Is it all Bernie's fault?

To the Editor:

After reading Rob Roper's "In My Opinion" piece in your Tuesday edition, I was overwhelmed by all the "bad things" he listed that happened in Vermont over the last 30 years and how they were the fault of Senator Bernie Sanders.

I'm thinking ... my goodness, did Senator Sanders rally cause all this bad stuff he's talking about, like the huge income disparity/inequality Vermont has come to experience along with Connecticut and Massachusetts ... and Vermont's very progressive tax structure...and the highest per pupil of any state...and the moving aggressively toward government subsidized health care for all ... and arguably providing the most generous social welfare benefits? Senator Bernie Sanders caused all of this?

And then I began to think ...why didn't somebody stop Senator Sanders. What were the governors and legislatures doing to "rein him in" on these crazy ideas of his during all this time? Why didn't the voters of Vermont "throw the bum out?" What was the Ethan Allen Institute and Mr. Roper doing all these years to stop this man from ruining our state? After all the Mission of the Ethan Allen Institute is "to influence public policy in Vermont by helping its people to better understand and put into practice the fundamentals of a free society; individual liberty, private property, competitive free enterprise, limited government, strong local communities, personal responsibility and expanded opportunity for human endeavor." Why wasn't Senator Sanders tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail, instead of being elected to all the offices he has held over these last 30 years or so. In fact, polling conducted in August 2011 by Public Policy Polling found that Sanders's approval rating was 67% and his disapproval rating 28%, making him then the third-most popular senator in the country.

And then I thought...this can't be all Senator Sander's fault. So I did some research on google and found a few eye openers. Nationwide, the middle class has been declining for 40 years. Since 1999 the median middle class family has seen its income sink by almost $5,000 after adjusting for inflation and is now earning less than it did 25 years ago. The median female worker earned $1,337 less last year than she earned in 2007. We are the only country in the industrialized world which does not guarantee health care for all. We once led the world in percentage of people graduating college. Now we are in 12th place. Roads, bridges, public buildings, railroads, etc. are in really bad shape all over the country and need repair or replacement.

But the top 1 percent in our country are doing pretty well. I read somewhere recently that the top 1% (which is approximately 330,000 people) have wealth greater than the bottom 150 million people in the U.S.A. combined.

A paragraph I found in the Vanity Fair Magazine kind of sums it all up and maybe it's the answer to some of the questions I posed above ...

"The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn't seem to have bought; an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late."

Gerald Hall

Hardwick, Vt.

P.S. I think it was a disservice to your readers, to Senator Sanders and the Ethan Allen Institute that it was not disclosed that at one time Mr. Roper was the Chairman of the Republican Party in Vermont.

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