Childless Vermont

As a predominantly blue county in a predominantly blue State, Addison is home to a clear majority of households whose members eschew conservative publications. Therefore, as a public service, I propose to describe briefly, in this space, the contents of a recent commentary in one such publication, in hopes (mostly futile, I'd guess, for the same reason) that they might find it instructive.

It's New Hampshire resident Mark Steyn's "Gray Mountain State", reprinted from the National Review in a few brave Vermont newspapers. Perhaps Steyn's subject matter, demographics in Vermont, will attract perusal from those more literate-than-average modern political enthusiasts?

Public school enrollment decline is the statistical lynchpin of the Steyn thesis that "Vermont is getting proportionately more childless. Which is to say that, literally, Vermont has no future."

Readers already know the numbers: K-12 enrollment down from 105K in 2000 to 93K in 2008, with projected further decline to below 90K by 2014. He also recites a middle-class out-migration stat-"the number of young adults fell by 20 percent in the Dean years"-and continues in the Douglas years, as economist Art Woolf has documented, factoids similarly well-known to county voter/taxpayers/selective-readers (who have already grasped the underlying related notion, the remarkable propensity of career-enhancement-seeking middle-class households, when pursuing better economic opportunity elsewhere, to take their children with them when they flee).

A month earlier there was a France on the Hudson piece in the Weekly Standard which described a parallel middle-class exodus and ensuing morphing of the Big Apple into a two-tier socio-political structure with a well-above-median-income upper class and a subsidized/dependent underclass cooperating to dominate the ballot box and set governance and spending policy.

In a bright-red pull-quote the editors deploy this: "When asked to define the [New York City] middle-class, [Mayor] Michael Bloomberg offered up only one specific group: 'municipal workers, 300,000 of them'."

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