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True North Archives - August 24, 2010
Radio | Editorial | News & Views

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Radio archives are here! Use the controls on our radio archive page to listen to past shows of note (archived shows are available for a limited time only). True North airs daily between 11:00 am - 12:00 noon on Radio Vermont's WDEV, AM 550 & FM 96.1, and on WTWK, 1070 AM (Burlington).

Featured Articles

The Vicious Acts of 2010
By John McClaughry

Just as "local control" of subdistrict schools went out with the Vicious Act of '92, "local control" as it existed prior to 1997 will soon give way to one of two outcomes: either complete state control, or parental control.

The former is the French model, with its nationwide curriculum and all-powerful Ministry of Education.

The latter would decentralize "local" down to the family level: empowered parents would choose the educational program that they believe is best for their children, and providers would compete to please them as customers, not subjects.

Democratic Candidates Want to Spend More Taxes on Early Education, While Parents Want Choice
By Kelly Bartlett

Let parents choose: Are bureaucrats most qualified to determine which school is best for your child? "Why not funnel this money to the parents directly?" Dunlap encourages school choice since it "gets the money and the decision making as close to the child as possible so that parents can have the resources to make good choices."

Serving Vermont parents: Supporting parents means supporting children. What the candidates for governor might want to keep in mind before the election is that there are a heck of a lot more parents voting than teachers. 

By Rob Roper

So, while the political class may continue to scratch their heads in the faculty lounge about the President’s dismal approval ratings, to the rest of us are learning some very important lessons: 1, the people enacting this Progressive agenda have demonstrated that they really have no idea about how what they’re doing will ultimately impact the economy, the country or the people. And, 2, when this Progressive agenda is enacted its average working people who end up suffering. 

These are lessons voters will take to the polls in November, and, if we’re smart, we will not misoverestimate progressive politicians and their promises at any level ever again.

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"A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves."
– Edward R. Murrow
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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Broadband vs. NIMBY
By Tom Evslin, Vermont Tiger, August 23, 2010

Question: Now that the funding for border-to-border no-residence-left-behind highspeed broadband access in Vermont is at hand, what could stop us from fulfilling our e-state dream? (see here for the good news on funding).

Answer: Us!

Question: How can we save us from ourselves?

Answer: Un-sunset 30 V.S.A. § 248a.

To understand this bureaucratic answer, read on...

Gambling With The Public's Money
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 17, 2010

Burlington, Rutland, and South Burlington officials have 'fessed up to multi-million-dollar deficits in their public employee retirement funds. According to Rutland City Treasurer Wendy Wilton, the deficits grew essentially out of speculation in the stock market by those in charge. During the market's salad days of big returns and big increases in investment values, all three of the city's bigwigs substantially increased employees' benefits in the expectation the market would keep on laying golden eggs. When the market sprang a big leak in the years after 2000, all three were stuck with deflating financial balloons. Now, and for several more years, they are singing the blues and trying to figure how they can fill the huge deficits (Burlington: $39 million shortfall of $74.4 million in liabilities; Rutland: $39 million shortfall on $72.4 in liabilities; and South Burlington: $9 million shortfall on $18 million in liabilities).

Low Cost, Low Carbs. What's Not To Like?
By Brad Ferland, Vermont Tiger, August 20, 2010

Right now we have the lowest cost electricity in New England and the second lowest carbon emission per capita in the country. Our current electricity portfolio success is due to Hydro Quebec and Vermont Yankee. That’s a fact!  And the way we are going to have continued sensible electricity supply is through capable leadership making policy decisions based on fact and not on emotions or politics.

A Raise Just For Staying Alive
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 17, 2010

One of the goals set by school boards is to control inflated teacher contracts subject to automatic annual step raises. The theory is that each year makes teachers more effective - for up to 30 years. Without an evaluation system that measures teacher effectiveness as a determinant to salary increases, automatic increases are simply a series of rewards for living a year longer. A teacher may be more effective year over year, but if they are, it is unrelated to their compensation.

The fact is that too many teachers are simply piling on years. Having ossified in the first few years or even in the first year, the final 20 to 30 years are simply the first year repeated 20 to 30 times. As long as school boards and state education departments don't require effective performance to qualify for salary increases, we will never know. Once a lousy teacher is tenured he/she is safe in a 30-year career with automatic raises every year.

Vt. Biodiesel Plant Closes, Victim of Federal Decision Not to Renew Tax Credits
By Louis Porter, Times Argus, August 21, 2010

A Swanton plant once promoted as the largest biodiesel production facility in New England is shuttered and unlikely to reopen, at least in the short-term, according to state and company officials.

The state’s economic development authority is now in the process of trying to recover more than a half-million dollars it provided to the facility in low-interest loans, according to officials. State tax credits were also awarded to the company that built the plant, Biocardel, a subsidiary of a Canadian company, although the credits were never used.

The expiration of a federal tax credit for the production of biofuels at the end of 2009 has hammered the industry nationally and the Biocardel facility in Vermont is one casualty. The company does not have plans to reopen the facility.

