Marty Chenard made an interesting observation about the VIX, and it is available at his Stocktiming website--free stuff. His observation is that if there is institutional selling, then the VIX will not face upward pressure.
A simple, but rather elegant statement. So VIX is not just about fear per se, but rather when it acts in seeming incongruence to our expectations (conditions are yucky, but the VIX does not budge), then one explanation is that there is distribution in the market. And...if there is distribution, you are unwinding your position. Unwinding positions do not requiring put hedging.