North Archives - January 20, 2009
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of Things to Come
By Martin Harris
you conceive of the present fuel tax as a sort of user fee; if you recognize
that funds need to come from somewhere for highway maintenance; if you
don’t want all roads to become toll roads; and if you agree with the concept
of user fees being more "fair" and logical than broad-based taxes; you
should welcome rather than oppose a highway trust fund revenue source based
on measured vehicle miles-usage rather than, say, another grasping hand
molesting the income tax treasure-chest.
There are, of course, potholes
in the road to user fees, as illustrated by Montpelier’s previous dips
into what was supposed to be a lock-box highway trust fund dedicated solely
to specific highway spending targets; but such misbehaviors with revenues
are always possible under Vermont’s Golden Dome. Assuming such grabs can
be kept in check, (and that user fees substitute for, and don’t add onto,
general taxes) a policy move towards user fees for essential government
services should be welcomed by taxpayers rather than resisted. I wouldn’t
go so far as to argue that jail residents should be nominally billed for
room and board (although I can conceive of a means-test compromise) but
I would suggest that the user fee approach be extended into another tax-heavy
area: public education.
By Linda Haslam
Once again, there is warfare
in the Gaza Strip. Once again, Israel is being criticized for using undue
force as a means of protecting herself. I ask you, what would be a proper
response if your neighbor began firing rockets at you just twelve days
before Christmas? Could you wait for two weeks to respond? Could you hunker
down and take the abuse from 200 rockets so that Christians making a pilgrimage
to the West Bank city of Bethlehem would be safe?
How did Hamas get to be seen
as the "underdog?" Almost two years ago, Hamas was killing Palestinian
members of the Fatah party. Palestinian civilians were forced to flee for
their lives as Hamas seized power in Gaza. Many of these refugees owe their
lives to help from the Israelis. Still the media reminds us over and over
again that Israel uses modern weapons while Hamas has to rely primarily
on homemade bombs...
- An Occasional Newsletter from the Legislature
Rep. Thomas F. Koch Barre Town
Once again this week, I return
to the talk of the Statehouse—the potential federal stimulus package
and its effect on Vermont’s fiscal crisis. On Tuesday, the state
economists predicted a continuing recession, an additional revenue shortfall
for the current fiscal year of $10 million, and a projected deficit for
FY 2010 of $150 million. Clearly, these are extremely serious times,
and help from any source is welcome. However, one must also be wary
of the pitfalls.
# # #
"The public expects too much
from teachers because educationists have led it to believe teachers could
be substitute parents, psychotherapists, cops, social workers, dieticians,
nursemaids, babysitters, and nose wipers and still do a decent job teaching
kids to read, write, and do math. Instead of saying no, educationists have
added courses in environmental education, death education, personal hygiene,
self-esteem, driver's ed, job readiness, sexual harassment, radon studies,
yoga, yogurt awareness, and god-knows-what-else."
-- Charles Sykes,
Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't
Read, Write, or Add
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
lures IBM and creates 1,300 jobs ... Why can't Vermont do this?
From The Burlington Free
The Des Moines Register and
the Wall Street Journal are reporting IBM will create 1,300 high-tech jobs
in Dubuque over the next year and a half with a new technology service
The news comes two days after
the economist for Vermont's governor forecast 2,000 layoffs at IBM's Essex
Junction, Vt. microelectronics plant over the next five years (400 job
cuts a year). About 5,300 people work at the plant now. IBM
spokesman Jeff Couture has cast doubt on the validity of that forecast.
Vermonters are, no doubt,
wondering: Why couldn't this deal have been crafted in Vermont?
Vermont into the Running
Perfect Storm Over Property Taxes Brewing
From The Caledonia Record
January 15, 2009
A perfect storm over property
taxes is brewing all over the country. Just as the wind grows to howling
strength as the barometer plunges, property owners are outraged at property
taxes rising while the value of their homes is plummeting, and they have
reached the howling stage. In addition to the states that already have
caps on property tax increases, New York, Georgia, Oklahoma, Wyoming and
Indiana are actively discussing variations on similar caps. In Montana,
Nevada and Arizona, citizen groups have organized to put property tax relief
before the electorate.
