The Vermont secession movement's been kicking around for more than a decade (arguably for 200-odd years), but two of the secessionists scored their biggest platform yet yesterday with this column in the Washington Post. What's the current spiel?
According to urban planner James Howard Kunstler, "Anything organized on a gigantic scale… will probably falter in the energy-scarce future." Second, third-wave technology is as inherently democratic and decentralist as second-wave technology was authoritarian and centralist. Gov. Jim Douglas wants Vermont to be the first "e-state," making broadband Internet access available to every household and business in the state by 2010. Vermont will soon be fully wired into the global social commons.
You know, Kunstler isn't actually an "urban planner." He writes about architecture (and increasingly the collapse of society), but as he himself says, he has "no formal training in architecture or the related design fields." So he's as much of an urban planner as Robert Caro, who wrote a book about Robert Moses.
That's pedantic, but I wanted to have some qualm with the article. The rest of it's just great. See:
After the Great Flood of 1927, the worst natural disaster in the state's history, President Calvin Coolidge (a Vermonter) offered help. Vermont's governor replied, "Vermont will take care of its own." In 1936, town meetings rejected a huge federal highway referendum that would have blacktopped the Green Mountain crest line from Massachusetts to Canada.
Nor did Vermont sign on when imperial Washington demanded that the state raise its drinking age from 18 to 21 in 1985. The federal government thereupon resorted to its favored tactic, blackmail. Raise your drinking age, said Ronald Reagan, or we'll take away the money you need to keep the interstates paved. Vermont took its case for state control to the Supreme Court—and lost.
Homework assignment for the secessionists: Less Kunstler, more Spooner.