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True North Archives - March 10, 2009
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Featured Articles

The Audacity of Reality
By James Ehlers

We have come to this crisis in our economy, not because we do not work enough, but because we spend too much— or as the President puts it, "our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare … for a new age." And now some, our state officials and the President included, propose to further forestall those hard choices by spending yet more. A crisis borne of spending solved through spending?

The Purpose of Marriage Matters
By Mark Shepard

The issue at stake is not so much that marriage will expand to all sorts of relationships beyond one man and one woman, but that doing so will sever the connection between marriage and children. Consider the costs to our nation from the breakdown of the family. Those we elect to public office should be actively pursuing ways to strengthen the bonds between the biological mother and father and the raising of the children they together bring into this world, not severing these ties. That is in everyone's best interest. While that ideal is not always possible, and in some cases not best for the child, it is still very important that that remains our goal as a society. Public policy is an expression of our goals.

Party Line
By Martin Harris

The budget elephant is, of course, Vermont’s lowest-in-the-nation pupil-teacher ratio or smallest average class size (technically different but from a practical viewpoint, the same problem) which consumes about 60 percent of overall public education spending. No other category even comes close. Particularly not administration, which requires about 8 percent (capital outlay and debt service for new construction are twice as large, at about 15 percent) but nevertheless it’s administration which is the preferred target of the Commissioner’s editorial angst, because it consumes in Vermont about $1100 per pupil annually, out of a total of  $13,000. "The average state cost was $697", he writes as a point-prover. What he doesn’t write is that $697 is about 8 percent of about $9000, the average all-state  cost per pupil, so that Vermont spends, on administration, in typical proportion to what all other states spend on administration. He doesn’t write on what Vermont spends, in unique proportion, on small class size. That hasn’t been a permitted subject in Montpelier, which explains why, when former Education Commissioner Richard Cate spoke of per-pupil costs, he carefully avoided the abnormally-small average class size question, except on a couple of occasions when he actually defended the spending as productivity-justified. (Of course, the prediction that test scores would go up as class sizes have gone down over 30 years, has failed to materialize --as he well knew-- but that’s another statistical subject for another time.)

Dealing Responsibly with Same-Sex Marriage
By John McClaughry

Probably a majority of opponents base their opposition on religious grounds, as contrary to church teachings and natural law. There is also a secular argument that deserves more attention than it has gotten.

Marriage, so this argument goes, serves three important social functions: procreation and child rearing, mutual care and assistance, and reining in horny young males by linking approved sex to a serious and long-lasting social commitment.

True, the sexual liberalism that began in the Sixties has undermined this third argument; nevertheless, it's important for the laws and customs to give maximum support to the traditional institution of marriage. At least that support will slow down the slide into totally commitment-free sexual license, resulting in ever more single mothers and fatherless children.

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"The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the State."  -- Bertrand de Jouvenel

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Evaluation Of Teachers: A Very Good Beginning
From the Caledonia Record, March 9th 2009

The sad fact is that very few superintendents observe and evaluate any teachers at all, citing their busy lives pushing paper. That puts them in the unacknowledged position of doing no quality control of the most important people in their districts, the teachers. Ms Saginor doesn't appear to fit that mold, and that's a very good thing.

Vermonters top nation in claiming 'no relgion'
By Rachel Zoll, The Times Argus, March 9, 2009

Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

Big Duel?
From Vermont Tiger, March 9, 2009

The legislature will not vote, this session, on whether or not it favors the relicensing of Vermont Yankee.  There is some question as to its authority in this matter but none as to its importance.  If the legislature votes "no," then the odds are heavily against Yankee operating beyond 2012.

Some Are More Equal Than Others
Caledonia Record, March 7, 2009

Our legislators refused to participate with the rest of us in these sacrificial times. They collectively refused to take a proposed 5 percent pay cut. It is inescapable that the Legislature concluded that all citizens are created equal, but some, them, are more equal than others. Will their pay, which includes an automatic cost of living increase, make them more efficient in dealing quickly with our pressing financial problems? We doubt it. It will simply drive up the cost of a day's business in Montpelier higher than the $60,000 it costs now. It will engender more post-session study committees. That summertime pay just went up.

