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True North Archives - February 13, 2007
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Featured Articles

Vermont’s Shame and our Therapeutic Culture
By Robert Maynard

It is clear where Professor Golden comes down on this question: "If someone with diabetes were imprisoned, they would be treated in the prison setting." Here we arrive at the crux of the matter. A criminal is no more responsible for his behavior than someone with diabetes is for their condition and is as much of a victim as the person he or she committed a crime against. Criminal behavior is not something that we have any control over, it just happens to us. Given this belief, how can we expect decisions where the punishment fits the crime? --Robert Maynard lives in Williston.

Going to the Numbers (II)
By Martin Harris

Vermont really spends a lot more per pupil than other states in administration, both state ($268, compared to US average $165) and local ($719, compared to US $452). The $719 number is first-in-the nation. These numbers, too, are in Table 164. One might reasonably raise this question: for spending well above the average for administration, is the "we’re oh so rural" excuse valid, and is a proposed school district reorganization (fewer but larger districts) a believable answer? Based on past spending history, I’d say no, but it’s not my decision. You decide. – Martin Harris is the former president of Vermont’s Citizens for Property Rights. 

On My Mind
By Pete Behr

I see Peter Shumlin is still flogging his global warming agenda, to the detriment of state business. I heard Shumlin has the whole Legislature taking days off from their duties to listen to "experts" educate them on the global warming problem. As long as Peter can keep VPR bleating about the atmosphere, he can avoid facing up to the promises he and every other legislator, Democrat or Republican, made to deal with the out of control property tax/education cost situation. A smokescreen pure and simple. Don’t count on the media to remind Mr. Shumlin of his promises; for some reason he has their number. --Pete Behr writes a regular column for the Vermont Standard

What Level of Child Sexual Abuse is Vermont Willing to Accept?
By Stephen Cable

By favoring probation and counseling, Vermont's justice system allowed a violent predator to abuse a child, and therefore failed its primary mission - to protect the public. At the center of this discussion are the widely varied psychological treatment programs to prevent re-offense.  A thorough study of this topic yields some disturbing facts… --Stephen Cable is President of the Vermont Center for American Cultural Renewal

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This Week’s Mail Bag

Dear True North Editor:

I wait for the day that Gaye Symington will actually agree with Governor Douglas on something. The Governor put forward a budget with no signs of a future state deficit, proposed a cap on general fund spending, and maybe most importantly, showed that state general funding could be capped, and money could be saved without raising any taxes on the people of Vermont. I would think that people could see the benefits of this no matter what side of the political fence they fall on.

It is times like these when we see which elected officials really work for the people of Vermont and which are playing partisan games. Treasurer Jeb Spaulding, a Democrat, praised the Governor's budget plan, but the usual suspects, House Speaker Gaye Symington and Peter Senator Shumlin, couldn't find one nice thing to say in the press. Why wouldn't they support a cap on general fund spending, especially when the extra money generated would go to something as important as a new State Hospital? Even if Shumlin and Symington disagreed with parts of the budget address, couldn't they at least agree with the Governor on this? As a spectator you begin to wonder what political games are really going on when it is always the same few voices of a party speaking out - especially when members of the same party are able to see the good despite party affiliation, and work with it. 

Richard Bayer, Alburg

To the Editor:

I totally agree with Senator Peter Shumlin's comments that we need to develop clean sources of energy and that we need to deal with, and help solve, the problem of global warming.  But being the world leader in this seems totally unrealistic and not the main issue upon which Democrats took full control of the Vermont legislature.  That was about finding ways to hold down the taxes and particularly over, very over burdensome property tax. 

Unfortunately, that is the only point on which I agree with Mr. Shumlin - developing clean sources of energy.  On the other points he has made - it is irresponsible to want to shut down Vermont Yankee and think that one-third of the state's energy can be replaced with a combination of wind, solar and hydro power. With the current mindset in Vermont, and the regulatory process on both the Federal and state level, the likelihood of that happening is virtually zero.

What about future energy requirements? The Energy Information Agency predicts that worldwide demand for electric power will double by 2030. Please refer to

Currently there are over 150 coal fired power plants on the drawing boards in the U.S. alone. That doesn't include the mad rush to produce ethanol that will require numerous new ethanol producing facilities that currently use only natural gas or coal-fired boilers to produce ethanol. The desire to significantly reduce green house gases and that Vermont can play a major role -  being a "world leader" with anti-green house gas technology, as Peter Shumlin and his Vermont Democrats advocate,  is a pipe dream.

As for the nuclear waste issue, the technology exists right now to safely store nuclear waste. The problem is, which is the same problem in developing wind power, is the NIMBY principle. Amazing, the opponents of nuclear power in many cases base their opposition on the storage of nuclear waste. Yet it is the same liberal crowd  who also oppose any attempt to store it at a Mt. Yucca type facility.

Let's look at the three energy sources that Peter Shumlin, and all Vermont Democrat leaders including Pat Leahy, Bernie Sanders, and Peter Welch,  think is going to replace Vermont Yankee.  Wind power !! ? There's too much opposition and  not enough open space to put the 400 foot plus wind mills without offending somebody - liberals or conservatives.  One project was rejected because some liberal minded person worried overtime about bats flying into  the blades of wind turbines.  Wind energy as a practical, viable "solution" in Vermont is simply  a non-starter.

What about solar power?  Unless they can figure out how to produce energy from the sun when the sun is on the other side of the earth and at the same time clear the cloud cover over Vermont for about 70% of the time, solar energy will not play a major role in addressing Vermont's energy needs. 

Finally - hydro power: This is the one source that could be developed but won't be because of the ridiculous and expensive regulatory process that will burden any company to advance hydro-power. The problems afflicting the hydro project along the Otter Creek in Middlebury is a prime example.

One rational way forward would be to simplify and make much less expensive the regulatory process. But that will never happen. Special interest groups and their lobbyists  are so embedded in Washington and Montpelier that a "fast track" approval process is dead in the water. These so-called environmental groups are tireless, highly motivated and  well funded.  The only make the standard of living for Vermonters all the more diminished.  Significant exodus from Vermont by the squeezed, and squeezed again middle class is certain. Again, because of national politics fueled by the environmental crowd's fever,  a viable hydro-energy solution to Vermont's energy needs is a Titanic sinking. 

Where does that leave Vermont's energy future and the ability to control green house gases? Most likely up the creek without a paddle. As  Vermonters sit in the boat we observe out of touch politicians like Peter Shumlin, Gaye Symington and the Washington delegation standing on the river bank not offering a paddle, but an anchor.  If Vermonters want real change for the better then change the membership in Montpelier with people with their feet on the ground - not high in the air.

Glenn W. Thompson, Essex, VT

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Pre-K: What Gives, Mr. Kilmartin?
Caledonian Record Editorial, February 5, 2007

What gives, Mr. Kilmartin? The special committee, appointed last year to study and make recommendations, vis-a-vis public sponsorship and funding of early education for 3- and 4-year olds, just announced that Education Fund tax money may be used to expand public education to include these two additional grades. That was certainly to be expected, the special committee having been stacked with zealots for that cause. But you, a Republican who ought to espouse Republican positions, have been the spokesman for the committee twice, each time flacking publicly funded pre-education as a wonderful thing.

Where are all the doctors?
By Tim Johnson, Burlington Free Press, February 5, 2007

Compounding the pay issue is what medical industry advocates call a low rate of reimbursement under Medicaid, a federal-state partnership that provides health insurance for people with lower incomes. In 2006, 146,821 people in Vermont were enrolled in Medicaid, about 23 percent of the state's population. Vermont has expanded eligibility for Medicaid benefits over the years, and with more people covered, less money is available per patient to reimburse physicians for their services. According to the Vermont Medical Society, Medicaid pays 58 percent of what private insurance pays. When higher numbers of patients are on Medicaid, said Paul Harrington, executive vice president of the Vermont Medical Society, that can put a financial strain on a private practice. 

