December 12, 2009

When the Children Aren't the Future

Justin Katz

Mark Steyn looks to Vermont for the creeping of Europe's demographic trends into the United States:

... in a very basic sense there is no "state": Graying ponytailed hippies and chichi gay couples aren't enough of a population base to run a functioning jurisdiction. To modify Howard Dean, Vermont is the way liberals think America ought to be, and you can't make a living in it. So if you're a cash-poor but land-rich native Vermonter taxed and regulated and hedged in on every front, you face a choice: In the new North Country folk wisdom, they won't let you fish, so you might as well cut bait. Your outhouse is in breach of zoning regulations, so you might as well get off the pot. Etc. When he ran for president, Howard Dean was said to have inspired America's youth. In Vermont, he mainly inspired them to move somewhere else. The number of young adults fell by 20 percent during the Dean years. And what's left is a demographic disaster: The state's women have the second lowest birthrate in the nation, and the state's workforce is already America's oldest. Last year, Chris Lafakis of Moody's predicted Vermont would have "a really stagnant economy" not this year or this half-decade but for the next 30 years.

Government policies throughout the states and nation are decreasingly oriented toward providing incentive for personal responsibility and responsible behavior, and the up-and-coming generations are dutifully deciding that they'd rather focus on modern society's banquet of material pleasures than deal with the difficulties that we in the West used to consider fulfilling... however antiquated that concept may now seem.

Steyn quips that Western elites have no problem behaving as if "we can transform the very heavens" when it comes to climate change, but "the demographic death spiral" is "just a fact of life." Two things: Western elites ultimately prefer nature to humanity, and nature is ambivalent about its state, whereas humanity is content to choose demise.

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General Treasurer hopeful Tom Sgouros explains away the relative economic successes of libertarian New Hampshire by pointing to various demographic and geographic features of the state.

I'm sure he can just as easily explain away the relative economic failings of progressive Vermont by pointing to the same types of apolitical factors beyond anyone's control.

So progressive policies matter, except when they don't. In other words, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Posted by: Dan at December 12, 2009 1:19 PM

Vermont could've been saved by building an escape proof fence around the upper west side of Manhattan.The brunch commies will screw this country up beyond recognition.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 12, 2009 2:50 PM

Joe, 'tis true..."flatlanders" have overtaken southern VT and only the Northeast Kingdom maintains a true sense of "Vermonter-ness" (my bloodlines on both sides run through the area around Lake Memphramagog). But their way and outlook on life has been overwhelmed by the transplants from the south. This is much the same as has gone on in Maine and is happening in NH. Not only former residents of NYC, but also those from MA and CT have (not RI...we never leave!) imported their outlook on gov't that worked with enough success to prompt their move in the first place!

Posted by: Marc at December 12, 2009 3:44 PM

It is true that New Hampshire is being threatened by the statist transplants from Massachusetts, but the Free State Project is counteracting their influence by relocating libertarians to the state and stepping up their lobbying efforts. From what I've heard from activists, the fight is essentially at a stalemate right now. Which is wonderful news, since government has been growing exponentially in every other state without exception.

Posted by: Dan at December 12, 2009 5:54 PM

Dan, you forgot: Libertarian is now just as dirty a word here as liberal.
If it's getting too free-thinking in New Hampshire, there's always Mississippi and Utah.

Posted by: rhody at December 12, 2009 7:42 PM

I have always wondered about Vermont. Several years back I went up there to vist an old GF from college. I began to notice all of the signs in front of houses, deers skinned, lawnmowers fixed, cars fixed, etc. I didn't take this as a sign of "high times".

When I got to my friends house, I found her on a cul de sac off the Killington access road. It saddened me to find (after 2-3 marriages) that she was on some form of public assistance. It was startling to find out that 3 other women on the same cul de sac were in the same condition. After talking about things I determined that most of her income must go to paying her enormous tax bill. She had some sort of pick up job with the local PBS. She wouldn't leave because "I love Vermont". I heard that from others, over and over.

On the way back, I stopped at "Silent Cal's" birthplace. When speaking to the woman there I mentioned that the poverty seemed much worse there than I remembered (I spent a lot of time skiing there 15 years, or so, back). She said she had grown up in a poor section of NH, but that "it was different". I asked about the difference and she replied "We had pride". I'm not sure what that meant.

Interestingly Vermont has/had the highest per captia number of millionaires. My slight investigation is that they are mainly retired New Yorkers. Except for purchasing real estate, they seem to contribute little to the local economy. Most of what they acquire is imported from "home".

Except for the "hospitality industry" (when did that become an "industry"?) there seems to be little opportunity. The largest employer in Rutland is a hospital (insurance/medicaire funded). People who do have decent jobs (mostly GE) commute enormous distances.

P.S. I notice that with the decline of manufacturing, everything has become an "industry". I was speaking with a convenience store manager the other day and he referred to "his industry".

Posted by: Warrington Faust at December 12, 2009 8:49 PM

Mr Steyn writes
"True, more gays appear to have moved in. In European terms, homosexuals are Vermont’s Muslims — no disrespect to either party, I hasten to add, before you press that fatwa button. And gay second-homers still require enough of a local populace to generate a scenic plaid-clad coot or two chewing tobaccy on the porch of a still-operating general store: It’s kind of a downer to drive past a bunch of abandoned farms"

Steyn is, and has always been a LIAR
When the truth is, Gays have NOT moved
to Vermont. Just google "gays moved to Vermont"

Gays tend to move to cities, like Boston, LA, Miami, San Fran ect. Those gays that like the cold climates would chouse, gay friendly, New Hampshire for their LOW TAXES over Vermont
Plus New Hampshire has 5 Gay Bars while
Vermont has ONE (1)

Posted by: james at December 12, 2009 9:05 PM
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