North Archives - June 24, 2008
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By Bruce P. Shields
Secondary and primary schooling
in Vermont is organized as a State monopoly. That is, every town
and city must provide a school, in which all parents or guardians in that
jurisdiction are compelled under penalty to enroll every child of appropriate
age. The only exception regarding attendance is for children
whose parents provide alternatives entirely at their own expense.
The school committee collects operating funds under the police powers of
the State, which funds may be used exclusively for schools directly controlled
by that town committee. Thus, the same organization designs the program,
collects and disburses the funds under legal penalties, controls attendance,
evaluates and polices the results.
is the One 'Stuck In Neutral'
Gaye Symington officially
announced that she will run for governor in 2008. A major theme she tried
to sell in her kick-off speech and in subsequent appearances is that Vermont
is "stuck in neutral" and that a lack of leadership is what's keeping us
there. If Symington really believes this, she needs to take a hard look
at her own record.
By Martin Harris
"if"’s: if every dark cloud has its silver lining, and, if the opposite
of "no good deed goes unpunished" is "no bad deed goes unrewarded", maybe
the success of the Golden Dome folks in re-drawing the Vermont economy
with an objective of making a passive-income base more important than what
remains of an unloved active-income base, has gathered up one reward in
the form of a remarkably strong (compared to almost everywhere else) housing
market. It now seems that the housing-market slump sweeping the nation
has had less effect within Vermont than did the last real estate downturn,
which took place in the early 90’s and resulted in a temporary value slump
in the 10 to 15 percent neighborhood. Recent charts and tables, published
in such media venues as The Wall Street Journal, consistently show Vermont,
frequently right alongside North Dakota (for a different set of reasons),
among the States least burdened with distressed sub-prime mortgages, foreclosures,
unsold housing inventory, or price depression. Since this is an opinion
piece, here’s my opinion: it traces back to Vermont’s relatively new economic
landscape, with a politically-engineered high cost of entry and equally
high cost of staying resulting in a higher-than-average proportion of home-owners
wealthy enough to be unaffected by the various economic pressures affecting
the budgets of less-well-endowed folks elsewhere.
# # #
Week’s Mail Bag
Response to Martin Harris'
Martin Harris alleges that
other people are failing to disclose relevant information when it comes
to pre-k, so it is odd that he does not make it clear that Urie Bronfenbrenner's
article was written before 1974 (the original publication date) so it is
hardly the response of an "outraged critic" of the 1994 Bell Curve much
less an accurate summary of today's knowledge about preschool education.
It is also simply not true
that effects of pre-k are not evident beyond second grade. Many studies
find effects on school success well into high school. The Perry,
Abecedarian, and Chicago Parent Child (CPC) studies all have effects on
achievement far beyond second grade. Yes, they are smaller than the
very large initial effects, but these later effects are still substantial.
The so-called "fade-out"
to the extent that it is real and not an artifact of poor research methods
is due to the continued influence of other factors in children's lives,
the negative effects of family and community poverty that may drag kids
down somewhat and the positive effects of schools that give extra help
to those furthest behind, thus giving the control groups a boost (at a
higher cost, of course).
Also, it is not just about
test scores and school success, it is also about social skills, delinquency,
and crime, where preschool education programs also have been found to have
positive effects. Urie Bronfenbrenner did not know any of this in
Mary Barrosse Schwartz
Martin Harris Replies:
She's right the Bronfenbrenner
piece does in fact date from 1974, so why it was included in an anthology
produced to refute The Bell Curve (1994) escapes me. The only person who
would know is Race and IQ anthology editor Ashley Montague and he isn't
talking because he has assumed room temperature. Even if he could be made
to talk his contribution probably wouldn't be useful: his major "contribution"
to the question of race was the argument that it doesn't really exist,
and is only an evil construct dreamed up by mean and nasty people.
On the subject of tests purporting
to show that pre-K ed works, my observation is that in education one can
always find a study somewhere to prove what one wants. The vast majority
of the literature, including the 40+ year record of Head Start itself,
show that it doesn't. I learned in trying to follow the studies on the
merits of class size reduction, that the truly rigorous analyses of all
the studies (like those conducted by Eric Hanushek, formerly of U of Rochester,
now at the Hoover Institution) that they were ignored by education-establishment
types if they didn't support the desired finding, that smaller classes
are better, and that in some cases, as Hanushek describes in his detailed
analysis of the Tennessee Star Study, the findings were actually misrepresented
to state that class size reduction works, when in actuality it doesn't.
It seems to me that the same tactics are now being used to defend the pre-k
argument, in the face of the preponderance of evidence to the contrary.
"In America, we have this
strong bias toward individual action. You know, we idolize the John Wayne
hero who comes in to correct things with both guns blazing. But individual
actions, individual dreams, are not sufficient. We must unite in collective
action, build collective institutions and organizations." -- Barack
"It is a paradoxical truth
that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest
way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now... Cutting
taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous,
expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus." ---John F.
Kennedy in his 1963 speech to the Economics Club of New York.
