North Archives - February 05, 2008
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Snow & The Cost Of Capital: A Parable
By Bill Sayre
Yes, it is always tempting
to ignite the politics of envy, turning the tax code into a battleground
for class warfare, demonizing the wealthy individuals and large corporations.
But it is important to remember that capital is mobile, and when it is
taxed less predictably, and at higher rates, it will tend to migrate, along
with its owners, to where they both are more welcome. Let’s hope
we remember this, as we consider whether or not to raise the rate at which
Vermont taxes capital. If we were to destabilize and increase taxes on
capital, the owners of capital who migrate from Vermont, will be hurt far
less, if at all, than are the workers left behind, whose incomes will grow
more slowly, if at all.
Income Level, High Asset Level, or Big Portfolio, Small Check
By Martin Harris
I’m only an amateur economist, not a credentialed two-handed one (on the
one hand, thus… and on the other hand, maybe not thus…), I’ve long puzzled
over what I have thought to be the weak link in my "trust-funder economy"
thesis, the assumption that in order for a State like Vermont to conduct
itself as if all its citizens are above-average (a little Lake Woebegone
lingo, there) in terms of income, its voters who have shown themselves
to be remarkably accepting, even welcoming, of high taxes and low business
friendliness, high spending and low capital investment, high growth in
government and low to no growth the objective in everything else, must
necessarily be just that: above-average in income. As all the stats show,
Bigger Threat: A Teacher’s Perspective
By Curtis Hier
media outlets pounced all over the story of an Irasburg teacher giving
out literature apparently promoting Jesus over Santa Claus. I’d like to
put the issue in perspective. ... I don’t perceive the Irasburg incident
as a big threat. The bigger threat in this state is the kind of overboard
secularism that makes us now take a "December Break" rather than the traditional
Christmas Vacation. I grew up in the Congregational Church in Pittsford.
Our family was a typical New England family that didn’t talk much about
religion. But we learned a lot about common sense. And common sense tells
me that there are a lot bigger problems facing our schools today than what
that Irasburg teacher was doing. The media in Vermont is much more concerned
with religion in the schools, it seems, than drugs in the schools.
An Occasional Newsletter from the Legislature
By Rep. Thomas F. Koch Barre
Amid the many bills, resolutions,
and ideas floating around the Statehouse, some are inevitably worse than
others. This year, there are some particularly bad ones, and it is with
regret that I report that some of them are getting serious attention and
may even become law. So the theme of this "Scribblings" is what kind
of foolishness is this?
# # #
"Of all tyrannies a tyranny
sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive.
It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral
busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity
may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good
will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own
C. S. Lewis
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
From VermontTiger.com, February
Tom Licata doesn’t look or
sound the part of a warrior. (Or Tom Hanks, for that matter.)
I knew this from having met him a couple times. So when I finally
got around to attending one of his Vermonters for Economic Health presentations,
I wasn't sure what to expect. After all, the Act 60 Revolt and Repeal people
-- Steve Adams, et al -- don’t exactly look like Sam Adams et al. I wondered
if there'd be any arm-waving and finger-pointing. What I saw and heard
was a well-spoken (and calm), stay-at-home dad. He was armed, but only
with an MBA, a nice suit, and some common sense. Licata spoke (more calmly
than I would have) about $3.5 billion of looming expenses facing our state,
$1.3 billion of which represents what we’ll have to spend just on repairing
roads and bridges. ...
Towns Feel Taxed to the Max
By Tena Starr, Caledonian
Record, January 28, 2008
After a year and half or
so of trying to push education reform to relieve the property tax burden,
Ben Bangs of Newark is a little discouraged. He and the organization of
Newark taxpayers called Vermont Citizens for Justice have decided to soldier
on, although they're considerably less optimistic than they once were.
Looks For Solutions to Vermont's Economic Troubles
From WCAX-TV, January
The economic state of the
state had residents in St. Albans talking Monday night. Vermonters for
Economic Health hosted its third forum Monday, hoping to educate the public
and stimulate new ideas. The group is spearheaded by Tom Licata, a Burlington
resident with ten years experience in the financial sector.
After years of compiling
data about the economic health of Vermont, Licata says he's worried that
no one is paying attention to a looming problem.
"If we don't change the status
quo, in about 20 years we'll only have enough money for entitlements and
the interest on our debt," Licata told the dozen-or-so people gathered
in the library of St. Albans Town Educational Center.