The general collapse of the
economy is forcing municipal and state officials to resort to higher property
taxes to pay their bills. The worst bete noir in this financial legerdemain
is to raise property value assessments. They, in turn, automatically hike
the tax bills of property owners without any kind of public review.
From Vermont Tiger, January
More talk of destroying our
schools. Harming our children. Threatening the future of our
democracy and our economic well being. A proposed state freeze and the
renewed talk of replacing Act 60/68 have spurred more of the same scare
rhetoric that we've been subject to with Act 82.
This from Rep.
David Sharpe of Bristol: "This leads to the ultimate
question. Do we believe that public education is important to the survival
of our democracy and the success of our economy?"
No, Rep. Sharpe, that's not
the question. The question is, how can the education bureaucracy
more efficiently deliver a high quality education?
Provision Keeps School Budgets Tight
Yankee, Carbon Credits, And Electricity Rates
From The Caledonia Record,
January 13, 2009
In one of those paradoxes
of the law, Vermont gets millions and millions of dollars a year for not
doing something, in this case not producing carbon emissions in the production
of electricity, 100 million tons since 1972. The money comes from neighboring
states' utilities that do produce such carbon emissions and must pay for
the privilege: we have carbon credits to sell; they have to buy them.
We didn't produce those carbon
emissions quite simply because Vermont Yankee, our nuclear power plant,
produces 40 percent of our power, and nuclear power plants don't emit carbon
pollutants. Hence, we can sell our credits to others, and the proceeds,
again in the millions of dollars annually, lower our electricity rates
Vermont's Young Victims
From WCAX-TV, Jan 16, 2009
A key part of the
sex crime bill that passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Friday aims to protect young victims from pretrial interrogation and pretrial
depositions. And that part of the bill is triggering some controversy.
forecasts IBM layoffs
From The Burlington Free
Press, January 14th 2009
When economist Jeff Carr
builds his economic forecast for the state, he estimates how many jobs
the state will lose. Carr makes a special estimate for Vermont’s largest
He projects the Essex Junction
semiconductor plant will lay off 400 workers a year over the next five
years. "I don’t know if that’s enough. That was before the latest rumors,"
he cautioned Tuesday.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
Real Mid-East Conflict is Between Arab Nationalists and Islamists
By Barry Rubin, The Australian,
January 16, 2009
Welcome to the new Middle
East, characterised not just by the Arab-Israeli conflict, but by Arab
nationalists versus Islamists. Recognising this reality, the Palestinian
Authority and virtually all the Arab countries other than Iran's ally Syria,
want to see Hamas defeated in the Gaza Strip.
Given their strong interest
in thwarting Islamist revolutionary groups, especially those aligned with
Iran, the Arab states are not inclined to listen to the "Arab street",
which is far quieter than it was during previous conflicts, such as the
1991 war in Kuwait, the 2000-04 Palestinian uprising or the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah
Today's Middle East is very
different from the old one in many significant ways. First, the internal
politics of every Arab country revolves around a battle between Arab nationalist
rulers and a radical Islamist opposition.
Are Pro-Israel' - Part I
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz,
Israeli National News, January 12, 2009
An Iranian pro-democracy
activist tells Israel National News that the image of Persians as fanatical
fundamentalist Muslims is, for the most part, incorrect. However, he warns,
the people of Iran will most likely join together in opposing any attack
on their country out of a deep sense of patriotism. ...
The day before Khamenei's
televised appearance, a communique came out of Iran from a previously unknown
organization called the Iranian Student Movement for Freedom claiming that
Iranian students are not signing up for the Gazan jihad. "Claiming that
the Iranian students are signing up to become martyrs is yet another attempt
by the Iranian regime to force the world into believing that the Iranian
people support the Islamic regime's global terror," says the communique.
