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True North Archives - March 13, 2007
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Featured Articles

Reinventing Something Like a Wheel

by John McClaughry

Apparently Vermont's NECAP is around 30% more generous than the national tests in scoring pupils as "proficient". This at least raises the suspicion that the three New England states, by inventing their own homemade tests, have contrived to upscale their pupil ratings, making it look to the voters like they are producing 30% more proficiency than the country as a whole. And since only three states are using NECAP, it is not possible to compare Vermont pupils with those of any of the other 47 states, including notably those like Utah, that get far better results with considerably less money. --John McClaughry is President of the Ethan Allen Institute

Consolidation May Not Cut School Costs
By Robert Maynard

In fact, according the Heartland Institute, a review of the research shows that investing in smaller rather than larger schools is a wise move when the cost per graduate is taken into account. In making the case that small schools are not cost-prohibitive, the report identifies educational and social benefits of small schools and contrasts these with the negative effects large schools have on students, teachers, and members of the community. --Robert Maynard is an Editor of

Wine Beats Politics
By Peter Behr

Governor Douglas has chided the Legislature for its lack of action in its first eight weeks of this session. He’s right - virtually nothing has happened. No real debate on property taxes, which was the hot-button issue last November; no action on the high cost of Vermont’s government, nor the cost of education. Rather, our lawmakers have busied themselves learning about global warming (where have they been?) and debating about whether to outlaw distractions while driving (cell phones, cigarettes, coffee and other drinks), medical marijuana and gay marriage.

Group Think in Montpelier
By Curtis G. Hier

I’ve seen the dangers of groupthink in education policymaking. I’ve seen the education special interests line up as a single bloc and oppose worthy ideas, such as charter schools and the 65-cent proposal. I’ve seen myths and urban legends perpetuated, largely by these special interest groups, for so long that they’ve become absolute fact in the minds of even the most knowledgeable educators and policymakers in Montpelier and around the state. --Curtis G. Hier is a teacher at Fair Haven Union High School and Chair of First Class Education for Vermont.

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This Week’s Mail Bag

Dear Editor:

 "Paul Beaudry Insults Gold star Mother" This was the heading on the most recent postcard sent to my husband; I have to respond.

The cowardice of the sender(s) in not identifying his/her/them self is beyond what I can express; but is reflective of what has happened to our state populace over the past 30 or so years. I would find it offensive if anyone claimed another person (Paul Beaudry) had offended me without first consulting me in that regard as the postcard author did regarding Marion Gray. This demonstrates the deep disrespect that whoever this person(s) is, has toward us all. It’s all about stopping the conservative message…and not at all about Paul Beaudry.

The shallowness of faith in God this person displays is quite revealing. I care not to judge where he/she/they sit in God’s eye - that’s God’s job, but Paul correctly stated that God "protected" him during the 21 years he served in the military. This is also God’s job. God protects and looks over us indefinitely. But in reflecting on this we have to be careful not to assign interventions to God that are not God’s. God does not interfere with what we choose, but allows the world and us people to live our lives knowing fully that it is those times of hardship (i.e. death of a loved one) or elation (i.e. birth of a child), that we find ourselves closest to God; or furthest away. This is how we grow and become enlightened (or not) by our experiences.

 The name calling rhetoric, insults to Paul’s close but not 100% accurate estimations, language arts, etc are just plain mean spirited and certainly not made by a true Vermonter - we don’t act that way. Paul is getting the conservative message out, and yes, sometimes clumsily. But that is Paul and neither would I want him to change his style nor would I desire True North Management to get rid of him. If you don’t like his style, stop listening…he’s not the only source of information. If the person(s) sending the postcards/petitions, etc. are true conservatives they’d act like one and take credit/responsibility for their actions instead of hiding behind anonymity. And for crying out loud…STOP sending unsolicited mail.

 Julie Trevor, Stowe 

Dear Editor:

 Do we really want to control school spending? In a free market, purchasers vote with their wallets. They buy the best quality products and services at the most reasonable prices that they can find. Where there is plenty of competition, those who do not provide good products or services at reasonable prices lose business to the better companies, and the customers benefit by getting good value for their money.

 Just like the free market, the only plan that will really work to control public school spending is one where everybody who votes must share in the cost of what they are voting for. The only way to do that is to have a tax that everybody must pay.

 Just like the purchaser of goods and services, the voter who must pay for what he is voting for will vote for the best deal; high quality at a reasonable price.

These more cost conscious voters could: (1) Vote down excessive school and municipal budgets. (2) Vote out school boards and the elected officials who submit those excessive budgets. (3) Vote out legislators and elected state officials who support and pass into law costly and unnecessary mandates upon our schools and local governments. (4) Vote for candidates who will implement real cost cutting programs such as a free market type school choice involving all schools.