The Worse The Better?
From Vermont Times, March 7, 2009

But it is true that there are people who prefer the state to markets and who want the entire free-market enterprise to crash and, in Vermont, they have been saying so for a while now.  We've been saying, on this site, that Vermont needs economic growth and that there are powerful forces in the state opposed to the policies that would promote it.  At the extreme, there are people who desire economic destruction.  They are getting their way and we are seeing what no-growth and a shrinking economy looks like.

Emergency Meeting Called for Rejected School Budgets
By Katie Beth Ryan, Eagle Times, March 08, 2009

Rejected school budgets have become somewhat of a tradition in Springfield, and 2009 has been no different.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

The United Nations: Our Children's New Parents?
By Dana Gabriel, OpEd News, March 7, 2009

It has been almost 15 years since President Clinton signed on to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  The U.S. remains one of the last holdouts as the treaty lies dormant, yet to be ratified.  The UNCRC grants children new civil, social, cultural and economic rights that could override parental decisions.  Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), is pushing for a vote as there is a real sense that under an Obama presidency, the UNCRC could finally be ratified.

A Flawed Strategy for Afghanistan
By Alexander Benard, American Thinker, March 03, 2009

In interviews and speeches, several high-ranking administration officials have signaled that the United States will begin to focus its efforts in Afghanistan more narrowly on eliminating threats to U.S. national security, not on establishing a functioning democracy -- as if the two are not inextricably linked.  First it was Secretary Gates, who declared that nobody in the world has the time, patience and money to set up a "central Asian Valhalla over there."  Then Obama himself stated that the goal in Afghanistan has to be to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for al Qaeda, not to "rebuild Afghanistan into a Jeffersonian democracy."

Iran Into Trouble
From Investor's Business Daily, March 02, 2009

Nuclear Weapons: Our Joint Chiefs chairman says Iran has enough material to make a nuclear bomb.  Didn't our spy agencies less than a year and a half ago tell us all not to worry?

Victims Of Socialism
From Investor's Business Daily, March 06, 2009

Deadly Rationing: The gatekeeper for Great Britain's national health care system is denying cancer patients drugs that would extend their lives. Why? Because the medication is considered too expensive.

Make Mexico's War A Higher Priority
From Investor's Business Daily, March 02, 2009

Border: Now that Phoenix has become a kidnap capital, it's official: Mexico's drug war is spilling over into the U.S. The administration vows a strong response, but so far seems to be putting special interests first.

US-Russia: "Reboot" or Roll Over?
By Peter Brookes, Family Security Matters, March 7, 2009

But while better relations with Russia, a resurging major power, are a laudable goal and can support US interests, we have to make sure that this notion of a "reboot" in relations doesn't equate to a "rollover" on our part.

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From Elsewhere

Pope Benedict’s Economic Realism
By Kishore Jayabalan, Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty

He gave a lengthy response (Italian text here) to a question from a priest who complained about the poverty and uncertainty affecting his suburban parish and who concluded that "we must have the courage to denounce an economic and financial system unjust to its roots." The priest gave the Pope an opportunity to denounce free-market economics in his own words.

Benedict didn't bite. Echoing one of his few writings on the Church and the economy as Joseph Ratzinger, he warned against cheap, easy moralism without technical -- in this case, economic -- understanding. In many ways his answer was a more theological version of Pope John Paul II's observation in the 1991 social encyclical Centesimus Annus that what really ails the free society is not the economic system as such, but the cultural-ethical framework that absolutizes economics. By implicitly admitting he has no technical economic competence, Benedict also reveals his remarkable intellectual honesty and integrity.

Voters Hate Socialism Except When They Love It
By Tim Kern, Mises Daily, March 3, 2009

Just because the majority wants something does not mean that the greater good is really served; just because the majority wants something doesn't mean that anyone has the right to expropriate it from the owner; and just because the majority wants something doesn't mean that the process itself is "sustainable" — the new catchword used to limit all innovation and progress.

