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True North Archives - June 22, 2010
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Featured Articles

Vermont’s Unsustainable Course
By Robert Maynard

It would appear that a more free marked oriented model would not only be more economically sustainable, but would be more likely to achieve the lofty goals of social justice as well.

The Lottery is a Winner
By Rob Roper

A new documentary film about the Harlem charter school lottery is being billed as a veritable wrecking ball to anti-school choice forces. The Lottery, by Madeline Sackler, exposes just how hostile the pubic school system, particularly the unions and their political allies, can be to the best interests of students and their families. 

Crisis!!! Fake, But Too Good to Waste
By Martin Harris

Well over a century ago, a rapidly urbanizing US (the Census of 1880 found farmers a minority in the labor force for the first time) decided, through the political process, that farming was too important to be left to the farmers to manage –with due credit to Clemenceau for his original comment about war and generals--  and that, in a tradition going back to the Pharaohs and recorded in the Bible, government should control the food supply and its price for consumers, then a royalty/priestly 2% minority, now a 98% voting majority. Various methods have been used since that post-Civil-War political/ideological turning point –deflationary monetary policy, surplus exports (rejected in the ‘20’s, adopted in the ‘50’s) , a fixed parity formula, floating parity, deficiency payments, emergency aid. As farmers responded with soaring productivity gains, over-supply and inadequate producer prices have been the central problem. In the early decades, farmer-quits weren’t a problem – indeed, as late as 1962, the USDA was still preaching about a surplus of farmers and a labor shortage for industry—but since the ‘30’s, the strategy has been of one of providing the least amount of aid needed to keep farmers producing, not quitting,  to ensure enough commodity supply to keep consumer food prices from rising as fast as urbanite incomes. Adjusted for inflation, farm income continues to drop while urban income doesn’t, so food-spending-as-a-percent-of-income for urbanites continues to shrink. From near 25% in the ‘50’s, it’s below 10% today. The 1951 $1 gallon of milk should cost $8.26 today. It doesn’t. Milk left the farm-gate at parity then. Today it doesn’t. Dairymen now lose money on milk production. Without some subsidy, some might quit. Supply might drop. Retail prices might rise. Consumers would go political.

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"For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State...."

-- Benito Mussolini

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

With Vermont Earning the Dubious Distinction of First Place, Northeastern States Dominate the Moocher Index
By Dan Mitchell, International Liberty, June 16, 2010

The Center for Immigration Studies recently put out a study arguing that immigration has had negative effects on California. One of their measures was a comparison of how many people in the state were receiving some form of welfare compared to other states. I found that data (see Table 3 of the report) very interesting, but not because of the immigration debate (I’ll leave others to debate that topic). Instead, I wanted to get a better understanding of the variations in government dependency. Is there a greater willingness to sign up for income redistribution programs, all other things being equal, from one state to another? The "all other things being equal" caveat is very important, of course, since the comparison produced by CIS may simply be an indirect measure of the factors that determine welfare eligibility. One obvious (albeit crude) way of addressing this problem is to subtract each state’s poverty rate to get a measure of how many non-poor people are signed up for income-redistribution programs. Let’s call this the Moocher Index.

Report: Vermonters Paying Too Much for Housing
From WCAX-TV, June 15, 2010

Realtor Bill Desautels agrees development restrictions keep the housing market tight and prices high. And he says Vermonters have tended to value their green space more than saving green. ...

"It is frustrating when we see a really solid housing developments be delayed and turned down, because people think it's too dense or too much traffic," Carpenter said.

The report also mentions that a persistently high proportion of Vermonters pay too much for housing-- 48 percent of renters and 39 percent of homeowners pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing costs. That ranks Vermont as the 7th worst state in the nation for housing costs.

