Daily Archives: February 15, 2016

Justice Scalia’s Chamber of White Privilege

I suppose I have to begin with the usual respect-for-the-departed, Scalia-towering-intellect, beloved-by-all-despite-his-views stuff, because That’s What You Do when a prominent person dies.

That’s about as far as I’m willing to go, since Scalia wielded his influence as a weapon against many causes I hold dear. For me, praising his “towering intellect” is kind of like honoring the entrepreneurial spirit of Al Capone.

Besides, the exigencies of politesse didn’t prevent Republicans from pivoting immediately to the political; clearly, Ted Cruz and others got their research teams to work right away, preparing arguments for Saturday night’s Republican debate. So if they couldn’t be bothered to go beyond the formalities, neither will I.

On to business. Found something just so chock-full of unintentional irony that I couldn’t resist writing about it, even though it has nothing to do with Vermont politics. Apologies for straying; feel free to move on to the next post if you wish.

Scalia was found dead on Saturday morning at Cibolo Creek Ranch in rural Texas.

Roughin' it, rich white folks style.

Roughin’ it, rich white folks style.

And then on Sunday morning, the Austin American-Statesman runs a puff piece in its Travel section about that very ranch!

For those unfamiliar with the ways of the press, it’s common for newspapers to pre-publish and pre-distribute their non-news Sunday sections. But still: awkward!

But when I read the puff piece, I realized what a colossal slice of unintended irony it really was. And what an unintentionally appropriate place Cibolo Creek Ranch was for Justice Scalia to end his days.

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GlobalFoundries: Too big to fail?

Chittenden County is blessed — and a little bit cursed — by the presence of a large high-tech employer: GlobalFoundries, formerly d.b.a. IBM. The Essex facility is a major driver of the area’s economy, and the entire state’s economy for that matter.

And GlobalFoundries knows this, and they seem to know they have us over a barrel.

This is my inference based on a new report by the Associated Press’ master gardener Dave Gram, who has used public-records requests to discover the extent of GF’s demands on the state.

We already knew about the questionable $1 million from the Enterprise Fund. Gram now brings us tidings of a $17 million highway project that GF wants fast-tracked. It would involve improvements on Route 22A, which happens to be the most direct route from the Burlington area to New York State. (22A goes straight through downtown Vergennes. Hope you like your new highway, Vergennians!)

But otherwise it’s of little utility to intra-state traffic. For general transportation, trade and tourism puposes, improvements to US-7 would be more efficacious. But I have a feeling that what GlobalFoundries wants, GlobalFoundries will get.

(Now, if GF can convince New York State to build a decent highway from the Vermont border west of Rutland to I-87, then that would be a great benefit to the western Vermont economy as a whole. If they can do that, then our investment in 22A would be a worthwhile tradeoff.)

GlobalFoundries also wants state backing for “payments to GlobalFoundries from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state pact that spins off money to states with a low carbon footprint.” Gram’s report doesn’t go into the reasoning behind GF’s request; in the absence of more information, I have a feeling that there are more pertinent uses for the money.

But hey, GlobalFoundries is a yoooge employer, and its loss would cripple Vermont’s economy. We may not have much choice.

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