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Kleppner: Not Perfect

This may come as a shock, but Vermont is not perfect. Oh, it may be perfect for some people, but there are at least nine reasons why it’s not perfect for everyone.

Most obviously, the long cold dark winters make some people miserable.

Then there are people who just aren’t happy if they aren’t in or near a big city.

Being far from a big city, travel from Vermont to pretty much anywhere is difficult. There are no direct flights to Paris, for example. In fact, of the thousands of places you might want to go, there are direct flights to exactly thirteen of them.

The distance from a big city also means it’s a long trip to see a major league ball game.

Next, on a touchier subject, Vermont is the second whitest state in the nation, after Maine. Burlington is a refugee resettlement center, and our agricultural workforce is increasingly Mexican, but the rest of Vermont is one of the whitest places in America. The lack of racial and ethnic diversity knocks Vermont off some people’s list of perfect places. Since we like to pretend that we’re all enlightened post-racial color-blind non-racists, we’ll delicately skip over the folks for whom Vermont’s whiteness is a plus.

Here’s another one: the politics. I am deeply proud that Vermont has the first and only socialist US senator in history, but some people find Vermont’s whole progressive political culture embarrassing if not downright alien.

Along with politics, there’s religion. Vermont the least religious state in the union. That’s a plus for atheists like me, and a big minus for all the people for whom having a strong religious community is important.

Then there’s romance. Vermont is a great place for kids, and students, and couples and families, but it’s a tough place to be single.

Finally, it’s hard to make a living here. Jobs are scarce, and don’t pay much.

All of which is to say, if you don’t mind the long, cold, dark winters, being a long way from the nearest big city, the difficult travel, and the lack of professional sports teams; and if you either want to live in Burlington or don’t mind the lack of racial and ethnic diversity; and if you’re not embarrassed by the socialist politics, if you can live in a state without many church-goers; if you are not a single person looking for romance; and if you can figure out a way to earn a living, Vermont is a perfect place. Man, I love it here.

Bram Kleppner is CEO of Danforth Pewter, Board Chair at the Population Media Center, and Co-Chair of Vermont's Medicaid & Exchange Advisory Board. His mission is to take steps large and small to fight global warming and to bring the world's population into balance with its renewable resources.
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