Vermont Ranks High in Economic Performance, Low in Outlook
From Vermont Business Magazine, June 15, 2010

A new report by American Legislative Exchange Council shows that Vermont is ranked 22nd for economic performance and 49th for economic outlook. Though Vermont is ranked 48 for both tax burden and state minimum wage, it is ranked 8 for state liability system survey and 9 for sales tax burden. As states face their toughest budgetary climates in a generation, the authors of the report point out what states should and should not do to alleviate the fiscal pain. 

Construction Begins on Crown Point Bridge
From Denton Publications, June 16, 2010

The construction of a new Lake Champlain Bridge is much more than an engineering project.

"This is a critical link between two states," Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas said at a ground breaking ceremony marking the start of construction June 11. "Those who live and work in the area surrounding the Lake Champlain Bridge share family, friends and business relationships on both sides of the lake. The ease and timeliness of transportation across Lake Champlain is critical to their way of life and economy."

Bad Government At Its Worst
Caledonia Record, June 17, 2010

The Vermont Department of Corrections has to find a way to cut its $134.4 million budget for 2011 by $7 million. That sounds like a lot, but it is actually only a 5 percent cut. Andrew Pallito, commissioner of the Vermont corrections department, intends to get the money by reducing the inmate population of Vermont's prisons enough to save that much. Pallito's approaching release of hundreds of jailbirds in order to save money is bad government at its worst.

Vermont's judges' failure, amounting to a refusal, to jail serious offenders is already a joke among our neighbors, but this release goes to the middle of ludicrous. It renders useless any threat of imprisonment for most of our offenders. What's to fear when people who did what they did multiple times are getting out, not going in?

Words. Words. Who Said This?
From Vermont Tiger, June 9, 2010

So try to figure out the identity of the speaker as you read this....

.... will loosen the state's controls on the economy and abolish a key tax to spark a desperately needed "investment boom," ....

....  invited more competition and vowed less state intervention in the economy ....

The moves are designed to attract massive foreign investment, without which .... is doomed to stagnate ....

.... needs a real investment boom," .... "Creating suitable conditions for investors is, in effect, our most important goal. Today we are putting this goal at the center of our activities." To this end, .... said that starting next year .... will scrap the capital gains tax on long-term direct investment....

.... lamented the state's grip on the economy .... and even resorted to vivid imagery to drive home his point. "People often think that the person who picks apples does the main job, but in fact it is the one who plants the apple tree whose job is crucial," he said. "The state should not always pick the apples on its own. In a free economy there will always be people who will do it better and faster,"....

.... hopes to use innovation and high-technology to diversify .... economy and prepare it for future generations. During his speech, he waxed lyrical about .... as a future land of opportunity, "where people from around the world will flock in search of their particular dream." …

And given who is really in charge in Russia, once again we're being outflanked on the right by a former KGB agent....

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

U.S. Defense Can’t be at China’s Discretion
By Peter Brookes, Family Security Foundation, June 16, 2010

One of the most under-reported national security stories is the growing angst over our ability to continue to produce some high-tech components for our most advanced defense systems.

The parts in question are composed of "rare earth elements," which are found in high-value weapons and support platforms like missiles, destroyers, tanks, aircraft, radars and satellites.

Almost all rare earth elements, with out-of-this-world names like ytterbium and thulium, are currently mined and processed in China, a country challenging the United States for top billing on the world stage.

Geopolitical Weekly: The Kyrgyzstan Crisis and the Russian Dilemma
By Peter Zeihan, Strategic Forecasters, June 15, 2010

STRATFOR often discusses how Russia is on a bit of a roll. The U.S. distraction in the Middle East has offered Russia a golden opportunity to re-establish its spheres of influence in the region, steadily expanding the Russian zone of control into a shape that is eerily reminiscent of the old Soviet Union. Since 2005 when this process began, Russia has clearly reasserted itself as the dominant power in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine, and has intimidated places like Georgia and Turkmenistan into a sort of silent acquiescence.

But we have not spent a great amount of time explaining why this is the case. It is undeniable that Russia is a Great Power, but few things in geopolitics are immutable, and Russia is no exception.

