How to Save Vermont

by TIM MATSON

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


 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Dmitry Kolesnik
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: A New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, the Season Finale, Mekonception in Redhook
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece