North Archives - February 26, 2008
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Key to Real Reform
By Robert Maynard
One of the dominant themes
in this election season is corruption in government. While this issue has
received a great deal of attention from perspective candidates, pundits
and the media, most of the attention to this issue has been on symptoms
of the problem. The real problem is that political power is increasingly
being centralized in our nationís capital. This centralization of political
power is what is driving the influence buying that is at the heart of the
much-publicized campaign finance and fundraising scandals. A good deal
of the money flowing into the political process from both groups and individuals
is an attempt to influence the government to grant favors or not to impose
restrictions. The governmentís ever increasing ability to hand out rewards
and punishments has groups and individuals at each otherís throats as they
fight over the favor of government. Civility and cooperation are replaced
by greed and envy as we push each other out of the way in order to ensure
that we get our share of the government provided gravy train. Under such
circumstances civic virtue and the compassionate community quickly become
causalities in a struggle to get government to take from our neighbor and
give to us. If we limited governmentís ability to bribe us with our own
or our neighborís tax money, the influence buying would disappear overnight.
by John McClaughry
by the supposed horrors of global warming, Vermont's Green legions are
geared up to make 2008 the year of the state's Extreme Green Makeover.
That momentous event was
to have been set in motion last year, but it suddenly expired with Gov.
Jim Douglas's veto of Sen. Peter Shumlin's bill to lay a $25 million tax
bill on the state's leading generator of clean electricity to fund a new
state entity to go about persuading Vermonters to stop wasting money on
Fees: Third Rail of Vermont Politics
By Martin Harris
the continual quest for more tangible money, some governments have resorted
to taxation of intangible assets (the supposed value of real property anywhere
is about as intangible as the supposed value of stocks and bonds in Florida,
but that hasnít prevented taxation of either category) and others have
resorted to value-added, luxury, and "wheel" taxes. Latest tempting idea:
congestion pricing for highways and other public services like rush-hour
Thereís only one potential
revenue pocket which hasnít yet felt the grasping hand of the tax collector
very much: impact fees. You can argue about whether or impact fees have
been tried in their "true form" (Iíd say they have) but you have to concede
that they havenít been tried very widely. Even Vermont, at the very pinnacle
of successful and frequently quite innovative citizen taxation (think back
to the brief and unconstitutional adventure into the State level taxation
of interest on Federal obligations) using a range of different measures,
has, so far, eschewed impact fees except for a very few, very small, very
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Week's Mail Bag
I watched Rep Pelosi's defeatist
rant on CNN a week ago Sunday. It brings to mind something that I recently
read in U.S. Grant's memoirs. In the summer of 1864, President Lincoln
was cautioning Grant against any offensive action that might feed into
the Democratic campaign mantra that the war was lost, there was no way
to win, and that we must pull our troops out of the South. Grant says that
the rhetoric at the Democratic convention that summer was more treasonous
than anything ever said in South Carolina
The defeatist view of 1864
was despite the Nationals controlling the Mississippi, numerous ports on
the Confederate coast, Lee having been pushed back all the way to Richmond
and General W.T. Sherman just having swept down from Tennessee into Mississippi
and entering Georgia to begin his March to the Sea.
It seems that defeatism has
long been a campaign strategy of the Democratic Party. History may have
shown them to be wrong, but at least they are consistent.
* * * *
Taxpayers Object to Excess
The taxpayers that I talk
with are perfectly willing to pay taxes to finance education in Rochester
but they object to paying for excess spending.
Recently the Vermont Department
of Education posted on its web site a summary of FY 2008 Spending per Pupil
by School Type. The data show that Rochester had an over all cost per pupil
(total budget divided by number of equalized pupils) of $17,549, a per
pupil cost of $13,205 and a tax rate not counting CLA of $1.52. That makes
the Rochester School the most expensive K-12 school in the State as it
has been for the past four years.
What it doesn't say is that
the cost per pupil on which the tax rate is determined was $13,549 and
the tax rate counting CLA is $1.69.
