This past Sunday, Burlington Free Press Publisher Al Getler grabbed the keyboard out of the hands of longtime editorialist Aki Soga, and penned an opinion piece of his own.
Bad idea. Because in the process, he revealed himself to be a lousy writer, a shallow thinker, and a doctrinaire Republican.
His thesis statement is that Vermont is in need of a “strong leader” to lift us out of our alleged doldrums. Those doldrums he discerned, Lord help us all, in the collected writings of Vermont’s Laziest Economist Art Woolf. His offenses against logic and his explorations of convenient statistics have been frequently chronicled in this space; if you want to check it out, just scroll down to my search box and enter “Woolf.”
Herr Perfesser’s stock in trade is statistical measures of Vermont’s shortcomings. He rarely, if ever, mentions the many ways in which Vermont is a great place to live, or the ways in which our woes are widely shared across the region or the entire country.
And this is the fragile foundation of Al Getler’s knowledge of Vermont. Sheesh.
“The most startling statistic” in Getler’s mind: Vermont’s Gross Domestic Product is the lowest in the nation. Shocking! Appalling!
Except, well, Woolf failed to adjust the numbers for population. And as Getler admits, Vermont is the second-smallest state in the nation. The only state with fewer residents, Wyoming, has abundant natural resources that boost its GDP. We don’t have that. Nor do we suffer the resultant environmental degradation.
So. Small state, low GDP. A real economist would evaluate GDP on a per-capita basis. But that wouldn’t fit Woolf’s narrative that Vermont is in the financial doldrums.
Getler concludes that Vermont needs a new kind of leadership.
The numbers clearly show Vermont needs to elect a governor with a plan that looks closely at the cost of state government, the cost of living and the cost of doing business.
Hmmmmmm. Sounds like he cribbed that sentence directly from Phil Scott’s campaign website. For a moment I thought he was going to endorse Scott, but then he wrote:
There is no more important time for Vermont to elect a talented, driven and well-prepared chief executive officer than in this election cycle.
And Phil Scott is a lot of things, but “talented and driven” he is not. He is genial, engaging, comfortable. He’s been around a long time and has made many friends and few enemies. He is not a creative policymaker or an incisive thinker. If you’re looking for a driven, dynamic leader, don’t look to Phil Scott.
Still, I suspect we’re going to see a Scott endorsement in the Free Press’ future. And I suspect that we’ll see Al Getler poaching Aki Soga’s turf whenever he feels the urge. Or maybe Aki’s in the process of joining virtually all of his former colleagues in the “former Free Press staffer” category, and Getler is phasing himself into the editorial chair.
Which will make an already dismal paper even worse. Let’s conclude, just for shits and giggles, with a child’s treasury of Bad Al Getler Verbiage, all verbatim from this single essay.
In January, Woolf reported that the Census Bureau reported that there were 626,042 Vermonters on July 1, 2015.
Woolf reported that somebody else reported. And now Getler is reporting that Woolf reported that somebody else reported. Now, that’s journalism!
The most startling statistic is Vermont’s Gross Domestic Product (GPD).
Vermont’s future is starting to look even scarier given that the approximately 626,000 residents are made up of an aging population.
Guhhhhh. Is Al Getler smarter than a third grader? Perhaps not. Here’s Exhibit B.
The almost yearly exercise of a Legislature that creates revenue by taxing an already strained Vermont population and business base will drive Vermont further into a statistical hole.
That looks like something a middle-school student would write while desperately trying to attain the minimum word count.
Since history tells Vermonters tend to stick with the governor they elect for a while, voters should be doing their homework despite the summer vacation.
Sorry, Al. That’s not a sentence.
They need to bring the best candidates forward for the general election in November that ultimately produces a governor of action and new ideas.
Nope, that’s not a sentence either.
This is the steward of the Burlington Free Press’ future.
Me, I’m thinking about canceling my subscription.