North Archives - February 27, 2007
| Editorial | News & Views
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is not an Island
By Art Woolf
We’re still stuck with two
basic questions: Why does Vermont spend so much more than other states
to educate each student in school and why have Vermont’s costs grown more
rapidly than most other states? To the former, I argue it's our small
class sizes and low pupil-teacher ratio. To the second, my answer
is that Act 60 and Act 68 have reduced the only cost control that matters
in public education--the property tax consequences that voters face after
they leave the ballot box. --Art Woolf is an Associate Professor of
Economics at the University of Vermont.
Vermont Can Combat Global Warming
By John McClaughry
It’s important to understand
the politics of the global climate issue. If the enviros can make people
buy the idea that human-produced carbon threatens runaway heating, ice
cap melting, coastline flooding, terrible storms, trouble for polar bears,
and the eventual ruination of Planet Earth, then people will certainly
agree that governments must crank down the world’s carbon–based energy
economy to save the planet from Al Gore’s heat death. --John McClaughry
is President of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org).
honor of Pro-Life Day
By Robert Skinner
A woman's love for her children
runs so deep and this relationship is honored in all cultures. I
have to believe that millions of women, and far too many teens pressured
to make a choice for abortion, harbor, or will harbor, secret and perhaps
very deep sorrows like those of my grandmother who grieved over her lifetime
as her loving son was lost to her.
in the Year of the Pig
Peter. G. Behr
Citizens don’t realize it,
but Acts 60/68 took away a lot of their independence. Towns used to have
an incentive to recruit businesses and other investment, and if they succeeded,
their tax base was broadened, and residents benefited from the new property
owners, both from new sources of employment and from taxes, which accrued
to the towns. Now the state has taken over; towns no longer have any
significant incentive to recruit new businesses. Woodstock collects roughly
$10 million in property taxes, and the state keeps half for its own purposes.
# # #
Week’s Mail Bag
Yesterday I got in the mail
a so-called "petition" to get rid of Paul Beaudry as host of True North
Radio. It was not a true petition because there was no return address nor
did the author give his name. How did this person(s) get my address? The
"petition" set out a list of particulars against Paul. The main argument
of the nameless, gutless wonder was that Paul sometimes mispronounces words
and sometimes uses incorrect grammar. The "petition" goes on to praise
the former host who had a Ph.D. in English who never made those mistakes
- we are told.
I want to go on record as
someone very unimpressed by formal degrees - specially in the field of
a radio talk show host. The greatest talk show host in history (as measured
by ratings) is Rush Limbaugh who dropped out of college. I find Paul's
style refreshing. He is not trying to impress us with great intellect nor
does he talk down to us. He is an everyday man. He may make a few mistakes
but the "petition" says he committed the high crime of not once, but twice,
saying "Libary" in one day. Paul is down to earth. Paul has a good style
of interviewing and good sense of timing. He keeps the show moving and
does not let it get bogged down for too long.
The "petition" claims to
be written by a conservative. But, it includes a line very reminiscent
of Alex Baldwin. [He promised to leave America if President Bush won the
election in 2000. He’s still with us making millions.] The "petition" says
that Paul should go back to being a roofer. Alex Baldwin thought he was
insulting Sean Hannity by calling him a "former construction worker." All
he succeeded in doing was insulting construction workers. What type of
conservative relies on "petitions" to change a radio host? Nonsense. When
I don't like a radio host I just don't listen. In the end the ratings will
decide if Paul succeeds. So far he has shown he can get ratings.
--Tom Trevor, Stowe
Economist Milton Friedman
said, "People are never as careless spending their own money as they are
spending someone else’s money." The property tax totally ignores this concept.
That is why last month, January 2007, I passed out to many of our elected
officials and law makers at the State House the Talking Points shown below.
They all were polite, and many seemed to agree. However, I've heard nothing
further from any of them since that time.
