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True North Archives - February 26, 2008
Radio | Editorial | News & Views

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Radio archives are here! Use the controls on our radio archive page to listen to past shows of note (archived shows are available for a limited time only). True North Radio airs daily on WDEV AM & WDEV FM from 11 am to noon.


Featured Articles

The 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.

Extreme Green Makeover
by John McClaughry

Terrified 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 heating fuels.

Impact Fees: Third Rail of Vermont Politics
By Martin Harris

In 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 plane tickets. 

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 local exceptions.

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This Week's Mail Bag

1864 Democrats

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.

George Bevis
Richmond, VT

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Taxpayers Object to Excess Spending

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 words).

The average of the five small schools (around 200 pupils K-12) operate at a cost per pupil $1,735 less than Rochester.

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!

Mickey Lary
Rochester, VT

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Quotables

Quotables

"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."

--From Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville (Discussing the Welfare State)

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Layoffs at Vermont Teddy Bear
From WCAXTV, February 21, 2008

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 sales.

Vt. Castings Lays Off Dozens
From WCAXTV, February 22, 2008

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.

Notice any Similarities in these State Climate Websites?
From VermontTiger.com, February 19, 2008

Vermont (Governor's Commission on Climate Change)
Minnesota (Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group)
Iowa (Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council)
Montana (Montana Climate Change Advisory Committee)
New Mexico (New Mexico Climate Change Action Council and the New Mexico Climate Change Advisory Group)
Florida (Governorís Action Team on Energy and Climate Change)
Arizona (Arizona Climate Action Initiative)
Arkansas (Governor's Commission on Global Warming)
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.

The Governorís Commission On Climate: An Expensive Trap
Caledonian Record Editorial, 2/20/08

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.

Praising the Man
From VermontTiger.com, February 21, 2008

More than two centuries ago, Adam 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 fell apart.

Public 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 tunnel-visioned politicians.

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.

Battle 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.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Religious 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.

Kosovo: 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

Church 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.

The Alchemist: Brother Tariq canít turn his Muslim to Western.
By 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.

Iraqis 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 peace. 

"Westerners 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 citizens?

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.

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From Elsewhere

Tax Delusions
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.

Presidential 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.

GOP Flake Out
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 pork too.

Blowback 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 warning 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.

The Obama Delusion
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.

Related: Obama's New Vulnerability

Press Corps Quagmire
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.

Geldof Praises Bush
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.

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