Bill Schubart

Commentator

Bill Schubart lives and writes in Hinesburg. His latest book is volume two of The Lamoille Stories.

Many small colleges are struggling with low inquiry, application, and admission rates, including here in the Northeast. Rising tuitions, student loan abuses, and radical change in employment patterns have discouraged many students who then choose to bypass college and just enter the workforce at a lower level of opportunity.

Growing up in the transition from Vermont’s “Republican century” to the Democratic “sixties,” the political labels we used seemed meaningless in the many discussions I had with people of differing political ideals. I usually found commonsense and decency in their differing perspectives.

Many young people are, by nature’s design, rash and impulsive and in loco parentis educators must often deal with the fallout from their students’ lack of experience. Real-life consequences and good mentoring, mature them over time or they become infantilized adults.

We may be finally witnessing the death throes of the conservative “trickle-down” mantra that advocates for lower taxes on “job creators” and “hands-off” government regulation.

If current political events have taught us anything, it’s how vulnerable we all are to misinformation and innuendo. And if 80% of us don’t trust our own government, we must then ask how many Americans even understand how their government works or their own role in a vibrant democracy. Three quarters of Americans can’t name the three branches of government and one third can’t name even one branch. An electorate that condemns its own government without understanding its functions and purpose can hardly be counted on to participate with informed voting and advocacy.

Let me start by saying that “ignorance” is a meaningless word. It’s a judgment that lacks any clarity. I grew up among many undereducated people who had more wisdom and common sense than later friends who graduated from Ivy League schools and, forty years hence, find themselves lost in a random and complex world.

I missed the opening day of the legislature and the inauguration of our new Governor. But I caught much of it on radio and read more in the dailies.

There are three catchment areas for the broken among us: hospitals, public schools, and jails. Healthcare is a third of our state budget, public education another third, and jails cost twice what we spend on higher education.

There are two types of religion in the world today, those inspired by divinities and divinely inspired prophets once living among us such as Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, and Moses and those altered or fabricated by men to their own earthly purposes.

Schubart: Fake News

Nov 22, 2016

I’ve tuned out of the endless forensic analyses of how news media failed the electorate. In fact, other than having misread the political and cultural pulse of many Americans, I’m not sure the serious news organizations failed us at all. Many were just absent.

Schubart: Consensus

Oct 31, 2016

Vermont has a “consensus” problem. We don’t understand the concept. This confusion manifests itself especially when leadership is weak.

We call out corruption in our partner nations yet are myopic to how corruption threatens our own. It’s time for us to acknowledge how deeply corruption is taking root here at home.

Schubart: The Vote

Oct 10, 2016

The right to vote becomes a moral obligation when voting is understood as being fundamental to the functioning of our democracy. In Australia, voting is mandatory - and failure to vote is punishable by a fine or community service. But here, as much as 40% of eligible voters will stay home on Election Day.

Schubart: Leadership

Sep 26, 2016

Some 20% of Vermont’s economy and much of our social safety net depend on Vermont’s nonprofits. Yet the governance principles that help them achieve their missions are widely misunderstood or ignored by the 6000 largely unregulated organizations licensed to operate in Vermont.

Whomever we elect to lead us for the next two years, we’ll need to confront two gaping holes in our governance: strategic planning and ethics.

When I turned 18, my stepfather drove me to Hyde Park to apply for my draft card. When it came, I looked at it and asked him why I was 4-A unlike all my friends who were 1-A. He explained that I was the sole surviving son of a veteran killed in action and therefore was fit for service but couldn’t be drafted. I burst into tears and hid my draft card from my friends who all bore theirs proudly. A few years later when I was in college and all my friends were drawing lots to see who’d be sent to Viet Nam, I was jubilant and waved my draft card at everyone.

As headlines about young men massacring random or specific targets multiply, we must repress our implicit bias and the tribal labels we apply to these troubled young men. Otherwise, we just indulge our own insecure belief systems.

Schubart: EB-5

Jul 21, 2016

I’m struggling to reconcile the unfolding Jay Peak scandal and the “we did a great job” remarks of our elected administration officials. According to the SEC, the developers misused $200M.

“Information wants to be free” is a mantra from the sixties that’s wreaking havoc with democracy. Our culture is at stake as digitization and the Internet largely eliminate the need for hard media.

Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution in Europe made up the first great American in-migration. Lincoln ended the bitter debate on slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, leading a century later to Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Amendment.

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