August 20th, 2019

Reiss’s Pieces

By Judy Reiss

Well, it is tax time again and it would appear that our legislature and our governor have lots of ideas and programs on how to tax Vermont citizens. And I can’t think of a much harder job these days. One of the reasons is because it would seem that these days everyone wants something and no one really wants to be responsible for his or her actions or wants. As a senior citizen, I have a few comments on my tax burden, of course!

I guess that our schools are first on my list of the part of my taxes that makes me crazy. We, and by we, I mean all of Vermont taxpayers spend a fortune to educate our children. And I think it would be money well spent if when they graduate from high school, they were really ready to either go on to further education or to get a good job in the community. But, folks, regardless of the story that we are told, that isn’t as true as it should be. First, our students who want to further their education, unless they are one of the few who are really “self-starters”, they don’t get the skills they need. But they can take “classes” that were considered after school clubs, back in the day. Instead of making sure they can read and write well, they can learn how to take a good picture in photography class. The young man or woman who doesn’t want to go on to college also gets short shrift. Instead of being able to get the education they need to further their interests and skills, they are just graduated and left on their own. Now I know some schools do have opportunities for some of these students but certainly not enough. I do think that most of the elementary schools do a great job, but when these kids get to middle and high school, things begin to fail. I don’t think it is just money. I think that our whole idea of how or what to educate our students is what needs to change.

Of course, as a senior citizen who lives on a fixed income, it is a strain that increases every year. I am afraid the answer to us seniors is if you don’t like it, sell your house, move and perhaps you will get some relief. My answer to this careless and casual remark is this. Most seniors have worked their whole lives to purchase a house and be able to live independently and worry free. How, after years of working and saving, can anyone expect them to give up everything that they have worked and saved for just to pay state, federal and property taxes? It isn’t fair and it is proposed by young people who haven’t reached the age where such a dilemma has come up yet.

I guess number two on my “crab” list is this. I love our country and I have loved Vermont for over 55 years. I firmly believe that no one in our country or our state should go hungry or be without a home or shelter. We are too good to allow that. But what I don’t quite understand or believe is that he or she who doesn’t work should be able to eat, get healthcare or live better than the people who do! When I first moved to Vermont, each and every town had an overseer of the poor and, at least, in the Mad River Valley these officers made sure that every citizens had enough to eat and the children had appropriate clothing and, of course, a place to live. Truthfully, I don’t know how well it worked, but I do know that it worked better than what happens today. A while ago I was in the grocery store when a young man put his groceries on the counter, including a bag of dog food. He attempted to pay for his selection with his food stamps. When the cashier told him that he couldn’t pay for his dog food with his stamps, he stamped away, went the back of the store, came back and threw a huge steak on the counter, and said “Well, I guess my dog will have to eat this!” It got so quiet that even he realized perhaps he had made a tactical error. And back then, I didn’t have one item that even compared to his steak, and I was working 8-10/7. It’s time for a change and almost everyone can make an effort to pay something for the many services they receive. Keep in mind it is us senior citizens who are compelled to pay the cost of all these services with our tax dollars.

Now that I have cheered you all up, I am going to take my freezing fingers off the keyboard and try and stop my dear old Lily from barking. Have a good day!

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