North Archives - January 22, 2008
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has become a special-interest advocate
By Jack McMullen
U. S. Supreme Court says elimination of "corruption or the appearance of
corruption" is the only legitimate reason for a state to abridge the First
Amendment rights of its citizens through campaign finance legislation.
Using this standard, the court struck down in June 2006 a 1997 law promoted
by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG).
In 2007, VPIRG was back with
another campaign finance bill -- different but with comparably strict contribution
limits. The Legislature, controlled by Democrats, passed the new law despite
expert testimony from the ACLU and the attorney who won the last round
of lawsuits that the new bill was likely unconstitutional as well. As the
voice of common sense, and probably saving Vermont taxpayers from having
to foot the bill for another multimillion-dollar Supreme Court battle,
Gov. Douglas vetoed VPIRG's campaign finance law.
Now, VPIRG and its Democratic
allies are back again. Why is VPIRG so determined to try to pass a campaign
finance law of the type just declared unconstitutional? And why is the
Democratic Party so willing to go along with what is an obviously bad bill
that unnecessarily puts Vermont taxpayers in legal jeopardy?
Inevitability of Hillary and Socialized Medicine
By Robert Skinner
What will likely happen is
that socialized medicine will descend upon this country quite sometime
before the Medicare fund depletes. But the political stage is not
yet prepared for it now. There will be a time of government attempting
to influence our doctors, and the AMA, to commit significant or even dramatic
decrease in the cost of health care. That is not likely. Thus, the
citizens will be taxed more heavily and a near true blue tax revolt will
emerge as not witnessed before. Though the insurance companies have
been the "fall guy" for the pain, the emphasis and focus will shift to
the health care industry and its lobbyist groups - the ones who turned
back President Truman and the Clintons. But the rise in taxes and
the rise of health care will simply realign the whole process. Government
will begin new more intense study upon the doctors and hospitals (not like
what happened during the Renaissance scandal) and they will be characterized
in the most dark, and even scandalous light. When all this comes
to a point of convenience for the politicians - the conclusion will be
that more government oversight and management of the health care system
is in order. The prescription to the long, arduous financial
suffering to government and citizens alike will be - Yes, Socialized
of the Gentry-Left Changes His Mind on NCLB
By Martin Harris
argument is exactly that which the Right in Congress tried, and failed,
to build into the design of No Child Left Behind back in 2001-2. NCLB has
been, ever-since, much derided by the Left in general and educators in
particular, as its Web site shows, with a section devoted to "Teachers
Speak Out Against NCLB". It is the Bush Administration initiative which,
among other things, requires that public school students’ test scores actually
be used to evaluate the quality of the job those schools are doing. The
Right wanted to use a testing protocol which dates back to 1969-70, called
the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and provides for the testing
of carefully selected statistical samples of students in every State in
Math, Reading, and a few other subjects. Using the NAEP test results, which
are published in the annual National Digest of Educational Statistics but
not locally in most states or school districts because, I’d guess, they’re
so dismal (typically in the low 200’s out of a possible 500, as I’ve reported
frequently in this space) one can make not only state-by-state comparisons
for, say, cost or class size against scores, or for score improvement over
time (not much) or even for the relative achievement of various ethnic
cohorts. In contrast, most states, Vermont included, have taken advantage
of the Left’s successful insertion of a states’ rights provision in NCLB
authorizing them to purchase, use, and report the results of specially-designed
tests on which, miraculously, their students appear to do much better than
on the NAEP’s. Vermont, for example, has been through VtDRA, NECAP, and
a few other custom-designed tests in search of the privately-designed miracle
in which, as in Lake Woebegone, all the students will demonstrate that
they are above average, and –additional virtue—none of the test results
can be compared with most other states because they aren’t administered
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Week’s Mail Bag
They Did It Again!!
Well, they did it again!!