 I can not stress enough what economist Milton Friedman said: "People are never as careless spending their own money as they are spending someone else’s money." Only the informed voter who is affected by this careless spending can really control it

Bill Day, Barre, VT

PS: That did not happen on Tuesday's town meeting day. Many seniors who have many years of experience paying taxes and keeping up with inflation on fixed incomes could not get to the polls. 

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"When members of Congress pursue an anti-war strategy that's been called 'slow bleeding,' they are not supporting the troops, they are undermining them ... Anyone can say they support the troops and we should take them at their word, but the proof will come when it's time to provide the money." --Dick Cheney as he addressed the American Israel Affairs Committee in Washington on March 12, 2007. 

"The Democratic party can always be relied on to make a damn fool of itself at the critical time." --Ben Tillman(D) S.C. Senator.

"One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger . . Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." --Winston Churchill.

"We agree with the goal of the U.S. policy in Iraq as stated by the President: an Iraq that can ‘govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself . . We believe it would be wrong for the United States to abandon the county through a precipitate withdrawal of troops and support . Al Qaeda would depict our withdrawal as a historic victory. If we leave and Iraq descends into chaos, the long-range consequences could eventually require the United States to return." --The Iraqi Study Group (ISG). 

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Go Very Slow With The "Mother Bill"
Caledonian Record Editorial, March 7, 2007

Here are just some of the questions that we must make our legislators answer before they endorse this "Mother Bill." Will school choice, as we know it now, continue? If the state is divided up into super districts, will towns without high schools be able to choose a public or independent high school in a different super district? Will school choice within a super district be extended to elementary students? Will districts continue be able to vote a higher tuition than allowed by the DOE's favorite (and woefully inadequate) formula for paying an out-of-district tuition, whether to a public or an independent high school?

Sheehan Reception Mixed: Anti-War Activist Met With Support, Outrage at High School
by Anika Clark, NH Keene Sentinel

When anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan spoke at Brattleboro Union High School Sunday, she stood in a divided auditorium. One side, personally affected by the strain of war, spoke of supporting the troops - of God, patriotism and defending the American people against its enemy. The other side, also personally affected, said the same.

Weathersfield Vt: Impeachment Motion Ruled Out of Order
by Julia Lloyd Wright, Contributing Writer, Eagle Times

Weathersfield farmer Dave Fuller called on town moderator Graham Hunter to "stand up and be counted," Monday night at the annual town meeting. But Hunter still ruled that a motion made from the floor calling for President Bush's impeachment was out of order. ...He pointed out, though, that under Robert's Rules of Order, the decision of the chair could be appealed. Supporters of impeachment quickly made a motion to that effect. ... Hunter's decision was upheld 60-27.

State Official Says Rising Unemployment Rate Cause for Concern
WCAX, Mar. 6, 2007

"Three straight months of unemployment rate increases and slower job growth than previously measured are cause for concern," said Patricia Moulton Powden, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor. "We believe that some of the forces at work may be temporary, such as in the construction and leisure and hospitality sectors, but we are also seeing a faster slowdown in our manufacturing employment sector than we previously observed. Some other states in the region are seeing the same pattern occur."

Governor finds friendly crowd in Kingdom
By Terri Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press, March 8, 2007

Ben Bangs of Newark told Douglas that residents have collected 80 signatures on a petition they started at Tuesday's town meeting declaring that they are "disheartened" by legislators' focus on national issues such as global warming and the war in Iraq. ...Gerard Gingue joined with several other area residents in complaining about a loss of local control over spending. As she left the meeting Wednesday night, Marlene Somerville, a Victory School Board member, said that's her biggest beef, and she planned to write to Douglas about it. Before Wednesday's meeting started, Somerville and her husband, Dale, said they support Douglas and are frustrated by the Legislature. "I don't think they're doing much of anything," she said. "They spent too much time on global warming and fighting the war in Iraq," he said.

Only Moonlight for Vermont?
By Geoffrey Norman, Wall Street Journal, Friday, March 9, 2007

Vermont is already a relative good guy--its "carbon footprint" is fairly small. Why? Because the state's electricity comes largely from dams and a nuclear plant, called Vermont Yankee, located in the southeastern corner of the state. And here is where the discussion gets really interesting. We have all become accustomed to political anomalies. Democrats for balanced budgets, Republicans for Wilsonian foreign policies, etc., etc. Now we have, among other odd spectacles, global-warming zealots relentlessly bashing the best available alternative to burning fossil fuels to make electricity. 

Meanwhile, some serious environmentalists who once opposed nuclear power as a threat to the environment now support it as the most environmentally friendly means of producing large amounts of base-load power (i.e., that is available even when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining). Patrick Moore, among the founders of Greenpeace, is one of these converts, and he visited Vermont recently to make the nuclear case. Which, in Vermont, is not about building new plants but about extending the life of the one that is operating now.

