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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Krupp: Hunger

12 hours ago

This month, the Vermont Foodbank, together with the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks, has been working to mobilize all 50 states in an effort to bring an end to hunger. This initiative, designated Hunger Action Month, is designed to raise awareness of the fact that 48 million Americans, including 15 million children, are food insecure which translates into children being hungry and not knowing where their next meal is coming from. It asks people to consider how it must feel to live with an empty stomach, putting a healthy life and a promising future at serious risk. Nearly half of households served by the Feeding America network include someone that’s in either fair or poor health

These days I flinch when I hear “You’re a historian”, words prefacing a bid for supposedly professional insight into the current election. Alas, to mix the words of historian Barbara Tuchman with those of St. Paul, history is a distant mirror into which we see darkly.

A few weeks ago, my four-year-old daughter and I traveled with other Vermont families to the Pennsylvania shale fields to see for ourselves how hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is impacting the region. We’re part of Mother Up! — 350 Vermont’s campaign to engage parents to take action, both in their own communities and those most affected by the fossil fuel industry.

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.

History’s repeating itself up in northern Maine in a way that’s irritated some interests, but that should please every lover of wild lands and deep woods.

Greene: Harassment

Sep 23, 2016

I felt sorry for the Muslim women ordered by French police to remove their outlawed “burkinis” or leave the seaside in Nice. Those women just wanted to enjoy the beach.

Teacher negotiations over a one-year contract in Burlington recently have been contentious – leaving open the possibility of a strike in October that would throw lives and school plans into complete chaos.

The Latin phrase Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes literally means “who will guard the guards themselves.” One contemporary rift on this maxim asks “who will watch the watchers.”

This summer France was in turmoil about, of all things, a bathing suit. A few Muslim women, constrained by their religion to cover their bodies, appeared on public beaches in so-called burkinis – garments with a striking resemblance to wetsuits. When other beachgoers complained, several rightwing mayors responded by banning burkinis and head-coverings on public beaches.

Let’s face it, a lot of us show up for work when we should stay home. Of course, when you have only about six weeks left to win a presidential election, spending a day in your pajamas binge watching West Wing and asking your husband to make you some chicken soup - my usual flu season gambit - is probably not an option.

The wording was simple but the meaning was not. It read: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” For Phyllis Schlafly, the ERA was a call to battle. For women like myself, the ERA seemed the last and most important step to full equality.

Every September we mark Constitution Day at Vermont Law School with a panel discussion on pending constitutional cases currently in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. And, while most of us probably don’t break out the BBQ and celebrate, there are many reasons why maybe we should. On issues of social justice, the environment, human rights and equality, Vermont often leads the nation. We should be proud of this fact and continue to strive for a better world every day. However, we sometimes forget just how fundamental our state and national constitutions are when it comes to progress on these important issues. Despite the fact that we’ve made very few changes to the constitution since its initial adoption more than 200 years ago, it’s arguably been the most important instrument of change our country has ever known. In fact, I can’t think of one major political, social or environmental movement in our history that hasn’t, at its core, been driven by the power of our constitution to make change.

Gilbert: To Autumn

Sep 16, 2016

Two hundred years ago tomorrow, the British poet John Keats wrote one of the greatest short poems in the English language. It’s about autumn, something that Vermonters treasure, as do the countless tree-peepers who visit the state every fall. The poem is exquisitely beautiful, in language and image, and that’s the principal reason it’s such a beloved and frequently anthologized poem.

Several recent car-bike collisions underscore just how far we have to go to create a place where the roads are safe for all users – not just automobiles.

Here are some people who never would’ve become president had the public known of their medical problems or the extent to which they’d gone to conceal them.

Nadworny: The Others

Sep 14, 2016

The mayor of Rutland wants to welcome Syrian refugees into the fabric of the community. He and his supporters claim the economically long-depressed area will gain a much-needed injection of people and energy. But there’s been a strong backlash. Rutland Firsters protest that they were kept out of the decision making process and that new immigrants will bring further economic hardship to the city. And flare-ups of ugly racism complicate matters further.

Life is full of uncertainty, but I refuse to limit my activities just because there’s the possibility of danger. After all, I could get hit by a car driven by a texting teen while I’m walking to the post office. Or I could simply fall down a set of stairs and end up like Humpty Dumpty. So I’m not about to deny myself the joys and learning experiences of travel – especially to France – one of my favorite places to visit.

On September 7th, NBC aired what it called a “Commander-in Chief Forum”.    It wasn’t a debate.  Rather, it was two back-to-back live interviews with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the USS Intrepid in New York.

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.

Most of us can remember times in our childhood when things at home weren’t going well, when the ambient air was charged with electricity and discord and we knew things were out of whack. For others, the disharmony wasn’t noticeable because friction was the norm and moments of tranquility were, sadly, greeted with suspicion and distrust.