In the early part of my professional career I worked for a minor league sports team in Vermont, and recently had the opportunity to pass through Vermont for the first time in two decades. What struck me is that Vermont, then and now, is blessed with beautiful geography and picturesque small towns. On the surface it would appear that Vermont, cold winters and all, would be a great place to live and raise a family. Young Vermonters, however, feel otherwise as they are fleeing the state like it was on fire, and the older generation is dying out quicker than the next generation can be born.
If you’re asking yourself what in the name of Bernie Sanders is going on, and struggle to understand why the state can’t keep residents, look no further than an incident involving the University of Vermont women’s basketball team as a clue. It is illustrative of how liberalism is slowly strangling the vitality and hope out of its residents.
Barely making a ripple in the sports world last week was a small item regarding the smug busybodies who make up the University of Vermont women’s basketball team brain trust. As if Vermont didn’t have enough of its own problems, the University decided to cast stones elsewhere, announcing last week that the women’s basketball team wouldn’t travel to the University of North Carolina to play basketball on December 28, as previously scheduled. It seems the team can’t bear to be in the Tar Heel State after the passage of HB2 which bans men in government facilities from using women’s restrooms and vice versa. Talk about the proverbial finding the speck in your brother’s eye, but not the log in your own.
As it is, the University of Vermont is struggling to get students from Vermont to attend. Last year the University reported that only 20 percent of incoming freshmen are state residents, which is down from 35% just a decade earlier. Part of the reason locals don’t want to attend UVM is that they have witnessed throughout their lives the University’s extreme leftwing antics and don’t want their time and money wasted or be subjected to nonsense like the three-day event UVM sponsored last fall called “Examining White Privilege: A Retreat for Undergraduate Students Who Self-Identify as White.” I mean, why would a college-age Vermonter want to go out of state and maybe actually learn something and pass up the opportunity to discuss, as the brochure assures, such stimulating topics as “What does it mean to be white? How does whiteness impact you?”
It is not only political correctness that is causing young Vermonters to go elsewhere, but also the type of tax-and-spend socialism that is Bernie Sanders’ hallmark. Consider for example that this spring the Vermont House of Representatives voted for $48 million in higher taxes, and this was on top of a $30 million tax increase from the previous year. This doesn’t even take into account Vermont’s much ballyhooed but now defunct single-payer health care system that, if implemented, was going to mandate an 11.5% payroll tax on each employer and tax Vermont residents as much as $27,500 per year for health care. And if Sue Minter, who has won the Democratic nomination for Governor, has her way she is promising paid family and medical leave which has both employers and employees wary.
Although Vermont may always vote left in November, a growing number of Vermonters are voting right with their feet and are moving right out of the state. In the first five years of the decade only two of Vermont’s 14 counties had more people move in than move out, and as a whole more people have moved out of the state than have moved to it. In 2015 the University of Vermont did a survey to find out why Vermonters were leaving, and to no one’s surprise the lack of jobs and high cost of living were major motivating factors.
Between political correctness and tax and spend policies, Vermont is self-destructing. Perhaps the women’s basketball team should reconsider its boycott. After all, the trip to North Carolina might be helpful to them in many ways. It would allow the players to observe a state with a functioning economy where common sense doesn’t always bow to political correctness and, more importantly, would give them an opportunity to scout potential employers. After all, their future will more likely be in a place like North Carolina than Vermont.