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True North Archives - March 09, 2010
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Featured Articles

The Biblical Roots of American Civilization
By Robert Maynard

Americans have historically taken a great deal of pride in their tradition of the protection of individual rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. What is less well known is that the constitutional protection of individual rights represents the legal codification of principles that developed over a period of 180 years.

That was the period of time between the first Pilgrim settlers and the establishment of the U.S. Constitution. During that time the "Puritans" set up Churches, schools, a university system, charitable institutions and pretty much created an American Civilization defined by a distinct worldview regarding human nature and the relationship of the individual to society. This worldview culminated in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

(Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of pieces that are intended to be used as presentations in Churches)

Continue the Carnage!
By John McClaughry

By a combination of state employee layoffs, pay freezes, suspension of payments into the Education Fund, and increased taxes on estates and capital gains, this year's (FY10) General Fund budget will be nominally balanced. But the February 24 "Vermont Revenue and Budget Picture" presentation by the Joint Fiscal Office shows a yawning gap for FY11: $154 million - followed by $254 million in FY12. Add in the projected deficits for FY13 and FY14, and the four-year deficit abyss comes to approximately $848 million. ...

Whacking 61 mostly inactive boards and commissions is worth doing, but it's high time to get rid of lots more.

An Inconvenient History
By Martin Harris

Similarly for health insurance. States, like Vermont, which have adopted the "community rating" collectivization principle, enable high-health-risk customers to pay the same low premium as less actuarially expensive customers, whether their adverse health prospects result from genetic inheritance or behavioral choice. And then there was Rod Clarke’s anti-helmet motorcycle group, which offered to sign waivers, disclaiming the right to expensive cranial care should they crash while riding; Montpelier was neither amused nor receptive. Finally, as those of advancing years know, the longer you wait to enroll in long-term-care insurance, the higher the premiums. To me, as an amateur actuary, it makes perfect sense. A rational person wouldn’t expect to be offered insurance once he’s at the in-patient desk of the nursing home, just as the post-Andrew de-roofed Floridian would have been and should have been turned down (pre-existing condition) for storm coverage. By this measure, the State government in Florida isn’t rational: it now offers home-owners’ insurance at less-than-market rates. When the bill inevitably comes due, look for Florida to demand dollar-denominated help from other States.

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"A republican government secures to the people the greatest portion of happiness that any government can; yet noise and change, from the nature of man, are interwoven in its institutions. Ambition is a shade of human nature; it is scarcely more natural for men to breathe, than it is for them to wish to control; at least to be free from the control of others. When in authority, men have a little of both; i.e. a little power to control others, and a little refuge from the control of others; hence the station of office is courted." 

--John Leland, 1810

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

What Price Economic Suicide?
Caledonia Record Editorial, February 28, 2010

On Monday, a group of economic heavy hitters, including business and labor leaders, called on the Vermont Legislature to take a time-out on voting against Vermont Yankee's application for a 20-year operating extension. The Vermont Energy Partnership, representing large consumers of electricity in the state, added their voices to Gov. Jim Douglas's call. They wanted to see lawmakers honor that request. At a Monday news conference, the groups reissued a report by economist Richard Heaps pointing to the large impact Vermont Yankee has on the economy in southeastern Vermont and the state as a whole. The groups argued that Vermont needs the jobs and that spending by the plant circulates throughout the economy.

Two days later, on Wednesday, the Senate ignored the governor's and the business and labor leaders' plea and voted 26-4 against the continued operation of Vermont Yankee beyond 2012. The people they rejected are the companies and people who create the businesses that create the money that pays the workers and the taxes that assure the economic health of Vermont. Yet these politicians snubbed them with a cut that not only will bleed profusely, but could cause a hemorrhage that fatally wounds our economy.

Related Articles: 

The Cost of Closing Yankee

Polling Results Indicate ... whatever the hell we want 'em to.

Town Meeting Editorial
From Vermont Tiger, March 2, 2010

Since the 2011 school budget votes and discussions which are occurring on this town meeting day are merely a kind of warm-up for the main event which will take place next year when the bottom falls out (see Hugh Kemper for details), we take this as very encouraging sign.  You must first admit there is a problem ... etc., etc...

A Visit from Another Planet
Caledonia Record Editorial, March 3, 2010

At a time when Vermont businesses, large and small, are struggling to stay afloat, three lawmakers want to hang another expense around their necks. H-382, sponsored by Reps. Edwards of Brattleboro, Fisher of Lincoln, and Poirier of Barre City, all Democrats, would require employers of even one employee to provide 56 hours annually of paid leave to each employee to take care of his/her own health needs, from a headache to a blister on the foot. That's seven days of paid sick leave, or about a week and a half.

