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True North Archives - August 26, 2008
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Featured Articles

A Badly Needed Unpopular Idea
John McClaughry

When revenues shrink, the governor and legislators resort to the "haircut". This is typically a percentage cut across the board, with certain categories (interest on state debt, public safety, etc.) exempted. ... The state's overall goal should be to reduce the spending base by unloading activities that don't produce much of value, cutting back on entitlements, and improving efficiencies so fewer workers can get the same or better results. This is not a politically popular prescription.

Here is the Problem with Al Jazeera
By Deborah T. Bucknam

Author’s Note: on July 29, 2008, Bill Aswad wrote a "My Turn" article for the Burlington Free press entitled "What’s the problem with Al Jazeera?" Here is my answer...

Tax-Plusses and-Minuses
By Martin Harris

Like those fairly typical suburbs, this entire State is now embarked upon a great and unique experiment to see how much of their own demands for government services a suburban-minded electorate might be willing to pay themselves, as they create the political pressure not merely to abstain from recruiting "tax-plusses" in pursuit of a traditional sort of fiscal balance but to actively discourage their presence. The list of specifics is too long to recite in full here: it ranges from C&S Grocers and Omya to Standard Register and perhaps even Vermont Yankee, all "tax-plusses" which have already voted, or in the VY case may soon vote, with their feet to depart a governmental jurisdiction noticeably hostile to the Urban Planning 101 doctrine prescribing the balancing of the plusses and the minuses so as to create that usually-politically-demanded 1 percent tax rate.

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"I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians."--Charles de Gaulle, French general and statesman.

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

State Budget Cuts Must Be Permanent
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 20, 2008

Whatever metaphor you want to use - push has come to shove, this is where the rubber meets the road, it's time to cut bait, champagne time is over, beer time has arrived - the resultant imperative is the same. The imminent, necessary Vermont budget cuts of $32 million (some say $39 million) must be permanent cuts, not just for this year in response to this revenues shortfall, with the promise that they will be restored next year or the year after, when we expect the economic scene to recover, but PERMANENT.

Thoughtful Comments on Tax Policy
From August 22, 2008

The always insightful Megan McArdle writes about tax progressivity in the context of the presidential campaign, but her comments could easily be applied to Vermont:

"High taxes on a narrow base are about the opposite of optimal tax theory.  This is not because economists are mean, cruel people who are primarily interested in serving their corporate overlords, but rather because the narrower the base, and the higher the rates, the more sharply the marginal returns to rate increases diminish....The problem for people who want to load tax increases on these [rich] people while cutting taxes for everyone else is that if you actually succeed in shifting the tax burden this way, you'll rapidly end up on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve."
Conservation Law Foundation Lunacy
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 23, 2008

With the consistency of the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has announced the next target in its war on common sense. This time, it opposes any exception for Vermont on Interstate highway weight limits.

Vermont's Democrats Lost Their Way
From Letter's to the editor, Rutland Herald, August 21, 2008

With the rise of the liberal-progressives and their ultra-majority in our Legislature, the transition of Vermont Democrats from the party of the underdog to the party of the labor unions and the ultra-rich is solidified. Special interest money fueling this trend has made the Democrats very powerful but without the will to serve the public, as demonstrated this biennium. The working Vermonter, small business owner, and taxpayer continue to take a beating at the hands of the majority party that was once friendly to them in a history since forgotten.

Vermont is "...Essentially a Socialist State."
From, August 18, 2008

The Vermonters who don't care aren't the rugged individuals the Douglas quote supposes. Those Vermonters left a long time ago. The carefree Vermonters are just that - care free. They're the ones who don't produce much, like Mr. Daims, but spend a lot of time trying to use government to their own ends. They're the political class who don't like to listen to anyone about how hard it is to create wealth - but work hard making sure everybody get a fair share once it has been created. One question for the political class to ponder (yes, we know you're regulars here) who is John Galt?