It also doesn't mention that
the penalty for excess spending was $344.35 per pupil which totals out
to $63,453. This on a budget that was sold to the voters as being "below
the allowed per pupil cost threshold therefore avoiding the penalty" (Superintendent's
The average of the five small
schools (around 200 pupils K-12) operate at a cost per pupil $1,735 less
In the last four years Rochester
has spent more than one million dollars in excess spending over the threshold
in penalties, overspending of the budget by both the school board and Supervisory
Union, and in "special assessment" by the Supervisory Union.
There is a slight chance
for conditions to change in the making of the FY 2009 budget. There are
four new members on the Rochester School Board and a principal who has
not as yet contributed to a Rochester School budget.
Let's hope that in making
the next school budget that these folks have some fiscal common sense!
"After having thus successively
taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned
him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community.
It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules,
minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most
energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will
of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom
forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such
a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize,
but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till
each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious
animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
"I have always thought
that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just
described might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with
some of the outward forms of freedom, and that it might even establish
itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people."
in America by Alexis de Tocqueville (Discussing the Welfare
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
at Vermont Teddy Bear
From WCAXTV, February 21,
Shelburne, Vermont - The
Vermont Teddy Bear Company may have just wrapped up one of its biggest
sales events of the year-- Valentine's Day-- but the company says it is
shrinking its work force. The Shelburne company has just laid off 15 "core
employees" and is eliminating seven middle management positions for a total
of 22 lost jobs. Vermont Teddy Bear cites challenging conditions in the
retail gift industry. They say consumer spending is down and so are their
Castings Lays Off Dozens
From WCAXTV, February 22,
Bethel, Vermont - Several
dozen workers at Vermont Castings have been temporarily let go. The company
shut down their plant in Bethel until the end of March. The news affects
about 70 employees.
any Similarities in these State Climate Websites?
From VermontTiger.com, February
(Governor's Commission on Climate Change)
All these websites look the
same because they're all hosted by the same
organization and on the same computer
system, no less. The websites are hosted by an environmental
group called Global Environment & Technology Foundation.
(Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group)
(Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council)
Climate Change Advisory Committee)
Mexico (New Mexico Climate Change Action Council and the New Mexico
Climate Change Advisory Group)
(Governorís Action Team on Energy and Climate Change)
(Arizona Climate Action Initiative)
(Governor's Commission on Global Warming)
Governorís Commission On Climate: An Expensive Trap
Caledonian Record Editorial,
Because there is so much
hysteria over global warming with doomsayers forecasting the virtual destruction
of civilization by a modern flood of biblical proportions, and because
his natural political nemesis, Senate President Pro tem Peter Shumlin,
is a high priest of this new religion, Gov. Jim Douglas last year appointed
a commission of six to explore the implications of climate change. He tasked
the commission with making recommendations whereby Vermont could become
the point in the offensive against global warming throughout the world.
They have made their report, and it is a classic trap.
The commission reported a
sheet of recommendations that are little more than a list of the usual
environmental suspects' favorite hobby-horses. To push them into law will
be very, very expensive. In a report offered by the Ethan Allen Institute,
the list of recommendations appears with the poor chumps who will have
to pay for them.
From VermontTiger.com, February
More than two centuries ago,
Smith figured out why a decentralized market economy was the pathway
to prosperity, demolishing the prevailing theory, mercantilism, which held
that the way to prosperity was to be self-sufficient as much as possible
and collect as much gold as possible within a nation's borders.
One hundred and sixty years
ago today, Karl Marx published a
book that argued there was a different way to prosperity and one-upped
Smith by claiming that his theory would lead to something akin to utopia.
Seven decades later, his ideas were put into effect. With disastrous
results. Seven decades after that, it
Schools: The Repository Of Mandates
Caledonian Record Editorial,
February 21, 2008
Nobody except some liberals
who have sailed their ship off the left edge of the world questions the
necessity for the public schools to teach the three r's - reading, writing,
and arithmetic. In a damning reverse irony, nobody, or at least not enough
to stop the trend, questions the other mandates that clutter up the public
schools' days and years, mandates laid on them by well-intentioned but
Here is a list of some of
the other mandates that our public school personnel are required by law
to do, itemized by Tom Torti, a member of the governor's administration:
"In the last three [legislative] sessions alone, schools have been asked
to confront standards for allergies and illnesses, incorporate nutrition
education and use local products, institute new bus idling practices, deal
with suicide prevention, bullying and harassment, implement emergency preparedness
drills, as well as comply with federal mandates such as the No Child Left
Behind Act." And that's only from the last three sessions! Somewhere in
there, we hope there is some time devoted to the three r's.
