North Archives - February 02, 2010
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Britton Can Beat Pat Leahy
Scott Brown’s victory in
Massachusetts should be a wake up call for Senator Patrick Leahy. Leahy,
who has lived inside the D.C. Beltway for thirty-five years, could be the
poster child for the arrogant, old-boy politics voters just dramatically
Care Committee Testimony
By Pat Crocker
The question I have is,
"Should our government provide healthcare, or should it provide
the opportunity to pursue healthcare? These are two different
things, and I would contend that the government should not be in the business
of providing healthcare to all! What Senator Sanders did not tell
you is that the same study ranked the US number one in areas like responsiveness
to patients, confidentiality, availability of doctors and other providers,
and respect for patients. These are variables that I find more important
than whether we have socialized healthcare.
By Martin Harris
an earnest effort (I’m trying really, really, hard) to stay au courant
and au milieu de the elevated intellectual climate for which
the gentry-Left (plural noun) of Norwich expect to be known and appreciated,
I’ll characterize as a ballon d’essai the following quote
from School Board member Geoffrey Vitt as reported in the 8 January issue
of The Valley News. Here it is: "…cutting too much out of the budget could
lead parents to send their children to private school, and…exacerbate school
Salvatore MacEwan of Rutland
was charged with murder in the death of his five-week old child, to which
after a year-and-a-half he has pleaded guilty. The judge is considering
a mere 14-year prison sentence for MacEwan’s heinous abuse of his child
and the resulting murder (article
here).# # #
Week’s Mail Bag
The wealthy have school choice
because they can afford to pay their property taxes for their local school
plus the extra tuition required for a different school, whether public
or private. The question is, do all children, including low-income students,
deserve school choice? Or should choice be reserved for the rich?
There are many issues which
determine which would be the best school for a child: academics, cost,
location, sports, music, faith, friends, safety. Religion is only one of
many factors that parents consider.
The Jan. 15 editorial in
The Burlington Free Press claims it is "wrong
for tax dollars to aid religious schools." Despite the potential for
enormous savings for taxpayers, the editor fears it will conflict with
the Bill of Rights. However, the First Amendment does not say we
must separate education and religion. After all, how can you teach children
without any ethics or moral code? Our founders recognized that education
and religion are inextricably linked; Vermont’s own constitution combines
"religion and learning" in the Education Clause, Chapter 2, Article 68.
What the First Amendment
does say is that government must not establish a religion. Unfortunately,
public schools come close to doing exactly that by monopolizing education
tax dollars and espousing the religion called humanism.
It is time to expand freedom
of religion and school choice to all children regardless of their economic
status. Vermont has the opportunity to save money for taxpayers and foster
greater educational equality. We have statewide school taxes, we should
have statewide school choice for all children.
* * *
Free Press Ignorant of
First Amendment Law
The Burlington Free Press
editorial of Jan. 15, opposing "tax dollars to aid religious schools" displays
a regrettable ignorance of First Amendment law ("Wrong
for tax dollars to aid religious schools").
In the Cleveland school voucher
case of 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Establishment Clause
of the First Amendment does not prohibit a state from giving children tuition
vouchers to enable them to transfer to private schools, including religious
schools, that their parents believe to be academically stronger, safer,
and more committed to character values.??The key factors in the court's
decision were that the Cleveland voucher program had a valid secular purpose;
was neutral with respect to religion; provided assistance to a broad class
of citizens; and allowed those citizens to make their own private choices
about their children's education.??I agree that for the state to give money
to religious schools entangles the parties in a relationship unhealthy
for both. But there are no longer any "difficult First Amendment questions"
when the state gives money to empower parents to choose among many education
providers, secular and religious, in the best interest of their children.
Ethan Allen Institute, Kirby
* * *
"It does not
require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen
to set brush fires in people's minds."
Weekly News Round-Up
(?) Pre-School: What Act 62 Really Does
By Tammy Ryea, Vermont Tiger,
January 27, 2010
When the Governor tells us
that our education funding system is broken, do you agree? Is providing
the best education we can for our young students really what it’s all about,
or has our education system become something else? Eighty percent
(80%) of the budget is to pay for school staff. These staff levels
have increased by 23% in the past 13 years, yet the student population
has decreased by 11.5%. The number of teacher’s aides has increased
43%. The number of support staff has gone up 48%. Is this realistic for
Vermont taxpayers? How about the fact that we have the lowest student
to teacher ratio in the country with 11 students for each teacher? There
are five students for every adult in our schools. Not only is this unrealistic
for taxpayers, the number of children that our education system claims
to educate includes some 1,000 children who don’t even exist – the phantom
Snowflake Doth Not A Winter Make
Caledonia Record Editorial,
January 28, 2010
Two Douglas administration
economists revised their revenue forecast for the rest of this fiscal year
upwards by $4.7 million. Economists Jeff Carr and Tom Kavet reported the
good news to Gov. Jim Douglas and legislative leaders in order to give
them a good idea within what limits to plan their budgets for the next
The truth is, though, that
Carr and Kavet couched their report in fiscal cautions that clearly spell
out a chancy, precarious road to recovery for Vermont. Included in their
caveats are the current reliance of the state on the gross infusion of
federal stimulus funds, the specter of inflation if the federal government
continues or increases expenditures, the equally dangerous possibility
of a double dip recession if the feds decrease their spending too quickly,
and the balancing act among a possible increase in unemployment, the floor
falling out from under real estate prices and activity, and 10 other things
affecting our frail economy.
Lessons From The Fall
By Art Woolf, Vermont
Tiger, January 21, 2010
If there is one thing that
Progressives (at least the Vermont version) believe, it's that business
profits are a cost that ordinary people pay, and if the government can
provide a good or service instead of the private sector, so much the better
for the average person.
In Burlington, that was the
guiding principle behind the formation of Burlington Telecom, which essentially
duplicated the activities of Verizon (now Fairpoint) and Comcast.
The city's logic was that each of those firms had a monopoly and that government
could provide telecom services more cheaply, since BT didn't have to earn
profits, and better, since BT's goal was to help the citizens and businesses
of the city, rather than simply make a profit. (I'll leave for another
day the argument that profit-making businesses earn profits precisely because
they provide a good or service that benefits people. If they didn't
they wouldn't earn a profit.) ...
The fundamental question
for Burlington is whether the city should cut its losses and get out of
a business it never should have entered into in the first place, or whether
it should double down on its original bet and expose taxpayers to even
Welcome, Burlington, to the
real world of business: investment, risk, profit, and loss.
Reach Pension Deal
By Louis Porter, Rutland
Herald, January 30, 2010
Vermont's teachers will work
longer and pay more into their pension plans based on an agreement reached
between their union and state officials, designed to save $15 million in
the next fiscal year.
In exchange, some teachers
will receive larger pensions and health coverage for their spouses and
the state will accept $5 million less in savings for the pension system.
Call To ... What?
From Vermont Tiger, January
If the state needs saving,
then it will not be accomplished by a new study. We have had many,
many studies and commissions and precious little action. It is time
for Winston Hartwell and his colleagues who have been busy ignoring what
others have warned was coming to move from contemplation to action, as
he suggests, himself, later in his call to arms.
Given current trends,
immediate action is required.
Okay, then. So shelve the
study and just agree that taxes are too high. Then cut them. After
all, that's what Churchill would have done.
La-La Land Again
Caledonia Record Editorial,
January 29 2010
Just when you think the liberals
among Montpelier lawmakers have returned from La-La Land, they come up
with another Alice in Wonderland idea that will set the ideologues on fire
with self-righteous religious fervor. This time, it is the House Natural
Resources and Energy Committee which proposes to limit to five minutes
the time that trucks can idle in Vermont. The prototype for their big idea
is Burlington, the home of a Brave New World in Vermont, whose city council
outlawed idling trucks earlier this year.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
State of the U.S. Military (pdf)
Heritage Foundation Report,
After nearly a decade of
continuous warfare—and coming off a previous decade of underinvestment
in next- generation equipment and systems in the 1990s and dramatically
reduced force levels—America’s military personnel remain exceptional but
are stressed, experiencing reduced readiness levels and lacking diverse
training. The military’s equipment is old and getting older in part because
it is employed at breakneck wartime rates.
The range of potential missions
facing today’s military is vast. While winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
remains a central mission, regional combatant commanders must also respond
to humanitarian disasters, protect sea lines of communication and free
trade, deter rogue states through a credible extended deterrence posture,
and hedge against the future uncertainty that accompanies the rise of powers
like China and Russia.
Regrettably, the tools required
to sustain all of these efforts are in jeopardy. The collective decisions
by Congress and both Democratic and Republican Presidents over the past
15 years have left the U.S. military using equipment that is extremely
old and, in many cases, outdated.
Government Extremism and the U.S. Response
Shea, Talal Eid, Hudson Institute, January 26, 2010
Terrorists are not born,
they're made. Extremist indoctrination is the first step in this process,
an indisputable fact accepted by security experts and terror cell leaders
alike. Administration officials have openly acknowledged this, noting that
the growing list of Americans accused of terrorist acts are being inspired
by "al-Qaeda and radical ideology."
