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To The Editor:
It appears – based on letters to the editor and editorials – that there is a prevalent belief that we should be thankful for any and all state and federal funds that come our way because we do not have to pay the bills. But who is paying those bills? And if other people are paying for our sidewalks, town buildings, etc., who is paying for those improvements in other communities?
In fact, we are those federal and state taxpayers. Of course, spreading costs across all taxpayers lessens the local burden, but if every community in the U.S. is able to get the kind of "outside assistance" that Waitsfield is benefitting from, then the overall bill that we are all paying will continue to be out of control.
Just this week, as part of the deal to end the latest Congressional budget fight and re-open the government, Senator Mitch McConnell secured nearly $3 billion in federal funds to install locks as part of the Olmsted Dam and Lock Authority Project on the Ohio River in his home state of Kentucky. I bet the citizens there are happy that they don't have to pay for that project themselves and, instead, people from Vermont and the rest of the country can chip in (even though, according to press reports, the project has run millions of dollars over budget and should have been completed years ago).
I understand that relatively small projects like those in Waitsfield are barely perceptible in the overall federal budget and that the real travesties are the trillion dollar weapons systems that don't work but are making defense contractors rich. However, I also believe that "if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem" and that the overall mentality of just taking as much federal money as you can and believing that it is "free" needs to change. For that to happen we need to go beyond just caring about what we can get for our own small community.