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Letters to the Editor (2/12/20)


Published February 12, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated March 17, 2020 at 6:07 p.m.

Equality Rules

Seven Days has given reasonable and balanced coverage of the arguments around the recent debut of Gender Critical Vermont and the negative reaction of some trans activists [Off Message: "Amid Backlash, Group Cancels Burlington Talk on Transgender 'Agenda,'" January 27].

The response in other places has not been so fair. Burlington City Councilor Perri Freeman has labeled Gender Critical Vermont a hate group with zero evidence, and so have various trans activists. If gender identity replaces sex in our laws, it will nullify women's rights that women fought long and hard to gain. It is shocking to me that the response is: It's none of your business; there is no conflict, and don't talk about it.

It is possible that local trans activists do not know what is in the Equality Act or what it will mean to obliterate sex-based protections for women? To me, this is an unnecessary part of the Equality Act, because transgender people can be protected as a group from discrimination in the same way the LGB community is. For those who do want more information and hopefully want to lend support, our email address is info@gendercriticalvt.org.

Peggy Luhrs


Luhrs is a founder of Gender Critical Vermont.

'Politics of Envy'

Disturbingly familiar tropes arose in Paul Heintz's cover story ["'Onward to Victory,'" February 5] about young Iowa voters, but one really stood out: Tamera Peake, 28, "who works in accounting and is studying web development," expounding on a "wealth tax," as if wealth weren't taxed now.

"How the hell can people afford a yacht while I'm working and going to school part time?" she asked, as if all "yacht" owners had never worked to pay for it and were undeserving of money made by working or starting a business, all either trust funders or lottery winners as seen by kids duped by candidates promoting the politics of envy.

I was once young and attending programming school nights. Although I've never owned a "yacht," I do have a house that's paid for and am retired in relative semi-comfort. I've traveled to all the states save Alaska and Oregon. Now I see folks my age that didn't put in the time or effort and are in rough shape in their "golden years" because of it. Sure, there's luck, health setbacks, hard knocks and other unexpected travails, but I learned one thing: If you did not get an education and work hard, you reaped what you sowed, and no politician or government program can promise otherwise.

We have a guarantee of equal opportunity, but not equal outcomes. That is a promise that socialism and even communism have never delivered on — never could, and never will. Thinking we can build up all by tearing down some is rank jealousy built on envy, a pandering of the worst sort that leads nowhere.  

Steve Merrill

North Troy

Missing Miller

[Re Off Message: "Developer and Philanthropist Robert 'Bobby' Miller Dies at 84," February 5]: Bobby was right. He was gold, and it was all kinds of gold, starting with his heart of gold. He was a joy to work with — so innovative and imaginative. He could spontaneously find a way to solve problems and create positive energy while making profit and giving it away. He and his wife, Holly, truly believed, and proved, that every generous action comes back 10 times over.

Christine Graham

Burlington and North Bennington

Don't Promote Gambling

The governor wants the state to take over keno gambling to increase revenues ["Betting Man: Gov. Scott's Gambling Proposals Face Tough Odds in Legislature," January 29]. Now, if people want to gamble, that's their business, provided they can afford it and don't deprive their children to feed their addiction. And if the government wants to make money off people's taste for gambling and use some of it to treat problem gamblers, that's also all right with me. Vermont is already part of the Powerball system.

What I do object to, most strenuously, is the state promoting Powerball with advertising. That's not regulating people's bad habits; it is enabling and encouraging them, and it is unconscionable.

Roger Cooke


Too Hot for Scott

I was happy to see Seven Days bring attention to Gov. Phil Scott's weak climate record ["The Hot Seat: Critics Are Cool to Gov. Scott's Climate Policies," January 29]. The modest steps he's taken are not enough; it's time for Scott to take meaningful action and support the climate solutions that are making their way through the Statehouse.

Yes, Vermont's emissions are a drop in the bucket when compared to total global outputs, but that is a weak justification for inaction. Vermont was home to only a small percentage of America's gay and lesbian population in 2000, but that didn't stop us from making history with the civil unions act. Our action on the issue helped catalyze a national movement for marriage equality. We acted then for the same reason we should act now: It's the right thing to do, and, despite our state's smallness, our actions can inspire widespread change. 

Currently, we are behind our neighbors when it comes to climate action. Massachusetts has already passed its own Global Warming Solutions Act, with positive results, and Maine has enacted a statewide Green New Deal. The least Scott can do is support the modest platform of the Climate Solutions Caucus. If he wants to be a true climate champion, he should support the Green New Deal Fund bill. The time to act is now. Gov. Scott, we're watching closely. 

Finn Lester-Niles


Hot and Bothered

Readers continue to react to Chelsea Edgar's provocative January 22 cover story "Degrees of Panic," about eco-anxiety in Vermont. Edgar's piece announced the launch of "Fired Up," our new, semi-regular series exploring local efforts to mitigate the heating trend and strengthen resiliency. There were two "Fired Up" stories in the subsequent issue.