One such ideology comes from
Saudi Arabia and is based on the Saudi government's interpretation of the
Hanbali school of Sunni Islam. It has been described as kindling for Osama
bin Laden's match by some prominent terrorism experts, though of course
the vast majority of those who are exposed to this ideology never go on
to commit terrorist acts. Saudi Arabia's role in inspiring terrorists has
caused the Obama Administration to designate the country this week as one
of 14 countries whose nationals will face enhanced security upon entering
the United States. In addition, Saudi Arabia has been on the State Department's
religious freedom blacklist for engaging in egregious violations since
2004, yet the U.S. has invoked a national interest waiver on any actions
(which could include sanctions) every year since then, in effect, giving
Saudi Arabia a free pass.
America: After the Left
By Samuel Gregg, D.Phil.,
Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, January 27, 2010
The left is in trouble in
Latin America. Sebastián Piñera’s recent election as Chile’s
first elected center-right president in decades owes much to the inability
of the center-left coalition that governed Chile after 1990 to rejuvenate
itself. Yet across Latin America there is, as the Washington Post’s
Jackson Diel perceptively observes,
a sense that the left’s decade of dominance is unraveling.
Top Predictions for the Next Decade:
China Collapse, Global
Labor Shortages, New American Dominance.
By Lawrence Delevingne,Business
Insider, January 22, 2010
What will the next decade
bring for the world? STRATFOR has the answers. In a Decade
Forecast released yesterday, the global intelligence company
predicts Chinese economic collapse, game-changing global labor shortages,
and continued American dominance because of a gradual retreat from international
engagement. Welcome to 2010.
Credit for Failure
By Scott Stewart, Strategic
Forecasters, January 27, 2010
Hezbollah’s ability to eject
Israel from southern Lebanon and its strong stand against the Israeli armed
forces in the 2006 war made a strong impression in the Middle East. Iran,
Hezbollah and Hamas are seen as very real threats to Israel, while al Qaeda
has shown that it can produce a lot of anti-Israeli rhetoric but few results.
Because of this, Iran and its proxies have become the vanguard of the fight
against Israel, while al Qaeda is simply trying to keep its name in the
Claiming credit for failed
attacks orchestrated by others and trying to latch on to the fight against
Israel are just the latest signs that al Qaeda is trying
almost too hard to remain relevant.
Between Rifqa Bary, Parents to Settle Conflict Short-Lived
By Meredith Heagney, The
Columbus Dispatch, January 29, 2010
The agreement between Rifqa
Bary and her parents to settle their conflict through counseling has ended
without a single meeting between the parents and their daughter, according
to a motion filed in Franklin County Juvenile Court.
The parents - Mohamed and
Aysha Bary - are withdrawing their consent to resolve the case. Rifqa and
her parents agreed on Jan. 19 that she would stay in foster care and they
would undergo counseling instead of beginning a dependency trial to determine
where the 17-year-old should live.
She turns 18 on Aug. 10.
The motion says: "The parents
now believe the entire deal should be thrown out because of misrepresentation
and fraudulent inducement." It adds that the Barys now object to all decisions
made on Jan. 19 and want a trial on the dependency case.
# # #
Rest of the World Can Learn a Lot From Israeli Formula for Growth
By Irwin Stelzer, TheHudson
Institute, January 20, 2010
Dan Senor and Saul Singer's
new book "Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle," rattles
off some interesting statistics that deserve consideration by policy makers
in other countries. Per-capita venture-capital investment in Israel runs
2.5 times that in the U.S. and 30 times that in Europe. Tiny Israel—population
7.1 million— attracts as much venture capital as Britain (population 61
million), and France and Germany combined (combined population 145 million).
Israel has more companies listed on Nasdaq than any other country save
the U.S. and has grown faster than the average for developed economies
in most years since 1995. Between 1980 and 2000 7,652 patents were registered
in the U.S. from Israel. That compares with 77 from Egypt.
Messrs. Netanyahu, Doron
and Fischer were operating within a culture that is "skeptical of conventional
explanations about what is possible" and characterized by "insatiable questioning
of authority" according to Messrs Senor and Singer. And a willingness to
accept failure is a necessary part of any economy heavily reliant on start-ups
for its economic growth, a feature also characteristic of the U.S., where
entrepreneurs say that if an entrepreneur has not gone bankrupt by the
age of 35, he has not taken enough risks. A Harvard University study puts
it more scientifically: entrepreneurs who fail in their first venture have
a higher success rate in their next venture than first-time entrepreneurs.
