Ceres triumphant

The domain of Ceres the grain goddess is now more symbolic than real; the fake stuffed sheep on the manicured "pastures" on the sidehills of Route 4 east of Woodstock is the best example of the local elite's mostly theme-park approach to the real job of agriculture.

When you consider that agriculture is well under 1 percent of both Gross National (Domestic) Product and the total U.S. labor force, you have to recognize that Vermont's higher numbers reflect aggressive state policy in that policy direction. After all, there aren't many Vermont farms which can match the 200 bushel per acre corn yield in Illinois and the state isn't the wheat basket for Atlantic coast cities that it was two centuries ago.

Vermont's Golden Domers can't do anything to raise farmgate commodity prices, but they can use their fiscal-policy (tax-and-spend) powers to reduce farm tax burdens and improve farm survivability. They've done just that with a variety of well-known programs.

Although they would vociferously deny it, Golden Domers adopted the basic legislative principle articulated by conservative Jack Kemp more than 20 years agoand economist Alan Greenspan more recently: whatever you tax more, like smoking, you get less of; and conversely, whatever you tax less, like agriculture, you get more of.

Similarly for the statistically-illustrated outmigration of business, the age 25-44 cohort (with their children, thus reducing school enrollments) and now the tax-targetted upper-income quintile, all are driven in part or whole by Golden Domers' deliberate use of the first part of the Kemp principle: whatever you tax more, you get less of.

As I argued last week, the Golden Domers are our intellectual superiors. They are fully cognitive of the predictable results of their decisions and one must conclude that these outmigration patterns are therefore desired objectives. If they weren't, these highly articulate folks would have said so.

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