Meeting of March 29, 2017


President Judy opened the meeting at 07:30 and led the pledge of allegiance. Kris Engstrom proffered a brief and thoughtful invocation.

Judy introduced today’s guest:
• Rob Roper, President of the Ethan Allen Institute and today’s speaker


  • Upcoming meetings

    • 4/5 Bob Conlon, Co-owner Leunigs
    • 4/12 Peter Martin, President WCAX TV
    • 4/18 Board Meeting at Trinity Church re Car Raffle • 4/19 Club Meeting re Car Raffle
    • 4/26 Kevin Clayton, Village Wine & Coffee

  • Barb is working with Shelburne Community School to organize a service project to support the food shelf this summer. Details to come.

  • Lara announced that the Shelburne library will be hosting a presentation by a local expert on mushroom foraging. Also, the Shelburne community returned 1,000+ completed surveys re the future of the library, which will be presented to the Selectboard on 9 May.

  • Richard invited everyone to the 2nd round of the Rotary Speech contest on 4 April, 07:15 at the Vergennes Christian Community School. Support our contestant, Peter Trombly.

    Sergeant-at-Arms—Chris Davis collected happy fines:
    • Sam—Lisa 60th birthday and granddaughter making University of Kansas honor roll
    • Linda B—birthday during last snowstorm and Kris’ flowers; son visiting from CA
    • Judy—thinking of Denny
    • Michael—his dog finally settling into the new house, encouraged by a new electric fence • Bill—just happy
    • Alan H—he’s 2nd place in the NCAA basketball bracket
    • Lara—it’s almost spring
    • Barb—skiing Mad River, traveling to London
    • Roz—for a just long enough weekend in FL, daughter going to Nassau
    • Alan B—just happy
    • Chris—CVU baseball season is coming soon
    • Richard—hosting a birthday party for preschoolers
    • Carole—anticipating sunshine in Vermont
    • Steve—hoping for sun
    • Jane—12 days in FL was too short
    • Howard—upcoming trip to CO and Mexico
    • Jon—upcoming trip to Sicily
    • Phil—for syrup
    • Kris—thinking of Denny and an abundance of water

Dave passed around a signup sheet for future note-takers.
• Judy announced that the club has thus far received about $800 in memory of Denny Bowen.

  • John—attended a presentation re Healing Winds and heard first hand from Deb Feitelberg how meaningful it is for those battling cancer to go sailing.

  • Susan—son is home

  • Linda S—Rob Roper and for Gary strong-arming him into buying a Tulip Ticket.

  • Gary—Deb Feitelberg

  • George—thinking of Denny

  • John Hammer had the 50-50 ticket but didn’t find the joker.

    Today’s program:

  • George Schiavone briefly introduced today’s speaker, Rob Roper, President of the Ethan

    Allen Institute (EAI). Rob went to Kenyon College and was an advertising executive, working with clients such as Unilever, the Bronx Zoo, and the NY Aquarium. He moved to VT in 1998 and continued as a marketing consultant.

  • Rob is a member of the Stowe Rotary Club. He served on the Board of the Ethan Allen Institute for 3 years before being appointed its President.

  • Rob described the EAI as Vermont’s free-market think tank. The independent, non-partisan, non-profit, educational organization was founded by John McClaughry in 1993. Its mission is to advocate for free-market capitalism.

  • In stating that free-market capitalism is the best economic system, Rob drew contrasts between countries having capitalist economies versus those with command economies: W Germany v. E Germany, S Korea v N Korea, Japan v Cuba, and Israel v Venezuela. He elaborated that while Israel, located in a desert with no natural resources and surrounded by enemies, has a successful market driven economy, Venezuela sits on top of large oil reserves but its command economic system results in shortages and rationing of food and other basic necessities. Capitalism is the greatest force for peace, prosperity, and good in the world.

  • Rob challenged a recently read assertion that capitalism needs poverty to succeed. Not true. Capitalism needs capital to create more wealth. All of us have an inherent interest in the economic success of our neighbors. He described free-market capitalism as a system for people to engage in peaceful and voluntary exchange, free from force and fraud. Trade requires trust and empathy. For example, Uber and AirBnB succeed because consumer and provider understand and trust each other.

  • Capitalism also requires government to maintain the rule of law and protect its citizens. Rob posited that the primary function of moral government is to protect private property rights. Private property provides incentive for work and investment. Rob pointed to the 1st Thanksgiving in 1623 as an example of the success of privately owned plots for crops instead of the earlier failed community owned crops. Capitalism also provides innovation that governments can’t match. Consider the evolution of the cell phone, from brick to iPhone. Steve Jobs got rich because he created tremendous value for the world.

  • Free-market capitalism is the only true antidote to mass poverty. Rob displayed a line chart showing the gross national products over time for economically similar geographic areas. The GNPs of countries with a long history of capitalism far exceed those in countries with command economies. The singer Bono now advocates for commerce and entrepreneurial capitalism as the best path out of poverty for African nations.

  • Rob answered a few questions. Regarding national health care systems in developed economies, Rob pointed out that public expectations for satisfactory health care vary from country to country. What is considered okay in Japan might not be so in the U.S. The EAI is currently working to repeal Vermont’s certificate of need regulations for healthcare facilities, as it believes competition is healthy and the free-market should decide. EAI continues to oppose a tax on carbon emissions and other tax increases. Regarding the government’s duty

in dealing with recessions and depressions, Rob suggested that the government’s role in the economy should be analogous to holding a dove: tight enough so it doesn’t fly away but loose enough so it isn’t harmed. The EAI does not have a position regarding marijuana legalization.

• President Judy presented Rob with a book dedication for Shelburne’s Pearson Library.


Posting new member application:

Sally Wadhams of Shelburne Vermont sponsored by Judith Christensen