The sustainably fossil-fueled Vermont economy

If you have an appetite for irony, consider the economic foundation of the fastest-growing sector of the Vermont personal income structure: passive income. It might be based on past personal savings, public- or private-sector-earned pensions, or so-called "insurance" programs from government, or inheritance.

Whether monies earned in financial-markets-speculation (or trading, if you prefer) as opposed to real work, are active earned or passive unearned income, is a philosophical issue beyond my pay grade, for the purposes of this column. Here's another philosophical point: isn't money just a compact form of previously created and stored energy?

And therefore, isn't the monthly trust-funder income check not much different, in origin and function, from coal or oil? Isn't it -horrors-a fossil fuel? And, if they don't dip into their principal, aren't such monetarily-funded trust-funders spending sustainably? A pair of neat little ironies, there.

All this came to mind with the recent publication of the third edition of "Rich States, Poor States", an American Legislative Exchange Council research effort which ranks the States on a variety of economic indicators ranging from growth in gross state product or Employment (deemed "good things" by ALEC writers) to property tax bBurden or unemployment (deemed "bad things" by ALEC writers) and, summarized in a Policy vs. Performance score for each state.

Vermont scored 49 out of 51.

Utah scored no. 1. In the first (2007) edition, Vermont scored a 50, and Utah no. 1.

Lots of stats, hard-to-dispute rankings, and one basic logic gap, which is only hinted at by the "Policy vs. Performance" scoring system: there was no recognition that Vermont, (with the barely possible accompaniment of Maine or Washington or Oregon) did not-at-all, as a matter of state policy, actually seek to achieve the goals measured in the ALEC study.

Compare, for example, Vermont (49) and New York (50) in the just-published study, which assumes that both jurisdictions were eagerly competing in the arenas of economic growth, job creation, capital investment, and in-migration. What if they weren't?

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