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True North Archives - March 11, 2008
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Featured Articles

Energy, Power and the Environment
By Robert Maynard

One theme that seems to be popping up at several of the town meetings held by Tom Licata and "Vermonter’s for Economic Health" is that deregulation to help our economic health would come at a price. Political figures at these meetings constantly raise the dire possibility that doing so would reverse the environmental gains that we have enjoyed. The unstated assumption is that Vermont’s rural natural beauty is mostly a result of such regulations.

The truth of the matter is that North America as a whole has been moving in a relatively more "green" direction since the start of the industrial revolution "despite" all of the regulations.... 

In short, the next time one of our political figures informs you that we can not deregulate our economy without sacrificing our environment, just remember that it was the operation of the free market, not the regulations, that made that environment possible.

Battling the Tax Monster
by John McClaughry

Voters and taxpayers will have to recognize that a state-controlled monopoly public educational system, with its large and politically organized union always demanding more spending to pay for higher benefits for its members, will inevitably demand ever-higher tax resources - even if, as has happened over the past decade, the number of pupils is decreasing.

Governments don't raise education taxes just to prove they can do it. They raise taxes so they can spend the money on the public school system.

Ultimately the only answer to ever-rising residential property and other taxes for education is to end the protected monopoly that demands and lobbies for the money.

Measuring Impact
By Martin Harris

You can almost as easily get school-age-child-per-household data for a given neighborhood or town –regional planning commissions are (in Vermont, were) good sources for these data—and so, if you find that, in your part of town, new housing in, say, the $260,000 range will send 0.5 of a new student to school, you can see that the statistically-probable impact of that new house will be about half of $29, 289, or just under $15,000. It would be substantially higher in Vermont because, in recent decades, Vermont school districts have been building much more than the traditional square footages per pupil into their buildings, but its also substantially harder to determine exactly how much because of the new edu-crat refusals to release square-footage and capacity numbers for their schools. I’ve tried, recently, without success, to get such numbers for Middlebury, Bristol, and Rutland, but you’re welcome to se whether you can be more persuasive than I or my appointed delegates whom I sent out for the numbers.

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"More powerful than an invading army is an idea whose time has come."  -- Victor Hugo

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Iraqis Observe Democracy in Richmond, VT
By Joel Banner Baird, Burlington Free Press, March 5, 2008

"Most Iraqis think that a total withdrawal cannot happen right now," said Sabeeh Radhi Al-Kaabi, who serves on the Rasheed District Advisory Council. "Your military must first reinforce the Iraqi army and police. You must first help us rebuild our country."

His visit to Vermont, he said, gave him hope.

Sinking Ship
From March 06, 2008

Tuesday's votes may have gratified custodians of the status quo but they did nothing to alter the long run outlook for the state's economy.  Art Woolf has it right, here, too.  Vermont spends more than half the money raised through state and local taxation on K through 12 education and continues to spend more every year.  This is not -- to use a word sacred in the Vermont lexicon -- "sustainable."

A Reductio ad Absurdum
Caledonian Record Editorial, 3/07/08

Now, teacher certification requirements are so artificial and out of date as to be useless in guaranteeing properly educated/trained teachers. They do serve a very useful purpose, though, to a special interest group - teacher unions. They have established a firewall between eminently qualified people and the profession, people who didn't have time to take the education courses required for certification or who viewed them with contempt.

Supply-Side Originator: Reagan? Laffer? Kennedy? Try Coolidge
From March 07, 2008

We now understand that a series of misguided tax, trade and monetary actions either brought the Depression on or dramatically deepened and extended it. The decisions to tighten the money supply, raise taxes and enact the disastrous Smoot-Hawley Act were entirely the responsibility of Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. And by totally rejecting the Coolidge policies, Roosevelt and Hoover unintentionally prolonged the Great Depression by years.

So successful was the effort to vilify Coolidge, the very utterance of this fact some 70 years later is still seen as politically risky.

Coolidge had represented traditional values; his upbringing in Plymouth, his religious faith, his personal integrity, his trust in classic market economics – even his innate shyness – were like a national touchstone in the twenties; an era of unequaled progress, prosperity and liberal social change.

Reading Tea Leaves
Caledonian Record Editorial, 3/08/08

Truth is, Vermonters pass their school budgets because most feel they really don't have a choice.

To conclude budgets pass because all those voters are satisfied is like concluding that everyone who pays $3.50 a gallon for home heating oil must find the price reasonable because they pay it.

Vermonters, by and large, are loyal to their local schools and are willing to make sacrifices for a quality education for their community's children. It's not a vote of confidence in the Vermont Legislature or Act 68.