Israel National News turned
to Amil Imani, an Iranian-born
pro-democracy activist currently living in the United States, for an insight
into the true picture within Iran at this critical time. Imani is a widely
published columnist, with articles appearing in the popular New Media Journal,
American Thinker, Faith Freedom International, and this
publication as well. He has also been on hundreds of radio talk
shows across the world, including BBC World News.
Traps for Obama
By James Lewis, American
Thinker, January 14, 2009
Obama wants to make his mark
domestically, and keep foreign policy stable and at a distance, at least
in the first few years. That's why he brought in Hillary and her merry
band to run foreign policy. But this won't work. Foreign challenges started
to emerge as soon as Obama was elected. Vladimir Putin is threatening Ukraine's
gas supplies. He has no compunction about invading neighboring countries,
as he did with Georgia. The Europeans, in their usual shameful and cowardly
way, will immediately call on the US to respond.
Ahmadinejad will explode
his first nuke in the next two years. The Arabs oil countries will look
to the US to protect them. Add the North Koreans and lots of pressure from
Arabs who have apparently invested money in the Obama campaign.
Seriously Should We Take the Mexican Crisis?
By Douglas Farah, Family
Security Matters, January 15, 2009
In looking at potential developments,
the report concludes: In terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force
and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration
for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.
That is an interesting juxtaposition
for Mexico, and one that, surprisingly, has not risen to the top of the
foreign policy agenda. Although President-elect Obama met with Mexican
president Calderón to discuss the drug war, it is unlikely the stark
terms of this issue were discussed.
Mexico is at a crucial juncture.
The Calderón government has gambled that it can take on the criminal
enterprises of drugs, illegal smuggling, extortion and kidnapping while
having a non-functional judicial system and without diminishing the culture
of impunity that allows the cartel sicarios kill the best and brightest
Army War College Professor Says Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas are Moderates
From Family Security Matters,
January 17, 2009
Sherifa Zuhur, Research Professor
of Islamic and Regional Studies at the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI)
at the U.S. Army War College, recently authored a study for SSI that labels
Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood as moderates, asserting that Hamas has
no interest in "global Jihad." …
Dr. Zuhur is one in a line
of academics who have asserted that the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas
are moderate organizations, usually basing their arguments on the notion
that the Brotherhood and Hamas reject violence and the global Jihad of
al Qaeda. One of the earliest and best known of these academics was Robert
Leiken who argued in an article
for Foreign Affairs that the U.S. should change its policy and "engage"
the Muslim Brotherhood. However, as discussed in a previous post,
an Israeli analyst summarized
the differences and similarities between the Brotherhood and al Qaeda arguing
that the distinction is one of tactics but not strategy:
Snags UN Plum
By Ed Lasky, American Thinker,
January 15, 2009
Late last year, Claudia Rosett
wrote an article detailing the way Iran has come to occupy key
positions of power and influence within various agencies of the United
Nations. She follows up with an update: Iran will chair the UN’s "flagship"
agency: The United Nations Development Program, a position which will afford
it greater influence within the lesser-developed world. …
This pattern of abuse at
the United Nations Development Program occurred before Iran was in charge
of the agency. Imagine the problems yet to come. Imagine you may have to
since the media-with rare exceptions such as Claudia Rosett seem very incurious
about your tax dollars being used to fund terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
# # #
By William R. Luckey, The
Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, January 14, 2009
Austrian economist Friedrich
Hayek used the Greek terms "cosmos" and "taxis" to describe the difference
of worldview between those who see the spontaneous order of society and
the market and those who do not. Cosmos indicates the self-governing order
of things--like the universe. Did you know that the Andromeda galaxy and
our Milky Way galaxy are on a collision course and there is nothing we
can do about it? This is an example of cosmos in the area of space. Think
of taxis in the sense of hailing a taxi cab, and then telling the driver
where to take you. In the first instance, the cosmos is self-directing;
in the latter, you are directing the cab.