Looms Over Repeal of Two-Vote Requirement
By Nancy Remsen, Burlington
Free Press, February 22, 2008
[T]he Douglas administration
and leaders from the House and Senate came up with a political compromise
intended to put some brakes on the growth in school spending. The two-vote
provision won approval but now faces fierce opposition from... the state
teachers union and other school organizations. The controversial provision
creates an extra electoral hurdle for school districts that spend more
than the statewide average per pupil and want to increase future spending
at a rate higher than inflation plus one percentage point. Beginning next
year, those districts must split their school budgets and seek voter approval
for each part.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
hard-liners out in Pakistan
By Kathy Gannon, Associated
Press Writer, February 20, 2008
Fed up with violence and
economic hardship, voters in the deeply conservative northwest have thrown
out the Islamist parties that ruled this province for five years ó a clear
sign that Pakistanis are rejecting religious extremism in a region where
al-Qaida and the Taliban have sought refuge.
Islamism's New Beachhead?
ByJulia Gorin, FrontPageMagazine.com,
February 22, 2008
As Americans look quizzically
at their TV sets while non-Muslim protestors in Europe torch a U.S. embassy,
they should know that yesterdayís 200,000-person protest in Belgrade (whose
members are separate
from the fire starters) is the first time in two decades that Serbs are
showing a glimmer of rational behavior--amid 20 years of the "free world"
foisting terrorist neighbors upon them. ...
The current state of affairs
is a product of a concerted, single-minded, bipartisan American effort
to turn Serbs into an enemy as the U.S. tries to make friends of its enemies
in the region, always at Serbian expense. "Will Russia now become the leader
of the Europeans who resist the Islamization of their continent?" Thomas
Landen asks in the Brussels
Journal. He notes that Moscow has called
on the UN to annul independence, and a UN vote may be the only
thing to save us from a new world war over this Balkan province, ignored
by the media and public for eight years as insignificant, despite the Balkansí
history for setting off world wars.
Related article: Kosovo
and Islam`s Balkanization of the World
and State in Iraq: the Copenhagen Conference
Michael Ledeen, Faster Please,
February 19, 2008
The Iraqis are in Copenhagen
to try to hammer out a collective call for national reconciliation, and
to recommend steps the government might take to accelerate this process.
They are particularly intent on improving the treatment of some of the
lesser-known religious groups in the country, who have been decimated by
sectarian violence and who have yet to receive decent treatment from the
government. A strong statement from the nearly two dozen leaders gathered
here might help.
Alchemist: Brother Tariq canít turn his Muslim to Western.
Bruce S. Thornton, Private Papers, February 21, 2008
The moderate Muslim leader
is the theologico-political philosopherís stone that many in the West believe
can reconcile Islam with modernity and thus transmute disaffected Muslims,
ripe for jihadist recruitment, into tolerant liberal democrats. Some Europeans
believe they have found such an alchemist in Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born
charismatic preacher, lecturer, and Oxford professor who has managed to
find fans among both anxious Europeans and restless Muslims alike. Yet
as Caroline Fourest documents in Brother Tariq, Ramadan is a master
of a carefully calibrated doublespeak that reassures Europeans even as
he recruits foot soldiers for the long jihad against the West.
Reconcile as Al-Qaeda Retreats
By Deroy Murdock, Human
Events, February 18, 2008
Iraqi lawmakers also recently
green-lighted a de-Baathification law that bars some of Saddam Husseinís
former henchmen from public service, but welcomes back many more dismissed
functionaries who have clean hands. A new pension law will grant retirement
incomes to older ex-Baathists. If not their love, this should buy their
must mount a united front against Islamic law"
by Daniel Pipes, Jewish
World Review, February 19, 2008
Westerners opposed to the
application of the Islamic law (the Shari'a) watch with dismay as it goes
from strength to strength in their countries ó harems increasingly accepted,
a church leader endorsing Islamic law, a judge referring to the Koran,
clandestine Muslim courts meting out justice. What can be done to stop
the progress of this medieval legal system so deeply at odds with modern
life, one that oppresses women and turns non-Muslims into second-class
A first step is for Westerners
to mount a united front against the Shari'a. Facing near-unanimous hostility,
Islamists back down. For one example, note the retreat last week by the
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a dispute concerning guide
dogs used by the blind.