Symposium: The World’s Most Wanted: A "Moderate Islam"
By Jamie Glazov, Front Page Magazine, June 10, 2010

In this special edition of Frontpage Symposium, we have invited four distinguished guests to discuss the question: Is there a moderate Islam? Our guests today are:

Timothy Furnish, a former U.S. Army Arabic interrogator, he is a consultant and author with a Ph.D. in Islamic History. He is currently working on a book on modern Muslim plans to resurrect the caliphate. His website, dedicated to Islamic eschatology, is

Tawfik Hamid, an Islamic thinker and reformer who is the author of Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam. A one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt, he was a member of Jemaah Islamiya, a terrorist Islamic organization, with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who later became the second in command of al-Qaeda. He is currently a senior fellow and chairman of the study of Islamic radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. is the President and Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). A devout Muslim, he served 11 years as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy. He is a nationally recognized expert in the contest of ideas against political Islam, American Islamist organizations, and the Muslim Brotherhood. He regularly briefs members of the House and Senate congressional anti-terror caucuses and has served as a guest lecturer on Islam to deploying officers at the Joint Forces Staff College.  Dr. Jasser was presented with the 2007 Director’s Community Leadership Award by the Phoenix office of the FBI and was recognized as a "Defender of the Home Front" by the Center for Security Policy. He recently narrated the documentary The Third Jihad, produced by PublicScope Films. His chapter, Americanism vs. Islamism is featured in the recently released book, The Other Muslims (Palgrave-Macmillan) edited by Zeyno Baran.

Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, is available now from Regnery Publishing, and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of the forthcoming book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).

A Rushed Afghan Troop Withdrawal Could Be Disastrous
Editors, Family Security Matters, June 16, 2010

The Taliban have only succeeded because they come from regions that have no official power structures to resist them. In regions where feudalism and tribalism are the main means of government, there will not be a long-term political solution.  The Taliban cannot be allowed to thrive, but military solutions alone cannot bring answers unless the social, tribal, economic and infrastructure problems are also addressed. Only when there is social stability, even in a worst-case scenario within a partitioned Afghanistan, will it be safe for Nato troops to leave.

Al Qaeda Operatives Killed in North Waziristan Strike
By Bill Roggio, The Long War Journal, June 17, 2010

The US killed two al Qaeda commanders and a Turkish foreign fighter during a Predator airstrike in North Waziristan earlier this month, a jihadist group stated.

Sheikh Ihsanullah, an "Arab al Qaeda military commander"; Ibrahim, the commander of the Fursan-i-Mohammed Group; and a Turkish foreign fighter known as Harun were killed in the June 10 airstrike in the village of Norak in North Waziristan.

Radical Islamist Group Is Returning to Chicago for Major Recruitment Drive
By Diane Macedo, Fox News, June 16, 2010

They're back. A radical Islamist group critics say has links to Al Qaeda is gearing up to host its second annual U.S. recruiting event.

The group, Hizb ut-Tahrir America, which is committed to establishing a caliphate, or international Islamic empire, kicked up controversy in Chicago last year with its first U.S. conference, "Fall of Capitalism & Rise of Islam."

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From Elsewhere

Oil: The Real Green Fuel
It’s counterintuitive, but oil is greener than "green" fuels, and the oil spill doesn’t change that fact.
By Jonah Goldberg, The National Review, June 16, 2010

Alas, I’m not talking about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As terrible as that catastrophe is, such accidents have occurred in U.S. waters only about once every 40 years (and globally about once every 20 years). I’m talking about the dead zone largely caused by fertilizer runoff from American farms along the Mississippi and Atchafalaya river basins. Such pollutants cause huge algae plumes that result in oxygen starvation in the Gulf’s richest waters, near the delta. ...

