November 24, 2014

Vermonter at Large

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Itches in the old belfry can drive one bats

Nov. 24, 2010

By Mal Boright

It is time that we puzzled citizens — I trust I am not the only one — snap out of our apparent apathy and establish the AHA (Ambivalent Headscratchers’ Association) in an attempt to get some answers to some of the perplexing questions that continue to hound us.

Elections come and go and the same problems remain, largely untouched by the so-called leaders we send to the nation’s political nervous center.

Some old election rules remain. Those out of power call for change while those in power cite their experience. And, of course, money rules all.

So, here are a few national and local noggin itches that bring on futile scratching:

• We are told we cannot afford economic stimulus (jobs programs), improvements in our health care system, better schools and the like, yet there is no problem raising more than $3 billion in campaign and advertising funds for the 2010 elections.

And while complaints about negative campaign advertising are almost universal, going negative will continue unabated because there is a perception among those seeking elective office that dirt works.

• The slogan from Tea Party folks and others this past summer and autumn to “take back our government.”

Er, take it back from whom?

Those in power coming in to the election were put into office in 2008 by a democratic process and there has been no sign of some nefarious cabal wrenching the tools of power from that elected leadership.

On the other hand, if the Take Back Movement is pointing to cleaning up Congress by eliminating the flow of money and influence from special interests, and getting control over institutionalized lobbying practices, then, yes, we have a worthwhile effort being formed.

• Closer to home, the dome needs a serious scratch over the fact that adequate brain power has not been mobilized to think outside the box and find a solution to the lack of signage on Vermont 2A. Consumers from afar need to be able to find their way to Wal-Mart and Home Depot before encountering the rollicking wonders of the Taft Corners intersection (one way) or the Interstate 89 underpass (the other way).

To have bewildered out-of-staters (white license plates) and out-of-town Vermonters (green license plates) lost among the fast-moving, highly-motivated drivers that inhabit 2A are invitations to mayhem.

Surely, some type of decent locator signs can be installed without dooming the area to environmental and commercial Armageddon.

• The end line on Vermont lottery television and radio ads that urge citizens to “please play responsibly” after a message of how much fun the games’ potential riches can be. There is no mention of how the odds are stacked against individual players.

Let’s see now. If one were to be truly responsible he or she would stuff the lottery money back in the wallet and later give a donation to a local food shelf or other worthwhile cause.

But never, never to a politician for campaigning. Now there are some really big odds stacked against the people.

• Noodle nudging is also widespread as to these horrible auto-dial telephone calls that ramp up during election seasons but never really go away.

Why any responsible company or individual would want to use auto-dialing (or telemarketing at all) and thus be associated with the crooked outfits that use these methods to scam the public is puzzling.

And fie on the political campaigns that go auto-dial. There seemed to be fewer of these calls in the recent election, but the voices of Jason Gibbs for secretary of state and Gov. Jim Douglas making a pitch for Brian Dubie come to mind.

Hey, boys and girls, can the auto-calls! They only send the message that you are too busy to actually want to talk with individual voters.

Or, you don’t mind being grouped with hucksters.

Williston resident Mal Boright has been an editor, columnist and reporter for several Vermont newspapers. He covers local sports as a correspondent for The Charlotte Citizen and the Williston Observer.

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