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True North Archives - September 07, 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

How Efficient is "Green" Energy?
By Robert Maynard

In order for energy and power to be used, it must be converted from potential energy stored in the fuel of choice into usable energy. Much of the cost and impact on the environment associated with energy production is associated more with the energy conversion process than the choice of the fuel used. The higher the energy density of the fuel used, the cheaper it is to extract usable energy out of it. Oil, uranium and coal have high energy density, while many renewable sources have low energy density. The lower energy density not only makes it more expensive to extract usable energy out of such sources, but it can also mean that the use of such sources actually have a bigger impact on the environment than their less "green" alternatives.

Perhaps it is time that we left the choice of which energy source to use up to engineers and the market, rather than politicians and political activists.

Put Their Feet to the Fire
By John McClaughry

The primaries are over and the winning candidates are now in their final run toward Election Day (November 2). Now is the time that citizens concerned about the state's future can pin down those candidates on their positions on key issues they'll face in the forthcoming legislative session.

Bear in mind that candidates do not want to be pinned down. Their natural tendency is to evade, sidestep, mislead, and obscure. The trick to pinning down candidates is to ask straightforward, informed questions that minimize the candidate's opportunity to squirm out of a commitment. (Getting answers in writing, or declared before witnesses, is also very valuable.) Here are twelve questions that may be useful.

TN Video Extra, Shumlin Ad

Rob Roper looks at the price tags associated with Peter Shumlin's "plan" for Vermont's economy.

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"I believe there is one Supreme most perfect being... I believe He is pleased and delights in the happiness of those He has created; and since without virtue man can have no happiness in this world, I firmly believe He delights to see me virtuous." 

-- Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion, 1728. Ben Franklin

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

It's Arithmetic and It's Scary
By Tom Licata, Vermont Tiger, September 3, 2010

"What is critical to keep in mind is that this situation is part of a broad, multiyear process driven by national and global realignments. It's a secular phenomenon that needs to be better understood and navigated -- by recognizing its structural dimensions…. Unfortunately, the approach in too many industrial countries [and states such as Vermont] has been to kick the can down the road, seemingly hoping for a series of immaculate economic recoveries."

Yes, I understand that this - from Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of Pimco - is a mouthful.

But, it is a mouthful that needs to be understood, especially by gubernatorial hopefuls Lt. Governor Dubie and Senators Shumlin or Racine, other Vermont legislative candidates and Vermont’s various public stakeholders and business leaders.

Political Correctness Gone Awry Again
Caledonia Record Editorial, September 1, 2010

A public high school in Dearborn, Mich., has moved its football practices from the afternoons to the middle of the night (no kidding!), from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Why? Because an undisclosed number of Muslim players on the team must observe Ramadan, an Islamic month during which Muslims may not eat or drink during daylight hours. So the schedule of practices was switched to midnight and later just to accommodate their practice of religion.

Meanwhile, throughout a good part of the United States, Christians may not call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree; they may not sing Christmas carols; they must call Christmas vacation December vacation; and in at least one school, school decorations may not use the colors green and red, because those are Christmas colors.

Foreign Investors Sought for Vt. Power Projects
From WCAX-TV /AP, September 3, 2010

Backers of a $500 million proposal to build biomass power plants in Pownal and Fair Haven are hoping to lure foreign investors with the promise of a U.S. residency permit.

The Bennington Banner says Beaver Wood Energy has applied for the EB-5 visa program of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. In exchange for their investment, the foreign investors are granted conditional green cards that can lead to permanent residency if the projects create jobs.

Good News on Housing
By Art Woolf, Vermont Tiger, September 3 2010

For the last two decades, I've been publishing my Vermont Housing Affordability Index in The Vermont Economy Newsletter. And affordability has been improving for the past few years, as I noted here. My measure of affordability, and my view that housing affordability has improved recently, has been challenged by several housing advocates, and by Doug Hoffer, who is now the Democratic candidate for state auditor (see his comments last year on my analysis here and this year's, in audio, here).

Loving The Thrush To Death
Caledonia Record Editorial, September 3, 2010

Mankind is astonishing in its capacity, through empathy and compassion, to make a bad situation worse. So it is that, fearing the effects of global warming on the thrush and all other life on Earth, man devised an ingenious solution - wind farms!

This once quaint invention, traditionally seen in idyllic pictures of small Dutch children on ice skates, migh save us and the thrush from the scourge of us. The facts that they can't exist without enormous government subsidy and aren't particularly efficient are but inconvenient truths when held up to the standard "We must save the thrush!"

So Vermont began laying plans to string wind farms across the landscape, reduce global warming and save the Bicknell thrush and the polar bear at the same time. Unfortunately, the windmills quickly developed another, less savory reputation. It turns out the turbines carelessly slice and dice all manner of winged species including bats and Bicknells. It now appears, at least for the thrush, that the cure is worse than the illness. It's not clear which will exterminate the Bicknell thrush more quickly, mankind's invention of global warming or mankind's solution for global warming, the Vermont wind farm.