These guys must have departed their senses or have come from another planet where common sense is outlawed and lunacy is celebrated. Vermont has just been named the fourth hardest state in which to do business. Our Senate just crushed the promise of fixed, reliable, low-cost electricity by killing off Vermont Yankee. Shap Smith is doing his best to make the House do the same, and these three representatives think it's the right time to invent a brand-new and expensive business benefit and force our smallest, most beleaguered businesses to pay for it.

VT: Why Property Taxes are Getting Worse
By Tom Pelham, Rutland Herald, March 4, 2010

As this scenario of lower enrollments and double-digit tax increases unfolds in Wallingford (up 19 percent), Poultney (up 15 percent), Mendon (up 19 percent), Chittenden (up 28 percent), Rutland Town (up 11 percent), Fair Haven (up 14 percent) and similarly all across Vermont, the Rutland Herald hangs tough, telling voters it's not the fault of Act 60 or Act 68; it's about equity and local control.

Equity and local control are important principles for Vermont's education funding system, but are not the cause for increasing property tax bills.

Vermont, National Gasoline Prices Edge Up
From Vermont Business Magazine, March 8, 2010

Average retail gasoline prices in Vermont moved just 1.6 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.79/g today. This compares with the national average that has increased 4.7 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.74/g, according to gasoline price website

The E-State; More for Less
By Tom Evslin, Vermont Tiger,March 08, 2010

Technology can make government both more effective and much cheaper to operate. Does this sound too good to be true? It’s not; it’s a fact.

Bureaucracies in the private and the public sector were designed around bureaus, places that records were kept. It used to be that you had to go the branch of the bank where your account records were to make a withdrawal; other branches didn’t know what your balance was. If you needed to interact with the government bureaucracy, you had to go to the office where your records were kept; otherwise no one would be able to deal with you. To make life even more complex, your tax records might be in one office; your fishing license in a second office; and your property information elsewhere. Sound familiar?

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

India’s Strategic Role in Countering Jihadism
By Dr. Walid Phares, Family Security Matters, March 06, 2010

The confrontation in the sub Indian continent between al Qaeda, the Taliban and their allies on the one hand and the three democracies they target, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, on the other hand must be reevaluated in terms of international cooperation against the Jihadi threat. A regional system should be established to integrate the struggle against all Jihadi forces in the subcontinent. There needs to be a separation between the ethnic and territorial questions from the fight against Terrorism. Once that distinction is made, the possibilities of internationalization of counterterrorism will be high. Jihadists based in any country of the subcontinent must not be given legitimacy by any government on the ground of a local ethnic issue. Jihadi forces must be confronted collectively, while diplomacy and international mediations assist in solving the local problems.

Iraq: An Example for the Region
 By Richard Grenell, Al Jazeera, February 24, 2010

The Iraqi people have voted in free and fair elections locally, nationally and provincially since Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi president, was ousted by the US military in 2003.

It has been a bloody and deadly example the entire Middle East, but this week, Iraqis will show the Arab World once again that their hard-fought freedom and painful sacrifices are an example for all people struggling under oppressive regimes.

Who Is ‘An Enemy of God?’
By Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman, Family Security Matters, March 03, 2010

There is some very strange language coming out of Iran today. Unarmed demonstrators are being arrested, summarily tried, and executed. Their crime: they are "Enemies of God." This now accompanies the earlier stupid crime designation: "a polluter of earth." No, this is not an ecological crime; it is a crime against the government that considers any backtalk pollution. But enemy of God implies that the great ayatollah and the country’s illegitimately-elected president are either Gods themselves, or God’s people.

Politically Correct Killing?
The increase in targeted killings makes urgent the need for Obama to clarify his whole anti-terrorism policy.
By David Willetts, The National Review, February 26, 2010

By all accounts, President Obama has vastly increased the number of Predator drone strikes during his 13 months in office and expanded the theater of missile operations by thousands of square miles. Indeed, since inauguration day, 2009, Predator and Reaper drone attacks may have killed over 500 suspected terrorists in Waziristan and Pakistan.

In January of this year alone, the United States conducted ten strikes, and may have killed some 70 suspected al-Qaeda or Taliban terrorists — along with additional unknown others in their vicinity. When we killed Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, last summer, eleven others were blown up with him, among them his wife and father-in-law — and, earlier, dozens of others were killed in strikes that failed to target him. In the first two months of 2010, the Obama administration conducted almost half the number of strikes that were conducted in all of 2008, the last full year of the Bush administration.?

Why has Obama expanded a killing program that seemingly is at odds with his own past statements ("We’ve got to get the job done there, and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there") — as well as with his general efforts to envision the war on terror as more a criminal-justice operation where terrorists are tried in civilian courts and given their Miranda rights?

