Should I stay or should I go? (Compete or Retreat symposium, Feb 2, 09)

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. -- More from President Obama's inauguration speech.

This blog, it's personal, very diffuse, disaffected, post-ideological, and largely unread. Politics is not a frequent topic -- though "decline and fall" is a minor theme running through many of my posts. I don't partake in the furious and verbose polemics between left and right... some people have way too much time on their hands, life's too short, and I would rather be outdoors.

Generally, however, I subscribe to the notion that the Vermont state government is too big and too expensive, inefficient, and is generally oppressive. Lost in the debate seems to be the fact that Vermont is a small, poor, state, there's not enough money to go around, infrastructure is collapsing, and the state tax code is utterly incomprehensible. But I also have issues with doctrinaire Republican Party mantras about how cutting taxes and less regulation are the answer for every possible problem -- I observed that "Ronald Reagan is dead" in October 2008.

So, with the above paragraphs by way preamble, I have been involved with the logistics and marketing for the upcoming "Compete or Retreat" symposium sponsored by Vermont Tiger, a website that claims to be bipartisan but that on the whole is pretty right wing (the almost bankrupt and rapidly-shedding-employees Burlington Free Press apparently called the organization "reactionary"). But the list of panelists at the symposium is pretty diverse and should hopefully inspire some dialogue about best practices to help build a more viable Vermont economy.

I volunteered for this role because my own job is currently at a standstill, at present I only go to the office two days a week, and there are not many opportunities to be had. Doing publicity did let me try and deploy some new "social networking" tools (twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), but, not surprisingly, the most effective marketing channel was my own personal network that I have developed from living and working in Vermont since 1988.

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