Quite a few midsize forests have been leveled to furnish the paper for writings on Jamestown 70, the Yale Law School faculty/student exploration of the politics of a progressive take-over of a small state to demonstrate how brilliantly the brightest-among-us would govern if given a chance.
Like the original Jamestown settlers-outsiders from a higher civilization landing in A.D. 1607 amongst the indigenous aborigines to improve them, whether they wanted improvement or not-the A.D. 1970 designers intended-as the late Barbara Olson, a victim of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, phrased it in "Hell to Pay"- for "...Those with a heightened consciousness to migrate to a safer place...to create their own realities...in such places as Vermont..." and make the Jamestown 70 proposal less of a theoretical and more of a down-to-earth approach to radical federalism.
Read it for yourself on pp. 61-62 of Olson's Hillary Clinton biography. Debate has continued ever since on the subsequent demographic revolution in Vermont.
Was it as organized, as Olson argues, or simply the sum of tens of thousands of babyboomer decisions to reject their parents' suburbia to "do their own thing" in a then-more-rural environment?
The fiscal background isn't debatable: as more than 50,000 hits on Google illustrate, the nationwide wealth transfer from Silent Generation parents to Boomer Generation offspring has been some $41 trillion, quite enough to create a new phenomenon of the trust-fund economy in small governances like Vermont, not yet a clear demographic majority but certainly a now-dominant crunchy-Progressive presence.
Earlier examples, such as the Webb family in Charlotte and the Billings family in Woodstock, used railroad-based family wealth to play at farming in Vermont in the late 19th century.
New York City trustfunders-so called rural homesteaders-Scott and Helen Nearing farmed their mailbox for their unearned monthly checks along with authorship revenues from writing about "The Good Life"; they played at growing beans in Vermont during the early 20th century.
But these were few in numbers compared to the Boomers. I'd argue the Boomers have been the overwhelming component of Vermont's population growth from 360,000 in 1960 to 630,000 today-a half-century of negligible natural increase and continued outmigration of Yankee natives who, having imprudently failed to select wealthy parents for inheritance purposes, have had to leave and actually earn their own livings elsewhere.
The contemporary battalions of rural homesteaders in Vermont aren't the malefactors of great wealth contemptuously described by early 20th century GOP-Progressive President Teddy Roosevelt, but neither are they the earlier typical New Englanders who earned their way in farming, mill-work, machine tool, or small commerce, living frugally and, saving and investing the wealth which now furnishes some of their grandchildrens' passive income.
It's exactly this form of family wealth creation which is now discouraged by Progressive governmental policy.
As politician and amateur economist Ron Paul writes, it's the small-scale savers and investors who have been hardest hit by U.S. Federal Reserve actions to devalue the dollar (only 5 percent of the purchasing power of the 1913 dollar remains from that year of Federal Reserve establishment) and encourage highly progressive income taxation, while keeping interest rates so low (now at .25 percent) that prudently invested bonds and banked savings can't earn much.
You'd think passive income Boomers nationwide would be manning and womaning the barricades to protest-but they aren't.
Maybe that's because, to paraphrase Nearing-contemporary F. Scott Fitzgerald, the independently wealthy are different from you and me; their riches are invested with sufficient sophistication that they aren't damaged by Federal Reserve actions to create long-term currency depreciation.
Charged with maintaining currency stability, the Fed has opted for a constant 2 percent inflation rate (soon to double, so as to stimulate the economy, the Wall Street Journal reports) and to create a stagnant near-zero return for interest-bearing investments.
Like the debtors at the other end of the wealth scale, the upper income/higher net worth quintiles benefit from dollar devaluation, as their leveraged investments can be more easily paid off and their non-dollar-denominated investments keep pace with, or grow ahead of, their earlier nominal dollar value.
Not so for the middle-income quintile: illustrate how such policies are designed to extract wealth to government from the very same middle-income quintile which typical politicians claim to be "defending". In the last decade alone, the Fed has diminished the dollar by 30 cents.
Like most other states, Vermont depends heavily on real estate values to generate the property taxes which pay for public education. Advocates of ever growing per-pupil spending levels are happy with a deliberately inflationary policy raising the nominal value of all that taxable real estate even more than any typical Consumer Price Index dollar-value-deflator indicates.
Here's a typical example of the above: the 1960 dollar, according to the Economic History website calculator, today matches $7.24; but the little house we bought for $18,000 then is worth almost $400,000 now. That's a multiplier not of approximately seven but of approximately 20, pleasing results for those who invested in real estate rather than savings accounts-equally pleasing for those who tax it for government spending.
Assuming rates have remained constant (actually, they're up), they're taking 20 times as much in the feudal annual rental-due-to-government from supposed free-hold landowners.
Another facet of the current economic picture: trustfunder "rural homesteaders", who now dominate Vermont politics, frequently (anecdotal information, no statistics) arrange to have their large purchases, such as land, McMansion, Prius towncar, boat, kids' college-funded directly by their trusts while they report near poverty level personal incomes, to qualify for various low tax-bracket, tax-abatement benefits, thus illustrating the skillful personal capitalism of avowed anti-capitalists.
Retired Vermont architect Martin Harris observes Green Mountain State politics from a safe distance-Tennessee.