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True North Archives - June 26, 2007
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Featured Articles

A Better standard of Living Through Increased Productivity 
By Bruce Shields

The reality of farming today is quite different from the bucolic or arcadian image which Vermont tourist officials and politicians enjoy projecting.  The big question for agriculture in Vermont is whether the arcadian vision of politicians can co-exist with our reality.   And the issue for society at large is how to ensure the continuing distribution of the benefits of improving productivity.

Culture Matters
by Tom Licata

It's our cultural values and attitudes that really undermine the economic growth needed to maintain our desired standard of living. Vermont has developed an insular and protective armor from anyone or any market force that might disrupt its solidarist and consensualist aims.  Mr. Phelps best describes what I perceive as our greatest roadblock to future economic growth and prosperity:  "There is an intellectual current elevating community and society over individual engagement and personal growth, which springs from anti-materialist and egalitarian strains in Western culture."

Politics as Usual: Al Gore Weighs in on Vermont’s Climate Change Bill By Pete Behr

No sooner had Jim Douglas vetoed the "climate change" bill than Vermont Democrats enlisted Al Gore to lobby for a veto override. Never mind that Al has probably never read the bill, which is long on wishful thinking and short on reality. (That being said, maybe he would like it.)

Defining Productivity Down (III)
By Martin Harris

...[E]ducators well know that, by conventional measures of productivity –input costs versus output results—public education has not been doing well for the last three or four decades: in fact, it’s the only American economic sector to show a productivity decline over that time span, as reported, most recently, by Harvard University economics professor and education researcher Caroline Hoxby, who documents a 60% productivity decline since 1970. Thus it becomes important to change the definition of productivity, if possible, by trying to persuade taxpayers, for example, that electronic gadgetry investment equates to educational establishment productivity gains.

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"Tis a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own."  --  Benjamin Franklin

"Many of you are well enough off that . . . the tax cuts may have helped you. We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." -- Hillary Clinton

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

VTGOP Challenges Welch to Come Clean on Earmarks

The Vermont Republican Party challenges Peter Welch to follow the lead of fellow Democrats, Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Barak Obama, by voluntarily disclosing to the public all of his requested earmarks (if any).

The War On Poverty Redux
Caledonian Record Editorial, June 22, 2007

In the mid-1960s, President Lyndon Johnson announced the War on Poverty. It was bruited to be the war to end poverty forever. Johnson and the Democratic Congress passed dozens of bills and measures to end poverty. ... They were all miserable failures. They bred the highest rates of illegitimacy we've ever seen, second and third generations of welfare dependent families, millions more welfare recipients than we had before them, geometric increases in welfare fraud, and crime rates that went through the roof. It was only in the Reagan and Bush years that we got welfare reform that eliminated millions in welfare dependencies that had become entitlements to the poor. By limiting the length of time that the freeloaders could freeload, after which they had to go to work, those administrations successfully reversed the whirlwind of abuses that Lyndon Johnson had unleashed, and they reduced the welfare rolls by literally millions.

Shocked VT Townsfolk appealing appraisals
Rutland Herald, June 21, 2007

The first day of hearings with 400 unhappy or just curious property owners in Springfield was held Wednesday. Residents were polite or perplexed about the values assigned to their property, particularly when they compared their homes to their neighbors. Associates in Municipal Tax Assessment LLC conducted the $200,000 reappraisal in Springfield, the first in town in 20 years. The town, like many others in the state, was forced to reappraise because of the threat of loss of state education financing.

Related: Essex residents question assessments

Home Schooling: A Surprising Success
Caledonian Record Editorial, June 19, 2007

About 20 years ago, an obscure practice in education began to become a movement. Today, it is a major player in education circles all over the country. We refer to home schooling, the choice of single families or small groups of families to reject public schools in favor of educating their own children at home. It has always been there, but until relatively recently, the popular perception of parents who would home school their kids was that they probably were religious nuts or social eccentrics, rather like nudists or communal-living types.

How Americans Rate Their Own Morality
Caledonia Record Editorial, June 20, 2007

A Gallup poll that is taken every year is yielding some pessimistic conclusions. Principal among these is that Americans believe that our core moral values and beliefs are poor and getting worse. That contrasts with an upward blip following 9-11, when Americans thought for a time that our moral values and beliefs were improving. It didn't last, though, and our self-image is deteriorating now.