Saving Social Security
By Art Woolf, Vermont Tiger, August 21, 2010

A privatized system would mean that every American worker would have a stake in the health and success of the U.S. economy, which means a healthy market economy. Moreover, it would force all Americans to save, and with more saving, the nation would have more investment.  And with more investment, we'd have more capital and more growth.

Senator Sanders would prefer simply raising Social Security taxes on everyone making over $100,000, which would give the U.S. a top marginal federal tax rate over 50%.  Include state taxes in places like Vermont, New York, or California, and you're talking about a top marginal tax rate of 60%.  That's sure to reduce economic growth.  I don't know where the Laffer Curve reverses its slope, but at 60% we'd probably be dangerously close to that point where tax revenues actually decline. 

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Returning from Israel Believing That Peace Is Possible
Two weeks in Israel gave me optimism about what is happening on the ground, away from the radical Palestinian leadership.
By Ryan Mauro, Pajamas Media, August 10, 2010

The biggest obstacle to peace isn’t the settlements or any other land dispute. It is the lack of integration with the world that allows extremist forces to poison minds. As the lines of support from the state sponsors of terrorism are severed, you will see things rapidly change as the truth comes to light. The ideology of radical Islam cannot survive without outside subsidies.

There may be no peace process in the traditional sense of the term, as you cannot accommodate those seeking your destruction, but a process towards peace outside of the official negotiating table is underway. The Israelis I hung out with during my stay, the ones who should be most pessimistic about the prospect for peace, are the most optimistic. And now I see why.

Pentagon: China's Military Power Growing
By Anne Flaherty, MyWay, August 16, 2010

China's drive to transform itself into a major military power is being pursued in a secretive manner that increases the potential for misunderstanding and military conflict with other nations, the Pentagon says in a new report.

The Defense Department's annual assessment, released Monday, says Beijing is upgrading its hefty arsenal of land-based missiles, modernizing its nuclear forces and expanding its fleet of attack submarines.

Related Article: Clinton Administration's Chickens Come Home to Roost

The U.S. Withdrawal and Limited Options in Iraq
By George Friedman, Strategic Forecasters, August 17, 2010

The United States cannot withdraw completely without some arrangement, because that would leave Iran in an extremely powerful position in the region. The Iranian strategy seems to be to make the United States sufficiently uncomfortable to see withdrawal as attractive but not to be so threatening as to deter the withdrawal. As clever as that strategy is, however, it does not hide the fact that Iran would dominate the Persian Gulf region after the withdrawal. Thus, the United States has nothing but unpleasant choices in Iraq. It can stay in perpetuity and remain vulnerable to violence. It can withdraw and hand the region over to Iran. It can go to war with yet another Islamic country. Or it can negotiate with a government that it despises — and which despises it right back.

Given all that has been said about the success of the Petraeus strategy, it must be observed that while it broke the cycle of violence and carved out a fragile stability in Iraq, it has not achieved, nor can it alone achieve, the political solution that would end the war. Nor has it precluded a return of violence at some point. The Petraeus strategy has not solved the fundamental reality that has always been the shadow over Iraq: Iran. But that was beyond Petraeus’ task and, for now, beyond American capabilities. That is why the Iranians can afford to be so confident.

Bolton: Less Than a Week to Stop Iran's Nuclear Threat?
From Family Security Matters, August 18, 2010

John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the UN, has warned that Israel had only days to strike the nuclear reactor at Bushehr in Iran. Bushehr is in the south of Iran, on the coast of the Persan Gulf, and here there is a complex of nuclear reactors under construction. So far, only one of these reactors is ready to go online. Bolton claimed on Tuesday that once Russian technicians had loaded fuel into the reactor, any attack upon the reactor could release large amounts of radioactive material into the outside environment.

Top Muslims Condemn Ground Zero Mosque as a 'Zionist Conspiracy'
By Raymond Ibrahim, Middle East Forum, August 11, 2010

In a recent article, I argued that the Ground Zero mosque is counterproductive to Islam. The following day, on August 5, the Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reported that none other than Al Azhar — one of Sunni Islam's most authoritative institutions — agrees. My translation of the relevant excerpt follows:

A number of Al Azhar ulema expressed their opposition to building a mosque near [where] the events of September 11 [occurred], convinced that it is "a conspiracy to confirm a clear connection between the strikes of September [11] and Islam." Dr. 'Abd al-Mu'ti Bayumi, a member of the Islamic Research Academy [of Al Azhar] told Al Masry Al Youm that he rejects the building of any mosque in this area [Ground Zero], because the "devious mentality" desires to connect these events [of 9/11] with Islam, though he maintains that Islam is innocent of this accusation. Instead, it is a "Zionist conspiracy," which many are making use of to harm the religion. Likewise, Dr. Amna Nazir, professor of doctrine and philosophy at Al Azhar, expressed her rejection that a mosque be built near the World Trade Center, saying: "Building a mosque on this rubble indicates bad intention — even if we wished to shut our eyes, close our minds, and insist on good will. I hope it is a sincere step, and not a new conspiracy against Islam and Muslims."
Aside from the hackneyed "Zionist conspiracy" charge, Al Azhar has it right: from negative media attention to subliminal associations with the 9/11 strikes, the "9/11 mosque" has great potential to backfire on Islam. Many otherMuslims agree. That Al Azhar has labeled it a "Zionist conspiracy"— an appellation usually reserved for especially heinous charges attributed to fellow Muslims, such as the strikes of 9/11 — is indicative of how absurd the mosque project must appear to them.

