Bill Schubart

Commentator

Bill Schubart lives and writes in Hinesburg. His latest book is Lila & Theron.

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.

Incarceration’s original purpose - to punish crime, ensure public safety, and rehabilitate - is still with us, but doesn’t come close to explaining the seven million Americans currently under the care and oversight of corrections. Key metrics of a healthy society are levels of employment, food security, graduation rates, longevity and, negatively: incidences of chronic disease, discrimination, addiction, and homelessness.

If you’re wondering why our bridges collapse, our trains collide, security lines stretch on, and our courtrooms have no judges … it’s because “potty politics” has become a more important legislative issue.

I grew up in the arms of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Morrisville and, although I fell out with the church in my teens, I maintained a deep friendship with the priest I had served as an altar boy. We continued to meet even after he had retired and a stroke had impaired his communication skills. We often talked about what we were reading, philosophical and moral issues, and how the years had changed us.

As the legislative term winds down, it’s time to consider what happened, what didn’t, and more important, why? Many Vermonters are vocal about wanting their government branches to change how they do business; others have altogether given up on government’s ability to better their lives. And while it’s fine to distrust and criticize government leaders, an outright anti-government stance, unfortunately, denies help, hope, and invites tyranny.

There are many actors in the Jay Peak/Q-Burke tragedy playing out on our Northern Vermont stage.

Schubart: Childcare

Apr 8, 2016

Public education is Vermont’s largest and best investment. And by re-imagining it as a publicly financed continuum of learning, we could deepen its value and cost-effectiveness.

“We must agree to disagree” is a fair resolution to any discussion and such was the case with a thoughtful discussion I had recently about S. 107, a bill to split the Agency of Human Services into its traditional social safety net role and a new “Agency of Health Care Administration”.

The rationale in the bill’s language is this:

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