Indeed, as Steven Hayward notes in the current Weekly Standard, if policymakers continue to pursue biofuels in response to the current anti-fossil-fuel craze, these dead zones will get a lot bigger every year. A 2008 study by the National Academy of Sciences found that adhering to corn-based ethanol targets will increase the size of the dead zone by as much as 34 percent.

Don't Believe the Double-Dippers
By Alan Reynolds, Cato Institute, June 10, 2010

The only double-dip recession in modern times began during the election year of 1980, when President Jimmy Carter's newly appointed Fed Chairman Paul Volcker slashed the federal-funds rate to 9% that April from 17.5% in July. Inflation returned with a vengeance, so the Fed gradually reversed course by pushing the fed-funds rate above 19% by the time Ronald Reagan took office in January 1981. Are those currently predicting a double-dip recession expecting the Fed to raise interest rates to 19%?

It is also misleading to label this a "jobless" recovery, which indeed took place in the early 2000s. After the recession of 2001 ended that November, the number of private jobs continued to fall by 1.3 million through July 2003. Yet production continued to grow.

One Year After Its Bankruptcy, GM Is Still Married to the UAW
By Henry Payne, National Review, June 18, 2010

Detroit — They’re b-a-a-a-a-ck. Actually, they never left. And that’s the problem.

It’s fitting that — one year to the month since GM declared bankruptcy — the annual United Auto Worker’s convention is being held here amid renewed, militant calls that the Detroit Three give back last year’s labor concessions. In retrospect, the White House–engineered bankruptcy looks like a brilliant move, artfully dodging a prolonged bankruptcy of a major American industry in the middle of a national economic free-fall.

Obama's Gulf Speech Was Gusher of Goo
By Jonah Goldberg, American Enterprise Institute, June 16, 2010

In a peculiar instance of synchronicity, President Obama's Oval Office speech to the nation last night resembled the very calamity it was intended to address: Like the oil spewing into the Gulf, it began as a focused and narrow stream of words--and quickly spread out into an amorphous cloud of goo.

Related Article: The Gulf Spill, the Financial Crisis and Government Failure

Mike Pence and the Winning Back of America
By Ed Lasky, American Thinker, June 21, 2010

Mike Pence has been in the forefront of devising new policies for many years. Even before entering politics, he was president of a think tank. After entering politics, he has led the way on immigration reform (focusing on securing our borders and following and enforcing our laws as well as providing a way for honest immigrants to meet our labor needs), free speech (battling Democratic plans to impose the Fairness Doctrine on us -- that would be the death knell for talk radio and independent voices.  He battled the health care plan water boarded down our throats by Democrats  (see his Wall Street Journal op-ed, "This Law Will Not Stand"),  the budget (as he was in the forefront opposing the disastrous "stimulus" bill and has tried to prevent yet another bailout -- this time of spendthrift European nations who have avoided the tough choices need to bring this fiscal affairs in order).  He wants to stop "the freight train of big government " (a ringing phrase coined by him) before we are crushed by it. The big spending that is endemic in D.C. and has become a pandemic across state governments -he wants to end the waste of our money and restore fiscal sanity to the asylum that Democrats now run-into the ground.

Unity or Unanimity at Reformed Council?
By Jordan Ballor, Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, June 16, 2010

The compounding problem with the Accra Confession is that it takes the wrong side, the side that embraces an essentially neo-Marxist narrative of Third World alienation and victimization, and seeks "justice" in the form of retribution against First World villains. Far from promoting the kind of unity that is at the core of ecumenical efforts, this kind of rhetorical and ideological confessionalism drives apart those who ought to be joining together. It pits the rich against the poor, north against south, east against west, inserting the divisive language of economic class into the definition of the Christian church.

Network Morning Shows Rage Against BP CEO's Yachting Trip, Ignore Obama's Golf Outing
By Scott Whitlock, Media Research Center, June 21, 2010 

All three morning shows on Monday railed against BP CEO Tony Hayward for attending a yachting race in England on Saturday, but they found no such anger for Barack Obama's golf outing on the same day, ignoring the story.

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