Forth and Multiply--Just Not Here
From VermontTiger.com, February
So the question is why there's
not as much fructifying in Vermont as in any other state. Could be that
there just aren't as many new big homes in Vermont. Maybe Vermonters didn't
build as many houses because of Act 250, which made it more difficult to
site housing developments. Perhaps Act 250 should take into consideration
the impact of new housing development on the ability of Vermonters to fructify.
There are some other factors to consider as well: The babies born
today do not look like the babies born in 1961, nor do their parents: For
starters, they are much more likely to be Hispanic, to live in a red state
and to be part of an evangelical Christian family
Caledonian Record Editorial,
February 02, 2008
All of the benchmarks of
the national and state economies are pointing straight at economic hard
times coming, perhaps even a recession. That means that nobody, public
or private, can afford to spend more money, and most won't be able to spend
as much. Gov. Jim Douglas made that conclusion explicit in his budget presentation
to a joint meeting of the House and Senate. There is no windfall of money,
whether from a year-end surplus or new taxes in his budget. Level funding
is the rule. It is called austerity.
The Democratic leadership,
though, simply doesn't believe that austerity means austerity. They jumped
on Douglas's budget almost before his voice died away in the House chamber.
Listen to them.
Facing Efforts to Repeal Laws Passed Last Year
By Louis Porter, Vermont
Press Bureau/Rutland Herald, January 29, 2008
Lawmakers are spending a
lot of time on issues they thought they were done dealing with last session.
Besides two vetoed bills now being resurrected — one on campaign finance
and another on energy — legislators are also grappling with efforts to
repeal portions of four laws passed less than a year ago. It is not clear
yet if any of those will succeed. But it will take some time to consider
them in any case.
and the "Vermont Brand"
VTGOP Big Tent, February
As most people have probably
heard, both in Vermont and across the United States, the town of Brattleboro
will vote on town meeting day whether or not to arrest the President and
Vice President for war crimes should they ever decide to visit.
Odds are they won’t, regardless
of the vote on March 4. Why would anybody come where they’re not welcome?
But, according to reports of disappointed citizens calling in from all
over the country to protest this nonsense, it looks like a lot of other
people won’t be visiting Vermont any time soon either. This is not a good
thing for a state that depends on being a host to over 13 million visitors
Brattleboro’s antics are
the "Vermont" the rest of the world sees on the national news, along with
other similar futile expressions of hatred. (Peter Welch’s bizarre anti-Christmas
vote comes to mind, as well as Bernie Sanders’s maniacal ravings about
the rich.) It’s turning people away.
If we really want to protect
the "Vermont Brand," - wholesome, pure, solid, and down to earth - the
first thing we need to do is stop electing these people to platforms where
they can wrecklessly undermine our state’s appeal.
Act Relating to Tax on Plastic Bags
By VT Reps Donovan, Edwards,
Miller, Mrowicki, Pearson, and Spengler
There shall be paid by the
purchaser or recipient a tax of $0.17 on each plastic bag purchased or
received in a retail transaction in this state or purchased or received
for use in this state....
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
It Is About Religion: George Weigel rejects secularized analysis of the
War on Terror
From City Journal, January
I recently attended a briefing
by a U.S. Air Force colonel who declared that the current terrorist threat
had "nothing to do with Islam." Such well-intentioned statements appeal
to political correctness at the expense of meaningful understanding. It
is true that the War on Terror is not a religious war between Islam and
any other religion; it is also true that the overwhelming majority of Muslims
are not terrorists. However, the global war against the extremists who
attacked America on September 11 has a theological dimension that we must
In Faith, Reason, and
the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action, Catholic theologian George
Weigel presents the War on Terror as an existential and generational conflict
between the free world and radical Islamists—representatives of "jihadism,"
a militant branch of Islamism that seeks "nothing less than a global Islamic
state." Weigel rejects the claims that jihadism is the result of American
policy, Third World poverty, or actions taken by the state of Israel. Instead,
he identifies the historical and theological roots of jihadism in the early
Muslim world, providing a brief summary of Islamic history from the early
days of Muslim expansion and the development of political Islam through
the birth of Wahhabism and the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood right
up to Osama bin Laden’s "global jihad."
Calvinism" and industrialisation meet in Turkey
By Dorian Jones, Common
Ground News Service
"Many people in Western Europe
-- very serious thinkers too -- have held that Islam is a fatalistic religion
and that it suits a trading economy but not an industrial economy," Gnaus
says. "What we found in Kayseri is that on the contrary, the kind of characteristic
traits that Max Weber attributed to the Calvinists - very hard working,
very sober, not given to ostentatious displays of wealth - are the characteristic
traits you find in businessmen in Kayseri."
The term "Islamic Calvinism"
caused a bit of a stir in Turkey, being angrily denounced by some in the
Islamic media. But in Kayseri, most seemed quite happy with the label.
