The Problem with Vermont

The ALLDERBLOB is on holiday in the U.S.A.

This missive is being written from a public library in the town of Putney Vermont. A beautiful new building by the local architects Banister and Greenberg, with a high central hall, wood post and beam construction, light flooding down through the soaring braces and along the golden-coloured rafters. It’s kind of cool, to be able to walk in and put your initials down on a sheet of paper and be given a plasma screen, a pentium 4 computer, an air-chilled room on a hot day, and newspapers and books to read.

Let’s start with the library, if you want to know the problem with Vermont.

The washroom has a window with only a screen on it, no bars, no grate, and the window yawns open wide enough for the biggest book in the library to pass through to an accomplice outside, or to be scooped up later yourself.

But why bother? A door off the magazine reading section opens directly to the outside reading area and thence to the parking lot and thence to the street. No metal detectors. Just walk a book out to read in the sunshine, and then waltz off with it.

The problem with Vermont starts here. People can steal books from the public library, barred only by their conscience.

What the hell kind of security is that?

Let’s go to the big picture for contrast.

In the recent presidential election held in the U.S.A., the big guns turned on an M.D. named Howard Dean to deny him a spot on the democratic ticket, but before that happened this fellow Dean was a contender. He revolutionized the way money was raised for a political campaign, and today he’s head of the Democratic National Committee, where he’s still raising heck.

Who’s Howard Dean?

The guy’s a Vermonter. He got his start in politics (not including a stint stuffing envelopes for the Jimmy Carter reelection campaign) when he lobbied the city of Burlington VT to build a bicycle path along the lake near his home (apparently he championed public access over “private land rights,” even quitting his Episcopalian (aka Anglican) church over their opposition to the path) [gosh, wouldn’t want cyclists coming in contact with the Episcopalianists, hmm? -ed].

What else do we know about Vermont?

Hmm. Oh. How about this: Vermont bans billboards.

As a Vermont business owner recently said, “I do not think the short-term gain such signs would bring to my business are worth the permanent degradation to our scenic roadsides or the insult to our citizens and visitors who have come to expect more of us.” Appreciating natural beauty is the first step towards conserving our scenery and protecting our natural resources.

But we want more. We wonder, from the path to and through the public library, to the refreshing lack of visual clutter along the roads, could there be a link? Could there be a connection between honest relations among humans, within institutions, extending to those who would aspire to the highest political office in the land, and a ban on billboard advertising?

Go figure. But one thing’s for sure. Outlawing the billboard advertisement of automobiles, for example, has not destroyed the economy of this state.

Post Script:
July 8 2005

How does one finance the construction of a beautiful new library in this age, a time when there are trillions for warmongers and punishers, and schools and libraries and health providers go begging? Where does one turn for one’s begging?

The story is while many locals, seeing the need for a new public library, banded together to hold bake sales and bazaars, one Putney citizen, a man named Rothschild, took cap in hand and went to the state Capitol, Montpelier. There he refused to take no for an answer. Told there was not budget allocation for public libraries, he looked into what the budget had in other areas.

There was a lot of money kicking about in the “build a new jail” fund.

In Vermont.

Where no one locks their door. Where we leave our bicycle out unlocked on the rack for an hour and a half while we borrow a computer in the public library.

Rothschild, the story has it, suggested to the state capitol that the jail construction allocation could be better spent.

Remarkably, his logic prevailed, and the state reallocated the money toward Putney’s public library construction, where would-be crooks would learn by example about honesty, self-governance, and conscientious behaviour, in a public building with doors thrown wide open.

2 Responses to “The Problem with Vermont”

  1. Spin says:

    Fritesaus: Great post. What's up with the password requirement on the comments feature, though? Seriously, I've already got about 130 passwords to remember.


    yeah, I know. I just always use the same password, "dolores," for all my password-protected info. It's easy to remember, and for the password reminder question you can always put down "what rhymes with seinfeld?"

    seriously, I will talk with the server dude about this. Maybe this is why no one's been writing comments...

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