Incentive or Imposition?
By Peter Jamison, Valley News Staff Writer, February 04, 2007 

The Norwich Selectboard has put an article up for a vote at Town Meeting that would exempt from property taxation any part of a home devoted to "alternative energy generation." But because of a provision in the state tax code that takes effect for the first time this year, the revenue lost from the exemption would be made up by increases to the property tax bills of all in town. The impact to individual taxpayers would be negligible, according to Dennis Kaufman, chairman of the Norwich Board of Listers, the town's troika of elected property assessors. There are only a handful of known green-energy systems in Norwich -- the listers know of a half-dozen, though they suspect there are more -- and the property tax on them, shared out, would likely amount to no more than a few more dollars per person per year, Kaufman said. Kaufman nevertheless opposes the measure. He said it's not the amount of money involved that irks him. Like many disputes in Norwich, this one focuses on an underlying idea.

Connect The Dots
Caledonian Record Editorial, Feb. 7, 2007

It's time to connect the dots. It's time to cut teaching staff and their support staff all over the state. Salaries and benefits are 70 percent to 80 percent of all school budgets. School boards are fooling themselves if they think there is any other meaningful place to save money, but school boards regard a RIF as an unacceptable dismissal of trusted employees. They continue to dodge the issue, and the budget goes up.

Report: Costly Housing Hurts Economy
By Dan McLean, Burlington Free Press, February 7, 2007

An updated report by the New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston bolstered the notion that affordable housing is crucial to the economy. "The region's high cost of housing may undermine its ability to attract and retain workers," according to the 173-page report, titled "The Lack of Affordable Housing in New England." The report was released Monday. ... Roughly 58 percent of Vermont's lowest income families -- some 43,000 families that make no more than $20,000 a year -- suffer a "severe burden" in paying for housing, more than any state in New England and more than the U.S. average, the report says. The New England level is 51.8 percent and the national average is 55.5 percent.

Push Made for Gay Marriage in Vermont
By Terri Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press, February 8, 2007

The proposed legislation calls for a civil marriage license issued by town and city clerks. Clergy who disagree with gay marriage would not be required to participate. The Rev. Craig Bensen, whose group Take it to the People fought the civil union legislation, said that nod to the opposition is hollow because clergy could never be forced to participate anyway. Bensen said he opposes the gay marriage bill, but if the Legislature wants to air the idea, they should let Vermonters have a chance to vote on it. He took issue with the argument that civil unions have had no adverse impact on Vermont. "We didn't say the sky was going to fall," he said. "We said it was going to undercut marriage and have long-term consequences." The jury is still out on that, he said.

Republicans stand tough; Democrats blink on tax increase.
Vermont GOP, February 9, 2007

Republicans led by Minority Leader Steve Adams and Governor Jim Douglas stood firm against Democrats attempt to raise $3.7 million in new taxes to pay for aid to struggling dairy farmers. Republicans insisted that the money be found within existing revenues – helping farmers without hurting taxpayers. Democrats caved.

A highlight of the showdown came from Representative David Ainsworth, a first term Republican legislator and dairy farmer assigned to the Agriculture Committee. When the tax increase was to be voted on, Ainsworth tried to recuse himself, feeling that he had a conflict of interest. The chair ruled that he could not. So, Rep. Ainsworth voted no, against his own self interest as a dairy farmer.

Said Republican Party Chairman, Rob Roper, “Vermonters should take note of which party offered strong principles and leadership here.” 

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From Elsewhere

Is Welfare Compassionate?
Rev. Robert A. Sirico, Acton Institute

Many of our current economic problems have their roots in the moral crisis of our day. In these times of moral turmoil many have mistakenly equivocated government sponsored welfare with the virtue of compassion. Compassion is an adjective frequently used to describe state supported social programs. The question needs to be raised: Is State welfare truly compassionate? Are we really serving the human needs of the people with state handouts? The theory behind today’s welfare state is that people need material provision. Without denying the fundamental importance of material provision, we cannot forget other aspects of human life. In our minds we have reduced all giving to material giving. One result of this materialism is our belief that the more money we allocate for specific programs the more compassionate and person-centered we are as a nation. What we fail to see is that material provision apart from spiritual values is insufficient, empty and not truly compassionate. 

