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True North Archives - August 11, 2009
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Featured Articles

Promoting Diversity in Education
By John McClaughry

Would a corporate tax credit scholarship program be good for Vermont? It would enable thousands more students to attend schools whose philosophy and values are more in keeping with their parents’ wishes, or whose programs are tailored to better serve the students’ needs. A scholarship of just $4,000 would dramatically increase independent school attendance.

It would provide a fiscal shot in the arm to faith-based schools – Catholic, evangelical, and Jewish – and secular independent schools like the Waldorf schools, Long Trail School, and Vermont Academy. David Bisson of Barre, until recently the chair of the Vermont Catholic school board, says that with modest scholarship assistance all of Vermont’s Catholic schools would be completely full. As it is, many faith-based schools are struggling to survive, and the weakest ones are consolidating or disappearing every year. Not good.

Penumbras and Emanations III
By Martin Harris

In nation-wide planning and zoning circles, Vermont’s predisposition against all building permit applications identifiable as large, non-green, and/or above all corporate, is quite well known. There are rules against (and permit denials for) big-box stores deemed too big. Oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Overthrust was prevented at State level in the early  80’s for the usual non-green reasons, and a motel-with-a-number-in-its-name was prevented at the local level in the late 90’s because it was insufficiently green, room-rate-wise. Corporate applicants ranging from Home Depot to Staples to Starbuck’s have withdrawn after testing the p&z waters in the State.

Let's Give a Warm Welcome Home to Pat, Bernie & Peter...
By Rob Roper

The congressional recess is upon us. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch have returned to Vermont and are eager to hear what you have to say about their work in Washington. How do you like the $1.8 trillion deficit? (And the fact that it's projected to keep growing and adding to an insurmountable debt over the next ten years?).

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"A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

-- James Madison, letter to W. T. Barry, August 4, 1822, Ref: Letters and other Writings of James Madison, vol. 3 (276).

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Tax Policies That Work - And Won't Be Found In VT
From Vermont Tiger, August 09, 2009

Texas government is constitutionally prohibited from growing the state’s budget faster than the growth of the state’s economy.
Imagine the VT legislature's efforts last year to raise spending during the recession, with a constitutional prohibition.
Local sales taxes cannot exceed a total of 2 cents, property tax rates cannot go beyond certain pre-set limits, and rollback elections counter any excessive property tax levy increases.
Imagine a Vermont where this type of restriction against excessive taxation occurs, across the variety of tax revenue sources.  Imagine, if you can.  Here are some of Texas's last legislative session (2009) highlights:
HB 4765 raised the tax exemption threshold for the margin tax from $300,000 to $1 million in 2010 and 2011, and to $600,000 thereafter. This reform is expected to cut the tax bills of 40,000 small businesses, according to the Governor’s office.
Related: Arizona’s Budget Breakthrough

High Court Overturns Extension of Act 250
Justices side with CVPS against new process
By Bruce Edwards, Times Argus, August 7, 2009

The Vermont Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a lower court ruling that Central Vermont Public Service Corp. and other utilities argued would have created an expensive and time-consuming new permit process for line extensions and routine construction work.

The Weekend Contrarian
From Vermont Tiger, August 7, 2009

Exxon-Mobil is hated by many liberals because it has not invested in some of their favorite, though not necessarily valid, "green" technologies.  The liberal establishment, as exemplified by its Vermont branch, hates any scrutiny of its current causes, no matter how lacking they may be in practical value.  Exxon believes in transparency, which everyone endorses, but few respect.  Thus, Exxon has rejected ethanol as a substitute for crude oil, because it takes as much energy to produce it as it supplies as a fuel.  Corn-based ethanol has taken millions of acres of land out of food production, while increasing the cost of fertilizer, food and meat, but has hardly made a dent in our importation of oil.

Is Vermont a Model for Health Care?
Caledonia Record Editorial August 7, 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.