Mustafa Boydak is the head
of the Kayseri chamber of commerce. He also runs one of the largest companies
in the city Boydak. He also sees parallels with the 19th century puritans:
"In Calvinism there is this
understanding that work is a form of worship, and Kayseri people share
that understanding. Islam also teaches us to be tolerant, and open to new
ideas, which is very important in business, and to people living here.
But Christianity shares this ideal, and the influence of Christianity here
is important. For centuries many Christian Greeks and Armenians lived here
and were very involved in business, and this too has shaped people's ideals."
threats in 2001 and 2008
I'd like to juxtapose two
items in today's news that may seem unrelated except for the fact that
they both contain the word "Iraq." They would be: "Buried
WMD Scoop" and "Al
Qaeda use two 'Down's syndrome' women to blow up 73 people in Baghdad markets."
Oh no, you say. You're trying
to link Iraq and al Qaeda. You're going to go all "Office
of Special Plans" on us. That's so 2003. Don't worry, I'm not--although
I would have been proud to be part of that shop. Read on....
Opening Prayer at Iowa Statehouse Raises Concerns
By Erin Ballou, Pilot Tribune
The Iowa Legislature started
just over a week ago and some people were upset before the first issue
was ever addressed. When the session began, a Muslim Imam began the prayer
in the Iowa Legislature. This is where the controversy begins. The prayer
asked of "Victory over those who disbelieve," and "Protection from the
great Satan" among other things.
Pastor Steve Smith of the
Evangelical Free Church in Albert City is among those concerned about the
Muslim prayer. Rev. Smith admits that he doesn't know about all the levels
of Muslim but knows that the Jihadists believe those in the U.S. are the
great Satan. Rev. Smith also wants to point out the mention of "victory
over those who disbelieve." He feels "this is a request in the Iowa Legislature
for God to grant the Muslims victory over every non-Muslim. Not a request
for salvation." Smith takes it as a gesture not of prayer but more as a
political statement, especially with the wars that have been going on in
the Middle East.
Fallacy of Grievance-based Terrorism
By Melvin E. Lee, Middle
East Quarterly, Winter 2008
The fundamental premise of
much scholarly examination and public discourse is that grievances with
U.S. policies in the Middle East motivate Islamist terrorism. Such assumptions,
though, misunderstand the enemy and its nature. In reality, the conflict
is sparked not by grievance but rather by incompatibility between Islamist
ideology and the natural rights articulated during the European Enlightenment
and incorporated into U.S. political culture. Acquiescing to political
grievances will not alter the fundamental incompatibility between Lockean
precepts of tolerance and current interpretations of Islam: Only Islam's
fundamental reform will resolve the conflict.
Al-Qaeda Official Killed
Rick Moran, The American
Thinker, February 01, 2008
Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior
al-Qaeda commander, was killed by a US missile strike targeting him specifically
Wednesday: ... Libi can be replaced fairly easily so the hit does not
damage al-Qaeda in a tactical way. But by any measure it is a blow strategically
to the terrorists. This guy was competent, popular, and was well thought
of by the men.
# # #
Liberals' Mommy Fascism
Chantrill, The American Thinker, January 29 2008
Then, in Liberal
Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning,he
takes the fateful step. He argues that the American liberal tradition
-- from early twentieth century Progressivism to the New Deal to Michael
Lerner's politics of meaning and Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village
-- is also an instantiation of the fascist concept.
Liberals would say that "liberal
fascism" is an oxymoron, and a hateful one at that. How could liberals
have anything to do with right-wing fascism? But sixty years ago
Hayek in The Road to Serfdom had already made the connection.
He quoted Peter Drucker: "Fascism is the stage reached after communism
has proved an illusion." Communists and fascists, Hayek continues,
"compete for the same type of mind and reserve for each other the hatred
of the heretic."
Goldberg does not say that
American liberals are street-fighting revolutionaries like Hitler and Mussolini.
He means that they belong to the same nostalgic tradition as the communists
and fascists. They want to use political power to reestablish in the alienated
modern city the lost innocence of community and kinship of the pre-modern
of Big Government
By Paul Weyrich, American
Conservative Union Foundation, January 30, 2008
Conservatives may be surprised
to hear that for over 50 years they have been somewhat successful in stopping
the growth of big government. Going all the way to the early 1950s Federal
spending has hovered in a fairly narrow band around 20% of GDP.