Police take home-taught student to psych ward
By Bob Unruh,

A nation whose education officials already have warned that they will, when necessary, "bring the religious convictions of the family into line" with state requirements, now has removed a 16-year-old girl from her family and placed her in a child psychiatry unit after she turned in below-expected grades in math and Latin. The news of nearly two dozen officials and uniformed police officers physically taking the teen from her home in front of her shocked family is just the latest horror story to come out of Germany, where homeschooling was placed under a ban by Adolf Hitler and der Fuhrer's law still is enforced. The stories are concerning to homeschoolers in the rest of the world, including the United States, because of the real potential that international law eventually could be used to ban such activities in places where it now is legal

Global Warming Smear
The political campaign to shut up an American think tank.
Opinion Journal, February 9, 2007

Mark Twain once complained that a lie can make it half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on. That's been the case of late in the climate change debate, as political and media activists attempt to stigmatize anyone who doesn't pay homage to their "scientific consensus."

We’re Doomed. What’s for Dinner?
By Alan Caruba, Environmental Conservation Organization, February 04, 2007

On Sunday, Jan 28, the front-page story in my daily newspaper was "A chilling conclusion on global warming." By Tuesday, the front page story was "Climate Study: Millions will go hungry and dry." Soon more revelations about a United Nations report on climate change, due in April, will be in the news, but let me tell you its conclusion. We’re doomed. Now, you might ask yourself, why would anyone have any confidence in a report from an international institution that perpetrated the greatest fraud, "Oil-for-Food", in modern history? Or that stacked its Human Rights Commission with representatives of the most repressive nations? Or that initiated a ban on DDT, thus leading to the needless deaths of millions from malaria? Or that is currently dawdling around while thousands continue to die in Darfur?

Self-esteem to the extreme
By Paul Greenberg, Washington Times, February 5, 2007

Remember self-esteem? It was one of the sillier -- and more dangerous -- fads in educational circles, which keep going round and round. The theory was that promoting kids' self-esteem would convince them they were great. And it just might. But that's no guarantee they are great. On the contrary, this kind of psychological scam could have the opposite effect. Having been told how well they're doing throughout their well-insulated school years, these kids could be in for the shock of their nice, cushioned lives when they're thrown into the real world. And discover that their education wasn't so great after all. Or that a better word for it might be shoddy. The realization might be so crushing they would just give up.

The Senate's Iraq Irresolution
by James A. Phillips, February 9, 2007

The compromise resolution on the war in Iraq negotiated by Senator John Warner and Senator Carl Levin (S. Con. Res. 7) is not a sign of resolve but of disarray, disunity, and political posturing. ... Unfortunately, the Warner–Levin resolution is likely to accomplish little except to send a dangerous signal of foreign policy drift and weakness that will discourage America's friends, encourage its adversaries, and undermine Iraqi efforts to build a broad-based government capable of defending the Iraqi people from insurgents and sectarian militias.

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"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened."  --Winston Churchill

"It may take courage to battle one's President, one's party or the overwhelming sentiment of one's nation: but these do not compare, it seems to me, to the courage required of the Senator defying the angry power of the very constituents who control his future." -- Words of John F. Kennedy in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, "Profiles in Courage."

"Political Courage? This was a political courage free zone. This was the same day the intelligence estimate came out and said if we pull out of Iraq there will be, not genocide, but there will be massive chaos. There will be decades of problems throughout the region. Did a single Democrat take that reality into account? " -- New York Times political analyst and journalist David Brooks speaking about Democratic National Committee's (DNC) rally (Feb 2, 2007)  with nine Democrat Presidential hopefuls criticizing President Bush and the Iraq War. 

"To say its courageous to stand up in front of a room of people who want to get out of Iraq immediately - that's not political courage." --Political Analyst and journalist George Will's comments on that Feb 2, 2007  DNC coming out extravaganza.

"One ought never to turn's one back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it.  If you do that, you will double the danger.  But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger  . . Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." --Winston Churchill.

   "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." --Mark Twain

The Bill of "Non Rights" --by State Representative Mitchell Aye of GA.

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