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Kashmeri: Less Would Have Been More

01/12/11 7:55AM By Sarwar Kashmeri
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(HOST)  Commentator Sarwar Kashmeri has been thinking about how less is often more - and how that concept might have informed the recent inaugural festivities.    

(KASHMERI)   Call me a kill-joy, but I think Governor Shumlin's three day celebration of his election victory was not in keeping with the times or with Vermont's budget deficit of 150 million dollars.  A three day rolling gala that moved from Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, through "the Winter Village" in Montpelier,  and reached a crescendo with a bash at Sugerbush struck me as unseemly and insensitive.
The Governor should have taken a lead from his counterparts in New York, California, Michigan, and other states who decided to forgo glitz and low-key their inaugurals, with small receptions and servings of hot-dogs.
The rationale for the glitz was - that Vermont products and places were used, that these events also raised money for the Vermont National Guard Charitable Fund, and individual donors and corporations underwrote the cost of these events - but wouldn't they have been just as happy - perhaps even happier - to celebrate by donating even their underwriting funds to Vermonters who face a choice between heating and eating this winter as well as to the National Guard Fund?

In my home town of Reading, parents are trying to grapple with the fact that we may soon lose our elementary school because of the town's dwindling population. Thousands of local jobs from this area's long decimated machine-tool industry have never been replaced.
One of our local country stores recently went up for sale. The owners tell me Vermont's burdensome laws that regulate family businesses as if they were chain eateries were a big contributor to their decision to sell. And the cost of complying with the state's environmental laws, they said, was far more than a family business could afford.
Reading is not much different from towns all over Vermont that wonder where are the jobs of tomorrow?

For new companies to move into the state, Vermont needs to differentiate itself from the dozens of states that are vying for the same business. Whatever happened to Woodstock Representative Allison Clarkson's innovative bill to make Vermont the twenty-first century Delaware by allowing companies throughout the country to incorporate in Vermont, pay fees, and conduct corporate business on-line.  We need to find that bill, come up with others like it and get them moving.

We need to compete with neighboring states and demonstrate Vermont's business-savvy. But - are investors and businesses likely to be impressed by a state that spends money on a three day celebration when it's got a huge hole in its budget?
Personally, I'd rather celebrate when the people of Vermont can look around and see that their lives - and their neighbors' lives - have improved. I'm sorry to say, this three-day inaugural bash felt - to me - both insensitive and premature.
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