Unwilling to tackle meaningful education reform that will tackle the costs of education in Vermont, the Legislature ignores the intolerable burden of the statewide property tax.

They Didn't Ask Me
From March 07, 2008

The average increase in school budgets this year, according to the VSA, was 4.36% and 4.1% last year.   But the number of students in Vermont fell by 1.8% in 2006 and 1.2% in 2007, according to the Vermont Department of Education. In 2006 there were 2,000 more students in grade 12 than in Kindergarden.  In 2007, there were 1,400 more.  That trend will continue for at least the next five years, so the number of students will continue falling by one to two percent each year. 

The four percent growth in spending has to be looked at in the context of these declining enrollments, which means per pupil spending is growing at a five to six percent annual rate...

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

A Rising Tide Lifts Mood in the Developing World
Sharp Decline in Support for Suicide Bombing in Muslim Count
From The Pew Global Attitudes Project

Dwindling Muslim Support for Terrorism

Even as many people around the world express more positive views of their lives and countries than they did five years ago, opinions about regional issues and concerns are a mix of good and bad news.

Among the most striking trends in predominantly Muslim nations is the continuing decline in the number saying that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are justifiable in the defense of Islam. In Lebanon, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia, the proportion of Muslims who view suicide bombing and other attacks against civilians as being often or sometimes justified has declined by half or more over the past five years.

Wide majorities say such attacks are, at most, rarely acceptable. However, this is decidedly not the case in the Palestinian territories. Fully 70% of Palestinians believe that suicide bombings against civilians can be often or sometimes justified, a position starkly at odds with Muslims in other Middle Eastern, Asian, and African nations.

Violence Leaves Young Iraqis Doubting Clerics
By Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times, March 4, 2008

After almost five years of war, many young people in Iraq, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach. In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.

Whither Osama?
By Jon Caruthers, The American Thinker, March 08, 2008

That leaves us with Iran.  As mentioned above, Iran established a rat line during Operation Enduring Freedom to "rescue" Al Qaeda terrorists from certain capture and annihilation at the hands of the coalition.   The rumor is that Saad bin Laden - Osama's son Saad and Ayman Al-Zawahiri along with roughly 800 or so other top Al Qaeda terrorists were thus extricated from Afghanistan.  Iran has shown that it has no fear of standing up to the west, and has a large, and capable intelligence apparatus clearly capable of hiding bin Laden.  It's a Muslim country with a large Arab minority with a long history of working closely with Al Qaeda in the past.  For a time, Imad Mugneyeh was the liaison between the Iranian mullahs and Al Qaeda.  For Al Qaeda, Iran is the perfect hiding place.  For Iran, sequestering bin Laden gives them effective control of Al Qaeda and having control of Al Qaeda gives them yet another way to carry out murderous terrorist attacks by proxy and gives them a degree of anonymity to carry out their low-level war against the US that they've been carrying out since the revolution in 1979.

Courageous Protesting Iranian Students
By Ethel C. Fenig, The American Thinker, March 08, 2008

Nine consecutive demonstrations at Shiraz University continued yesterday, with more than 3,000 students, Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman for the group, said in a telephone interview from Paris.

The Trouble with Russia
By Herbert E. Meyer, The American Thinker, March 06, 2008

Vladimir Putin has the heart and soul of a KGB Commissar -- which, of course, he once was.  He's a thug, and he's learned nothing from his country's history.  So he's driving Russia into the same ditch the communists drove it into back in the twentieth century.  He's creating a one-party dictatorship in which the country's wealth will be owned or controlled by the State.  Like all dictators, he's trying to gin up a foreign enemy -- that would be us -- to justify his domestic policies.  And he's embarking on a course to achieve his communist predecessors' dream of imposing a sort of Pax Sovietica on the world.

Despite the Hype, Ahmadinejad’s Iraq Visit a Failure
By Alireza Jafarzadeh, Fox News, March 05, 2008

Behind the orchestrated pomp and pageantry during the visit to Baghdad last weekend by the Iranian ayatollahs’ president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it was hard to miss the revulsion of Iraqis of all stripes. Adjectives like "historic" could not disguise the frustrating reality for Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs: outside of Iraqi political spheres dominated by Tehran surrogates, they are seen as enemies of a secure, non-sectarian and democratic Iraq.

The "Don't Protect America" Democrats
By Matthew Continetti, The Weekly Standard,  March 17, 2008

It's been three weeks since Democrats in Congress allowed the Protect America Act of 2007 to expire. Three weeks in which House Democrats have allowed marginal special interest groups veto power over national security legislation. And no one in the House Democratic leadership seems particularly bothered by it.