Anything In The Paper Today?
Has The Freeps ‘Jumped the Shark’?
From Vermont Tiger, August 07, 2009

With changes to the size and placement of content just months ago and with this week’s announcement that there were further changes--with some, according to the executive editor, to respond to public criticism about the first changes--then one has to wonder if the Burlington Free Press has jumped the shark.  Ironically, the most pronounced change from a few months ago—the one that got most people talking—was the new, puny-sized, Weekly Reader-like Monday paper; and surprisingly, little has been done to rethink this change.

Chain Mail Glove Over A Fist Of Jello
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 06, 2009

When will Vermont get serious about repeat criminal offenders? In February, a Shelburne police officer ended up shooting a drunken driver after the driver had, in an unsuccessful attempt to escape, twice driven his car into the police officer, then drove away at a high speed. As it turned out, the DUI suspect has a criminal record dating from 1979, including three convictions for assaults on police officers and four drunken driving convictions.

Are Vermonters Still Proud to be Americans?
By Jim Goff, Burlington Free Press, August 9, 2009

Certainly, many of them are, but the pervasive attitude here seems to be a grievance mentality that indicts America at every opportunity. It's a mentality that cheers President Obama as he travels the world apologizing for America.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

The Creeping Homegrown Threat
By Steve Emerson, The Daily Beast, August, 2009

The arrest of seven North Carolinians on conspiracy charges shows, says Steve Emerson, how the U.S. is becoming like Europe, where homegrown terror plots get stopped—or not—seemingly every week.

Putin’s Afghan War
By Yulia Latynina, Moscow Times, August 5, 2009

Against the backdrop of an economic crisis, a gas war with Ukraine and a milk war with Belarus, a new war with Georgia would mean the same thing for Putin’s regime that the war in Afghanistan meant for the Soviet Union — the beginning of the end.

Australia: Jihad ‘Down Under’?
Dr. Walid Phares, Family Security Matters, August 7, 2009

Obviously, the Australian report, as with its Western cousins, fell into the trap of the Jihadi war of ideas aiming at confusing and mitigating democracies by taking out their main weapon against the Jihadists: to expose their ideology and rally the counter Jihadist Muslims.

The evidence to such failure in identifying the threat came few weeks later as agencies were arresting people in their early 20s. As we saw in Georgia in the U.S., and in Birmingham in the UK, a lexicon banning clear words only contributes to the defeat of democracies. For such wrong analysis is responsible for legitimizing Jihadism in the eyes of indoctrinated youth. Naturally, if Jihadism is not exposed, Jihadi ideologues and cadrescan operate freely and in full legitimacy to further recruit.

Worse, by banning the use of extremely important terms, these medieval-like lexicons terminate the ability of analysts, let alone the public, to detect the "threat." The West in general, and Australia in particular, will unfortunately continue to experience the catastrophic effects of blurring their own vision, as most seasoned experts in Jihadism believe the plots we have already uncovered are only the beginning.

Why Shariah Must Be Opposed
By Daniel Pipes, National Post, August 5, 2009

Those of us who argue against Shariah are sometimes asked why Islamic law poses a problem when modern Western societies long ago accommodated Halakha, or Jewish law. In fact, this was one of the main talking points of those who argued that Shariah should become an accepted part of dispute resolution in Ontario in 2005.

The answer is easy: a fundamental difference separates the two. Islam is a missionizing religion, Judaism is not. Islamists aspire to apply Islamic law to everyone, while observant Jews seek only to live by Jewish law themselves.

A Pakistan-Iran War?
By David P. Goldman, First Things, August 7, 2009

Asia Times Online today has a guest column by one Raja Karthikeya arguing in full seriousness that war between Iran and Pakistan is possible. He writes,

Far from the headlines of the mainstream media, the border between Iran and Pakistan is heating up to epic proportions. In recent months, cross-border raids by a Balochistan-based terrorist group, Jundullah, targeting Iranian security personnel and civilians, has plunged bilateral relations to unprecedented depths…Further, a repeat of the Zahedan attack inside Iran would almost certainly bring Iran and Pakistan to the brink of war. For the Iranian regime, which is still reeling from the post-election protests, such a causus belli (with all its sectarian connotations) would also help consolidate its control on the country.
I am not an expert on the region, but Karthikeya’s argument seems very credible.

