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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Morning Read: Vermont Is As Business Unfriendly As ....Mali?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 11:11 AM

Seven Days contributing writer Kevin J. Kelley wrote this post.

A commentary in today's Burlington Free Press offers inadvertent but persuasive proof that graduate degrees from Ivy League institutions are no guarantee against loopy thinking.

UVM business school assistant professor Allison Kingsley, who holds a master's from Yale and a PhD from Columbia, groups Vermont with several failed states that, she claims, handcuff private business by imposing “high corporate taxes, high energy costs, arduous permitting, and extensive regulations.”

The failed states Kingsley, who earns $125,000 a year, is referring to are not Nevada, Florida or Michigan — all of which are suffering from rampant unemployment and destabilized housing markets. No, Kingsley is likening Vermont to such third-world sinkholes as Burundi, Mali and Sri Lanka.

Kingsley, who's been mis-educating UVM students since 2010, concedes in her Freeps screed that she may be too recent an arrival in Vermont to understand how things actually work here.

For sure.

But she clearly has no clue, either, about the nature of the troubled countries that she claims are similar to Vermont.

Burundi and Sri Lanka were both torn apart by catastrophically bloody civil warfare in the recent past. Mali is being shaken today by the same convulsions.

These and most of the other countries Kingsley cites as Vermont-like are also miserably poor. Living conditions for even the most disadvantaged Vermonters are vastly more comfortable than those endured by more than 90 percent of the inhabitants of Burundi and Mali.

It's actually more appalling than humorous that a University of Vermont professor fails to appreciate that she's living in one of the richest, safest and most neighborly places on Earth. Kingsley also doesn't even try to explain how dozens of Vermont businesses — including Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, GE Healthcare (which began life as a local startup called IDX) and King Arthur Flour — have managed to thrive on a national level despite being over-regulated by autocratic bureaucrats.

Kingsley may have a valid point about the group-think tendencies of a state that does lack meaningful political competition. That shard of insight is buried, however, under a pile of fallacies intended to show that capitalism doesn't stand a fighting chance in Vermontistan.

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