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From Elsewhere

Endangered: Western Civilization
by Rebecca Hagelin, Heritage Foundation, March 9, 2007

When societies forget the fact that families are the very basis of civilization – that they are, in essence, society in a microcosm, reduced to its most fundamental building block – it's from that point that they begin a slow but unmistakable decline into helplessness and despair....For the time being, we're doing OK fertility-wise here in the U.S. Our fertility rate is 2.11 births per woman, right at what demographers consider replacement level. But other parts of the world are in serious trouble. According to the World Congress, the overall fertility rate for Europe is only 1.3. In Italy, it's 1.2. In Spain, 1.1. 

These kinds of numbers, quite frankly, spell doom for a country if left unchecked. There's a reason that columnist Mark Steyn calls his latest book "America Alone" – we're about the only Western nation not in the throes of what he calls a "death spiral." Consider Russia, with a fertility rate of 1.2. Britain is also below replacement level, at 1.6 births per woman. So is France, at 1.89 – and a third of those births are not of the French, but of the new Muslim community that has moved into the country. Plainly put, France will very soon become a country that is not French at all. 

It seems ridiculous to have to point out something so obvious, but a society that ceases to reproduce is on the road to extinction. "How can a declining population maintain a nation's infrastructure?" Carlson asks. "Who will man Europe's factories, farms and armies? Who will pay the taxes for essential social services? A birth dearth provides far more challenges than a population explosion."

Related: Facing the Islamist Menace: Mark Steyn’s new book is a welcome wake-up call. By Christopher Hitchens.

Heavy-Handed Putin
By Jonathan D. Strong, American Thinker, March 09, 2007

The evidence suggests that Mr. Putin and his FSB/KGB cronies are systematically killing dissent and any investigation into the Russian government's activities. It is also very apparent that Russia is aiding and abetting the enemies of the United States in the Middle East and throughout the world by supplying them with sophisticated weapons and technology. Russia is now going so far as to openly be assisting Iran in its nuclear program. In February of 2005, Russia and Iran agreed to Russia supplying fuel for Iran's nuclear reactor in Bushehr. The agreement called for Iran returning the spent rods from the reactor to Russia so that they would not be used for nuclear weapons. However, are we willing to believe both Russia and Iran are trustworthy non-proliferators?

VIDEO: The Great Global Warming Swindle
A BBC Documentary, March 9, 2007 

Are you green? How many flights have you taken in the last year? Feeling guilty about all those unnecessary car journeys? Well, maybe there's no need to feel bad. According to a group of scientists brought together by documentary-maker Martin Durkin, if the planet is heating up, it isn't your fault and there's nothing you can do about it. We've almost begun to take it for granted that climate change is a man-made phenomenon. But just as the environmental lobby think they've got our attention, a group of naysayers have emerged to slay the whole premise of global warming.

Ethanol as Biofuel "Implausible" for U.S., New Study Says
by CEI Staff

Biofuels are attracting increasing interest around the world, with some governments announcing commitments to biofuel programs as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and diversify energy sources.  Advocates of biofuel subsidies and mandates often point to Brazil as a model.  But in this careful analysis, Brazilian economist Marcus Renato S. Xavier finds similarities between his country’s bioethanol industry and that of the United States—but also many crucial differences.    He concludes that ethanol’s success in Brazil cannot be replicated in the United States. ...

  • In the U.S., corn-based ethanol does not compete in the market on the same basis as other fuels. American taxpayers today pay twice for ethanol: once in crop subsidies to corn farmers and again in a 51-cent subsidy for every gallon of ethanol. Without such a subsidy, ethanol simply would not be cost-competitive with gasoline.

  •  Corn-based ethanol produced in quantities large enough to displace a significant percentage of U.S. petroleum consumption could have significant environmental impacts.
  • How To Destroy America
    by Dick Lamm, March 25, 2006

    We know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Recently there was an immigration overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American's finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor by the name of Victor Davis Hansen talked about his latest book, Mexifornia, explaining how immigration - both legal and illegal - was destroying the entire state of California.

    Related: Mexifornia, Five Years Later, by Victor Davis Hanson

    Do We Really Need A Gen. Pelosi?
    Los Angeles Times Editorial,  March 12, 2007

    House Democrats have brought forth their proposal for forcing President Bush to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2008. The plan is an unruly mess: bad public policy, bad precedent and bad politics. If the legislation passes, Bush says he'll veto it, as well he should.

    Related: Opposition Undercuts Troops, Cheney Says of Spending Bill
    By Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New york Times, March 13, 2007

    Speak Softly, America, and Start Carrying a Bigger Stick
    by Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. Heritage Foundation, March 8, 2007

    Osama bin Laden and Ronald Reagan wouldn't have agreed on much. But both men understood one thing: Military weakness invites trouble. ''When people see a strong horse and a weak horse,'' bin Laden said, ''they naturally gravitate toward the strong horse.'' He (mistakenly) hoped to be seen as the strong horse and to portray the United States as a weak horse. Reagan made the point a bit differently. ''Of the four wars in my lifetime,'' he said, ''none came about because the U.S. was too strong.'' There's rarely a downside to being strong. But threats quickly emerge when a country is seen as too weak.

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