Liberal Pacifism VS Islamic Extremism
By Amil Imani, March 02, 2010

The Gospel writers have noted that Jesus called his disciples to a way of life in which any act of violence can be overcome by love. We must not return evil for evil, Jesus taught, but must return good for evil; we must not hate those who wrong us but must love our enemies and pray for those who hate us. The Qur’an never says this. Instead it explicitly declares that Allah does not love those who do not believe in him:

"For He loves not those who reject Faith" (30:45)

How the Islamist Mindset Rationalizes - and Promotes - 'Sex Sins'
By Raymond Ibrahim, Pajamas Media, March 1, 2010

Is it inconsistent for Muslim "holy warriors" to engage in voyeuristic acts of lasciviousness? Because would-be jihadists and martyrs have been known to frequent strip bars — such as the 9/11 hijackers and Major Nidal Hasan, whose "late-night jiggle-joint carousing stands at odds with the picture of a devout Muslim" — many Americans have concluded that such men cannot be "true" Muslims, leading to the ubiquitous conviction that they are "hijacking Islam."

In fact, Islamists rely on several rationalizations — doctrines, even — that make "jiggle-joint carousing" consistent with Muslim piety. Considering that Islamic law permits sex slaves (Koran 4:3), permits their masters to keep them topless, and makes sex one of the highest paradisiacal rewards, this should come as no great surprise. However, to elaborate:

First, the doctrine of taqiyya allows Muslims residing among infidels to deceive the latter by, among other things, behaving like infidels, e.g., frequenting strip bars: "Taqiyya [deception], even if committed without duress, does not lead to a state of infidelity — even if it leads to sin deserving of hellfire."

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From Elsewhere

Fiscal Death by Welfare
By Andrew Mellon, Big Government, February 28, 2010

Ironically enough, the medicine applied by our state as the antidote for our ills has proven to be poison.  The welfare state is killing our nation.  Today entitlement spending makes up nearly half of our budget.  Long term, we know that there will be no way to pay off our unfunded obligations — we will go bankrupt.  There will be three options ultimately, though ultimately can come quite suddenly: default, hyperinflation or abolition of the welfare state.

Related: When Responsibility Doesn’t Pay - Welfare always breeds contempt.

Great Recession Did Not Have To Be Great
By Rich Karlgaard,Forbes Magazine, March 3, 2010

Whether the 2007-09 slump was the worst since the 1930s or is merely tied with the 1973-74 debacle is an open debate. The economy appears to be weakening again, fueling fears of a double dip. I am certain, though, that the 2007-09 Great Recession didn’t need to be so great. It could have been, should have been, no worse than the 1990-91 recession.

Market Finishes Flat as Obama Pushes Regulation
By Edward Krudy, Reuters, March 3, 2010

U.S. stocks ended little changed on Wednesday as worries about bank regulation and a setback for drug company Pfizer offset signs of improvement in the labor market and services sector.

DEMINT: White House Land Grab
By Sen. Jim DeMint, The Washington Times, March 2, 2010

You'd think the Obama administration is busy enough controlling the banks, insurance companies and automakers, but thanks to whistleblowers at the Department of the Interior, we now learn they're planning to increase their control over energy-rich land in the West.

A secret administration memo has surfaced revealing plans for the federal government to seize more than 10 million acres from Montana to New Mexico, halting job- creating activities like ranching, forestry, mining and energy development. Worse, this land grab would dry up tax revenue that's essential for funding schools, firehouses and community centers.

President Obama could enact the plans in this memo with just the stroke of a pen, without any input from the communities affected by it.

At a time when our national unemployment rate is 9.7 percent, it is unbelievable anyone would be looking to stop job-creating energy enterprises, yet that's exactly what's happening.

American Reliance on Government at All-Time High
By Patrice Hill, The Washington Times, March 1, 2010

Moreover, for the first time since the Great Depression, Americans took more aid from the government than they paid in taxes.

Report Finds College Students Fail Basic Civics Test
By Joe Wolverton, II, The New American, February 26, 2010

"Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it" is one of the most oft-quoted aphorisms of Edmund Burke, an 18th-century Irish-born member of the British Parliament and fearless friend of liberty. Judging from the results of a recent survey conducted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), most of the 14,000 college students who participated sadly will be repeating history.

Considering that most of the 14,000 students who completed the exam (7,000 seniors and 7,000 freshmen) scored an F on the portion of the test covering basic American history and institutions, not only will they be repeating history, but with test scores like that, they’ll be repeating history class, as well.

Charter Schools Flourish in Harlem
But teachers unions are still trying to stop their growth.
By Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2010

This year, Harlem’s charter schools received more than 11,000 applications for 2,000 available slots. More than 7,000 children are on wait lists. Yet the United Federation of Teachers and its political acolytes in the New York state legislature are hell-bent on blocking school choice for underprivileged families. Worried that high-performing charters are “saturating” Harlem, State Sen. Bill Perkins and State Assemblyman Keith Wright have backed legislation that would gut state per-pupil funding at charter schools and allow a single charter operator to educate no more than 5% of a district’s students.

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