Regional chaos is a likely outcome of the across-the-board policy failure of the Bush as well as the Obama administration. The power vacuum left by this administration’s incompetence has worried me for some time.

Warning Sign – Russian Subs ‘No Threat’
By Peter Brookes, Family Security Matters, August 8, 2009

The Pentagon says it's not worried about a couple of Russian Akula-class attack submarines patrolling some 200 miles off the U.S. Eastern coast – that it raises no "red" flags at the moment.

Fair enough – but the boats should still prompt long-term concern.

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From Elsewhere

The Not-So-Green Pope
By Samuel Gregg D.Phil., Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, August 5, 2009

As someone who has labored ceaselessly for the priority of truth over ideology, Benedict knows that neither international organizations nor public opinion determine the truth about climate change and its causes. That’s a question for science, and many reputable scientists dispute aspects of the prevailing tenets of climate change to which some environmentalists seem religiously wedded.

The most recent such example to surface is the internationally renowned Australian geologist Professor Ian Plimer (who, incidentally, is also a fierce critic of creationism). His Heaven and Earth (2009) argues that climate change has little if anything to do with man-made greenhouse gases. The book is making intellectual waves across the globe, selling 30,000 copies in its first month.

Are We In America Or Amerika?
From Investor's Business Daily, August 07, 2009

Public Debate: Democrats, bloodied over their attempt to force health care "reform" on Americans, are looking more unreasonable and hysterical by the day. This isn't healthy for the republic.

Related: Father of Handicapped Son Shouts Down Congressman.

The 2008/09 Housing Crisis and Lessons Learned Forgotten
From American Thinker, August 06, 2009

While there are many variables that led to the economic crisis that we are still mired in, had the government not acted to artificially increase housing demand through the Community Reinvestment Act, the crisis would not have been nearly as deep.

In all things, and especially government intervention into the free market, we must remember the law of unintended consequences.  There can be no doubt that the "Cash for Clunkers" program is artificially increasing demand, which will in turn cause the auto manufactures to increase output.  Certainly these manufacturers are not good at predicting consumer demand (as we've seen this year) and will stall.  As before, the government will ignore the lessons of the past and plant the seeds for another future crisis.

What's The Stimulus Have To Do With It?
From Investor's Business Daily, August 07, 2009

Economy: July's drop in the jobless rate sent a flutter of optimism through the financial markets that the economy is starting to recover. But don't let the politicians fool you into thinking they had a role in the improvement.

The Great American Debt
We are committing national suicide by debt addiction, as the Chinese rake in our IOUs.
By Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, August 5, 2009

With our national debt at $11 trillion and climbing at a projected rate of $1 to $2 trillion a year, examine the brilliant manner in which Americans justify borrowing much of this money from abroad, particularly from the Chinese.

Related: Oil price and the $700B bailout

The Obama Resistance Grows
By Lee Cary, American Thinker, August 5 2009

Spontaneous, uncoordinated, passionate -- citizen resistance to Obama socialism grows by the day.

America is no stranger to resistance. The nation was born from citizen resistance that had mixed support among the colonists. About one in five was loyal to the King. Some of the bitterest fighting in the American Revolution was between Loyalists and Patriots. And all of it was between Americans in the Civil War. We know how to resist.

Arizona’s Budget Breakthrough
An alternative to California’s tax and spend model.
The Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2009

Today, the legislature in Arizona will vote on a tax reform designed to entice more employers and high-income taxpayers to the state. Sponsored by Republican Governor Jan Brewer, the plan would cut state property taxes, the corporate tax and personal income taxes, in exchange for a temporary rise in the sales tax.

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