A Real Class Act For School Teachers
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 19, 2008

One of the principal complaints about professional courses and degrees is that they are long on methods and short on content. As a result, many (if not most) education majors and professional teachers hold their own degrees in contempt.

There is one very bright spot, though, on an otherwise dull professional education spectrum. The University of Vermont is offering a truly introductory course in higher mathematics to elementary school teachers, and it is getting very high grades. Twenty-two Vermont teachers are in the third year of an MS degree program called Vermont Mathematics Initiative (VMI).

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Europe Betrays Itself in Georgia
By James Lewis, American Thinker, August 23, 2008

We also understood very clearly that Hitler should have been stopped early on, before he grew too powerful. The accepted wisdom was that Winston Churchill turned out to be right, and Neville Chamberlain was wrong. Chamberlain himself admitted exactly that after he resigned as Britain's Prime Minister. 

Yet today, Europe has flopped itself into an abject kow-towing posture toward Moscow. Former German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder --- by far the worst German leader in six decades --- has just blamed Georgia for getting itself invaded by Russia.   I don't know if Schroeder believes in a good public whipping for all the victims of rape and violence in Germany, but that would follow with perfect logic from his betrayal of Georgia. 

This is the biggest international development since the end of the Cold War. The West has knowingly junked the most important policy lesson of the 20th century: Don't give in to armed bullies. This failure will come back to bite us. You can bet on it. 

300,000 Flee as Jihadis Attacked
By Bruce Loudon, The Australian, August 18, 2008

A human tide of more than 300,000 civilians has fled the al-Qa'ida badlands, amid indications that the fighting there has reached unprecedented levels, with the Pakistani army using massive firepower to attack jihadi militant strongholds.

Security Scene
The groundwork for political progress.
By Erik Swabb, National Review, August 22, 2008

Critics have sought to minimize Iraq’s dramatic improvement in security, saying that it has failed to produce political accommodation among the country’s sects. These pundits would benefit from talking to Raheem: Security is not divorced from politics in counterinsurgency. The success of Coalition forces in protecting the people is laying the foundation for political progress.

Russia's Big Lie
From Investor's Business Daily, August 15, 2008 

Apologists for Russia say it really had no choice: Because of "genocide" in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia had to intervene. It was an "emergency." It wasn't.

This is the kind of big lie for which Hitler was famous — as when he suggested his interest in Czechoslovakia was really to rescue the Sudeten Germans, then gobbled up the entire country. In Russia's case, this was a carefully planned operation. Once in place, Russia's leaders knew full well they weren't going to simply occupy the disputed territories, but rather fully invade Georgia — and, hopefully, topple its humiliated government. 

The reason is clear: Russia wants to control the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, the only non-Russian conduit that brings oil from the Caspian Sea to Europe's thirsty market. To do so would give it unparalleled control over Europe's economy.

Jihad, Conflict, and Culture
By Andrew G. Bostom, American Thinker, August 23, 2008

Prevailing academic pedagogy on Islam is epitomized, luridly, by Dr. Denise Spellman, the faux scholar whose recent unhinged behavior "persuaded" craven Random House to quash publication of Sherry Jones' "biographic novel" about Muhammad's child-bride Aisha, "The Jewel of Medina" -- this, despite the fact that  the book is a celebration of Islamic pedophilia and polygamy (albeit, as excerpts reveal, "The Jewel of Medina" is a distressingly stupid apologetic). 

Operating within this warped milieu, McGill University Anthropology Professor Philip Carl Salzman is a truly intrepid man. With Promethean boldness (pun intended), Salzman's pellucid, remarkably compendious, and brilliantly argued "Culture and Conflict in the Middle East," defies academia's pervasive, stultifying Islamo-sycophantism.

US-Iraq Deal Sees American Forces Exit by 2011 - Negotiator
From Forbes, August 22, 2008

Negotiators have finalised a deal which will see the complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by 2011, the top Iraqi heading the team told AFP Friday. Under the 27-point deal, all US combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraqi cities by next June, said negotiator Mohammed al-Haj Hammoud. The agreement has already been approved by US President George W. Bush and now needs to be endorsed by Iraqi leaders, he added.

