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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Team Bio's Jet Netwal: "Idealism Takes a Stand"

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Thanks to Jet Netwal from Bring It On! for this great post!

And a little state shall lead them... Vermont, apparently, has had enough. Always a bit of a nonconformist, she is making a case for secession, and her reasons are interesting. Vermont is a model of citizen enacted democracy. Vermont towns govern via town meeting, and its citizens show up and work ideas into viable legislation all can live with. It's old style American democracy, but if you look around, most of us are completely unfamiliar with it. I dare you to show me a single ordinary citizen who feels their participation is welcomed or needed in the city or town they live in. Legislation is over their heads, handed down arbitrarily. We suffer from a perception of obsolescence. We are American, but we are no longer crafting America. That sucks.

It seems to me that the internet is giving the average person in this country their voice back. We are scaling the walls of gerrymandered difference and getting something back out of it -- true discourse. In the two years I've been writing on political topics, my understanding of the positions of actual conservatism gives me a better understanding of my own. I'm far more than liberal by name. I see and appreciate the importance of maintaining liberal values in my country. There are Americans who need the playing field leveled, the leg up to keep striving, and sadly, the simple basics of food and shelter. These concepts, of helping the poor and disenfranchised, are the core of liberal philosophy, and are the core of my personal beliefs as well. My vision of America is strength in numbers, and in valuation. Creating a country that embraces, promotes and executes the concept of valuing every brain, and wanting all to develop to their fullest potential is the America that will exceed in global competition. In order to get there, we have to care for and value the poor, and set the stage for them to propel themselves upward.

I also understand the basic conservative viewpoint. Leary of the unstructured hand out, convinced of the inherent laziness of humanity, there is an abhorrence of giving without accountability. It's not that conservatives don't think there are needful people, but they are certain that human nature is such that a "free ride" can't be passed up. They see a lacking in people and don't want to be taken by it. Conservatives mistrust big solutions for local problems. For the most part, I get that. I don't think Federal solutions on state or community problems are generally going to be the best ones. The people on the ground have the best concept of the issue, not some bureaucrat in Washington. That said, regulatory oversight is an area where conservatives and I go back to our separate corners. I see oversight as necessary to curb human greed, conservatives see it as bloated government meddling.

Let's get back to Vermont. Vermont is talking secession, but it's not a vision inspired by either liberal or conservative values, but rather a blending of both. Vermont doesn't like Washington telling it what to do. They don't think they need to be told how to run their state, and they think the 10th amendment is spot on. They also think that getting every Vermonter on the net, and affording an equal level of knowledge access and participation to all their citizenry is crucial to Vermont's economic viability in the future. Their reasoning is simple and thought provoking. Vermont has decided there is going to be a fuel shortage. They have zero confidence in a Federal solution. In Vermont, they're circling the wagons.
Why? First, the cost of oil and gas. 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. – Wapo >
This is daring and brilliant. By insuring every citizen in on the net within three years, Vermont can shift many workers to being home based in an energy crises, while enjoying a host of other benefits to their schools, employers, and B2B environments. Beyond that, it makes Vermont far less beholden to Washington, a position they seem very comfortable with. But the most far reaching lesson Vermont offers is not secession, but cooperation. They see themselves as a whole, and blend the best of their liberal and conservative opinions, consistently bringing consensus democracy back into the American political conversation.

We can learn from our tiny neighbor to the north. "My way or the highway" has got to go. There is no perfect political philosophy, but there are good ideas to be gleaned, if we are willing to drop our fists and talk. Vermont has done it for 216 years. I'd call that a believable precedence.

Wouldn't having your voice matter again in your democracy be worth it?

- posted by Team Bio's Jet Netwal

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