The same tried and true tactics that have worked so well for the education
lobby in Vermont for the last 30+ years I've been going to school budget
meetings. Pack the meeting with whining teachers, students, their families
and friends to predict the end of life as we know it if budget cuts are
made Add a sympathetic Times Argus reporter and get out the violins and
crying towels. Let the whiners applaud at the sophomoric statements made
by the aforementioned individuals who are so out of touch with the economic
realities of life the they discomforted by the Budget Committee trying
to rearrange the deck chairs on the SHS Titanic.
Totally ignore almost
anything that was said in support of the cuts.
The plight of those who are
left to foot the bills and burden has again been ignored. Who cares if
some poor property tax payer lost their home, their business or their
health insurance while paying the outrageous cost of education.
These Eduphiles live in the
world of the Great French Queen who said to her elitist associates at the
French Court. "Let them eat cake." Marie was really using her head which
I believe she later lost on a Tax issue. C'est dommage.
Finally, to those citizens
and legislators who sit around and tolerate or condone this taxpayer abuse
shame on you for not speaking out. You deserve what you get.
I intend to vote NO on this
budget indefinitely and speak out on what part of NO they still don't understand.
--John Gilligan, Barre,
Paid Big Bucks to Bike
I have just learned of one
of the most ridiculous bills ever conceived by our fearless leaders up
in Montpelier. It's Senate Bill S.339 THE ENERGY INDEPENDENCE AND RURAL
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACT. As you read through the massive text and its
new rules regarding what kind of light bulbs can be in ceiling fans, pre-rinse
spray valves, greenhouse gas registries, biogas digesters, indeed a whole
41 sections of laws and words aimed at saving the planet and buying our
legislators indulgences in enviro-wacko heaven, you'll come to the climactic
final section: The State Employees Commuter Challenge.
Here's the deal in nutshell:
The state will give each state employee who wants a bicycle, $500 to buy
one. If you have one, apparently it's $500 for helmets, special cycling
clothes and new bike shoes. And that's not all, if you actually use the
bike, or say you will, they'll pay you another $500. That is, if you can
manage to pump out a couple of miles a day. The reimbursement rate is a
generous 77¢ per mile. If you ride more than 650 miles though, you
won't get any more money. It's capped by law to be $1000 total in year
number one. So all you bicycle-riding state employees, don't get any big
ideas of getting paid to ride around on holidays.
Full funding for the 8000
current state employees will be $8 million. No telling how much it will
cost to set up the new bureaucracy in charge of handing out the bike money
and to police the actual riding.
Now, I don't know about you,
but I don't really want $1000 of my hard-earned tax dollars going to buy
a bureaucrat a bike and to pay him to ride it. I'd rather buy my 10 year
old a bike. So this April, I think I'm going to enact my own little Energy
Independence Act. I'll withhold sending in a $1000 in State Income Tax,
buy TWO bikes, and my kid and I will ride around checking on biogas discharge
and the more solid bovine emissions that cattle leave behind in the fields.
Which, when I think of it, is the only one word description this bill deserves.
--Hunter Melville, Woodstock
"Above these [citizens]
an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring
their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed,
far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it
had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it
seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens
to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves.
It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent
and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and
secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal
affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their
inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking
and the pain of living? Subjection in small affairs manifests itself
every day and makes itself felt without distinction by all citizens. It
does not make them desperate, but it constantly thwarts them and brings
them to renounce the use of their wills. Thus little by little, it extinguishes
their spirits and enervates their souls."
-- Alexis de Tocqueville
on the Nanny State, in "Democracy
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Acts 60 And 68?
Caledonian Record Editorial,
There is a serious initiative
coming from the grass roots in Vermont to scrap Acts 60 and 68 and start
over again. They both were hastily conceived and bulldozed through the
Legislature to answer the Supreme Court's 10-year-old declaration that
what was then our education finance system was unconstitutional. Since
1998, Vermont has floundered from bad to worse in education financing,
with taxes skyrocketing, prebates and rebates dissolving any sense of responsibility
for containing costs among prebatees, gold towns (those paying premiums
to support non-gold towns) proliferating to the point where some of the
poorest towns in the state are now gold towns because they are land rich,
though cash poor, and local control of schools becoming a joke.