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From Elsewhere

Why Ontario Keeps Sending Patients South
By Lisa Priest, The Globe and Mail, March 1, 2008

More than 400 Canadians in the full throes of a heart attack or other cardiac emergency have been sent to the United States because no hospital can provide the lifesaving care they require here. Most of the heart patients who have been sent south since 2003 typically show up in Ontario hospitals, where they are given clot-busting drugs. If those drugs fail to open their clogged arteries, the scramble to locate angioplasty in the United States begins.

Weather Channel Founder Blasts Network; Claims It Is 'Telling Us What to Think'
TWC founder and global warming skeptic advocates suing Al Gore to expose 'the fraud of global warming.'
By Jeff Poor, Business & Media Institute, March 3, 2008

The Weather Channel has been an outlet for global warming alarmism. In December 2006, The Weather Channel’s Heidi Cullen argued on her blog that weathercasters who had doubts about human influence on global warming should be punished with decertification by the American Meteorological Society. Coleman also told the audience his strategy for exposing what he called "the fraud of global warming." He advocated suing those who sell carbon credits, which would force global warming alarmists to give a more honest account of the policies they propose.

McCain Must Seize Economic Issue While Democrats Fight On
By Matt Towery, Human Events, March 6, 2008

I'll freely admit that McCain's failure to originally support the Bush tax cuts was a serious error, but I will also note that he truly was consistent with his longtime mantra that spending must be reigned in at the same time that taxes were cut.

McCain has good advisors and supporters -- as did Kemp -- who could serve as the nucleus of a dynamic economic summit in which the brightest minds of not only the GOP, but of a host of nonpartisan organizations, could meet to determine a realistic and dynamic plan to turn our nation's economy around; not just for a year, but for many years to come.

Climate Skeptics Reveal ‘Horror Stories’ of Scientific Suppression
From the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works

Scientists skeptical of man-made climate fears meeting at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York City described the "absolute horror stories" about how some scientific journals have engaged in "outrageous and unethical behavior" in attempting to suppress them from publishing their work in peer-reviewed journals. The March 2-4 groundbreaking conference, which featured about 100 speakers with over 500 people attending, presented the report of a team of international scientists who formed a group to counter the UN IPCC.

Hillary Hardball vs. Barack Softball: Is there a Genuine Difference?
By Kyle-Anne Shiver, The American Thinker, March 07, 2008

Simply because a person uses highfalutin words, has a flair for oratory, is practiced at fluidly changing the subject and playing the perennially aggrieved-status guy doesn't mean he's an innocent little-leaguer. As nearly anyone over the age of 12 should know, these outward appearances of Obama's could just as easily mean that he is a master manipulator.

After all, he learned his political tactics from the Alinsky school of bloodless, socialist revolution.  Obama has been open and clear about one thing, at least.  He has both written and proclaimed that he got his best education in the wards of Chicago, doing Alinsky-style people's organizing.

"Innocent" would be the last word in the dictionary used to describe Saul Alinsky. Alinsky transformed human manipulation into hard political science.

What’s "Just" about Taxes?
By Samuel Gregg, D.Phil., Acton Institute

In his Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith said that taxes were necessary to enable governments to perform three essential functions. One was national defense. Another was public security and the administration of justice. The third was public infrastructure needs, though Smith envisaged that governments could contract much of this to private companies.

Today’s reality, however, is that taxes are raised for purposes that go far beyond these limits. Many politicians, for example, do not even bother to disguise the fact that they regard high taxes as a means for massive wealth-redistribution and financing social engineering. The fact that high taxes destroy incentives for entrepreneurs and businesses to create the wealth that gradually improves everyone’s material well-being — including the poor — appears to escape many politicians’ attention. Likewise high tax rates are often justified by the need to fund government-provided social services that families, charities, private associations, and churches are invariably much better at performing.

Then there are the negative moral effects of high tax rates.

First, high taxes undermine respect for property rights. If the state routinely takes, say, 40 percent of peoples’ incomes, then we should hardly be surprised that some individuals become rather casual in the way they treat others’ private property. Second, the existence of high taxes helps facilitate a culture in which some political parties basically tell people that, in return for their vote, they will effectively transfer large amounts of others’ property to them via taxation. That’s surely a mild form of corruption.

The Chávez Democrats
Wall Street Journal Editorial, March 10, 2008

What is it about Democrats and Hugo Chávez? Even as the Venezuelan strongman was threatening war last week against Colombia, Congress was threatening to hand him a huge strategic victory by spurning Colombia's free trade overtures to the U.S.

The Muni Play
Wall Street Journal Editorial, March 10, 2008

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both promising to raise taxes enormously -- on capital gains, dividends and high-earning Americans. That would make such tax-free investments as munis more valuable as demand for them increased relative to taxable vehicles.

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