It's difficult to know where to begin when reacting to last week's Soundbites ["Mister Disaster"]. So here I go... Other than Mister Sister opting out of Waking Windows (covered in a previous column), I don't understand why this story was in the music section of Seven Days. I do understand that it's a column representing the author's opinion, but I wish the writer had done more than re-sensationalize the situation.
Has the writer visited Mister Sister? Did he talk to any of the customers — the trans customers who have found a welcoming, safe environment for socializing; the ones who have reconnected with people they hadn't seen in years; maybe the out-of-town visitors who think it's great that there's a bar called Mister Sister that is openly accepting of all stripes of the rainbow?
Did the writer know — or neglect to mention — that events hosted at Mister Sister raised more than $800 for the Vermont LGBTQIA Solidarity March? I got the impression that it was unheard of for a business to use a GoFundMe page. A quick web search landed me on a GoFundMe page specifically for businesses to "get help with business costs."
Overall, the column was filled with negativity, quoting only the negative statements that were on the GFM page, the mocking of the owner's statements and intentions, and the vulgar language.
And is that headline, "Mister Disaster," the best you could come up with?
BTW, the last gay bar in Vermont, Two Friends Bistro, closed seven years ago, not 10.
Editor's note: Music editor Jordan Adams returns to the "Mister Disaster" subject in this week's Soundbites column.
We should be sad about the letter to Seven Days, about an article on President Donald Trump, in which John Houle defended the things Trump has been doing [Feedback: "Offensive Cover," May 31]. Houle lists a few great things that Trump is supposed to be doing, but he isn't paying attention. The past shows that the rich don't trickle down wealth, so poorer Americans such as Houle and me only suffer more with higher taxes to pay for helping the rich. Even coal miners can see through Trump's false story. Pay attention, watch Trump closely and look from all sides of this issue.
Bernie Pays Taxes
I'm not sure what John Walters means in [Off Message: "Walters: Bernie Sanders Made More Than $1 Million in 2016," June 4]. His tone suggests disapproval that a "democratic socialist" earned more than $1 million in 2016. Walters hasn't been pleased with Bernie lately: Bernie doesn't answer questions; Bernie gets rock-star treatment; why, Bernie didn't even say he was going to London! He doesn't write; he doesn't call...
But maybe as a fellow Vermont writer, Walters thought he should get a share of those lucrative book advances? Guess what, Walters? You are! Unlike some out there who declare bankruptcy at the drop of a profit or others who shift their monies to benevolent offshore locales, Bernie declares his income here and pays some of it to Vermont! The more he earns, the more we get.
And that gets to the heart of this story, I think. Walters believes that socialists should be poor — or, at the most, middle class. Raking in a cool mil is just not ... sociable. This is the core misunderstanding. Bernie isn't being hypocritical by earning money spreading his message. Socialism doesn't mean being poor; it means sharing what you earn with the rest of society. And Bernie has been working to create a more progressive tax structure, a health system that benefits all and other programs that require the rich to pay a little more than the rest of us.
Let's not begrudge Bernie for writing books. Let's hope that Bernie, and others who earn at least a million, will contribute more in the future.
[Re Off Message: "Walters: Did the Governor Just Wave the White Flag?" May 19]: The real issue regarding a statewide medical plan for teachers has to do with the principle of collective bargaining. In fairness to the governor, he has probably never worked in a company whose working conditions and compensation were covered by a negotiated master contract; neither have the vast majority of Vermonters.
In reality, collective bargaining has been responsible for improving the welfare of workers across the country over the past many decades. The 40-hour workweek, paid vacations, medical benefits, sick days, shift differentials, etc., which many Vermonters enjoy, became the norm because workers dared to organize to advocate for themselves.
Anti-union rhetoric seems to be on the rise. Could this possibly account for why workers' wages are stagnant while corporate America is enjoying huge profits? Rather than trying to take away benefits, which were obtained through the bargaining process, workers should be banding together to work toward improving their salaries and benefits to a level enjoyed by those in most industrialized nations.
$26 Million Sound Bite
[Re Off Message: "Walters: Scott Vetoes Budget, Teacher Health Care Bills," June 6]: Our government is elected to support and further the well-being and prosperity of its citizens. That includes a high-quality education system.
What Gov. Phil Scott has proposed will remove local control of a major part of the school budget and put it in state government control. The reason he gives is to save taxpayers $26 million. That's just a sound bite. In fact, every dollar he proposes to save would be saved without his proposal, by leaving the negotiating process with the people who will pay the bills. The savings will be realized because of an automatic change in health care plans.
Why has he vetoed a budget he previously approved? He wants to take control of this money. He doesn't trust local towns to do with it what he wants them to do — return it to taxpayers. After all, they might spend some of it on a new bus, to fix the roof, etc. But it's up to the towns to decide what to do with their money. It's a terrific sound bite: "Save $26 million!" Who doesn't want that? It appears to make him the great tax reducer. But it just isn't so.
Gov. Scott thinks the state knows best, not local school boards. He is attempting to score political points with misleading numbers and arguments. Do not be persuaded: His plan achieves nothing more than local decision makers would achieve. We Vermonters value local control. Our governor should respect that.
Kuch is chair of the Windsor County Democratic Committee.
VPR: More Isn't Always Better
John Walters raises valid questions regarding the relevance of Vermont Public Radio's perpetual fundraising [Fair Game, May 31]. I would add that VPR's overwhelming focus on fundraising threatens not only the relevance but the survival of this essential service.
On the one hand, ever-rising suggested membership amounts during pledge drives have already alienated individual support and transferred substantial influence to major donors and corporate underwriters.
On the other, perpetual fundraising sets in motion the rampant inflation that infects and undermines most collectively funded activities. This is the real danger.
Perpetual fundraising in higher education, for example, simply constructs a higher cost base (in facilities and programs) that is transferred first to tuition and then to student debt. Greater funding for health care, due to the perverse incentives involved, simply fuels higher prices and overutilization. In both cases, "more" — which we associate with "better" — ends up making the situation worse. Without the checks and balances that greater awareness of this syndrome could deliver, further funding in the wide array of collectively funded, indirectly paid activities (now more than half of all U.S. economic activity) all too often results in unsustainable costs, narrowed access and greater economic inequality.
VPR should make every effort to avoid falling into this trap.
Frederick P. Jagels