How to Save Vermont


Vermont’s got problems. Skyrocketing property taxes, surging energy costs, overpriced health care, job flight because businesses can’t afford to pay decent salaries. Even the fall foilage has lost its sparkle. We’ve got one overstressed old nuke plant ready to blow and the hydro dams have been torn out to make room for non-existent salmon runs, but nobody wants sustainable wind generators because they spoil the ridgeline views. The Governor’s solution? Better window insulation.

I say it’s time to bring back the billboards. Signage, for youse latte sipping elites. Remember billboards? In case you’ve forgotten, they’re the ads as big as movie screens seen along roadsides in most other states.

Here in the Green Mountain State we’re coming up on the 40th anniversary of the law that banned commercial signs from limited access roads and highways. Many Vermonters have never seen a billboard. For shame! Let’s revive this derelict industry, and kick start a bonanza of new businesses and tax revenue.

I can hear the eco-elitists shrieking. Yes, billboards can be butt ugly and soul rending. I just got back from a trip south and some of the stuff they erect makes it hard to stay on the road.

Half naked babes twenty feet high purring "Call me, I’ll make your wettest dream come true." But just as you’re about to dial that cell phone, here comes Jesus big as Godzilla up on a bloody cross threatening all sinners with fire and brimstone. Then a strack jarhead in beret and camo shouldering an RPG beckons you to a snipe hunt in the desert. Did I forget the Twinkies swooping in like flying saucers?

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way in Vermont. We could do billboards the way we do cheddar cheese. Sharp. Pioneer a whole new approach to signage. Original graphics done to order by local artistes. With time limits on displays to keep the viewing traffic from getting bored, which would mean a continuous demand for new work for painters, designers, printers, display installers, etc. A significant percentage of artwork would have to come from our schools and colleges, thus stimulating a renewed interest in the arts, with a nice stipend going to each artist and school. Paid by the billboard sponsor, or course.

Imagine billboards designed by the School of Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, the art department at Thetford Academy, the kindergarten in Island Pond. Maybe a redemptive scene by a prison inmate, with proceeds paying for a week’s worth of nut loaf and Kool Aid. Illuminated billboards powered by solar cells. 2-D Ben and Jerry’s Holsteins to replace the disappearing dairy farms.

I can picture billboards advertizing windmills from more advanced nations with sustainable economies and zero greenhouse discharge, offering to sell us their homegrown green energy. With a booming billboard business, we might even be able to afford that window insulation.

The cops should get behind this revival too. In fact they could park behind the billboards and come out gangbusters to nail speeders. Voila, more money for troopers and pothole repairs. Billboards would be a neat place to hide roadkills, too.

I propose we use innovative materials. Perhaps a biodegradable sign advertizing natural laundry soap, a sign made out of hemp to sell smoking jackets, a three story target for, well, Target. With bullet proof backing of course.

For those concerned about offending tourists, don’t fret. They’re too busy on their cell phones to notice the scenery anyway. In fact, they might not even notice the signs. But the natives will, knowing that every billboard is paying for their next colonoscopy.

TIM MATSON is author of the Earth Ponds series, and even more fun, Round Trip to Deadsville a member of Vermont’s Second Republic. He can be reached at tmatson@valley.net


Weekend Edition
November 28-30, 2015
Majd Isreb
America’s Spirit, Syrian Connection
Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxembourg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving