Mary Shelley wrote a classic novel titled,” Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.” The novel tells the story of Victor Frankenstein a brilliant scientist who becomes obsessed with learning the secret of life something that no one else had ever uncovered. He finally discovers it and uses the secret to create a being called, “Frankenstein’s creation.”
The story has many meanings and lessons. One of those cautionary aspects focuses upon Frankenstein’s hubris. Hubris may be defined as excessive self-confidence, conceit, or arrogance. Remember the hubris surrounding the sinking of the Titanic? It also includes a lack of self-awareness leading to harmful or self-defeating behaviors. It leads a person to ignore or discount any opinion and information which doesn’t conform to their paradigm.
Victor Frankenstein assembles an eight foot tall being from various body parts and uses a spark of electricity to give him life. At first he is supremely pleased and filled with pride about his creation. But he soon finds less joy and hates the ugliness of it. His creation eventually takes revenge and destroys those who Victor Frankenstein loves including his wife, best friend and his younger brother. Later Victor is torn by shame and remorse for what he has done. By the end of the book a guilt ridden Frankenstein dies wishing he could have destroyed his own creation. Does this tale offer any lessons for Vermonters and the present legislative situation?
Does the story of the single payer health care plan jog anyone’s memory? Legislators and other constitutionally elected officials once promised to deliver a single payer health care plan no matter what. It rightfully met its demise once the final and real world costs were actually known. Luckily Vermonters discovered this before it passed rather then after. Did hubris play a part in this true story?
Sometimes it can take years of intense study to determine whether a course of legislative action should be followed. Many Vermonters didn’t mind the initial use of rBST an artificial hormone for cows. However after much further consideration and debate of the facts they rejected its use.
As a former member of the Vermont House of Representatives and the Vermont state Senate legislative service teaches a person valuable lessons. Experience taught me that every controversial bill had a few individual legislators who possess the full knowledge of what’s behind the bill and how it’s going to play out if it ever becomes a law. They know who will really benefit and the validity or falsehood of what was said and presented during testimony and debates. The remaining 180 legislators will do as they are told. And they will desperately hope and pray that what they were told holds up under legitimate intense scrutiny. They know they’ll be on the front line if it doesn’t work out as presented to Vermonters.
A governor has access to state government departments and agencies that can gather and provide the most accurate and up to date information. A Governor can access the top leaders in the state and receive the best estimates, data and opinions which the finest minds in the state of Vermont can offer. Does it matter? Yes, especially when they are viewing the big picture and weighing items like Vermont competitiveness with other states and Vermont affordability.
The best predictor of future performance is past performance. In the debate so far there have been accusations bandied about by others claiming Governor Scott has not been truthful. Governor Scott has successfully served 10 years in the state Senate, six years as lt. governor and seven years as governor. And he recently was re-elected with a 70% favorable statewide vote. Can his detractors demonstrate similar periods of service from which Vermonters can judge the veracity of their claims?
In the 1931 Hollywood movie, “Frankenstein,” his creation throws a young girl into a lake drowning her. He does so unaware of the consequences of his actions. The local citizens later hunt for the creature with dogs, torches and clubs. The creature carries his creator inside a windmill. He hurls his creator to the ground intending to kill him, but Frankenstein has the good fortune to survive the fall. The citizens know the potential for great harm and danger to them all. They eventually burn the mill to the ground with Frankenstein’s creation inside it.
A legislator like a banker, physician, reporter and lawyer depends upon their credibility and once it is tarnished it is exceeding hard to regain. Vermonters have a legitimate right to have any imprecise language well defined, all data rigorously scrutinized and all legislators answering citizens inquiries clearly and without canned responses. And The Affordable Heat Act must be tested by the Vermont media. Vermonters will now have weeks to begin the intense scrutiny and statewide debate needed to render an informed decision on the bill and their legislators.
Florida (formerly of Stowe)