I summarize here a rather complex (yet simple) comprehensive proposal to boost Vermont’s economy, while also supporting farms and food production, attracting young people and others to relocate to Vermont, reducing government costs and regulations, helping those with low incomes, and improving the health of our ecosystem and residents alike.
The foundation of economic growth is productivity, not the provision of services. For decades America has been shrinking economically not because the rich are ripping us all off (though surely wealth disparity has increased, at risk to all), but because of the twin destroyers of global competition (manufacturing jobs shifting overseas) and technological advance (which has eliminated even more jobs than foreign competition). These twin forces have provided Americans with ever cheaper goods and ease in the short term, but long term have eroded that production element which is the foundation of all economies -- China has been booming by the very shift that is sapping our wealth.
Many talk of bringing back manufacturing jobs, even as Chinese workers labor for a tiny fraction of what our workers once earned; even as robots and computers displace all human labor as obsolete. Nowhere has this shift been more dangerous than in food production: as society has watched the slow death of small rural farms, it has made a devil’s bargain with mass-produced, environmentally destructive, less healthy food transported at high environmental cost from ever-greater distances. We do this at our collective peril -- food does not lend itself to the economies of scale of factories, as we see with degraded soils, erosion, chemical and antibiotic dependence, and unseen but massive doses of fossil fuels in production and transport of the foods that are increasingly cheap but also increasingly unhealthy. This is not sustainable: the ecosystem cannot bear this indefinitely, and neither can human health.
Vermont’s education costs, pensions, bureaucratic bloat, and healthcare administration expenses are all unsustainable. Our nation’s unhealthy, environmentally destructive, corporate-dominated industrial food production system is similarly unsustainable. In our current plight, we see these twin menaces converge. We are increasingly dependent on toxic food from distant lands, and a government bureaucracy that is similarly distant: both are disconnected from our Vermont heritage. It’s as if we have abandoned the lessons of the Great Depression, and must relive that collapse in order to learn anew.
The 2020 Vermont Farming Manifesto is an integrated explanation of what Vermont needs to do to reclaim its identity, its culture, its food quality and security, and its physical and economic health. It is also an unapologetic condemnation of the progressive government expansion that is strangling us all, and the progressive “climate action initiatives” that have thereby been spawned. It does not deny that we are destroying the ecosystem -- it calls for us to become “woke” to our personal responsibility to address pollution, instead of an ideological fascination with an Orwellian government intrusion which will actually just delay real improvement in our economic and environmental condition, and lead us to increased dependence on foreign corporations and callous industrialism.
At root what is proposed is that Vermont radically “incentivize” increased food production by small, sustainable farms, specifically by providing tax relief to counter the excessive tax burden currently stifling farm profitability. Additional proposals will help improve marketing, distribution, and sales of quality Vermont food products. All businesses will benefit; our culture will be reclaimed; we will actually produce valuable goods for export, built proudly on the world-famous Vermont “brand.” This plan is held up in deliberate contrast to proposed regressive taxes on our poorest citizens to acquire solar panels and EV cars from other states and countries -- such proposals bolster their production lines while transferring wealth out of, not into, Vermont. Economics 101. Agriculture is Vermont’s history: it is also Vermont’s future.
By no means are these benefits limited to farmers -- reduced regulatory impediments, lower tax rates, and increased local food availability and affordability will nurture existing businesses, and attract future entrepreneurs and their workers to set up shop in, or relocate to, the Green Mountains. In short, this is an effort to counter the economic forces that have destroyed Vermont’s farms and rural communities, and make those priceless assets the cornerstones of future growth. It is de-gentrification, designed to shrink rather than enlarge our bloated bureaucratic burden.
It is time for Vermont’s citizens to become the stakeholders -- and the stakes have become extremely high. Instead of a grand government plan to rescue Vermonters, this is a simple plan to rescue Vermonters from grand government plans. Unlike the lose-lose agenda of self-proclaimed climate change “warriors,” nurturing Vermont farms is a win-win-win: food security and quality, pollution reduction, and sustained economic and agricultural growth. It’s a no-brainer for traditional Vermonters.
This is the 2020 Vermont Farming Manifesto. This is a movement... in the right direction. Please read the entire proposal at: https://klar2020.com/FM.pdf