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Messages Show Divide
By John Briggs, Burlington
Free Press, June 19, 2008
Burlington Telecom this week
released more than 200 letters and e-mails concerning Al-Jazeera English
at the request of The Burlington Free Press. The messages make clear that
culture clash is as fierce in Vermont
as it is elsewhere in the country. Those who want Al-Jazeera English taken
off the air in Burlington characterize it as anti-American and supportive
of terrorists, while many of those who approve its presence on Burlington
Telecom cable television cast Al-Jazeera English opponents as small-minded
and intolerant. The Free Press sought the letters under the provisions
of the state's Access to Public Information Law.
Good News is We Moved Up Three Positions
From VermontTiger.com, June
The bad news is we're still
only just above average in our rankings in the third bi-annual Milken Institute
Technology and Science Index. The index measures states relative competitiveness
when it comes to leveraging technology and science to promote economic
development. Vermont ranked 19th...behind all of our neighbors. Massachusetts
took the top spot with New Hampshire taking 9th and New York at 15th, and
lets not forget Connecticut at 7th.
Caledonia Record LTE, June
In a continuing attempt to
blame the oil companies for failing to pump enough of their product out
of the ground, Representative Welch's resident experts cited that the oil
companies are pumping oil from only a fraction of the property over which
they hold subsurface gas and oil leases. While this statistic is true,
it fails to explain the nature of these leases.
A subsurface gas and oil
lease is not an instrument which is executed after the property is determined
to contain petroleum deposits, it is an instrument of speculation that
gives the lessee (oil companies) specific rights of access to the land
to explore and pump out the oil IF the exploration shows that there are
deposits of gas and oil present. At an average cost of a few dollars an
acre, this is a cost effective way for the oil companies to ensure that,
if there is anything there, they will have enumerated rights to enter the
property and drill exploratory or production wells and, if oil is discovered,
they will pay an additional, preagreed, royalty to the lessor. If there
is nothing to pump out of the ground, it is only natural that the oil companies
would not pump the nothing that is there, hence the fractional activity
on leased land. They are not in the business of seeking out failure through
trying to pump crude oil out of dry holes.
From VermontTiger.com, June
It is not wise to politicize
one's curriculum. Social studies curriculum should not become a battleground
of special interest groups. Currently in the United Kingdom, Jews and Muslims
are battling over whether the Holocaust should be dropped from that country's
official curriculum. TAG is an organization that should feel free to promote
its cause, but asking for legislative mandates is not the way to go. The
Legislature's education committees are busy enough making snowboarding
the state sport and taking away school choice from pregnant teens.
Record Editorial Comment
Caledonian Record, June
The Vermont Public Interest
Group (VPIRG) and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) have decided the
best way to help Vermonters save money on electricity is to make it more
expensive. They've proposed increasing the annual budget of Efficiency
Vermont (EV), the administrator of the state's energy efficiency programs.
Role: Protecting Us From Helping Our Children
From VermontTiger.com, June
Although many thought that
Act 60, and Brigham, meant that the state would and should provide the
funding to increase spending among low spending districts, others were
concerned that some districts were spending too much and ought to be prevented
from doing this, even though the higher-than-average education spending
was paid for entirely by local taxpayers.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
On Its Heels As Iraqi Government Gets Stronger
From Flopping Aces, June
For the first time since
2003, Iran has stumbled in Iraq. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s decision
to confront Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Basra and Sadr City last month
caught Tehran off guard. The Mahdi Army lost more than face: It surrendered
large caches of arms, and many of its leaders fled or were killed or captured.
Crucially, the militias lost strategic terrain — Basra and its chokehold
on the causeway between Kuwait and Baghdad and Iraq’s oil exports; Sadr
City and the threat it posed to Baghdad security. Visiting Basra this month,
I saw city walls covered with pro-Maliki graffiti. Commerce is returning
to the city center. Trouble spots remain in both places, as Tuesday’s car
bombings show, but the Mahdi Army’s unchallenged hold has ended.
and NATO Forces Rout Taliban
From Reuters UK, Jun 19,
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters)
- Afghan and NATO-led forces killed or wounded hundreds of Taliban on Thursday
in an offensive to clear the militants from the outskirts of Kandahar city,
the provincial governor said.
Qaeda's Vietnam: Melting Down in Mesopotamia
By Rich Lowry, NY Post,
June 17, 2008
LATELY, the Iraq War has
looked more and more like another Vietnam - not for us, but for al Qaeda.
CIA Director Michael Hayden says the terror group has suffered "near-strategic
defeat" in Iraq. It has been routed from Anbar, Diyala and Baghdad provinces,
and now is getting a beating in its last stronghold of Mosul, in the north.
It is reviled by the Iraqi populace, and its downward trajectory began
with indigenous uprisings at its expense.
"War for Oil" About to Pay Off - Finally!