The Vermont Coalition of
Municipalities (VCM) recently passed a resolution and sent it to 246 municipalities
with their strong recommendation to adopt it. The resolution calls for
the Legislature to scrap Acts 60 and 68 and proceed to discuss to consensus
two possibilities: have Vermont return to a modification of the old Foundation
formula, or have the state take over full financing of education costs
in Vermont and pay them with a uniform, statewide property tax. The option
to return to the Foundation formula is all about local control. The state
takeover option sacrifices local control to achieve more equitable, thus
Revenues Fall Flat
From WCAX-TV Montpelier,
Vermont - January 15, 2008
Vermont's economic picture
is not looking so rosy. For the first time in years, state tax revenues
have not been as strong as predicted. While the General Fund is up slightly
over expectations, both the transportation fund and education fund are
down for the fiscal year so far.
Even The Good Guys Go Too Far
Caledonian Record Editorial,
January 16, 2008
Governor Douglas has apparently
let himself be carried away by the latest secular humanist cry of imminent
doom, this time coming upon us by that most human and worst of the Seven
Deadly Sins, gluttony, which will lead to obesity on a grand scale, which
finally will lead us to societal death through fatness. Douglas, in what
seems a sop thrown to the devotees of this new religion, has promised to
add 12 new obesity specialists to our regional health offices and to seek
more funding to combat obesity.
Caledonian Record Editorial,
January 17, 2008
Here are two sobering facts.
It costs Vermont taxpayers $54,000 a day for our legislators to palaver
the days away, usually from early January until, and sometimes into, June.
And, it costs additional big bucks for the countless summer study committees
that all of that talk leads to. Talk is not cheap.
From the VT-GOP, January
On a day when Vermont’s major
newspapers headlined a $14 million revenue shortfall for our state, every
Democrat in the Vermont State Senate voted to passed a campaign finance
"reform" bill, S.278, knowing that it is likely unconstitutional, and knowing
that it is liable to waste an estimated $2 million in another lost legal
The two parties who sued
and won Randall v. Sorrell, striking down Vermont's last campaign finance
James Bopp, Attorney,
1/11/08: "S.278 is not complying with the Constitution, but defying the
Alan Gilbert, Executive
Director ACLU, 1/11/08: "You’re essentially considering taking an action
that arguably is going to result in litigation depending on what you do,
and you run the risk… that maybe this time the Supreme Court is going to
throw everything [all campaign contribution limits] out and say forget
Losing Randal v. Sorrell cost
Vermont taxpayers $1.49 million in loser’s legal fees to the ACLU and Bopp
(plus the still undisclosed costs of the Attorney General's office), and
set a national Supreme Court precedent for challenging campaign donation
Senator George Coppenrath
(R-Caledonia) explained his opposition to the bill in part:
"The last time that the
general assembly bet taxpayers money on a campaign finance bill, Vermont
had to pay 1.49 million to the plaintiff’s attorneys. That is real money
that could have been available to provide home heating oil to our low income
residents, assist those needing mental health services, repair some bridges,
or meet other priority needs.
Now we are faced with the
prospect of, once again, defying the US Constitution…. In my opinion it
is outrageously irresponsible for us, during this time of limited revenues,
to even consider passing this bill that will have no real effect on campaign
Under questioning from Senator
Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland), Senator Jeanette White (D-Windham),
chairwoman of the Government Operations Committee, admitted that her committee
did not even consider how much passage of this bill would likely cost Vermont
taxpayers. White also admitted that the bill does nothing to limit the
growth of or expenditures made by PACs. Other serious flaws in the bill
came to light during Mullin's questioning
Nevertheless, every Senate
Democrat voted for S.278, which passed 24 – 5.
