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True North Archives - August 04, 2009
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Featured Articles

Freedom Will Find a Way
By Robert Maynard

Free market optimists like Larry Kudlow and George Gilder are not the first to insist that prosperity and individual initiative often finds a way to triumph even in the face of folly and numerous obstacles placed in the way. This week in our quotable section, we have included a relevant quote from Adam Smith’s "Inquiry Into the Wealth of Nations".

Penumbras and Emanations II
By Martin Harris

At some risk of over-simplification I conclude, based on first-hand observation, that the intellectual make-up of the planning and zoning world, from global theorists to local regulators, has changed markedly in the last few decades. It used to include a much higher percentage of participants coming out of a left-brain engineering, quantitative-analysis, fact-based background. Now, I’d guess, the p&z field is dominated by right-brain folks, more highly skilled in things verbal, pictorial, and symbolic. If that guess is accurate, it explains why efforts within the p&z discipline, from the academic end to the grass-roots end, aimed at popularizing "performance-standards" zoning, have shown a steady decline in acceptance over the last four decades or so. After all, assigning measurable quantitative values to all the criteria which planning and zoning are intended to manage is pretty much the characteristic of left-brain, not right-brain, thinking.

Whistling Past our Graveyard
By Linda Kirker

The latest state revenue downgrade (another $28 million for this fiscal year and $23 million more for 2011) demonstrates just how right Governor Douglas was to veto the supermajority Democrats'  unrealistic and unsustainable spending. It demonstrates just how right all House Republicans and Independents were to support the Governor in opposing the Democrats' budget. And it demonstrates just how dangerous it is for one party to have total control of our government. Jim Douglas' veto was, as we know, overridden by the Democrat/Progressive supermajorities, and the result is what we have today.

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"The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition, when suffered to exert itself with freedom and security is so powerful a principle that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often incumbers its operations; though the effect of these obstructions is always more or less either to encroach upon its freedom, or to diminish its security."

--Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations par. IV.5.82

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Largest Captive Insurance Conference to be Held in Burlington
From July 30 2009

Captive insurance professionals from throughout the United States and around the world will gather in Burlington, Vermont for the world's largest captive insurance conference, August 11 - 13, 2009 at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center and the UVM Davis Center. The event is the 24th Annual Conference hosted by the Vermont Captive Insurance Association.

Gay marriage backers spent big in Vt.
By John Curran, The Associated Press, July 28, 2009

The leading proponent of Vermont’s gay marriage bill spent about $294,000 on lobbying and advertising in advance of the Legislature’s vote — more than seven times as much as opponents did, according to disclosure forms filed Monday.

Political shell game in full swing with VY
From Vermont Tiger, August 1, 2009

But we know a political shell game when we see it. What we can expect is more of the same. Mr. Shumlin can be expected to push the same political buttons he’s been pushing for the last several years and if anyone expects him to be pushed over into Vermont Yankee’s corner because of the sweetness of the deal struck with the state’s utilities, then they rush to the corner store and buy the winning lottery ticket that’s been set aside.

Go After The Delinquent Taxpayers
Caledonia Record Editorial, July 28, 2009

One thing is for sure. Property taxes in Vermont are way too high. They were in 1990 and they are today. Similar delinquency totals 20 years apart aren't a simple coincidence. They are the result of tax and spend politicians dominating Montpelier for the last 20 years.

Tweet If You're Happy
From Vermont Tiger, July 29, 2009

UVM researchers, computer scientist Chris Danforth and mathematician Peter Dodds, looked at 10 million blog sentences that began "I feel... " or "I am feeling..." They scored the words in the sentences, compiled averages, and looked for patterns, or mood swings — over the course of a year, say, or over the days of the week.

Uh, huh. There is much to be said about blogs and one can learn a lot by reading and, even, studying some of them. But the key to happiness?

Blogs, it turns out, are not the end of the journey. There are also tweets to be studied for insights into the nature of human happiness. Seems Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius and Kant, and all the poets in all of time – up to now – were just groping around in a dark and primitive analog age waiting for the dawn of the digital enlightenment.