# # #
By Alan Reynolds, Cato Institute
Hillary Clinton and Barack
Obama both propose to "turn the economy around" in a novel way - by raising
tax rates on small businesses, working couples and stockholders in general,
including retirees. Of course, their plans are also meant to raise revenue
for their various hundreds of billions in new spending - but the move would
fall flat on that front, too.
race polling may be shifting
By Richard Baehr, The American
Thinker, February 23, 2008
The New York Times smear
appears to have been a huge boost for McCain, and Obama is beginning to
plateau, if not slip a bit. Nobody but Rasmussen has picked
this up yet (he has new numbers at 10 Central each day). This
is a big story, I think.
From The Wall Street Journal,
February 19, 2008
House Republicans have been
taunting Democrats for turning down their offer to eliminate spending earmarks,
and Democrats reply that the GOP isn't serious. The Republicans seem intent
on proving that Democrats are right, as GOP leaders showed last week in
denying Arizona's Jeff Flake a seat on the Appropriations Committee.
Mr. Flake is the scourge
of earmarks and the last person Members of either party want on Congress's
main spending committee. He would have been a whistle-blower for taxpayers,
in particular against the powerful Democrats who get the most earmarks
now that they are in the majority, such as Pennsylvania's Jack Murtha.
But Republican spenders couldn't tolerate someone who would call out their
from Global Warming Fear-Mongers
By Thomas Lifson, The American
Thinker, February 23, 2008
One of the serious real problems
being created out of worries over the phony problem of supposedly man-made
global warming is the rush to replace incandescent light bulbs (the kind
Thomas Edison invented) with CFL bulbs, which contain mercury. AT has been
of this since
early April last
year. But it now appears that even greenies are catching on that
they may have unleashed a Frankenstein's monster with the ban on incandescents
that will take effect in 2012.
By Robert J. Samuelson,
The Washington Post, February 20, 2008
As a journalist, I harbor
serious doubt about each of the most likely nominees. But with Sens. Hillary
Clinton and John
McCain, I feel that I'm dealing with known quantities. They've been
in the public arena for years; their views, values and temperaments have
received enormous scrutiny. By contrast, newcomer Obama is largely a stage
presence defined mostly by his powerful rhetoric. The trouble, at least
for me, is the huge and deceptive gap between his captivating oratory and
his actual views.
By William McGurn, The Wall
Street Journal, February 19, 2008
When a man hangs up his byline
to write for a president, he gets more than a new job. He gets to see how
the press and pundit corps look from the other side of the notepad.
And over three years in the
West Wing, you see a few things. You see who's a straight shooter, and
who's full of snark. You see who's smart, and whose outrageous behavior
would have made its way to Drudge had it involved White House staffers
instead of White House correspondents. Most of all, you see how conventional
wisdom can keep otherwise talented reporters and commentators on the same
stale storyline long after the facts on the ground have changed.
Let me put this in context
with three contentious issues -- one economic, one cultural, and one on
foreign policy. In each case, President Bush took a clear stand. In each
case, he was accused of stupidity or stubbornness and sometimes both. In
each case, the facts on the ground increasingly bear the president out,
sometimes dramatically. Yet the beat goes on -- with no sense of the great
irony that it may be our writers and pundits who are stubbornly clinging
to old assumptions.
From Best of the Web Today,
The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2008
President Bush is visiting
Africa, and the Washington Times's Fishwrap blog reports he is being joined
by Bob Geldof, "an Irish rock and roll singer and longtime social activist
who has helped, along with U2 rocker Bono, raise awareness about need in
Africa" ....Mr. Geldof said ... he is "pissed off" at the press for their
failure to report on this good news story.
# # #