Bad for the public?
Editor of the Reformer:
When does the public good become bad for the public? Theoretically, renewable energy is a public good and few would argue otherwise. But the Vermont public has now faced ever increasingly larger-scale industrial projects that have clearly been bad and divisive for communities in which projects are proposed, bad for neighbors whose sleep and health is disrupted after projects are in, and bad for family, friends and neighbors who once were close.
The public is made up of the citizens of this state. As more people have seen and experienced both the good and the bad of this public good, the public is now questioning whose "good" is being served. International corporations? Developers? Some political campaign funds? While a few people in power seem to know what is best for the public, the public is finally starting to weigh in on what are the real issues, trade offs, and benefits.
How much and how many individual rights should be sacrificed in the name of public good? No amount of money paid to a community by a developer (a lot cheaper than compensating those who will be directly effected) can make up for the loss of a feeling of community, loss of trust and caring about one another that are sad and predictable result of projects being thrust on communities and individuals who have no voice, no real vote, no rights, no power.
While "good fences make good neighbors" worked in the past, what happens when one neighbor destroys the ability of his neighbor to peacefully and quietly enjoy his own property? Ignoring the obvious affects of infrasound and the averaging of decibel levels over an hour rather than the sound volume itself is not only bad for the people who have to live with the results, but bad public policy. If, for instance, a jackhammer is only used for 30 seconds each hour through the night, does that reduce the sound to a whisper? Does that even make sense? When did public good mean individuals' rights don't matter? It is time for the public — and the individuals who make up the public — to decide what is in the public good. Caring about our neighbors and communities is a public good, and we should never forget that.