Vote Yes And Get Out Of The Way
Caledonia Record Editorial, July 31, 2009

When the 2010 Vermont legislative session begins in January, the first order of business should be a vote to grant Vermont Yankee's wish to pursue an operating license extension. The vote can be held on the first day back, and it should be unanimous.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

"Music, Chess, and Other Sins"
From the Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2009

In the United States, Muslim communities and Islamist advocacy groups are demanding establishment and support of Arabic and Muslim schools. In New York City, controversy erupted over the charter Arabic-language Khalil Gibran International Academy after exposure of the radical associations and statements of its principal Deborah Almontaser,[1] and over Minnesota's Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy after an investigative reporter exposed Islamist indoctrination in the state-funded school.[2] Expansion of the Islamic Saudi Academy in Virginia has also come under fire after exposure of textbooks preaching hate and intolerance.[3] While Muslim schools in the United States are a relatively new phenomenon, in the United Kingdom they are better established. In February 2009, Civitas, a London-based think tank dedicated to the discussion of social problems and civic society, published a 154-page report,[4] excerpted below, exploring the challenge to social cohesion presented by many Muslim schools in the United Kingdom. There are twenty-four Saudi schools in the United Kingdom alone; many of the other 132 registered Muslim schools have Saudi ties.

The Situation of Post Election Iran
A Briefing by Ali Alfoneh, Middle East Forum, July 21, 2009

According to Alfoneh, we are witnessing the end of the Iranian theocracy. The power of the Revolutionary Guard has grown to such an extent that they are now more powerful than the clergy. There are two potential futures for Iran. Iran could become a democracy—this is what most of the protestors want. The other, more likely, possibility is that the Guard will successfully quash the democratic movement, and Iran will transform into a military dictatorship.

In his view, Iran's election fraud was a calculated move by the Revolutionary Guard. For years, the Guard has been accumulating power under the pretext of preventing a "Velvet Revolution"—a Western-backed takeover by democratic forces. Alfoneh noted that, while Iran has a long history of election fraud, Ahmadinejad (himself a former Revolutionary Guardsman) was unusually blatant in stealing the 2009 election. The transparency of the fraud incited the democratic forces to action, thus giving the Guard an excuse to seize power.

How We’ll Win in Afghanistan
Gen. Petraeus knows how to defeat an insurgency. But he will need congressional support.
By Bing West, Task Force Chosin, Afghanistan, The Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2009

War is not complicated. You have to separate the guerrilla forces from the population and kill them until they no longer want to continue. Al Qaeda, dominated by Arabs, is finished inside Afghanistan. The Taliban are Afghans, to be dealt with by Afghans. As he did in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus wants to recruit local forces to protect their own villages. That will expand the Afghan forces to 300,000 and stabilize the situation. On patrols, Afghan soldiers spot the enemy 10 times more frequently than do coalition solders. Afghan soldiers are brave, hardy, ill-disciplined, individualistic, temperamental and trustworthy.

A year from now, coalition forces should be able to gradually withdraw, replaced by robust support and adviser units embedded in Afghan security forces. We shouldn’t make this a NATO war, allowing the Afghans to stand back. We’re outsiders, no matter how many schools we build or cups of tea we drink.

North Carolina: Meet Taqiyya Jihad
By Dr. Walid Phares, Family Security Matters, Aug 1, 2009

With shock and malaise, Americans are discovering that their country is penetrated by Jihadi terrorists, particularly those we call "homegrown." Over the past few months, several alarming cases have been revealed by law enforcement. Not only the frequency of these revelations but also the type of Jihadi cells are teaching the public that something very troubling is happening within the homeland: the surge of a threat deserving a greater attention than the current attitude dispensed by the administration.

It’s Crunch Time for Israel on Iran
After Years of Failed Diplomacy No One Will Be Able to Call an Attack Precipitous.
By Michael John Bolton, The Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2009

Legions of senior American officials have descended on Jerusalem recently, but the most important of them has been Defense Secretary Robert Gates. His central objective was to dissuade Israel from carrying out military strikes against Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities. Under the guise of counseling "patience," Mr. Gates again conveyed President Barack Obama’s emphatic thumbs down on military force.

The public outcome of Mr. Gates’s visit appeared polite but inconclusive. Yet Iran’s progress with nuclear weapons and air defenses means Israel’s military option is declining over time. It will have to make a decision soon, and it will be no surprise if Israel strikes by year’s end. Israel’s choice could determine whether Iran obtains nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.

Islamizing Egyptian Education: Unsteady Egypt
From The Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2009

A recent study by Adel Guindy published in the Coptic weekly Watani[1] shows that rather than being a pole of opposition to Islamism, the Egyptian government has Islamized its curriculum, perhaps to accommodate Egypt's growing Islamist base, which has hitherto provided some support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Guindy, writing through a prism of rights for Coptic children, demonstrates Islamist religious indoctrination throughout much of the ostensibly secular Arabic language curriculum and provides examples of lessons encouraging students to limit friendship to co-religionists and assigning students to search for hadith (the sayings of and anecdotes about the Prophet Muhammad) and Qur'anic verses. A small sample is provided here.[2] — The Editors.

