Daily Archives: November 2, 2015

The Chamber’s selective complaint

My neighbor Betsy Bishop, head of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, is pushing something she calls an “impact list” of all the burdens placed on Vermont businesses in recent years — “as well as those that could be considered in 2016,” which is a big fat asterisk in itself. Given the state’s budget situation, a whole lot of potential revenue enhancers “could be considered.” Almost all of them will never get off the floor. (The carbon tax, already sidelined, is on her list.) Many are mutually exclusive. But all of ‘em, real or imaginary, make the “impact list.”

And, as VTDigger political analyst Jon Margolis points out, more than a third of the Chamber’s list of tax hits from the 2015 session were actually tax increases on affluent Vermonters, not on businesses.

Generally, the Vermont Chamber is a reasonable actor in Vermont politics. It hasn’t followed the rabid conservative path of the national Chamber. But this is a major step into partisanship for the Vermont Chamber.

And as you might suspect, the Chamber’s “impact list” tells only one side of the story. Margolis helpfully recounts many of the ways that public expenditures and tax breaks directly benefit businesses. It’s quite a list. But it’s arguably the tip of the iceberg.

You can make a strong case that most government expenditures benefit business. Infrastructure spending? You can’t do business without it. Education? You need educated workers, and there’s a big emphasis these days on STEM and workforce-oriented two-year programs. Law enforcement? One of its primary missions is protection of property rights.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Cops at the monolith

I have a useful phrase that describes my general approach to new technology: “ape at the monolith.” It refers to the opening scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey” when the apes react to the monolith’s appearance by screaming and throwing stuff. That’s pretty much how I respond to new gadgets and software, except I usually keep the screaming inside my brain.

Well, the Burlington Police Department seems to have the same problem.

VPR’s Taylor Dobbs has a “funny if it wasn’t so sad” report about a shooting incident in September. The incident itself wasn’t funny; a Colchester man was wounded by Burlington police. Today, authorities cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.

From the way the incident was described, it sounds like the right call. But we have to take the officers’ word for it because they turned off their body cameras during the incident, fearing that the cameras’ red lights would compromise their safety.

Trouble is, as Dobbs reports, the users’ manual says the red light can be disabled without turning off the camera.

Continue reading