Friday February 22, 2013

On the proposal to tax sugar-sweetened drinks

Editor of the Reformer:

I couldn’t help but notice a full-page ad in the Reformer this weekend titled "Stop the Vermont Beverage Tax" (Feb. 16-17). The ad is geared at families who don’t want their household budget hit. What I found appalling about the ad, if you read the very small light print at the bottom, is that it is paid for by the American Beverage Association, a member of Stop the Vermont Beverage Tax. Now, they don’t call themselves the Stop the Vermont Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax, but that’s what the proposed tax is all about -- one penny per ounce for beverages containing added sweeteners.

This group’s argument? If you make something more expensive people will buy less of it. Really? People won’t pay an additional quarter for a 25-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage? This argument is a bunch of hooey. Of course people are going to pay a little more -- we’re addicted to sugar in this country. If that argument held water, people wouldn’t be paying $7 to $8 for a pack of cigarettes.

Guess what the tax would help fund? Among other things, the purchase of fresh fruits and veggies by WIC and 3Squares VT recipients, school meals for low-income Vermonters’ families and education on combating obesity. Now I see why this tax would be so awful.


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Oh, did I mention that the Stop the Beverage Tax is a coalition of small general stores and quick mart owners, and includes two state representatives, both of whom own such stores? Seems a little like a conflict of interest to me. Regardless, the Legislature has an uphill battle on this one, as the governor, among others, is not in favor of the tax. Am I the only one who wishes that "food" and "politics" never got the chance to meet in the same sentence?

Ann Wright,

Brattleboro, Feb. 18

Moratorium on wind farms is short-sighted

Editor of the Reformer:

I once again had to drop my jaw lower at the narrow-mindedness of both fellow Vermonters and law makers with regard to wind power State Senator Peter Galbraith in particular galls me. Galbraith states that he is in favor of a moratorium on steps that could lead to operational wind farms in Vermont. Yet, this very same senator has in bold red lettering on his website (www.petergalbraith.com/issues.php) two points: "Retire Vermont Yankee as scheduled in 2012," and right below that, "Advance a Green Energy future through conservation, the use of local development of renewable energy, and marketing Vermont green technology." Please tell me, senator, how is it that you can advocate shutting down Vermont Yankee, yet oppose wind power while clearly stating your support for such alternative energy sources on your State Senate webpage?

Well, while we are at it, let’s just put back Northampton-like billboards along I-91, which we have avoided for the past 40 years or so, so that Vermont can completely mutate. We Vermonters pat ourselves on the back for standing up to big corporations like Vermont Yankee, for advocating alternative marital lifestyles and protecting our dairy industry, but then we go completely NIMBY on other issues like wind power. Will it solve all our problems? Of course not. However, some of our fellow citizens and lawmakers are treating it as being only slightly less toxic than atomic energy.

I’d at least expect Fish to end one of his columns with his signature "What the ...?"

David Bozetarnik,

Brattleboro, Feb. 15

Anti-Taser sentiment
is not justified

Editor of the Reformer:

I have been following the kerfuffle in the Vermont media about taser usage in Vermont. I find it ironic that there is such outcry related to this "less than lethal" technology. All restraint devices employed by our state’s law enforcement carry risks of morbidity and mortality. I find the public’s reaction to recent, no less tragic, events where there have been poor outcomes. 

As a paramedic I have seen this technology employed successfully many times without untoward effects. It was not all that long ago when Vermonters were up in arms about the death of Mr. Woodward in Brattleboro. There was outcry that less than lethal means of subduing him were not used. Would Vermonters now choose law enforcement to rely on always lethal means, or do they expect those who keep us safe to just talk to the out of control person?

Heaven forbid we give law enforcement the tools to keep us safe. A job that is often thankless and unpleasant. I for one feel we should give them all the tools we can to keep us safe and support them when bad things happen.

Sean Sanderson,

Jacksonville, Feb. 13

A call for gun control

Editor of the Reformer:

We, the undersigned of the West Brattleboro Quaker Worship Group, urge strong legislative action to curb gun violence.

Quakers throughout history have stood on the side of peace and non-violence. Just as we believe that "war is not the answer" as a way of settling international disputes, so we also believe that "guns are not the answer" for settling disputes of any kind or for providing personal safety.

We ourselves choose not to carry or own weapons for the intended purpose of killing other human beings. This is consistent with our stance of religious non-violence. We hope that by living our lives in this peaceful manner others will be empowered to do the same -- not take up weapons with the idea that they might have to kill another human being or put down the weapons they already own for this purpose.

This seems like a tall order. Yet, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and other countries with which we have a close kinship have accomplished impressive reductions in gun violence through strong gun control measures.

We urge our fellow citizens, members of religious groups and legislators at all levels of government to support reasonable and effective legislation to curb gun violence. The courage to do so will lead to a significant reduction in the terrible loss of human life and lack of public safety our country, alone among developed nations, currently endures.

Sally Andrews, Connie Baxter,

Gretchen Becker, Beatrice Blake,

Peter Cooper, Doug Cox,

Edie Mas, Francie Marbury,

Lynn Martin, Greg Moschetti,

Maggie Newton, Walter Slowinski,

Ted Webster, John Wilmerding

and Annie Winkler,

West Brattleboro, Feb. 19