Renewable Pollution
By Dennis Avery, American Conservative Union, March 4, 2009

That vast cloud of brown pollution hanging over Asia comes from wood and cattle dung being burned in millions of Third World home-fires, according to Orjan Gustafsson, a bio-geochemist from Stockholm University. Gustaffsson recently tested the smoke of the Asian brown cloud with a newly developed radiocarbon technique—and found that two-thirds of the brown cloud’s particles are organic matter, mostly wood, straw and dung.

These are the "renewable fuels" that Greenpeace and the Sierra Club do not want publicized. They’d rather not focus on the harsh reality that these open cooking and heating fires are dreadful for the health of Asian women and children. The lung diseases caused by the indoor smoke are equal to a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit, says Barun Mitra of India’s Liberty Institute.

How the Great Depression brought Adolf Hitler to Power
By James Lewis, American Thinker, March 08, 2009

Adolf Hitler started out as just another Bohemian intellectual, a sort of fire-breathing hippie, hanging around the coffee houses of Vienna after the big defeat of World War I. Just like Lenin, Mussolini and all the other psychopaths who rose to power around the same time. (Look it up, kids). His ilk can still be found in all the big city cafes of Europe, along with Berkeley, California, Madison, Wisconsin, and other college towns. They all profess peace. But in the right conditions, they are all happy to set off sociological or real dynamite. (Viz., Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn; the Rev. J. Wright and all the rest.)

Today the cafe intellectuals are more likely to be Islamic fascists, but what's the big diff? They all follow Hitler's big maxim, "Alles muss anders sein!" ("everything must change") or, in Obamalingo, "Change you can believe in."  They all hate whatever is; it doesn't matter where they want to go.

Planned Illiteracy?
By Alan Caruba, American Conservative Union, March 4, 2009

Americans who have passed through our schools for nearly fifty years know what the problem is. There is a union called the National Education Association that has control of the U.S. Department of Education and most state departments and has planned it this way. Meanwhile , in Congress, every manner of legislation is under consideration to deepen and worsen the problem. Many attempt to reach into the pre-school years of childhood development to seize control of the very youngest children.

One called "No Child Left Inside Act" (HR 3036) would inject all manner of environmental propaganda into the curriculum, further eroding the time today’s children have for the fundamentals, and scaring the hell out of them with more apocalyptic nonsense about global warming, It is the work of Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD).The Greens have invented "a nature-deficit disorder" to hide the fact that they intend to continue indoctrinating children with the dubious science they use to advance their agendas.

The Great Destabilization
By Mark Steyn, National Review, March 7 2009

And that was before Obama made clear that for him the economy takes a very distant back seat to the massive expansion of government for which it provides cover. That’s why he’s indifferent to the plummeting Dow. The president has made a strategic calculation that, to advance his plans for socialized health care, "green energy," and a big-government state, it’s to his advantage for things to get worse. And, if things go from bad to worse in America, overseas they’ll go from worse to total societal collapse. We’ve already seen changes of government in Iceland and Latvia, rioting in Greece and Bulgaria. The great destabilization is starting on the fringes of Europe and working its way to the Continent’s center.

Related: Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis

Perpetuating a Needless Stem-Cell War
Obama's decision is bad ethics, bad science, and bad politics.
By Ryan T. Anderson, The Weekly Standard, March 9th, 2009

Obama announced that by signing this executive order "we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research." Of course there never was a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. President Bush was, in fact, the first president in history to fund embryonic stem cell research. The compromise Bush reached, however, put restrictions in place that prevented the further destruction of human embryos. It is these restrictions protecting human life that Obama has lifted.

Obama and the Schools
It's time to stand up to the teachers' unions.
From The Wall Street Journal, March 9th, 2009

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said last week that poor children receiving federally financed vouchers to attend private schools in Washington, D.C., shouldn't be forced out of those schools. Bully for Mr. Duncan. But the voice that matters most is President Obama's, and so far he's been shouting at zero decibels.

Related: NEA: Tell the Senate to Pass Education Funding Bill Without Private School Vouchers!

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