I ask you to read this, and
if you agree that the property tax is unfair, and an increase in the present
income tax is a better way to go, speak to your own elected representatives
as I did mine. Hopefully your representative will be more responsive than
The income tax is the only
tax solely based upon one’s ability to pay, which income provides. The
property tax in many cases exceeds one’s ability to pay it, causing great
hardship, including the loss of one’s home. That is not fair. If you replace
the statewide property tax with a proportionate increase in the present
income tax, everybody who is taxed would have received the needed funds
and be able to pay their tax with much less difficulty than many property
owners now have. That would be fair and equitable.
Here are the common arguments
against replacing the property tax followed by a counter response:
1) We would not
be able to tax out of state residents on their second homes in Vermont
and would lose considerable revenue. Response: Why not keep the
property tax on residents of other states who own property in Vermont?
Our main focus is to replace the property tax on residential property owned
--Bill Day, Barre, VT.
2) This is strictly a tax
shift and does not address the real problem, which is excessive spending.
The broader based income tax would affect more people, who would want to
more carefully scrutinize their local school budgets before voting for
them. The already existing income tax is simpler, much easier and less
costly to administer than the complicated property tax rebate system.
3) The act 60/68 tax rebates
make the present system "income sensitive." Response: Even
with the rebates, many homeowners pay a large percentage of their income
for property tax, an amount that many of them cannot afford. Also, some
people who do not own homes and/or pay no property taxes receive more income
than many who do. Is that fair?
4) Real property is a good
measure of a person’s wealth. Response: Most people bought
their homes many years before retirement when they were earning good salaries.
During their ownership the market price, and taxes, on these homes went
up substantially. The people grew old, retired and now receive smaller
incomes. Since the pensions of retirees are a fraction of their former
salaries, how can the government expect our senior citizens to pay these
higher property taxes without sufficient funds to do so?
It is disappointing to see
that the Vermont Legislature has decided to act on their global warming
agenda without hearing both sides of the scientific debate to determine
whether action is even necessary. A decision by the Legislature that is
analogous to a trial where only one side is allowed to present evidence.
This is not supposed to happen to in America.
Canadian climatologist Dr.
Tim Ball said recently: "It is amazing how the debate has been monopolized
by one side, not a very healthy situation in a democracy...if we don't
pursue the truth, we are lost as individuals and as a society." Nonetheless,
due to what Vermont Lawmakers have mistakenly perceived as an "overwhelming
amount of evidence", the Legislature is taking action. If the Legislature’s
real objective is to prepare an effective course of action with measurable
results, then they must have answers to some basic questions such as: What
is the exact percentage of human induced warming versus warming from natural
cycles? Exactly how much do we need to reduce our carbon dioxide output
to reduce warming by say one one-hundredth of one degree F?
Unfortunately, there are
no scientists on either side of the debate that can truthfully tell you
the answer to these questions. In fact scientists are just beginning to
understand some of the millions of factors that drive this planet's climate.
All we really have is 100 years of questionable observed data on a rock
that's 6 billion years old. Policy makers are in a rush to "do something."
Given that no response afforded by any measure of legislation that passes
into law will have any discernible affect on the hypothetical catastrophe
that exists only in the virtual world of computer models, which have never
shown any predictive ability whatsoever, what is the true motivation here?
Another meteorologist recently
said: "I'm not sure which is more arrogant for humans, to say we caused
global warming or to say we're going to fix it." Some powerful figures
at the State House are apparently determined to make their political stripes
on this over-hyped issue. But, to take action without hearing all sides
of the issue, including the minority voice, goes against the grain of fairness
and the Vermont tradition of Democracy. To invest the tax dollars of hard
working Vermonters on the pet projects of State House insiders without
being able to answer the basic questions required to demonstrate quantifiable
results would be irresponsible, and a betrayal of the confidence of the
voters. The tax burden on Vermonters is already too high for us to be throwing
money at "feel good" measures.