But even that limited success
is soon to be swamped by reality. For the Federal Government’s long-term
projections show a radical change over the next 40 years, with Federal
spending soaring close to 40% of GDP or more. This is due to our nation’s
big entitlement programs – Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Counting
state and local spending, total government spending in the U.S. would be
over 50% of GDP.
By Rich Lowry, National
Review Online, January 29, 2008
Within the party, Clinton
represented a turn away from old-style Michael Dukakis liberalism. Obama
now seeks to upend the Clinton ascendancy. With an overwhelming South Carolina
victory fueled by revulsion with the Clintons’ tactics, Obama is explicitly
seeking to defeat Clintonism forever as a dominant force in national Democratic
Long before Obama came on
the scene, Democrats had tired of centrist-oriented Clintonian Third Way
politics. The approach didn’t survive Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, when
the vice president ran as a left-wing populist. John Kerry reprised Dukakis
in 2004, and all the energy has been on the left of the party since then.
Even Hillary has abandoned her husband’s moderation on trade.
Obama reflects this return
to liberal orthodoxy. What makes him different — besides the historic nature
of his candidacy — is his stylistic contrast with the Clintons. He promises
a politics that is more civil and straightforward, less partisan and bare-knuckled.
Nearly every passage in Obama’s stirring victory speech in South Carolina
was a slap at the Clintons’ hardball politics, framed in inspirational
liberal terms. Obama might as well have intoned, "We shall overcome — the
Movement Is What Matters
By Rush Limbaugh, January
We believe in conservatism.
We believe in it as a governing ideology. We believe in it because
it's the founding principle of this country. We want it to take root,
and we want it to soar because when it does, people soar, country soars.
S-o-a-r-s. And to sit around here, we're not making calculations
on the basis of one political issue to the next. One of the reasons
I think the Republican Party would be at least reshaped, is that I think
it would lose big. I think that conservatives, some of them just won't
vote. I don't think the McCain people understand just how deep the
resentment for Senator McCain has been and is, based on his time in the
US Senate. I don't think they understand it, and I think that they
think that it can be overcome with a little outreach here and a little
outreach there, by saying he's changed his position, changed his mind on
illegal immigration. We got some audio sound bites that clearly indicate
that he hasn't done that. He was asked, for example, if the amnesty
bill came up again, would he vote for it? Oh, sure, I'd vote for
it again. He said what you don't understand is, it won't come back
that way. But he says he'd vote for it. If he says he'd vote
for it if he had a chance to, he would sign it as president if it came
to his desk, then he hasn't changed his mind. And who knows, it could
come back. That's the whole point. It could come back in that
and the Supreme Court
By Steven G. Calabresi &
John O. McGinnis, Thw Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2008
We believe that the nomination
of John McCain is the best option to preserve the ongoing restoration of
constitutional government. He is by far the most electable Republican candidate
remaining in the race, and based on his record is as likely to appoint
judges committed to constitutionalism ...We make no apology for suggesting
that electability must be a prime consideration.
To Apply The 15% Solution: Making Bush Tax Cuts Permanent
By Jason Desena Trennert,
Investor’s Business Daily, January 30, 2008
Sadly, few policymakers would
like to admit that no amount of government spending (or Fed easing for
that matter) will address the root cause of the current economic slowdown
— the unwinding of a housing bubble that started six years ago. The only
cure for that malaise is, sadly, time and ensuring that current levels
of employment and income remain intact.
What is most remarkable is
that Congress, the administration and the Fed can propose $150 billion
in new government spending without any meaningful discussion of perhaps
the quickest, cheapest and potentially most effective way to restore business
confidence and maintain the currently low levels of unemployment — making
the Bush tax cuts on dividends and capital gains permanent.
no joke: global warming can cause anything
By William M. Briggs, Statistician,
February 1st, 2008
A day ago my number
two son and I sat over a bottle of wine and he suggested that if global
warming caused temperatures to increase, then we would see an escalation
in the number of zombie attacks because, obviously, there would be less
cold weather, which everybody knows slows attacks from the undead. I wrote
this up in the approved New York Times format, and, to my astonishment,
some people thought I was joking.
I was not. The post was in
earnest and was an attempt to put into perspective the hundreds, if not
thousands, of "studies" that purport to show the ills that will befall
us when global warming finally strikes. There are three problems with these
The first is their ridiculous
variety, nowhere better cataloged than at NumberWatch’s
"Warm List". That
page contains links, mostly to news reports to studies that ask us to believe
that, for example, lizards
will undergo sex changes, there will be "waves
of rape", a rash
of camel deaths will occur, the Earth will spin
faster (hold on!), and, worst and most frightening of all, there will
be an increase in lawyers
(to handle all the "who’s fault is it?" litigation, you see).
# # #