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Fear Factor Vermont! : River Valley edition : Sunday, 23 February 2020 14:01 EST : a service of The Public Press
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Fear Factor Vermont!

     by Stephen Morris

Vermont has a reputation as a safe state, but there is a lot to be scared of here. Just consider the following: coyotes, black ice, mud, cluster flies, head lice, school budgets, Act 250, tent caterpillars, maple thripps, Quebec drivers, identity theft, gay marriage, and Yankee Nuclear.

A great Vermonter, must have been Fred Tuttle, once said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Despite the fact that we are relatively immune from earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes, I'm afraid of a tsunami. Have you ever stopped to think what would happen if a 8.1 on the Richter Scale happened in the middle of Lake Champlain? So long Bridport and Mallett's Bay!

Things would be a lot better if "they" (not sure who "they" are) put me in charge (not sure exactly what this means, either), because I am a positive solution kinda guy.quiet zone

My biggest fear is of outsiders moving to Vermont. Everyone in Vermont shares this fear, especially people who have just moved here themselves. Yesterday I was reading the local newspaper and learned that a local action committee of civic officials has been formed to address the potential influx of New Yorkers fleeing to Vermont from fear of Asian Bird Flu Pandemic.

I say we take the cautious approach. Instead of putting the public's tax dollars into support services for a sudden boom in population or building a big fence, let's take a couple hundred dollars and make signs that say "Bird Sanctuary Ahead." If we place these strategically at the border, the way you post land against deer hunting, we can divert the invading hordes to upstate New York and New Hampshire.
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(Footnote: luckily, I am connected to the Internet, so have it on good authority that the whole bird flu thing is a government hoax much like the terrorist alert system, designed to keep the huddled masses in a constant state of turmoil.)

It seems that Vermonters get frightened of population booms every few years. Let's see, there was Y2K, when the shutdown of technology was going to send residents of Hoboken scrambling to Hardwick, then 9/11 and anthrax when Muslims would be pouring over the border from the north, then the civil union law that was going to make the Green Mountains a combination East Village and Las Vegas wedding chapel. And now there are the ongoing waves of ethnic invaders Hispanics, Bosnians, Turks, Sudanese, and Californians.

Despite these "invasions" the population of Vermont remains about the same as it was in 1826. What else has stayed the same since 1826? The price of a hot dog? The world's record for running a mile? We are living in a time warp. (Editor's note: I'm not afraid of time warps.)

Not only are people NOT flocking to Vermont, but young people are leaving the state in droves, and we now have an older average population than Florida. I know what is going through your head: "What are we going to do, Stephen?"

In Field of Dreams another famous Vermonter Kevin Costner uttered the line "Build it and they will come." I propose a variation on the common theme: "Build it so they CAN'T leave." I'm not referring to the aforementioned fence, because there are only about two dozen young people left in the state. I'm not a detail guy, so we'll need to bring in someone who actually knows something, but I am envisioning individual shock collars activated whenever anyone under twenty-five tries to cross state lines.

More scary things: gas prices, wood prices, the cost of health insurance ... here's a thought about the soaring prices at the pump. This one doesn't seem too hard to solve. It's not rocket science to move those plastic numbers hanging at the quick stop. Duh! Just change the $3.02 to $2.03. Problem solved! We could make it $0.32, but then people would start moving up here from New York, and we'd have to replace the bird sanctuary signs.

Resource depletion ... that's another thing I'm afraid of. There's a company in my town that takes free water out of the ground, puts it in little plastic bottles, and sells in the local quick stop for $1.29 a pint. Sweet deal! That's a lot more than the $3.02/gallon that the quick stop gets for gasoline that comes from the other side of the planet.

I am not worried about peak oil. We've got water. Ever hear of Lake Champlain? Think of it. All we need are the little plastic bottles!

My son called the other day. (He got out before the shock collar plan was implemented.)

"You sound worried son," I said , thinking I sounded just like Garrison Keillor.

"I'm depressed about global warming," he said.

"Put your mind at ease," I reassured him. "I just read on the Internet that when that volcano in Malasia blows, the sunlight will be so diminished, we'll be in for another Ice Age."

Kids today. They worry about the silliest things.

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