Republican Party Chairman,
Roper, said, "Today’s business on campaign finance illustrates, again,
just how far out of touch the Senate Democrats are with the priorities
of regular Vermonters and the challenges we face. Let’s hope common sense,
bipartisanship, and respect for Vermonters' tax dollars and civil rights
will prevail in the House."
about Economic Development
From VermontTiger.com, January
The real key is for existing
firms to grow. Like Blodgett Oven in Burlington, which just
announced that after years of double digit sales growth, it has outgrown
its existing plant and needs to find 200,000 to 250,000 square feet of
new space, plus parking and room for future expansion. And
the ultimate source of Blodgett's success is pretty mundane: America's,
and the world's, hunger for pizza--and pizza made quickly.
The firm's management is
upbeat about the company's prospects. But the note of caution expressed
by company president Gary Mick is interesting:
A fully permitted site
would be helpful.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
From INVESTOR'S BUSINESS
DAILY, Thursday, January 17, 2008
Homeland Security: Terrorists
are increasingly looking to Europe as both a target and a staging ground
for U.S. attacks. Their ticket may be the Visa Waiver Program, a major
Qaeda in Iraq's shrinking area of operations
By Bill Roggio, The Long
War Journal, January 17, 2008
Nearly one year to the day
of the announcement of the "surge" of US forces to Iraq and the change
in counterinsurgency plan, Iraqi and Coalition forces have shrunk al Qaeda's
ability to conduct operations inside Iraq, a senior US commander said.
By Andrew G. Bostom, The
American Thinker, January 15, 2008
It may not be too late to
save the career of a Pentagon analyst of jihad threats whose frank and
honest work has gotten him into trouble. Bill Gertz in his weekly Washington
the Ring" column (1/11/08) reported that "Pentagon and military leaders,
along with lots of working-level officials, are quietly rallying" in support
of Major Stephen Coughlin (USAR), whose plight I have discussed, earlier
Gertz also makes clear in no uncertain terms, dismissing some rumor mongering,
that Coughlin was being accused "falsely" of talking "out of school to
the press." As is his wont, Gertz gets to the heart of the matter:
Islamic 'jihad' means doing good works
By Bob Unruh, WorldNetDaily.com,
January 16, 2008
An Islamic "jihad" is an
effort by Muslims to convince "others to take up worthy causes, such as
funding medical research," according to a middle school textbook used in
California and other states. And even at its most violent, "jihad" simply
is Muslims fighting "to protect themselves from those who would do them
harm," says the "History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond" book published
by Teachers' Curriculum
Institute. But a parent whose child has been handed the text in a Sacramento
district is accusing the publisher of a pro-Muslim bias to the point that
Islamic theology has been incorporated into the public school teachings.
Problems for Musharraf
Rick Moran, The American
Thinker, January 17, 2008
The Pakistani army suffered
a humiliating defeat yesterday when Taliban and al-Qaeda troops overran
a fort on the Afghan
frontier: ... The action took place in an area dominated by one of
the suspects in Benazir Bhutto's assassination, Baitullah Mehsud. Meshud
also led the attack on the Red Mosque last year and is considered one of
the major extremists in Pakistan. A defeat at the hands of this guy is
not good for Musharraf. He may now seek an accommodation with Meshud. That
has been his pattern in the past when the Pakistani army has suffered a
By RALPH PETERS, Tthe New
York Post, January 15, 2008
The New York Times is trashing
our troops again. With no new "atrocities" to report from Iraq for many
a month, the limping Gray Lady turned to the home front. Front and center,
above the fold, on the front page of Sunday's Times, the week's feature
story sought to convince Americans that combat experiences in Iraq and
Afghanistan are turning troops into murderers when they come home. ...But
the hard statistics from the Justice Department tell a far different tale
from the Times' anti-military propaganda.
# # #
Countries Don’t Need Climate Change Welfare, They Need Capitalism
By Keith Lockitch, The Ayn
"The world’s poorest can
barely cope with day-to-day survival, let alone with unproven threats projected
to occur over decades. Imagine having no electricity or access to clean
drinking water. Imagine having to cook your meals over an open fire, breathing
smoke and ash every day. Billions around the world survive at a subsistence
level because they lack the elements of industrial capitalism that we in
the developed world take for granted: power plants, factories, modern roads
and hospitals, cars, refrigerators, and countless time- and labor-saving
"What poor countries need
is not climate adaptation welfare doled out by environmentalists who oppose
industrial development; what poor countries need is to become rich countries.