Credit Peter (now Lord) Mandelson for long ago recognizing that and leading
an effort to reform U.K. bankruptcy laws to make second chances more possible
for the country's risk-takers....
Obviously, no other country
has Israel's combination of advantages and problems. But other countries
can see what happens when a well-educated country allows failure and thereby
encourages risk-taking, replaces pervasive government intervention with
light-handed regulation, and benefits from intelligent management of its
monetary policy. Job-creating start-ups flourish. The growth rate accelerates.
Exports increase. Even in a country under continued threat from its enemies.
Or perhaps because of that.
Voracious Search for New Tax Revenue
By David Boaz, The Cato
Last year I tried to compile
list of all the taxes President Obama and his allies were maneuvering
to impose. But each week brings new ideas. Just recently we’ve heard about
the Medicare tax to capital gains and other "passive" or "unearned"
the Medicare tax rate, raising or broadening the capital
gains tax, an income tax "surtax,"
a tax on tanning
– and of course the tax
on private health insurance to pay for the expansion of government
insurance has moved to the top of the list.
Obamacare Goes Down
From Tremoglie's Neoavatara
After a year of debate, protests,
under the table and behind closed door deals…the Democrats have virtually
admitted defeat on Obamacare. Their last hope lay in the possibility of
calling cry from the left for months. But it now appears, even that
path is closed to them.
Republicans have laid out
a strategy of submitting amendment
amendment if the Democrats carry through on reconciliation. Reconciliation
allows for endless amendments to be offered, and the submission of those
amendments would only stop with a closure vote, which requires 60 votes…which
the Democrats no longer have.
Decline of Britain: A Cautionary Tale for America (pdf)
Heritage Foundation Special
Similar trans-Atlantic experiences
reflect more than the economic linkage between England and the United States
or the well-known swing of the political pendulum. Most significantly,
the echoes and counter-echoes demonstrate how, at the lowest common denominator,
political fashion and, at the highest, political thinking in America and
Britain take place in the same marketplace of ideas. This should give political
commentators and strategists
pause for thought. If Britain is on the wrong course and America follows,
Britain will be even more dependent on its great traditional ally. More
obviously, pursuing an authentically Anglo–Saxon route to decline offers
no benefits to the United States. Consanguinity works both ways. What works
in one of our countries has been shown to work in the other. But what fails
in one country also fails in the other, and in crucial respects Britain
is now failing. The country’s palpable decline from its
prosperity and security of
just two decades ago constitutes an awful but, if intelligently observed,
timely and useful warning to America.
Self-Reverential State of the Union Address
From Politics Daily, January
President Obama's State of
the Union address should unnerve Democrats in Congress and throughout the
country. It was one of the worst State of the Union addresses in modern
times – a stunning thing for a man who won the presidency in large measure
based on the power and uplift of his rhetoric.
For those who hoped the president
would use this speech as a pivot to the center, a la Bill Clinton in the
aftermath of the 1994 mid-term elections, the speech was a major letdown.
Much of what he offered up last night was symbolic. His budget freeze on
a subset of domestic discretionary spending – which might amount to $15
billion – will hardly put a dent into our $1.35 trillion deficit. His budget
commission, which will have no real power or authority, is worthless. His
proposal to cut the capital gains tax for small business investment is
a step in the right direction – but it will fall far short of what is needed
to generate jobs and economic growth. One sensed there was no urgency or
passion behind his effort to help small businesses and the private sector.
Immigrants Bring Benefits Without Leaving Their Countries
By W. Michael Cox, Investor’s
Business Daily, January 29, 2010
has been the Internet's reaching critical mass in two key areas. First,
it has spread widely enough to become an indispensable tool for modern
international business. Second, data-transmission capacity has become big
enough to move large amounts of information anywhere in the world.
Many Americans fear the job
losses from offshoring, or the import side of virtual immigration. However,
they ignore the greater job-creating benefits on the export side. As the
Internet facilitated a wave of virtual immigration, the overall U.S. surplus
in services trade grew from $78.8 billion in 1998 to $161.4 billion in
Union Spending Spree
By RiShawn Biddle, The American
Spectator, January 29, 2010
For President Barack Obama,
Scott Brown's victory over Martha Coakley in the U.S. Senate special election
could at the very least lead to a drastically scaled-down version of his
healthcare reform plan. But for the National Education Association, the
American Federation of Teachers and suburban school districts, it may mean
at least $27 billion and perhaps, even more.
# # #