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From Elsewhere

The Problem with "Business Ethics"
By Samuel Gregg D.Phil., Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, July 29, 2009

For several decades, there has been no shortage of ethics-courses for aspiring business leaders at innumerable business schools. Naturally, as long as people have free will, no formation can guarantee that business executives won’t sometimes make imprudent or simply wrong decisions. But the sheer number of bad decisions and, in some instances, morally-evil actions by some business leaders before and during the financial crisis must surely cause us to reassess the content of business ethics classes.

A brief perusal of any number of business schools’ curricula soon indicates that some are doing excellent work in this area. Generally, however, the picture is discouraging. Business schools have not proved immune from the tide of ethical relativism – and the political correctness that often substitutes for serious moral reflection – that has swept the West since the 1960s.

Disaster in the Making
Obama’s repeated demonstrations of his amateurism and immaturity.
By Thomas Sowell, National Review, July 29, 2009

Many people are rightly worried about what this administration’s reckless spending will do to the economy in our time and to our children and grandchildren, to whom a staggering national debt will be passed on. But if the worst that Barack Obama does is ruin the economy, I will breathe a sigh of relief.

He is heading this country toward disaster on many fronts, including a nuclear Iran, which has every prospect of being an irretrievable disaster of almost unimaginable magnitude. We cannot put that genie back in the bottle — and neither can generations yet unborn. They may yet curse us all for leaving them hostages to nuclear terror.

They're Coming For Your Tonsils
From Investor's Business Daily, July 29, 2009

Health Costs: Lawyers are responsible for more unneeded procedures than "greedy" doctors. But instead of capping malpractice awards, bureaucrats will soon decide which treatments are OK and whether you're worth it.

The Politics of ‘Speculation’
Some pre-emptive scapegoating over rising oil prices.
From The Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2009

There is an alternative to the market price—it’s called price controls. And the danger is that this is where we’re headed politically. If curbing speculation by limiting trader positions or restricting the ability of "non-commercial" buyers to trade is a politically acceptable way to dampen volatility (remember the onions), the logical next step is a political diktat that oil will not be bought or sold above a certain price.

Truth is, we need more speculators, not less. They’re the people who can help prices find the right level, because there is no "right" level other than the one the market gives us. And that’s why, in turn, excessive speculation is nothing more—or less—than a convenient fiction for when prices don’t move the way politicians would like.

Are Republicans the Economic Pessimists?
What’s their strategy when Obama takes credit for the recovery?
By Larry Kudlow, National Review, July 28, 2009

Senator DeMint told me during our interview that the economy is getting better mainly because of the corrective forces of free-market capitalism in the private free-enterprise sector, and not from all this government spending and borrowing. Abstracting from the Fed’s big stimulus effort, he’s right. But the White House is going to take credit for economic recovery anyway, and that’s the newest political challenge for the GOP.

Suborned in the U.S.A.
The birth-certificate controversy is about Obama’s honesty, not where he was born.
By Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, July 30 2009

The point has little to do with whether Obama was born in Hawaii. I’m quite confident that he was. The issue is: What is the true personal history of the man who has been sold to us based on nothing but his personal history? On that issue, Obama has demonstrated himself to be an unreliable source and, sadly, we can’t trust the media to get to the bottom of it. What’s wrong with saying, to a president who promised unprecedented "transparency": Give us all the raw data and we’ll figure it out for ourselves?

Pay Your Teachers Well
Their children’s hell will slowly go by.
Wall Street Journal Editorial, August 3, 2009

The conflicting interests of teachers unions and students is an underreported education story, so we thought we’d highlight two recent stories in Baltimore and New York City that illustrate the problem.

Pulling No Punches
The maverick on Obamanomics, Sarah Palin, and the media.
By Stephen Moore, The Wall Street Journal, August 1, 2009

John McCain is red in the face and hopping mad. I’m sitting in his office in the Senate Russell Office Building, and he’s just rushed in after delivering a speech on the Senate floor where he seethed about the earmarks in the Homeland Security Bill. “Can you believe they are putting $6 million of pork into Homeland Security?”

The High-Tax Trap
By E.J. McMahon, New York Post, August 2, 2009

Well, what do you know? After raising taxes on high-income households by up to 31 percent, New York state is collecting far less income tax than it had anticipated just a few months ago. 

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