Funding Education in Vermont: An Empirical Analysis
by Hugh Kemper,, June 19, 2007

The debate about education -- and its funding -- in Vermont often amounts to a kind of groping and stumbling through a fog of statistics and rival assertions.  We lack consensus on a solution, not least because there is no shared, objective definition of the problem.  We don't know exactly where we are.  Or how we got here.  Hugh Kemper, a friend and contributor to this site, has spent -- in the best citizen/volunteer tradition -- a great deal of time and energy attempting to correct this deficiency.  We are pleased to publish this report based on his diligent research and analysis (along with an executive summary and end notes) and to do what we can to see that his study reaches the widest possible audience.

Related: Study: Staffing drives budgets

The Real Vermont Yankee ‘Sweetheart’ Deal
By Brian Cosgrove,, June 21, 2007

Upon purchasing Vermont Yankee in 2002, Entergy entered into a ten-year agreement to provide one-third of Vermont’s power at advantageous, fixed prices. These prices are now well below the New England market and have already saved Vermonters nearly $200 million in electricity costs. ... The Vermont Department of Public Service estimates that under the current 10-year power contract, Entergy’s Vermont customers will save $668 million from 2002 to 2012. This is the real "sweetheart deal" between the State of Vermont and Vermont Yankee.

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Freedom Under Fire: The Global War on Terrorism

Priceless Picture
This amazing picture has drawn a lot of comments from readers of the Nashville paper, The Tennessean. See one letter below.

Dear Tennessean:

The Tennessean's April 5 photograph of young Christian Golczynski accepting the American flag from Marine Lt. Col. Ric Thompson is one of the most moving and emotion provoking images I have ever seen.

My wife and I attended funeral services for Christian's father, Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski, on April 4, along with our six year-old son, dozens of Marines, and several hundred others who came to pay tribute to this fallen hero.

As one would expect, many of your readers were touched by this incredible picture. Staff Sergeant Golczynski had previously served one full tour in Iraq . Shortly before his death on March 27 he wrote to his family that he had volunteered to do this a second time due to our deep desire to finish the job we started.  In his letter he said, "We fight and sometimes die so that our families don't have to." Tragically, Staff Sergeant Golczynski had only two weeks remaining on his second tour.

We look at the photograph of Christian every day. It is displayed prominently in our home.  Our hearts ache for Christian and for all those who have lost loved ones in this controversial conflict.

Our nation is at a historical crossroads.  Do we call an end to the struggle in Iraq or press on? Staff Sergeant Golczynski eloquently told his son how he felt about not giving up.  Perhaps there is a lesson for all of us in this man's life and the choices he made. He was undeniably a man of tremendous courage and conviction.  America must now choose whether to complete the job.

When looking at the face of Christian Golczynski I am reminded that doing what is right is not always easy and doing what is easy is not always right.  Christian's dad knew that too.

James Drescher
Franklin , TN

Please pray for this family, all our troops and their families.

These Two Islamic Movements Bear Watching
National Catholic Register, June 22, 2007

Like Christianity, the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries have been the historical period in which Islam has struggled with its response to modernity. One such response is "Islamism," an attempt to return to a "pure" Islam based on the shariah, and to impose it by force if necessary. Another has been a wholesale embrace of Western-style modernization, the most prominent example of which is Kemal Atatürk's secularism in Turkey. Yet another alternative, albeit one with a much lower media profile, is what scholars call "neo-Sufism," which amounts to an attempt to blend the best elements of modernity with fidelity to basic Islamic values. This movement attracts less attention because it doesn't produce fireworks, but it's a significant presence within Islam, and some experts believe it may be the best way out of the present crisis.

Al-Qaida's End?
Investor's Business Daily Editorial, June 22, 2007

What needs to be said is this is one of the war's largest operations to date, and perhaps the most significant. If successful, it could push al-Qaida out of Iraq. It also might lay the groundwork for an eventual war-ending peace. This operation also stands out because the U.S.-led assault force has explicitly made it a goal to "eliminate" the enemy — not to let it slip away, then watch as it returns to bring more chaos and terror to Diyala province.

Iran on a Collision Course
By James Lewis, The American Thinker, June 21, 2007

Unless something unexpected happens, Iran and the West are on a collision course. The key to the coming confrontation is a basic diplomatic fact. Israel has a widely recognized casus belli against Iran, having been threatened with national destruction by Ahmadi-Nejad and his boss numerous times. The conflict is therefore likely to start with an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities and their defenses.