I, and others, have repeatedly
asked members of the House and the Senate in Montpelier to allow testimony
from scientists on the other side of this raging scientific debate. The
response from the State House has been either silence, or the blind insistence
that there is no debate. Vermonters need to hear all of the facts regarding
this issue, not just cherry picked data that fits the required agenda.
--David Stackman, South Burlington
"The Iraqi nemesis bared
his fangs at Clinton and the U.N. last week expelling American weapons
inspectors from Iraq, threatening to shoot down U-2 surveillance planes
and daring the world to do something about it . . .[and] Saddam responds
to diplomatic wrist slaps the way a tank does to toy guns.” --Time
magazine's political analyst Eric Pooley,
in a special report in November of 1997 about Saddam's threat and his WMD.
"Iraq's pursuit of WMD is
one of the three or four most significant threats all of our people will
face." --Bill Clinton in the fall of
"In Iraq, Saddam Hussein
had again defied U.N. demands [in August 1998] requiring that weapons inspectors
be granted full access to his facilities without notice." --Hillary
Clinton in her latest book, Living History.
“What can we do to get him
out of power? And I’m gonna say the ‘I’ word. Impeach. And we have to have
everybody impeached that lied to the American public, and that’s the executive
branch, and any people in congress, and we gotta go all the way down and
we might have to go all the way down to the person who picks up the dogsh*t
in Washington because We can’t let somebody rise to the top who will pardon
these war criminals.”
-- Cindy Sheehan; remarks
made at a Veterans For Peace Conference.
“Iraqis who have risen
up against the occupation are not insurgents or terrorists or the enemy.
They are the revolution, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow - and
they will win.” -- Michael Moore. Moore and Cindy Sheehan are
the far left’s most outspoken antiwar, anti-Bush activists.
“A lie can travel halfway
around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” -- Mark Twain.
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
By Oliver Olsen, Brattleboro
Reformer, Feb. 17, 2007
As a state we do a good job
educating people like me and preparing them for the global marketplace.
But once prepared for this high-tech world, young Vermonters soon find
that there are no relevant career prospects here in Vermont. And that is
exactly why they leave the state. Only a lucky few are able to find jobs
in Vermont in the booming tech fields.
Caledonian Record Editorial,
Feb. 20, 2007
Well, how about trying plain
old, homely capitalism. If the usual dairy farm can't hack it, why not
try a different crop that can compete? Years ago, we suggested that the
future of dairy farming in Vermont on marginal farms might be to go organic.
Certified organic milk sells for a lot more than non-organic milk. We haven't
heard of many, if any, organic farms going under. And simple organic milk
opens the door to organic cheese and yogurt and other products that fetch
higher prices because they are organic.
The VT Legislature: How About ..... Getting Some Work Done?
Caledonian Record Editorial,
Feb. 19, 2007
What haven't our legislators
done? They haven't done anything that amounts to anything. They have wasted
so much time preening in front of the mirror of self-approval that they
haven't even begun to deal with the number one and two issues on Vermonters'
minds, education costs and property taxes. Now, we are two weeks from Town
Meeting Day with votes all over the state on school budgets and the Legislature
doesn't have the time to do anything about these issues. A cynic would
applaud. As long as they waste their time on their pet national and international
issues, they won't have time to get into trouble pushing their socialist
ideas on real issues.
Senate Moving Forward With Energy Efficiency Initiative
WCAX, Feb 21, 2007
Leading senators said Wednesday
they were close to fulfilling one of their pledges - addressing global
climate change - with a bill that would impose a surcharge on home
heating fuel to pay for improved energy efficiency.
fuel tax trips global warming bill
Sexual Molestation Case Resurfaces in National Debate
and dimed to death
Mike Gleason, Staff Writer
Bennington Banner, Feb 22, 2007
A local child molestation
case that drew national coverage in January was in the news again Wednesday
after an appearance by Fox News Channel personality Bill O'Reilly on an
"Oprah Winfrey Show" segment. In the case, Andrew C. James, 37, of Manchester
pleaded guilty to the aggravated sexual assault of a 4-year-old in January
and received a suspended sentence of 30 months to 5 years as the result
of a plea deal. The sentence drew attention after O'Reilly highlighted
the case in his "The O'Reilly Factor" show, claiming the sentence was much
too lenient. He also went on to bash Vermont and allege that the state's
laws and criminal justice system are soft on molesters. O'Reilly repeated
the allegations on the Winfrey show Wednesday afternoon.
