Rob Roper, John McClaughry and David Flemming write 40+ commentaries a year discussing the most pressing public policy issues in Vermont. These are published online and in newspapers throughout the state, including VT Digger, the Caledonian Record, the Rutland Herald, the St. Albans Messenger, the Bennington Banner, Vermont Biz, TrueNorthReports, Times Argus, the Eagle Times and Vermont Daily. If you see an EAI commentary in your local newspaper, shoot us an email! And if you don't see our commentaries in your local papers, let your newspaper editors know.

Commentary: Vermont not ready for mail-in-voting says Colorado Secretary of State

Live ballots for the Vermont general election are in the mail and on their way to every active voter on the statewide checklist. Since coming up with this vote-by-mail scheme in response to Covid-19, Secretary of State Jim Condos has argued that it will work because other states have been operating vote-by-mail programs for years without any major problems.

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Commentary: Free Exercise and Faith-Based Schools

A Supreme Court ruling in a Montana case finds that the government’s failure to pay tuition for children attending faith based schools is an unacceptable burden on “free exercise of religion”. That opens the door to tuitioning to such schools in Vermont, and vitiating our “no compelled support” constitutional provision.

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Commentary: Shout-downs place democracy in peril

For years, public demonstrations on issues ranging from abortion to climate change have been commonplace in Vermont, signs of a healthy civil discourse. But some demonstrations have taken a more sinister tone of late, undermining the foundations of our democracy.

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Commentary: What’s In the Global Warming Solutions Act?

The legislature returned in late August to tie up the loose ends of the 2020 session, and one of those loose ends is the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).

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Commentary: Renewable Energy and Blackouts

California has just suffered electrical blackouts affecting over 200,000 people, and there will be more to come on hot summer evenings. Why? Because California has become infatuated with subsidizing solar and wind powered electricity, which disappears when the sun goes down and the wind stops. Vermont is heading down that same mistaken path.

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Commentary: Candidate Questions for 2020

Here are 16 incisive questions, fairly stated, to put to your candidate for the legislature, Governor and Lt. Governor. Voters deserve to know what they’ll get by giving their votes. That’s what makes democracy work.

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Commentary: If Public Schools Can't Deliver, Their Budgets Need to Fund Alternatives

A number of public school teachers and administrators have recently raised serious concerns about re-opening schools this fall. Harwood Union Superintendent, Brigid Nease, just penned a 2225 word letter sounding the alarm about the overwhelming challenges facing the system. Then on July 30, the House Education Committee held a three plus hour special meeting to hear from school officials about how they are preparing to open for the coming school year. All indications are this experiment it won’t end well.

The principals don’t even know if they have enough staff to open. One superintendent did a survey and 50% of her staff were either high risk for Covid or lived with someone who is. Teachers are waiting to hear what the plan is before they decide if they’ll take part or part ways.

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Commentary: Really Affordable Health Care

Candidates continue to promise “affordable health care”, but on close inspection that translates to “I promise to make the government transfer your health care costs to somebody else.” India’s Narayana Health City actually does make surgery affordable, with modern Western techniques and comparable results. There a CABG operation goes for an all-in bundled price of $12,000 (plus $10,000 airfare for two). In the U.S. the tab is $100,000 or more.  Wake up, America!

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Commentary: Founders Didn't Invent Slavery, They Helped End It

Rob Roper

Slavery was and is a horrible, dehumanizing institution, but to call it the United States’ “original sin” and to tear down statues and deface memorials to our founders (not to be confused with Confederate generals) is historically ignorant and dangerous. Slavery was hardly an original concept in the late 18th and 19th Century. In fact, pretty much every society since the modern version of humans evolved had slavery up until that time.

The Greeks had slaves. The Romans had slaves. The Egyptians had slaves to build the pyramids, and the Chinese had slaves to build the Wall. Vikings enslaved Saxons. Muslims enslaved Vikings. The English enslaved Irish and Scots. The Russians had serfs (potAYto, potAHto). The Incas, Mayans and Aztecs all had slavery, as did the North American native tribes. African nations had slaves themselves and sold them to European slave traders. Slavery was the norm for all 5500 or so years of recorded human history — until those crusty, old, dead, European white guys abolished it.

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Commentary: Global Warming Solutions Act Needs a Scott Veto

The GWSA is likely to land on Gov. Scott’s desk at the end of August. There are five reasons why it deserves his veto. “He can take his stand on the liberties and economic well-being of Vermonters, accountable democracy, constitutional separation of powers, far more important spending priorities, and protecting the state from costly virtue-signaling nuisance suits, all in a misbegotten bill that will produce no detectable effect on climate.”

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