Thursday September 20, 2012

During the Sept. 12 debate with Gov. Peter Shumlin, Republican challenger Randy Brock made it clear just what he thinks of the thousands of Vermonters who work in the non-profit sector: Their jobs are not the right kind of jobs, and shouldn't even be counted as jobs.

In his determination to paint the state as an anti-business basket case he faced a problem. Shumlin had just pointed out that Vermont's unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the nation and had talked about how he wants to promote more job creation. So Brock countered by saying that "If you strip out the government jobs and the non-profit jobs" the unemployment rate would be much higher. He explained that government and non-profit jobs are "the wrong kinds of jobs" to be increasing in number.

So the editor, reporters, bookkeepers, drivers and advertising professionals who work for the weekly The Commons, aren't engaging in real jobs after all? Their work is apparently a sham, and the value of a well crafted and respected area weekly newspaper is no value at all? (That goes for the losers at vtdigger as well!) Could we say the same about the paid staff at the Brattleboro Boys and Girls Club as well? There's certainly no value in taking care of the needs of our in-town youth. The work at Boys and Girls clubs across the state is probably just limiting the number of potential inmates that could swell the coffers of the burgeoning for-profit prison industry in the near future, cutting future private sector jobs in prison security, jobs that Brock would undoubtedly endorse as "real" as they make a profit for someone higher up on the food chain.

From one end of this state to the other, non-profit organizations are doing vital work that improves our lives, protects our children and our environment, promotes business growth, and has a myriad of other positive effects on our lives and our state. Brock's single-minded obsession with private enterprise and his fixation on big government and the evils of caring about each other in a society has inexorably led him to diss a good sized chunk of our citizens without his even realizing the import of his remarks. The good news is that we won't be hearing the phrase "Governor Brock" any time soon. His playbook seems to be a page out of the current national Republican platform, which worships at the alter of the 1 percent and spews lies and half truths to keep the other 99 percent in play on election day.

The bad news is that the Democrats and Pres. Obama are hell bent to represent the 10 percent, while giving lip service to the 90 percent, and the candidates who actually understand and would try to solve the problems of the 99 percent, like Green candidate Jill Stein will, as always, be fully muzzled and marginalized by the political power players and the subservient media.

Luckily, as usual, Vermont is fielding its own slate of candidates that have not turned their back on the idea of the common good. From Chittenden County to Windham County, many Progressives and progressive Democrats and a few moderate Republicans are poised to make a strong showing in November. And depending on the Progressive gubernatorial primary recount, a progressive voice may be forcing Shumlin and Brock to talk about a wider range of issues than they might otherwise.

After barely fending off TJ Donovan, Attorney General Bill Sorrel will get to face the erstwhile carpet-bagger Jack McMullen, whose "udder cluelessness" allowed Vermont farmer Fred Tuttle to eat his lunch on his last go round. Doubtless, McMullen knows how many teats are on a cow this time around, but it probably won't be enough to get him elected.

Here in Brattleboro, the narrow victory of Tristan Toleno over Kate O'Connor means that the Rich Tarrant wing of the Democratic party will not get its nose under the proverbial tent quite yet. Republican demagoguery may find a somewhat sympathetic audience on the national stage, but at this point, Vermonters still care too much about each other and about our state to allow it to do its dirty work here.

Dan DeWalt writes from Newfane. He is also a contributor to www.thiscantbehappening.net.