They need to embrace free markets and private property rights and attract
the investment of profit-seeking entrepreneurs to create wealth and drive
Nightmare For Financial Advisers
From Captain’s Quarters,
January 14, 2008
haunts financial advisers the most? Terrorism? Global unrest? Not even
close. According to a survey of over 200 financial advisers taken in December,
their biggest worry is that Hillary Clinton will win the presidential election
Don't Stimulate, the Economy
Dr. Yaron Brook The Ayn
Rand Institute January 16, 2008
Fearing a recession in the
wake of the collapse of the subprime mortgage market and other economic
problems, factions in Washington are competing to offer "stimulus packages"
to come to the rescue. Some favor Fed interest rate decreases, while others
want some sort of immediate tax cut, while others want an outright giveaway
to lower-income Americans. But, said Yaron Brook, executive director of
the Ayn Rand Institute, "We don't need the government to 'stimulate' the
economy with some new intervention; we need it to liberate us from
all its destructive economic intervention that put us in this situation.
Boomlet Pushes U.S. Birth Rates to 45-Year High
FOX News Tuesday, January
Bucking the trend in many
other wealthy industrialized nations, the United States seems to be experiencing
a baby boomlet, reporting the largest number of children born in 45 years.
...Experts believe there is a mix of reasons: a decline in contraceptive
use, a drop in access to abortion, poor education and poverty. There are
cultural reasons as well. Hispanics as a group have higher fertility rates
— about 40 percent higher than the U.S. overall.
And experts say Americans, especially those in middle America, view children
more favorably than people in many other Westernized countries.
"Americans like children.
We are the only people who respond to prosperity by saying, `Let's have
another kid,"' said Nan Marie Astone, associate professor of population,
family and reproductive health
at Johns Hopkins University. ... The influence of certain religions in
those latter regions is an important factor, said Ron Lesthaeghe, a Belgian
demographer who is a visiting professor at the University of Michigan.
"Evangelical Protestantism and Mormons," he said.
By Daniel Pipes, The American
Conservative Union, January 16, 2008
To understand fascism in
its full expression requires putting aside Stalin's misrepresentation of
the term and also look beyond the Holocaust, and instead return to the
period Goldberg terms the "fascist moment," roughly 1910-35. A statist
ideology, fascism uses politics as the tool to transform society from atomized
individuals into an organic whole. It does so by exalting the state over
the individual, expert knowledge over democracy, enforced consensus over
debate, and socialism over capitalism. It is totalitarian in Mussolini's
original meaning of the term, of "Everything in the State, nothing outside
the State, nothing against the State." Fascism's message boils down to
"Enough talk, more action!" Its lasting appeal is getting things done.
In contrast, conservatism
calls for limited government, individualism, democratic debate, and capitalism.
Its appeal is liberty and leaving citizens alone.
Goldberg's triumph is establishing
the kinship between communism, fascism, and liberalism. All derive from
the same tradition that goes back to the Jacobins of the French Revolution.
His revised political spectrum would focus on the role of the state and
go from libertarianism to conservatism to fascism in its many guises –
American, Italian, German, Russian, Chinese, Cuban, and so on.
Money in Medicine Is Moral
By Dr. Yaron Brook, The
Ayn Rand Institute January 15, 2008
"Contrary to Mr. Meno's insinuations,
businesses do not profit by exploiting consumers, but by offering them
life-enhancing values--whether a loaf of bread, a miracle drug, or a cutting-edge
surgical procedure. The farmers, doctors, and businessmen who create and
supply those values have a moral right to be compensated for their efforts.
The attack on profit in medicine is an attack on profit as such--and on
all the goods and services profit makes possible. We should oppose Mr.
Meno's attack on profit and welcome expanded freedom in medicine."
# # #