Saturday, November 30, 2013

* Like Henry David Thoreau; Refuse to pay a wicked tax.

If the Town of  Hartford uses  tax dollars to discriminate against people based on age, it would be appropriate to withhold payment of taxes in the same spirit as did Henry David Thoreau 160 years ago.


Ageism is the operative dynamic in the Hartford health care proposal precisely because, the MORE YOU AGE (number of years on the job) the closer you get to being segregated from the pool of  LESS AGED ON THE JOB  employees  and placed in a "separate but equal" health care plan which requires onerous paperwork and digital work which the LESS AGED ON THE JOB pool never encounters.

It is de facto  separate but equal segregation based on AGING ON THE JOB.

The most economical cure?  Give everyone the Vermont Health Initiative.  


It has nothing to do with age; these people don't work for us anymore. 

We cannot mandate it for everyone because we are not able to buy on the Exchange yet because we have over 50 employees. When we can, we probably will, because everyone will be on the exchange by 2017. Right now we really don't have any options, sadly.

F. X. Flinn
Board of Selectmen
Town of Hartford, Vermont |

Please note that any response or reply to this electronic message may be subject to disclosure as a public record under the Vermont Public Records Act.
On Sat, Nov 30, 2013 at 10:45 PM, Paul Keane ;wrote:

The ageism element needs to be removed from the equation. 

If your proposal for the 13 employees redounds to their benefit as you say, then MANDATE IT FOR ALL EMPLOYEES.  I would have no objection to that type of fairness (and according to your logic it would save the Town even more money). 

The Town  can then set Computer-Assistance Groups to try to help everyone with obstacles in  navigating the defective website.



On Sat, Nov 30, 2013 at 10:34 PM, Paul Keane  wrote:

The  actual age cut-off is irrelevant. 

It is the discrimination based on age that bothers me.

So according to you, retirees who have NOT reached the age of 65 are being offered a separate but equal plan. to the plan offered all other Town employees 

They must do the extra digital work themselves on a website which the Governor himself says does not work

and the security of which Vermont admits was compromised as of Nov. 26th

Since these retired employees are probably between 55-65 they may not have had the advantages younger employees have had to become computer savvy and we are saying to them: '


It's not our problem that you haven't had the same opportunities as younger employees. 

Fend for yourself.  This was the  1950's argument used against affirmative action. 

Separate but equal?  

It's the same sham that education was before integration:

 Separate but UNEQUAL.

If my tax dollars are used to create a segregationist system of  health care among town employees, I would consider their use unethical.

Henry David Thoreau had a good remedy for the unethical expenditure of government:: refuse to pay the taxes. 

Maybe taxpayers should set up an escrow account to put their taxes  in until this ageist discrimination is annulled.

Paul D. Keane

On Sat, Nov 30, 2013 at 10:10 PM, F. X. Flinn ;wrote:

The premium assistance account is being set up for Hartford retirees who are younger than age 65. Everyone who is 65 or older is on Medicare, not on a town plan. Making this change saves the town at least around 25K and potentially more, and doesn't change their access to health care. It may, in fact, improve it. Moreover, it frees the 13 individuals involved to select a plan that may be better suited to their needs and permits them to pay their portion of a premium for a policy their spouse may have. So it isn't what you are saying at all.


F. X. Flinn
Board of Selectmen
Town of Hartford, Vermont | 

Please note that any response or reply to this electronic message may be subject to disclosure as a public record under the Vermont Public Records Act.

On Sat, Nov 30, 2013 at 7:34 PM, Paul Keane; wrote:
I am sure there are taxpayers in Hartford, including myself, who would engage in the civil disobedience of withholding their taxes if they felt those  were being used for unethical purposes, just as Henry David Thoreau withheld his taxes  150 years ago in Concord, Mass.

On Sat, Nov 30, 2013 at 6:53 PM, Paul Keane wrote:
Select Board
Town of Hartford
171 Bridge Street
White River Junction, 
Vermont 05001

Dear Select Board

I am uncomfortable with the news that my tax dollars are going to be used to make retired employees of the Town of Hartford accept a health care program  separate but equal to the program of those retirees and employees under 65 years of age.

The arbitrary cut-off point based on age (64 years, 11months, and 30 or 31 days) amounts to de facto ageism.: 

 If you are on the 31st day or below side of that border, the Town will handle all your paperwork ( or digital work) for you. 

 If you are on the 3lst day plus one hour side of that demarcation, you are thrown overboard and will have to fend for yourself.  The town will reimburse you, but you must do all the work of deciding which options and policies to choose




 In addition,  the website has admitted a breach of security as of November 26.

Finally , the fact that an employee is  65 or over may mean that s/he has not had the same opportunities as younger people to become computer savvy. 

Too bad.  

You're on your own. 

 It's not our fault you haven't had the same opportunities as others. 

 Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

This, by the way, is the same argument that was used to keep minorities in their place for decades.  It was reversed by Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954 which said that government funds cannot be used to perpetuate systems which offer  people separate but equal services (education in that case; health care in this case). 

Government funds must be used to offer people equal services, not separate but equal services.  (Oh, I suppose you can get away with it because the tax dollars you are spending are local rather than federal tax dollars.  Yes, you can get away with it legally, but not ethically.)

As someone who is well over 65-years-old,  I am uncomfortable with the idea that the Select Board is proposing to use my tax dollars to create a separate but equal health care service for its employees based on  age, a service which requires the employees over 65 to do many times more paper and digital work than employees under 65 years of age,  to be able to use the health care insurance service they earned as a retirement benefit.

I think you might want to think this over before you proceed.  Even if it is not outright discrimination based on age  (and i suspect it is) it is a lousy way to treat people---especially with my money.

Give everyone the same opportunity------------either way: Full insurance or Vermont Health Exchange.

I doubt the Hartford Select Board  intentionally set out to create this form of age segregation, and I hope now that it has been brought to your attention you will move swiftly to nullify it.


Paul D. Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

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