True or False: We Are Losing The War Against Radical Islam
By Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, July 2-9, 2007 issue

In the two decades before 9/11, Islamic radicalism flourished, while most governments treated it as a minor annoyance rather than a major security threat. September 11 changed all that, and subsequent bombings in Bali, Casablanca, Riyadh, Madrid and London forced countries everywhere to rethink their basic attitude. Now most governments around the world have become far more active in pursuing, capturing, killing and disrupting terrorist groups of all kinds. The result is an enemy that is without question weaker than before, though also more decentralized and amorphous.

The Retreat of the West?
By Jonathan D. Strong, The American Thinker, June 18, 2007

The consequences of retreat from the Middle East will result in Iranian and/or Islamo-fascism filling the power vacuum left by the West in the region.  This probability will have dire consequences for the West politically, economically, and strategically. It is imperative that the West, led by the United States, counteract the offensive taking place against Western interests in the Middle East.  Fostering democracy is a worthy goal, but it must follow, not precede,  the defeat of Islamic extremism on the battlefield and in the hearts and minds of the people in Muslim countries.

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From Elsewhere

Voters Showing Buyer's Remorse
Investor's Business Daily, June 21, 2007

Like the victim of a slick used car salesman tricked into buying a lemon, Americans wish they could return the Democratic Congress their votes bought: Confidence in Congress has hit an all-time low of 14%.

U.N. Says Government Must Control Land Use
By Henry Lamb, Freedom21 Conference speaker, June 23, 2007

Here's a message to Congress: Quit trying to play God with your global warming fantasies, and get busy eliminating the earmarks for your pet projects; close the borders to illegals; fully fund our military. And for the sake of every American, and future generations, publicly disavow the notion that "Private land ownership contributes to social injustice," and abandon the idea that "Public control of land use is indispensable!"

Conservative Media Bias
American Conservative Union

The problem for conservatives is non-conservative media parading as conservative. The editors of the Weekly Standard dominate television as presumed leaders of conservative opinion. Yet, its professed editorial philosophy is "national greatness" conservatism, which even its editor Bill Kristol admitted at its founding had no mass base among conservatives. Its executive editor, Fred Barnes, is best known for his writing on the benefits of "big government" conservatism, although he sometimes is concerned about its rate of growth. While this editorial position is a legitimate one and deserves a voice, it has nothing to do with the conservatism devised by Bill Buckley, Frank Meyer and Ronald Reagan. Big government conservatism is flying false colors for those who do not read closely and the limited government conservative majority could use a voice to guide them through its executive opinions.

Freedom at Issue: 'Free' is a Relative Term in America
Steven Greenhut, Sr., editorial writer, The Orange County Register, June 24, 2007

Clearly, by comparison with most countries, Americans do pretty well. There's no Gestapo, dictator or prison camps for dissidents. There's talk of building a wall at the border, but to keep people from coming in, not to keep them from getting out. Still, I think Americans would benefit from thinking more closely about the state of our liberty. Every few years, I write a column that updates the erosion of our freedoms. It mostly deals with simple, everyday stuff, but it's rather telling. Here is my latest installment:

Sen. Hillary Clinton an Artful Dodger
By Ron Fournier, The Associated Press, June 20, 2007

Slick Hillary? Former President Clinton earned the nickname "Slick Willy" for his mastery in the political arts of ducking and dodging. He had a knack for convincing people on both sides of an issue that he agreed with them. His wife may not be as smooth, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is doing a passable impression of the ever-parsing former president.

The Globalist Rule of Law
By Patrick Wood, Freedom.Org, June 21, 2007

To the global elite, the meaning of the phrase "Rule of Law" has been redefined according to a global philosophy that does not embrace the Sovereignty of nation-states nor the U.S. Constitution.

Dues and Don'ts: For Unions, Coercion Over Persuasion
By George F. Will, The Washington Post, June 20, 2007

Democracy is rule by persuasion, but the unpersuasive often try to coerce the unpersuaded. Recent days have provided two illustrations of this tendency, both of them pertaining to labor unions, whose decades of declining membership testify to their waning power to persuade workers that unions add more value to workers' lives than they subtract. Failing unions, like failing industries, turn to government for protection in the form of coercion. Failing industries have traditionally sought corporate welfare in the form of tariffs (coercion of consumers). Unions seek laws to confer what their persuasiveness cannot convince people to consent to.

Related: Card Tricks - Harry Reid hopes to help unions deprive workers of their right to vote

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