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What's the Matter with Vermiont? ...A Crisis or a Scam? (NYT article)

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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:30 AM
Original message
What's the Matter with Vermiont? ...A Crisis or a Scam? (NYT article)
Edited on Sat Mar-04-06 09:47 AM by Armstead
This NYT article highlights what some are calling a "crisis" in Vermont, which is losing its' population of young working people.

Living near there, I know that exodus is a problem, not just for Vermont.

But it also sounds like the Corporate CONservatives and pro-development forces are using it as an excuse to destroy Vermont's environmental laws and preservation ethic, and turn the state into yet another Corporate suburb.

This isn't just a one-state issue. It's a scenerio that's happening in many areas, and touches on many competing forces and issues nationwide. Waht do you think?


Vermont Losing Prized Resource as Young Depart


...Vermont, with a population of about 620,000, now has the lowest birth rate among states. Three-quarters of its public schools have lost children since 2000. Vermont also has the highest rate of students attending college out of their home state 57 percent, up from 36 percent 20 years ago. Many do not move back. The total number of 20- to 34-year-olds in Vermont has shrunk by 19 percent since 1990.

Vermont's governor, Jim Douglas, is treating the situation like a crisis. He proposes making Vermont the "Silicon Valley" of environmental technology companies to lure businesses and workers; giving college scholarships requiring students to stay in Vermont for three years after graduating; relaxing once-sacrosanct environmentally driven building restrictions in some areas to encourage more housing; and campaigning in high schools and elementary schools to encourage students "to focus now on making a plan to stay in Vermont," said Jason Gibbs, a spokesman for Mr. Douglas.

Mr. Douglas said: "There's an exodus of young people. It's dramatic. We need to reverse it. The consequences of not acting are severe."

There is also a serious housing shortage, with mountains and environmental restrictions barring building in many places.New houses are mostly built for affluent second-home owners who come for skiing or summer. In Poultney, on Lake St. Catherine, nonresidents own 56 percent of the homes, up from 38 percent in 1999. In Ludlow, a ski area, year-round residents own only 16 percent of homes.

Expensive new construction "makes it a challenge for a young working family," said Frank Heald, Ludlow's municipal manager.

...And Daniel M. Fogel, the University of Vermont's president, says some have not grasped the seriousness of the problem. They believe a shrinking population will prevent overdevelopment, but these "antisprawl folks are the very people who tend to value very highly the environmental protections and the social programs, which the state is not going to be able to afford if the working population shrinks," Mr. Fogel said....

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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
1. It's the same problem everywhere,
Jobs, jobs, jobs

Lol, Syracuse is trying to attract more young people by spiffying up its night life. My kids aren't really interested in a night life.(well, it's not a first priority - they can make their own night life!) They've grown up watching layoff after layoff after layoff. They don't expect to find a job anywhere around here. Meanwhile all the development is taking place on either coast. And we thought the lemmings over the cliff looked funny....
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. It's more of a problem in the snow belt.
States in the snow belt are all losing young people - particularly their college grads. While the large, viable urban centers such as Chicago, Boston, and NYC still attract the 20-something college grads, most are more attracted to the sunbelt - where the quality of life is prized.
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. But what's attracting them?
It's a chicken or egg situation.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Air conditioning was one of the most socially significant inventions
I've heard it said that the invention of air conditioning hs been one of the most important demographic events in US history, because it made many places livable that would be otherwise intolerable.

I gotta admit that as a resident of the Snowbelt, there are times when the winter weather seems like enough of a reason to head to sunnier and warmer climes.

That's balanced off by the fact that for the other half of the year, there's no place better to be than here.

But on weeks like we're having now, even the thought of living in an area surrounded by obnoxious Red State types seems tempting, as long as it's warm and sunny.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 12:33 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. As one who adores the SF Bay Area, ....
Edited on Sat Mar-04-06 12:39 PM by TahitiNut
... I can acknowledge that air conditioning clearly benefited places like Phoenix (where my aunt and uncle live) and San Diego (where my cousin lives). What I find so ENORMOUSLY attractive about the Bay Area is a climate that requires neither massive heating nor massive cooling. I hate snow and ice where I live. It's a detestable, miserable nuisance. When I lived in Silicon Valley, I could easily drive to the snow in the winter - if I wanted to. I could leave windows cracked year around and have fresh air. I never had days where either the heating or cooling had to run almost continuously.

That's not like Michigan and altogether too many places in the midwest - where the winters are miserable and require storm windows, good insulation, and beefy heating, and the summers are hot, humid, and stifling for weeks at a time. Same for Minnesota and the Twin Cities. (I won't even mention St. Louis - ugh!) These places get the worst of both seasons ... summers that get too hot and humid to enjoy the outdoors (not to mention mosquitoes) and winters so bitterly cold that even ice fishing is waning in popularity.

And then there're the insects. Bugs. Mosquitoes. When I lived (15 years) in Silicon Valley, there were just enough bugs to remember that they even existed. In 15 years, I think I might've gotten TWO mosquito bites - about the same number as I can get in 15 seconds in Michigan in the summer.

So, it's not just air conditioning ... even though that sure opened up the southwest and Florida. There are so many places in this country where the extremes of temperature and bugs just aren't something that need be tolerated ... and those place just aren't in the rust belt.

FWIW, I've lived in Michigan, western New York, Connecticut, Alabama, Texas, eastern Washington, southern California, and northern California. By far, I found the SF Bay Area to be my ideal in terms of climate, geography, politics, and quality of life.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. I used to live in both Seattle and the Southeast and milder is better
Edited on Sat Mar-04-06 01:05 PM by Armstead
It is interesting how climate affacts culture, and vice versa.

I lived in Virginia and Washington DC for a while, and it was miserable outside in the summer. Hot and humid so much that you didn;t want to move outdoors. And those aren't even the deep south.

I also lived in Seattle for 10 years, where it's a moderate climate. Despite the greyness and excess of rain, it was great to get away from the extremes of eitehr summer or winter. (And far fewer bugs.) Not having to shut everything up in the winter, and being ale to go out and about without hunching up from the cold, is a lot more tolerable....It took me a few year to readjust to New England, and I still haven't totallty gotten to accept it.

But i also kind of like the four seasons and the harsh weather here in some ways. It hs an energy to it and builds chracter, methinks. Makes people cranky but hearty. I just wish two of those seasons were shorter.

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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. Partly it's the "grass is greener" syndrome exacerbated by modern trends
In some respects, it's normal for young people in many places to want to go somewhere else. "This place sucks. I can't wait to graduiate and leave" is a perennial cry of teenagers everywhere.

Sometimes they go back home eventually, others stay away.

(I left my hometown and New Englnd for almost 20 years, much of that time on the otehr end of the coutry. I never thought I'd move back to the old homestead. But family reasons intervened and I've been back for 20 years. but my three brothers left and stayed gone.)

But there's always been an eqully large group that had no real desire to leave home.

I think the difference today is that the kids who would have stayed and gotten blue collar jobs in the past donlt have that option anymore, becauase the eonomy is being hollowed out by corporate consoliudation and outsourcing and "cheap labor" policies.

Just as a few people are getting richer while the rest fall behind, a few regions are growing while vast areas of the country are being left for dead or else turned into Countryfied Disneylands for the rich.

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