To the Editor:

Thank you, Sen. Thomas Chittenden, for sharing your goals and inviting feedback of numerical and 21st century style infrastructure growth for a Vermont of more people and lower taxes. (“Senator wants input on upcoming session,” Dec. 23, 2021)

Your goals of more infrastructure growth are like most successful politicians, supported by the local chambers of commerce promising lower taxes with more growth. Is that really what your constituents want? Maybe you should ask them by creating a citizen assembly on growth and its consequences in a future of declining fossil fuel and mineral availability.

Growth is not a silver bullet that will solve the problems of the future. It will just take us closer to the cliff of global civilizational collapse. For a survivable future we will need to learn again how to thrive equitably from local resources. We will need to learn how regional sustainability constrains our future and how to be resilient by leaving plenty of margin for climate change and the associated weather chaos. These considerations need to be a part of Vermont’s Climate Action Plan.

We do not need more (smart) roads, only their improvement for all types of transportation. We do not need more IBM-sized high-tech corporations as their eventual demise puts large hiccups into local economies. More local small business is the future.

We do not need more people to spread the cost of government over a larger tax base to supposedly reduce our individual tax burdens. Where has this ever been the case?

Instead, we need to determine what a healthy population in a locally sustainable Vermont might be and strive to grow better not bigger: less traffic, less noise, more open space, no defiling of natural resources, readily available local food, more equitable incomes, etc.

Your education in traditional economic theory from the University of Vermont is shared by many of our national legislators.

It is a theory that postulates that there are no limits and infinite substitutability of resources, on a finite planet of limited resources no less. As you are “constantly working to educate yourself,” may I suggest that you consider crossing the street from the university to the Gund Institute for a course in ecological economics, an economics that recognizes natural limits and the importance of a steady-state economy for a survivable future.

With an open mind your goals for Vermont might just change.

Wolfger Schneider


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