We’re Beyond the Canaries, Coal Miners are Dropping

June 24, 2020

by Rob Roper

This week we learned that two stalwart Vermont companies are cutting jobs due to the Covid-19 economic shutdown, and an iconic Vermont business is leaving the state.

Darn Tough socks announced that they are laying off 50 of their 330 workers, a 15% cut. It’s hard to conjure a more resilient, successful Vermont company than Darn Tough. They are a poster child for businesses “making it in Vermont.” Back in December, before Covid they were announcing a major expansion. Due to their military contracts Darn Tough is considered an essential business. Even this wasn’t enough to prevent this hit. If Darn Tough isn’t tough enough to handle this, who is?

Are Physicians the Canary in the Coal Mine of Medicine

National Life is one of Vermont’s largest private employers and one of our most successful. They are laying off 53 of their 800 person Vermont workforce, as well as making cuts in offices in other states. These are some of the best paying jobs in our state.

Magic Hat Brewery is hailed as a pioneer of the craft brewing industry that has become such a strong pillar of the Vermont Brand. But now the company (owned by FIFCO USA since 2014) is pulling out of Vermont and consolidating its operations in Rochester, NY. While this may have occurred without the Covid impact, why is it that when an out of state company purchases a Vermont company and decides to consolidate operations, they never do so in Vermont?

These companies aren’t the canaries in the coal mine, they’re the coal miners. If they’re struggling, imagine what’s happening throughout the rest of our economy.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

J. Norris June 27, 2020 at 1:04 am

Blame the Progressives, of course. But Governor Scott’s Covid lockdown and his inability to make the political case for a business-friendly Vermont are also to blame.


Mike June 27, 2020 at 12:44 pm

As the old saying goes, to get a mule’s attention, one has to hit him smack between the eyes with a 2X4. Maybe these events wil be the 2X4 so sorley needed in Montpelier. One can only hope.


Wm Moore June 27, 2020 at 2:35 pm

At some point the Rutland Gym lawsuit will become a problem as the Governor went way beyond any statutory and/or Constitutional authorities. And although the AG TJ Donovan brought the enforcement, Governor Scott at his “ad nauseum” press conferences has stated nothing contrarian in these areas. He has repeatedly suggested protests, graffiti and vandalism as protected speech under the 1st amendment. He even suggested that school employees may have such rights. But not a word about churches being the embodiment of such rights.

My church is currently operating (just barely) under the edicts of the CDC, Governor Scott Executive Fiat Orders, VT ACCD “Guidances” as a nexus for VT statutes, and, perhaps most offensive, insurance company lawyers threats of cancellation.

Access and opportunities are highly restricted. I imagine our finances are tight. But when I think of the hundreds of smaller, barely viable churches across this nation, I am fearful for the nation. Many will fail financially under a cloud of tyranny related to Executive reach and government sanctioned mob rule. Most will never re-open.

Tyranny by democratic mob rule is still tyranny.
Lex Naturalis, let God sort out what is God’s. We should take to the Courts.
Soap Box, Ballot Box, Ammo Box…

Moore out.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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