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From Elsewhere

Getting Government Out of the Way
By Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D., The Heritage Foundation, August 18, 2008

It's time, as they say, for some good news and some bad news. First, to get it out of the way, is the bad news: The unemployment rate last month climbed to 5.7 percent, the highest it’s been in four years. The good news is that our economy remains in good shape. It’s still growing, and there's much we can do to help it grow even faster. The main thing, of course, is to get the government to stop interfering with entrepreneurs who are trying to work, build businesses and create jobs.

True Energy Security
By Alan Caruba, Conservative Union Foundation, August 20, 2008

"The Arctic may hold 90 billion barrels of oil, more than all the known reserves of Nigeria, Kazakhstan, and Mexico combined, and enough to supply U.S. demand for 12 years." One would have thought Joe Carroll’s Bloomberg News report would have evoked some interest by the public and other media outlets. Instead, news of the U.S. Geological Survey was greeted mostly by a giant collective yawn.

"One third of the undiscovered oil is in Alaskan territory, the agency found…" Considering that the Democrat-controlled Congress adamantly refuses to let drilling occur for the oil known to exist in and off-shore Alaska, it is not surprising the public has concluded this vast treasure will remain untouched. …
At a time when nationalized foreign oil companies control more than 70% of the world’s energy resources, private enterprise is the only answer to our national energy security. The largest transfer of wealth in history is occurring and it bodes ill for the United States. We dare not compound this travesty by failing to take steps to ensure access to the Arctic Commons vast reserves.

Auguring Brief Era of Ice in 2010
From Milenio, August 16, 2008 [Google Translated link from Spanish]

Global warming should include other kinds of factors, such as volcanoes and human action, but also outside the solar activity, said Victor Velasco, the Institute of Geophysics. An expert from the National Autonomous University of Mexico predicted that in about ten years the Earth will enter a "little ice age" which will last from 60 to 80 years and may be caused by the decrease in solar activity.

Obama Flunks Rick Warren's Abortion Question
By Deal W. Hudson,, August 18, 2008

Here's a truism: If you're running for President, don't answer a question by saying, "That's above my pay grade." After all, if you want to occupy the White House, there is no higher pay grade. You are the boss, and the buck stops with you.  But Barack Obama used precisely that expression when asked by Rick Warren at what point "a baby gets human rights." 

Small Government Failure?
By Donald Devine, Conservative Union Foundation, August 20, 2008

Proposing liberal solutions under the guise of helping conservatives is fair game. Anyone who falls for it deserves it. But even progressives cannot create their own facts. What is their evidence Reagan’s ideas have failed? Because, as Anrig put it, "President [George W.] Bush "has followed this playbook more closely than any previous president, including Reagan" and "in practice these ideas have failed to deliver." How has Mr. Bush pushed limited government even more than Reagan? Anrig gives two proofs, tax cuts and hostility to government activism. Bush’s tax cuts "have weakened the country’s fiscal health without significantly improving the lot of the vast majority of citizens" and the "right’s hostility toward government has produced only inefficient government."

President Bush has "hostility toward government"? As the Budget data clearly show, this president increased nondefense discretionary government spending by more than any other recent president, Democratic or Republican in his first term – in fact by 25 percent or at a rate of 6.2 percent per year. For nondiscretionary spending his Medicare prescription drug program was the first major new entitlement since Lyndon Johnson, with liabilities one-and-a-half times gigantic Social Security’s. Some hostility to active government! Did the tax cuts offset all of this? That is a strange argument from progressives who claim government spending is what helps people. They were the original cheerleaders for deficit spending under their patron Franklin Roosevelt.

Obama's Tax Hike
From Investor's Business Daily, August 22, 2008 

As Barack Obama tries to convince the American people he will cut their taxes, he actually plans to undo the Bush tax cuts — and the Reagan low tax legacy.

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