Society and the market conform
to the cosmos rather than the taxis. Both are self-generating, a function
of billions of interactions between thinking human beings all over the
globe -- and those interactions are based on the interactions yesterday,
and those are based on the interactions on the day before that. No one
There a Backbone in the House?
By Bobby Eberle, GOPUSA,
January 16, 2009
Apparently not, and Republicans
don't have one in the Senate either.
Come on... I know the Obama
love-fest is about to begin, but can't Republicans show just a tiny amount
of political courage? Where's the backbone??? Just look at today's news
for more examples of Republicans rolling over to play nice with Democrats.
Do they really expect the same in return? Has that EVER happened?
October Claim Was Wrong, NASA Admits
By James M. Taylor, Environment
& Climate News, January 2009
NASA’s Goddard Institute
for Space Studies—known as GISS—was forced to admit it committed an egregious
error when it publicly claimed October 2008 was the warmest October in
It turns out October 2008
was nowhere near a record. Global temperature measurements of the Earth’s
lower atmosphere by NASA satellite instruments show it was fairly typical
compared to temperatures over the past 30 years and significantly cooler
than average temperatures over the past seven years.
Power Grid America Needs
By Michael G. Morris, New
York Post, January 15, 2009
IMAGINE if the nation's transportation
infrastructure had been designed to serve only small regions, with wheat
from Iowa easily reaching bakeries in Des Moines but not New York or computer
products from the Silicon Valley easily reaching stores in Los Angeles
but not Chicago. Costs of goods would vary widely among regions, and the
economy would suffer.
Welcome to the world of electricity,
where separate transmission systems - the "transportation" infrastructure
of electricity - built by local utilities for local customers now serve
as a national network.
While not a "third-world
transmission system," as some said after the huge East Coast blackout in
2003, the US transmission network is far from being an efficient national-delivery
system. It hasn't seen significant investment for more than 30 years, wasn't
designed to support today's electricity markets and isn't adequate to meet
the expected growth in demand.
Jobs Overseas" or Reaching New Customers?
Why Congress Should
Not Tax Reinvested Earnings Abroad
By Daniel T. Griswold, Free
Trade Bulletin, January 13, 2009
To demonize U.S. multinationals
operating production facilities abroad is to indict virtually every major
American company. At latest count more than 2,500 U.S. corporations own
and operate a total of 23,853 affiliates in other countries. In 2006, according
to the U.S. Department of Commerce, majority-owned foreign affiliates of
U.S. companies posted $4.1 trillion in sales, created just under $1 trillion
in value added, employed 9.5 million foreign workers, and earned $644 billion
in net income for their U.S.-based parent companies.
The primary reason why U.S.
companies invest in affiliates abroad is to sell more products to foreign
customers. Certain services can only be delivered on the spot, where the
provider must have a physical presence in the same location as its customers.
Operating affiliates abroad allows U.S. companies to maintain control over
their brand name and intellectual property such as trademarks, patents,
and engineering expertise. U.S. companies also establish foreign affiliates
because of certain advantages in the host country— lower-cost labor, ready
to raw materials and other inputs, reduced transportation costs and proximity
to their ultimate customers. Yes, the motivations can include access to
"cheap labor," but labor costs are not the principal motivation for most
U.S. direct investment abroad.
TV Networks Spread False Arctic Sea Ice Scare
By Dan Gainor, Environment
& Climate News, January 2009
High-profile media reports
predicting the North Pole would lose its ice cover failed to materialize
in 2008, as less Arctic sea ice melted than in 2007 and open water came
nowhere near the North Pole.
On the July 28, 2008 NBC
Nightly News, reporter Anne Thompson warned ominously of ice loss in the
Arctic. "This summer, some scientists say that ice could retreat so dramatically
that open water covers the North Pole, so much so that you could sail across
Both the ice and the hype
are still with us—according to a September 16 National Snow and Ice Data
Center (NSIDC) report, such predictions were off by 1.74 million square
# # #