Commentary Series

Mon-Thurs 8:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Sundays at 10:55 a.m.

More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers. The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.

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Adrian: REM Days

Oct 21, 2016

The recent and prolonged spate of unseasonably warm days often called “Indian Summer” has got me thinking about the future.

In the current political climate, there is little room for discussing climate change. But in my forty years of living in Vermont, this is the warmest Fall I’ve ever experienced. And, each year, spring seems to come just a little bit earlier. Now that it’s apple harvest time, I’m reminded of how precious this year’s apple crop is.

In a deli at the top of Church Street in Burlington there’s a vintage photo from the post-Civil War era of the street itself - still just a dirt road lined with modest buildings that look like bungalow-style homes.

Davis: Campaign Buttons

Oct 19, 2016

My friend Ed Granai and I were nine years old when we decided that we needed campaign buttons promoting either Wendell L. Willkie or the incumbent, Franklin D. Roosevelt for the office of president. We wanted buttons from both.

Seventy-five years ago today at 6:56 pm, the modern renewable-energy era began. On a mountain in Vermont called Grandpa’s Knob, the world’s first megawatt-scale wind turbine was connected to the electric grid, generating power for thousands in the Champlain Valley below.

Thomas J. O'Halloran / Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

In 1972, as President Richard Nixon, a Republican, was preparing to run for his second term, the Democrats were in disarray.

Krupp: Waste Not

Oct 18, 2016

If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gases on Earth.

The United Nations seems to have decided that there are no human women qualified to be new honorary ambassador for women and girls, so they’ve chosen… Wonder Woman.

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.

Bryan: Reading Leaves

Oct 14, 2016

One of the great joys of life any time of year is the indulgence (there is no better word for it) of reading a good book. But I find it especially suited to a sunny autumn afternoon, and three remarkable books have been my recent leisure companions.

Before I was born, my Mum, Dad, brother and sister moved across the pond from England to Canada. Both of my Mum’s sisters had married American GIs they’d met during the war, and came to the states with them when they returned home.

When the story broke about Donald Trump and the infamous recording, everyone focused on what – exactly - Donald Trump had said.

But it’s also interesting that the person he said it to is Billy Bush - cousin to George W. Bush, and even more notably, the newly hired host of the third hour of NBC’s Today Show.

Like many parents, I’ve struggled to find age-appropriate ways to talk to my children about election news. My kids are aware that there have been comments made about minority groups, the handicapped, veterans, and families of veterans. They’ve also seen yard signs in town with prison bars superimposed over a candidate’s face.

We’ve heard a lot about “two Americas” recently: haves versus have-nots, “makers” against “takers”, natives versus immigrants, those convinced government is evil against those believing government can help.

Luskin: Lawn Signs

Oct 11, 2016

I’ve never been one to put out lawn signs for political candidates, partly because declaring who you’re voting for tends to end any meaningful discussion before it even begins. Once people make up their minds, they generally don’t want to be confused by facts, let alone someone else’s opinions. So while I’m willing to engage in civil discussion about the concerns that are pushing me toward one candidate or another, I’ve never put out a lawn sign for my neighbors to see.

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.

In a philosophical moment, Star Trek’s Mr. Spock professed that “logic is the beginning of wisdom; not the end.” And such is the case with the law and ethics. For those aspiring to higher levels of ethical conduct, the law sets the floor for behavior, not the ceiling – thus leaving space to navigate in between.

As in the last two presidential elections, there’s a big push to register new voters. After all, Millennials – defined as being between 19 and 35 years old - now outnumber Boomers by a good half million. It’s a group both parties are eager to reach.

Sometimes I hear comedians talk about offending people in a way that sounds like bragging. They feel like having offended someone is a rite of passage, like it's proof that they have something raw and edgy to say that the world has to hear, and that anyone who doesn't like it is just too weak or ignorant.

You’d have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the issues and deep divisions surrounding this presidential race. And many voters are dissatisfied with both major candidates, but I consider voting a civic responsibility, so this election season, I was compelled to take action.