Counterterrorism, Inside Out
Stewart Baker explains the difficulties facing DHS.
From National Review Online, August 23, 2010

‘Without a shot being fired, without even a clear sense of who the attacker is, much of the United States could find itself living in post-Katrina New Orleans, but without hope of a rescue anytime soon." Stewart Baker, the founding policy director at the Department of Homeland Security under Pres. George W. Bush, makes this and other alarming announcements in his new book, Skating on Stilts: Why We Aren’t Stopping Tomorrow’s Terrorism. He explains why he’s so worried, what he learned about the ACLU, and more in an interview with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez...

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From Elsewhere

Deficits, Debt, and Self-Deception
By Samuel Gregg, The Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, August 18, 2010

It passed almost unnoticed, but in late July the Obama Administration raised the Federal Government’s budget deficit forecast for fiscal year 2011 to $1.4 trillion. That’s up from February’s forecast of $1.267 trillion. In July alone, the Federal Government’s deficit was $165 billion, of which $20 billion was for interest-payments on debt.

The long-term outlook is even worse. The U.S. Government is now borrowing approximately 41 cents of every dollar it spends. It’s also predicting additional borrowing of $8.5 trillion until 2020. If that eventuates, America’s national debt would exceed 77 percent of its annual economic output.

Restoring the U.S. to a Free Economy
From The Heritage Foundation, August 17, 2010

In 2010, for the first time ever, the United States has fallen from the ranks of the economically "free" as measured by the Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, falling below the cutoff that earns countries the right to call themselves "free." The status of the United States today? "Mostly free." The reason? Notable decreases in financial freedom, monetary freedom, and property rights. The U.S. scores particularly badly in areas where the government has taken too large and intrusive a role. This decline must be reversed.

Nullification Summit to Focus on States Stopping Unconstitutional Laws
From The U.S. Report, July 20, 2010

States’ rights are in the air, along with a renewed focus on the US Constitution, and The Tenth Amendment Center will hold a summit to inform the public how to "stop federal mandates at the state border." The Florida Tenth Amendment Summit will be held in Orlando at the Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate on 10-10-10—there’s a nice touch of marketing savvy in the selection of that date.

The Economic Freedom Act: Economic and Fiscal Effects
By Karen Campbell, Ph.D. and Guinevere Nell, Heritage Foundation, August 19, 2010

The Economic Freedom Act, proposed by Representative Jim Jordan, would terminate the ineffective Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), and substitute a proven way to stimulate the economy: tax relief—from permanent repeal of the capital gains and death taxes to significant reductions in payroll taxes and the top corporate tax rate. Analysts at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis (CDA) conducted static and dynamic analyses of the act (H.R. 5029), finding that over the long term, dynamic economic effects would offset much of the cost of the tax relief. In the short term, the act would increase the deficit if it was not coupled with reductions in spending. This means a specific plan for spending cuts is imperative. The CDA analysts detail the economic and fiscal effects of the Economic Freedom Act’s spending and tax cuts.

By Tim Cavanaugh, Reason, August 12, 2010

Recent International Monetary Fund statements on U.S. fiscal solvency have been alarming. But do they point to a future debt of $202 trillion?

Boston University econ prof. Laurence J. Kotlikoff has put together some pleasingly apocalyptic documentation:

The Benefits of Immigration
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth, The Hudson Institute, August 19, 2010

It's no coincidence that the debate over birthright citizenship has sprung up in the wake of the expansion of the welfare society enacted by Congress and the Obama administration - accompanied by prospective tax hikes. European countries cannot welcome immigrants because the welfare benefits they confer upon their citizens are simply too expensive to offer to newcomers. 

For instance, our new health care law allocates $1.5 billion to expanded community health centers where illegal immigrants can get free care.

As America slouches towards the European economic model, the European immigration model appears newly attractive. The European economic and immigration models are complementary - we need to reject both.

Small Businesses Fear Hit From Rise in Tax Rates
By Martin Vaughan and Corey Boles, The Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2010

Tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush are slated to expire at the end of this year. Obama has proposed extending the tax cuts for married couples with income of less than $250,000, or single taxpayers with income of less than $200,000. But rates on income higher than that would rise to 36% and 39.6%, respectively, from current levels of 33% and 35%.... Some entrepreneurs say the increase in personal tax rates could hurt their ability to make new investments or hire workers.

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