Not Just Here?

This my cousin Bill who lives, farms, cooks, does business and writes in the area around Burlington, Vermont. As with many of us, he is opinionated and not slow to make a comment when he feels it appropriate. Here’s his latest:










What Are We Thinking?

I’m struggling to reconcile the unfolding Jay Peak scandal and the “we did a great job” remarks of our elected administration officials. According to the SEC, the developers misused $200M.

Politicians are concerned about injuring Vermont “business reputation,” but reputation is founded on integrity – which is not about controlling information, but about acting on it to ensure integrity.
If proven, this would be the single largest fraud in Vermont’s 225-year history, involving 700 immigrants from 74 countries. The State’s potential liability approximates 5% of our annual $5.5B budget and could, when all the criminal and civil actions are tallied levy a $200+M liability on Vermont’s 325,000 taxpayers. A lot is at stake.

Two vital tenets of democracy are transparency and accountability of elected officials. Press efforts to rightfully obtain public records through FOIA requests are being met with delays and price tags designed to stonewall disclosure. This isn’t transparency. The open talk about destroying executive branch emails should send shivers down the spines of Vermonters. Precisely because politicians are elected to conduct the people’s business, the people have a right to know why, how, and when. Civic shrugs, administrative backpedaling, and legislative ignorance combine to form a Petri dish for corruption, and corruption is much harder to root out than it is to prevent.

Some of this alleged fraud occurred under Secretary Pat Moulton’s watch. For her to now blame the U.S. Immigration Service for not responding to her request that investors’ requests “…be met favorably when these investors apply for their green cards,” seems both arrogant and naïve.

The EB-5 program, with all its ethical ambiguities, is a matter of law. Efforts by Vermont politicians to lower the blowback on themselves by demanding the Feds circumvent the program’s legal process in order to relieve defrauded and angry investors is reprehensible.

The investors are not the only victims. Unpaid contractors await payment of $4.5 million and the citizens of Newport have a collection of cellar holes as the centerpiece of their new downtown.

I applaud the press corps for doing its job despite the administration’s urging to back off. Every Vermonter should want the press corps to succeed so we understand what happened and why. This is not punitive. It’s responsible democracy. And that democracy – beleaguered as it might be at the moment – is ours.

Here is part of what he is on about in the comment:


We can deduce that a passel of immigrants were admitted on an investor status and the money that they plowed in to a certain development hasn’t worked out as advertised. This has the same kind of stink all over it, including stalled FOI requests and deleted e-mails, that characterizes so much of our province’s dealings. Oh, the horror! Ours is not the only jurisdiction where such shenanigans are the centrepiece of an administration that frequently touts its ongoing efforts at openness and transparency, as well as insisting that it is the group best apt to bring sound fiscal policy to its constituents. Is it any wonder that our society is falling apart, not only at the seams, but in the unravelling of the whole cloth.


People should worry about right & wrong instead of right & left.

As I answered to the above tweet from Norm Farrell, our current situation is based on how wrong the Right has been since the early hours of their administration in May of 2001, and how consistently they have been wrong. Both Campbell and Clark have subscribed to the cover ideology of fiscal restraint, a false financial conservatism based loosely on the Washington Consensus idea of austerity, generally based on falsehoods served up to the press, and generally aimed at enriching their friends and corporate sponsors. The very fact of the protracted and ongoing damage that this group has inflicted on both society and the environment is cause enough to seek the most immediate and credible alternative.

The hitch lies in what is perceived to be a very flawed record on the part of the official opposition, and a lack of willingness (I care not on whose part) to form a cooperative union of all the opposition. I personally feel very cheated of what should have been a decade of social progress from 1991-2001, but it looks, from all the evidence I’ve seen, as though the New Democrats of the day bore much more resemblance to Tony Blair than to Jeremy Corbyn, and that they had adopted the same stance as the Federal Liberal Party of Canada, shamefully campaigning from the Left, only to govern from the Right, embracing some Lite version of the corporatism and cronyism that characterizes the current rascals in  the Rockpile.

As in many jurisdictions, including the aforementioned Tony Blair’s UK, the U.S. under Clinton, France under Mitterrand and now Hollande, Germany under Schroeder, Spain under Zapatero, Portugal under Costa and lately Greece under Tsipras, what is supposed to be the social alternative turns out to be pretty much more of the same slash and burn, corporatism-in-the-guise-of-trade, trickle-down crumbs-off-the-edge-of-the-table kind of administration characterized by our own Stephen Harper and Christy Clark.

This lack of choice is the price we pay for a lack of vigilance and a lack of willingness to put the proverbial foot down when our elected representatives go astray into the fields of pork-barrel politics and cease to govern in the long-term interest of society. The Left and Right are labels that might have outlived their usefulness in the current context, because what we’ve really seen is Right and Right-Lite. The chances of our ever getting a sample of what a real leftist government should be look to be ephemeral at best, and even leaner as we see the possibility that our current mores will lead to a very short future, but that ought not preclude the effort to work for something genuinely better than that under which we currently labour.

Faith That Mires, Faith That Inspires (If You Care To Look)







From the Vancouver Sun, a piece about how Christy Clark’s Christian faith protects her from insults and people who doubt her integrity.


 1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
  1. “he is known to be a man of integrity”
    synonyms: honestyprobityrectitudehonor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousnessmoralityvirtuedecency, fairness,

    scrupulousness, sinceritytruthfulness, trustworthiness

    2.   the state of being whole and undivided.
    “upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”

There would seem to be some divergence on Ms. Clark’s part from any claim to the above definition of integrity, though there is another thought about the term as meaning consistent with itself, and on this score, our Premier scores quite high marks. She might well be concerned about perceptions regarding her character, but it doesn’t ring true that she would need the comforting of Christian principles to hold her ground, given how far from the purported message of Christ she has strayed in her doings since being elected to public office. She has consistently chosen the camp of the moneylenders, has steadfastly declined to take action to improve the lives of the downtrodden and less fortunate, and, above all else, seems to have considerable difficulty determining where any truth lies beyond her own self-serving version of making the difficult decisions, putting families first, and building the best economy for all British Columbians. Most of what she terms insults are simple statements of fact, the litany of injury done to the present and future of the province she leads. She reminds me of my reading of Tartuffe, both in high school and again in university, along with a host of other cautionary tales about people who become public figures to feather their own nests and satisfy their own need for recognition. How is it that a major donation of public money ends up in the hands of the religious institution on which Ms. Clark relies for her soul soothing?    It’s enough to drive people to some sort of deep cynicism about religion, though I happen to live with someone who takes the message of Christianity quite seriously,

That person shuns the spotlight, is generous to a fault and invests both time and resources in improving the lives of those not endowed with the advantages of birth, career, relationships and the temporal situation that allowed many of us now retired boomers to live a life of relative comfort and security. Certainly, all humanity gets a place in her prayers, and, despite the rigours of a strict Mennonite upbringing, this includes those of other faiths, those nullifidians (thanks, Anu) she encounters, people of all colours, creeds, political outlooks, social strata and sexual orientation. She has always been and remains a model mother for her boys and a loving and concerned grandmother to the next generation. She isn’t a saint, just an exceptionally considerate, gentle, helpful and hardworking woman who operates on a belief system deeply rooted in the teachings of Christ. It’s a big part of what allows her to live with a heathen like me.