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Martin Harris

To the Addison Eagle: Martin Harris doesnt like planned economies and in his April 19 column he cites Zimbabwe as an example. Zimbabwe looks to most people like a chaotic undemocratic mess, but, ok, to Mr. Harris its an example of planning. Then Mr. Harris makes a bizarre segue into talking about the Vermont Commission on Economic Development. (How blessed the Green Mountain State is to have such brilliantly superior, highly motivated, intellectually innovative folks under their gilded dome, he sneers). (Actually its the Commission on the Future of Economic Development. I think Mr. Harris drops these little errors into his columns to make it a little harder to fact-check him.) Harris has got to be the only person in the world who thinks Zimbabwe is an example of a country run by the best and the brightest, but comparing Zimbabwe to the Vermont Commission on the Future of Economic Development is just plain weird. So lets take a closer look at this organization that Harris disdains. Who serves on this evil cabal of economic planners? There is a real estate executive, a utility executive, a regional manager from a large and successful manufacturing firm, a construction executive, a financial executive. There are several people who specialize in economic development. Many of the appointments were made by our Republican governor. Others were appointed by, gasp, Democrats! (Mr. Harris no doubt is unhappy that, unlike Zimbabwe, Vermont is a democracy so sometimes a political party he doesnt like gets to appoint people to commissions.) These are people who are serving the state by offering their informed advice about the Vermont economy. The best Mr. Harris can do is spit at them from his distant vantage point in Tennessee. Im not sure what his problem is with the state asking successful business leaders to give their advice on improving the economic climate here. In any case, even if Mr. Harris disagrees with this commission, they deserve better treatment than his snide, condescending and completely uninformative column. Peter Hamlin, Middlebury Martin Harris replies: I suppose this registered a 7.5 on the Magnitude Assessment of Continuing Hamlin Outrage scale MACHO for short. To borrow (and modify slightly) from the Bard of Avon: The [gentleman] doth protest too much, methinks. He can fact-check it in Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2. Or if he prefers, he can start a new career in agriculture in Zimbabwe. I understand that a centrally-directed government program thereyou might call it planning-of-free-enterprisehas made whole plantations quite affordable.

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