By "RickG", LonestarTimes.com,
June 19, 2008
Four Western oil companies
are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will
return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization
as Saddam Hussein rose to power. American involvement in rebuilding Iraq’s
oil inustry is good news for both countries - the U.S. companies now have
a replacement for lost markets in other locales, and Iraq hopes to utilize
the westerners’ skills and technologies to boost daily production by half
a million barrels.
Nations May Have Nuclear Blueprints
From CBS News, June 15,
There's concern tonight
that designs for nuclear weapons may be in the hands of regimes and rogue
groups that up to now have been struggling to build nuclear arsenals.
CBS' Early Show Correspondent Thalia Assuras reports from Washington.
A former U.N. weapons inspector
is set to reveal publicly that blueprints for nuclear devices were found
on computers belonging to an international nuclear smuggling ring -- two
years ago. The illicit group was once led by Pakistani scientist, A.Q.
School Draws Fire
Protest follows arrest
of top official on obstruction charge
By Gary Emerling, Washington
Times, June 18, 2008
The arrest of a top official
at a Saudi-financed school in Northern Virginia has fueled further criticism
of the institution following findings released last week that say its textbooks
contained violent and intolerant language.
# # #
Democrat calls for Nationalizing Oil Refinery Industry
By Rick Moran, American
Thinker, June 19 2008
The worrying thing is that
the Congressman - Maurice Hinchey - isn't getting laughed out of Washington
for proposing a nationalization scheme for the refinery industry. Even
at the height of liberalism's power back in the 1960's, no Democrat would
have seriously entertained the notion.
Greatest Story Never Told": Today’s Economy in Perspective
By Pat Tomey, President
of the Club for Growth
There is a debate going on
today over whether our economy is in recession. Polls show sagging public
confidence. But some perspective is sorely needed. The fact of the matter
is that we in the United States, and to a lesser degree the entire world,
have just lived through—and continue to live in—the greatest period of
prosperity in human history. Over the last 25 years, more wealth has been
created, more people have been lifted out of poverty, standards of living
have been elevated more dramatically, and the quality and length of life
have improved, more than ever before in recorded history. Unfortunately,
as Larry Kudlow says, this is "the greatest story never told." We need
to start telling the story, and also to think about its causes.
Needs 23 More Signatures
By Wendy Schibener, Human
Events, June 19, 2008
Congress is just 23 signatures
away from a vote that could finally end the archaic Fairness Doctrine and
create a permanent free-market system for talk radio. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.)
continues to urge congress members to sign the Broadcaster
Freedom Act discharge petition. The petition will "prevent the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) from repromulgating the fairness doctrine,"
originally initiated in the 1930s under Franklin Roosevelt.
Oil Primes Political Pump For New U.S. Drilling
By Terry Jones, Investor's
Business Daily, June 18, 2008
The president's bold plan
caps several days of significant events that appear to mark a major turnaround
for U.S. energy policy. They include:
• A change of heart by GOP
presidential candidate John McCain, who — after opposing offshore drilling
— vowed on Tuesday to go after reserves off the coast. He also says he
wants to build at least 45 new nuclear power plants.
• A similar reversal by Florida
Gov. Charlie Crist, a longtime foe of drilling off his state's coast, who
also changed his mind this week because "Florida families are suffering."
• A new Rasmussen poll released
Tuesday (see chart) showing 67% of Americans now favor drilling for more
oil, with 64% believing it will lead to lower prices.
Of Not Extending Bush Cuts: Return To Historically High Taxes
By J.T. Young, Investor's
Business Daily, June 16, 2008
Despite liberal condemnation
of the Bush tax cuts, virtually no one embraces a complete return to their
pre-cut level — including the Democratic majority in Congress and both
pending presidential nominees. There is good reason. Implicit in this rejection
is the admission that they were too high to return to. While the media
won't say it now, and certainly wouldn't then, those supposedly halcyon
days of fiscal policy rested on historically high tax levels.
the Real Economic Legacy of JFK
Pushes Windfall Profits
By Neal Boortz, Boortz.com,
June 10th, 2008
Barack Obama has been toying
with the idea of imposing a tax on windfall profits on US oil companies,
and it will definitely be a part of his presidential platform. Take a look
at this latest statement he made in Raleigh, North Carolina. He said,
"I’ll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits,
and we’ll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy
costs and other bills." Gee, that sounds like a wealth distribution
plan if I’ve ever heard one. Rob from the rich to give to the "poor."
Ok .. first of all, just
what are "windfall profits?" Does anyone have a handy definition?
Might I offer one? Damn right I might. Try this: "A
tax levied on a industry by a politician eager to pander to economically
ignorant voters who, for whatever reason, are upset with that industry."
By David Brooks, The New
York Times, June 20, 2008
Fast Eddie Obama didn’t just
sell out the primary cause of his life. He did it with style. He did it
with a video so risibly insincere that somewhere down in the shadow world,
Lee Atwater is gaping and applauding. Obama blamed the (so far marginal)
Republican 527s. He claimed that private donations are really public financing.
He made a cut-throat political calculation seem like Mother Teresa’s final
steps to sainthood.
# # #