Caledonian Record Editorial,
Feb 23, 2007
The United States Supreme
Court took a giant step this week in restoring equity to some civil lawsuits,
those in which the plaintiff seeks punitive settlements from businesses
that they allege have damaged enormous numbers of bystanders who are not
plaintiffs. The Court reversed a $79.5 million punitive settlement upon
Phillip Morris to pay a woman whose husband had smoked two packs a day
for 45 years.
# # #
Problem Lies in Islamism -- Not Us
by Rabbi Aryeh Spero, Human
Events, posted Feb. 23, 2007
The over 100 wars across
the globe involving Islam are, according to the professional bureaucrats,
always the fault of those defending themselves against Moslem aggression,
never the fault of those engineering the world-wide push for dar Islam
and revived Islamic messianism. "If only" … is the mouthing of those in
denial about what is steadily chipping away at Western sovereignty: Islam
on the move. To acknowledge the reality means that something must be done
now to stop it. But because they are too emotionally weak or self-hating
of their own civilization, they choose to deny while submitting, eunuch-like,
to this self-abasing sensitivity nonsense.
Warns Democrats: I May Join GOP
NewsMax.com Wires, Feb 23,
Sen. Joseph Lieberman of
Connecticut fired a shot across the bow of the Senate's Democratic majority,
warning them he may bolt the party and join the GOP if Congress votes to
withhold funding for the war in Iraq. The move would give Republicans control
of the Senate, since Democrats hold the majority by one vote.
Choice on Iraq
By Joseph Lieberman, Opinion
Journal, Feb 26, 2007
"What ultimately matters
more to us: the real fight over there, or the political fight over here?
... I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to step back and think carefully
about what to do next."
Capital and Poverty
Gary Becker Acton Institute
Where does human capital
come from? What constitutes a successful investment in human capital, either
at the individual or national level? One has to start with the family.
It is the foundation of a good society and of economic success. Families
have differed over time, but they are still very important in the modern
economy. To understand human capital, you have to go back to the family,
because it is families that are concerned about their children and try,
with whatever resources they have, to promote their children’s education
and values. Families are the major promoters of values in any free society
and even in not-so-free societies.
CEO Jobs Attacks Teacher Unions
April Castro, Associated Press, Feb. 16, 2007
believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they
have become unionized in the worst possible way," Jobs said. "This unionization
and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy."
Earth was Warming before Global Warming was Cool.
BY Pete Du Pont, Opinion
Journal, February 21, 2007
...[L]ooking back in history
we see a regular pattern of warming and cooling. From 200 B.C. to A.D.
600 saw the Roman Warming period; from 600 to 900, the cold period of the
Dark Ages; from 900 to 1300 was the Medieval warming period; and 1300 to
1850, the Little Ice Age.
Co-Founder Changes Mind
Thomas Lifson, The American
Thinker, February 23, 2007
As co-founder and former
leader of Greenpeace, I once opposed nuclear energy. But times have changed,
and new facts of compelling importance have emerged - and so my views have
changed as well, as have those of a growing number of respected, independent
environmentalists around the world. There are few places where nuclear
power makes as much sense or is as important as in New York. Indeed, the
state is a microcosm of the challenges America and the world face to have
ample, clean and reasonably priced electricity. As such, I strongly support
renewal of the license for the Indian Point nuclear plants in Westchester,
which provides 30 percent or so of the electricity used in the New York