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Old 09-29-2011, 06:51 AM
 
Location: Vermont
10,282 posts, read 11,174,268 times
Reputation: 14119

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You're right, things have gotten much harder for people at the lower end of the income scale in the last 20-30 years, and it isn't limited to Vermont.

This can be explained primarily by the fact that incomes for most people, including low-income people, have either stagnated or declined. If you're affluent the last 30 years have been very good for you; otherwise you're struggling to stay even.

In a comparison between Vermont and other states, though, it's important to keep in mind that we have a health care system that, while not universal, does provide affordable health coverage even to working people with limited income. It's not perfect, there's a lot to find fault with, but even someone working a minimum wage job, whose employer can't afford to provide health insurance, can get insurance. In these days of insanely rising health care costs this is a very important fact.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:00 AM
 
Location: Vermont / NEK
5,773 posts, read 12,298,395 times
Reputation: 7193
Your taxes will only increase by less than the cost of a cup of coffee every day.

Breaking it down to the ridiculous - it makes a point that is often hard to counter without looking like a fool. Folks need to see through a statement such as this and do the math. Typically though, this isn't their first response and by then they've already blinked. Nasty little closing line.
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Old 09-29-2011, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Winter Springs, FL
1,789 posts, read 4,057,353 times
Reputation: 925
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmccullough View Post
You're right, things have gotten much harder for people at the lower end of the income scale in the last 20-30 years, and it isn't limited to Vermont.

This can be explained primarily by the fact that incomes for most people, including low-income people, have either stagnated or declined. If you're affluent the last 30 years have been very good for you; otherwise you're struggling to stay even.

In a comparison between Vermont and other states, though, it's important to keep in mind that we have a health care system that, while not universal, does provide affordable health coverage even to working people with limited income. It's not perfect, there's a lot to find fault with, but even someone working a minimum wage job, whose employer can't afford to provide health insurance, can get insurance. In these days of insanely rising health care costs this is a very important fact.
While Vermont does a good job with healthcare, we are approaching a crossroads. While people want high quality healthcare, it does come at a cost. To make an important point, the cost of healthcare has little to do with salaries of doctors and nurses. It has everything to do with reimbursement, equipment costs, medication costs, etc. The crossroads we are getting to is when hospitals can no longer afford to care for patients the same way or at a level patients need care. DHMC as an example, is dealing with a financial crisis because of what is happening in our healthcare system in the past year. What's at risk is declining healthcare. If a hospital can't afford to take financial losses, they start by eliminating staff, possibly eliminating treatments or even specific specialty departments. This means patients will not get the care they need. Even here at FAHC, the administration is looking at ways to try and control costs at any means. FAHC has put itself in a better position over the years than some other institutions, but we are seeing it here as well. In some cases, equipment that is more modern or more effective at life saving measures is not purchased due to cost.
My personal opinion is that the state/towns do little to control costs across the board. Education costs are one of the most out of control costs in the state. This point has been made several times in the past. Since 1997, school staffing levels have increased by 23 percent, while our student population has decreased by 11.5 percent. The number of teacher’s aides has gone up 43 percent. The number of support staff has gone up 48 percent. For every four fewer students a new teacher, teacher’s aide or staff person was hired. There are 11 students for every teacher – the lowest ratio in the country – and a staggering five students for every adult in our schools. With personnel costs accounting for 80 percent of total school spending, it’s no wonder that our K-12 system is among the most expensive in the nation at $14,000 per student per year. Our school governance structures are a vestige of the 19th century and, like our unsustainable personnel costs, must be reformed. We have 290 separate school districts –- one for every 312 students –- 63 different supervisory bodies and a State Board of Education. That’s a total of 354 different education governing bodies for a state with only 251 towns. The argument is always about the quality of a Vermont education and that is why we need to leave things alone. Well I say our education system is no different than our healthcare system. It's time for an overhaul. Going back to when Gov. Douglas was in office he suggested overhauling the education system. He suggested a simple thing from the start. "If we simply move from our current 11 to 1 student/teacher ratio to 13 to 1, we would still have one of the lowest ratios in the country, while saving as much as $100 million." We live in a rural state. Consolidate the schools not only as a cost saving measure, but the system would be much more efficient. Who knows, the quality of education may improve as well with a more efficient system.
Incomes for those that are not skilled have and most likely will remain low. There are several reasons for this. The business climate in Vermont is not as friendly as many other states. Business owners have to watch costs to make a profit and without incentives from the state, it is difficult to justify paying someone a higher wage or to higher more people. There are a few businesses that do move out of state, but many or most will not move. The reason why businesses won't simply leave is that the vast majority of low wage jobs are in industries-particularly the retail and service industries-that are geographically dependent. This means that the food has to be cooked here, and offices cleaned here, the goods need to be sold here. The business can't be moved far away. These industries make up the majority of jobs offered in the state. The economy is the main reason why incomes have been stagnant since 2007 according to a report published by Vermont Housing Finance Agency.
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