, and may well be constructing a brand new second home or expanding their office — is it “equitable” to punish the old ladies and let the “enlightened” rich people save the planet while granny gets more blankets? The wealthy building new homes love this law: those on fixed incomes are burdened with yet another state plan to push them down even lower.
The frivolous attitude of progressive legislators who never “own” the impacts on regular Vermonters of their fantasy concoctions is revealed in this committee meeting. Sens. Bray and MacDonald engage in a conversation about how they are to explain this plan to their constituents. MacDonald mocks the whole scheme to rounds of laughter:
Sen. Bray: “The problem we’re solving is climate change is a real-world present-day danger.”
Sen. MacDonald: “Oh yeah, right” (he says mockingly, leaning over and laying his hand on Bray’s arm).
Sen. Bray continues, mildly disconcerted: “And we have an obligation to ourselves and others to stop polluting, stop fouling our own nest.”
This is a shocking admission that Sen. Mark MacDonald (unchallenged by anyone) knows that Vermont solving climate change “danger” is just political nonsense — there is no other way to interpret his joking dismissal of Bray’s politicizing jargon.
But even if these senators were sincere in believing this paltry but expensive program will somehow stem global warming, their inability to comprehend or explain it, coupled with the patent regressive impacts never discussed, should be cause to pause.
Will they pause? It is doubtful. What Vermonters are witnessing is a mass subjugation of their families, incomes and rights by a runaway ideology that fancies itself “above” everyone else.
Sen. MacDonald elsewhere inquires: “If we do nothing, which members of our community are going to be in a worse condition?” Sen. Richard McCormack responds, “The world’s population.” Sen. Bray answers, “More locally, I would say low-income Vermonters.”
MacDonald then protests: “So how come the opponents [of the clean heat standard] get away with saying ‘you can’t do this because you’re going to hurt low-income Vermonters’? … They’re the ones getting screwed now.”
Perhaps the senator should chat with those who depend on affordable fuel oil for heat.
As this committee meeting reveals, these policy makers do not fathom their own policies — one senator suggests the tax on fuel will fall on out-of-state companies, as if those businesses won’t pass it on to their Vermont customers! These legislators do not permit economic realities, or the true costs to their constituents of being frozen during a pandemic, to interfere with their well-fantasized plans.
Gas prices are spiking, but these progressive Vermont senators seek to increase heating oil costs unfairly and tell the poor to get blankets, while joking that we Vermonters are going to save the planet.
The higher they climb, the farther they will fall.