There’s something of a disconnect on the Republican side of things when it comes to the health of Vermont’s business climate. On the one hand, it’s so disastrous that businesses are closing left and right, the rich are scoping out tax havens, and regular old workers are, in the words of Burlington school board member (and spectacularly unsuccessful House candidate) Scot Shumski’s Twitter feed, “fleeing” by “the thousands.”
Which you’d think would show up in our Census figures, but never mind.
Funny thing about the notion that Vermont is a horrible place to do business. During the past Legislative session, Republicans threw their weight behind a proposal that came out of Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s series of “economy pitch” sessions: the need for a marketing campaign that promotes Vermont as a great place for budding entrepreneurs and relocating businesses.
Well, which is it? A hellhole of taxation and regulation that doesn’t give a damn about the needs of business? Or a great place to work that just needs an image tweak?
Sorry, it can’t be both. If Vermont is really such a bad place for business, then you won’t attract entrepreneurs with catchy slogans and web videos. And even if you do attract some, won’t you be guilty of false advertising?
In truth, conservatives do damage to Vermont’s image with their constant drumbeat of negativity. Constructive criticism and new ideas are fine; across-the-board trashing is not. When Phil Scott launched his economy pitches, I was skeptical. I still don’t think they made a huge difference, but they did accomplish something important: they turned the conversation in a positive direction.
That’s a good thing for our political discourse. But it does undercut the right-wing narrative about Vermont.