Degrees of Irony

What comes to mind as I read "Degrees of Panic" [January 22] ... is the significant degree of irony that exists among those who are panicking. The increasingly intense calls for action are set against the background of solutions unused.

I am puzzled, at best, as to why public transit buses largely run empty; why the rail cars that David Blittersdorf has so generously made available for solutions sit idle while he endures a ridiculous level of senseless bureaucracy about their use; and why we continue to pay ridiculous sums of money to improve highways and bridges without committing to investments in real and immediate alternative transportation. I am weary of the endless studies; of yet more money being funneled from hardworking Vermonters to the largely wealthy users of electric vehicles; and of bike path funding for a mode that is hard for people to use who are physically challenged or just plain unwilling to ride in the cold, ice and snow.

So, please, let us panic less and work on the solutions right before us.  

Gregory Maguire


Survival Strategies

[Re "Degrees of Panic," January 22]: It's been helpful for me to bear in mind two things as we confront climate and societal change.

1. Take a holistic approach. Become aware of the problem's causes, who's responsible and who's complicit. The amount of responsibility put on the individual is out of proportion. For example, 100 companies are responsible for 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

While individual changes in consumption do make a difference collectively, I don't think we should be made to feel dismay or guilt. It's like Big Tobacco, but with the Earth's wellness. We need to hold accountable those who are responsible.

2. We're all on this rock together, so isolation and self-sufficiency are not a solution. (You can't live off poisoned land.) While self-care and self-sufficiency are important, our belonging to a community is equally so. Protest, but also participate in and contribute to the community in a way that's both sustainable and enjoyable to you. 

Imbalance is evident especially between public- and private-sector power. It seems to me we're not only at a critical juncture with climate change, but with our social systems, too.

To confront this daunting challenge, we must be both independent and interdependent. We know what the problems are; now we need to repair the damage done and regain balance. I think we can do it, together.

Kevin Deutermann


Join Us

Hooray for ample coverage of the climate crisis! My friends and I at 350Burlington were heartened to see so many pages and depth of reporting on this most important issue of our time ["Degrees of Panic," January 22].

We are looking forward to more such articles, especially ones about what people are doing instead of panicking. 

Yes, we've been reading the deeply alarming news, like what's in Chelsea Edgar's article. We are not naïvely "hopeful," the passive attitude which Greta Thunberg aptly rejects. We are busy doing what must be done, as best we can, often in coalition with groups all around our region. 

Because you might as well, right? 

Because joining with others and being part of the solution — however "David" we feel against the Goliath of the entrenched fossil fuel industry — may bring about some change and, at the very least, is an antidote to the spiral of depression and panic. 

Some things we work on: community actions and education, legislative divestment, carbon sequestration, promoting renewable energy, keeping fossil fuels in the ground. 

Our seven 350Vermont groups, Sunrise, Sierra Club, Extinction Rebellion and Sustainable Williston are all working toward a better future, come what may.

I encourage your readers to reach out to any of these groups, and many others not named here. Find us on the internet and join us. 

We are always delighted to welcome new people. Many of them walk in the door, like I did, after having wanted to do something positive for a long time.

Marcy Kass


Gathering Strength

An aspect of Vermonters' response to climate change was largely missing from Chelsea Edgar's recent cover story ["Degrees of Panic," January 22]. In town halls, granges and living rooms across Vermont, people are gathering to implement projects at the neighborhood and community scale to confront and prepare for the climate crisis. In Vermont, a small and unified band of motivated people can get real things done, and they are working to build community solar projects, host workshops and campaigns on energy choices, weatherize and solarize town and school buildings, and work to improve bikability and walkability.  

The benefits of local action are multiple. Coming together with others and taking tangible steps locally are important antidotes to the anxiety we confront. The connections built through this work increase our community strength and resilience. Local climate initiatives often improve household and local economies and community vitality. This work is an inspiration and model for state and federal policy makers. And the local organizations rallying together are ready and able to take advantage of and implement new programs quickly.  

In my work, I have the privilege of spending many evenings on the road meeting with and supporting Vermonters building local solutions to climate change. The compassion, leadership and dedication I witness fill me with inspiration and hope. I would encourage anyone grappling with the justifiable concern about our planet's ecological plight to search out and find others who are working to turn that anxiety into a productive local response. You won't regret it, and generations to come will thank you.

Jon Copans


Copans is director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development's Climate Economy Model Communities Program.

Run, Don't Panic

Thank you to Chelsea Edgar for her great reporting in "Degrees of Panic" [January 22]. I had only heard from the Vermont mainstream media on the climate emergency protest at Gov. Phil Scott's State of the State address. They were calling it so inappropriate. Well, look how the Dems, Progs and Republicans have failed all Vermonters over these past 40 years on the climate issue.

Now is not the time to protest, but the time to understand Vermont's independent roots as a sovereign nation — from 1777 to 1791 — and begin your independent campaign for elected office in local and state government. Failure has become the norm for the parties. Running now as an independent candidate is all anyone can do! 

The Secretary of State's Office will aid you in understanding the process. The filing deadline is in April.

Time to Run 2020! Better than panic

Mason Wade