Report: Vermont Best for Poor Students, Falls Behind Other Countries
By Cristina Kumka, Times Argus, September 2, 2010

If you are a student with an economic disadvantage, Vermont is the state where you are best off, according to a new report commissioned by a nonpartisan group that offers policy-making advice to legislators nationwide.

The 16th edition of the Report Card on American Education, by the American Legislative Exchange Council, ranks Vermont the top state in test scores among its low-income, fourth- and eighth-graders.

West Virginia was ranked last in education performance, according to the report.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

China’s View of South Asia and the Indian Ocean
By Dean Cheng, The Heritage Foundation, August 31, 2010

The Indian Ocean is becoming increasingly important to China’s economic and security interests. China appears to be pursuing what has been widely characterized as a "string of pearls" strategy of cultivating India’s neighbors as friendly states, both to protect its economic and security interests and to balance a "rising India." With Chinese influence in the region growing, it is essential that the U.S. not fall behind in the Indian Ocean, but maintain a steady presence in the region, both to signal its resolve to stay engaged and to avoid the difficulties of reentering a region.

As the People’s Republic of China (PRC) expands its global economic and security interests, one region of growing importance to Beijing will be the Indian Ocean area. Not only must a significant portion of China’s oil imports transit this region, but one of China’s enduring friends (Pakistan) and one of its long-time rivals (India) border this region, as well as China’s sensitive Tibetan flank.

Betwixt Tyranny and Freedom
By Herbert I. London, Linden Blue The Hudson Institute, September 1, 2010

Thinking about the unthinkable is a phrase attributed to Herman Kahn, founder of the Hudson Institute. In the 1980s, Kahn wrote that it was essential to think seriously about nuclear war - in order to have the best chance of avoiding it. Nuclear war was and is an existential issue brought about by the structural change in our ability to manipulate the atom. 

Now structural changes in world economics and technology and the leverage of terror are bringing about new existential challenges. Information is available worldwide at the speed of light. (There are 4.5 billion cell phones in the world today.) Moore's law (the exponential growth in computing power), the prospect of unlimited energy and the unlimited potential of free people to be creative allow dramatic improvements in the human condition. 

It is important to think about these possibilities just as we must think about the potential for widespread destruction from unimpeded terror or grinding irrational cultural developments. The structural elements are in place to take us in either direction. How we think about the direction and how decisively we make course corrections will largely determine how the future looks. 

Converts to Terror
By Patrick Dunleavy,New York Post, September 2, 2010

Reporting on the terrorism trial now under way in federal district court in Manhattan is focusing on defense attorneys' "entrapment" claim. But to me, the more interesting question is how the four accused were radicalized to the point where they'd even consider plotting to bomb synagogues in The Bronx and shoot down aircraft with missiles. 

What stands out is the prison connection. 

All four defendants were former inmates. More important, all three imams at the mosque in Newburgh that the defendants attended after being released from prison had a connection with the prison system.

A Responsibility to Explain Why Iraq Matters
By Douglas J. Feith, The Hudson Institute, September 1, 2010

President Obama’s Oval Office speech was long on statements of resolve. "America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership," he said. He declared that "there should be no doubt: the Iraqi people will have a strong partner in the United States," adding, "Our combat mission is ending, but our commitment to Iraq’s future is not." But the speech was short on why — that is, what America’s interests are in making such a commitment.

The speech did not connect developments in Iraq to U.S. national interests. The president spoke extensively of Iraq’s interests. He commented that the Iraqis are no longer subject to "a regime that terrorized its people" and that they have interests in preventing civil war, building democracy for themselves, resettling their refugees, etc. But Obama spoke as if the key American interests were withdrawal of U.S. forces and relinquishment of responsibilities. He gave no reason why the United States should continue to exert itself in Iraq as a "strong partner."

A Cold Economic War is Better Than a Hot Naval War
By William R. Hawkins Family Security Matters, September 1, 2010

No one wants a military clash with China, but it is clear that a new Cold War is brewing in Asia. Indeed, it might be better to think in terms of the old Cold War never ending. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, but nothing comparable happened in Asia. The old rivalries and disputes continued.

The Soviet Union was brought down without a Hot War by internal fissures exacerbated by outside economic pressure. President Ronald Reagan sought to isolate the USSR from outside trade and investment so that the "evil empire" could not hope to keep up with American economic and technological advances. The widening gap in economic power would translate into a widening strategic gap. The strains Moscow put on its backward system to keep up brought the regime down. This had always been the aim of the containment policy adopted by President Harry Truman. President Reagan just took it more seriously after a period of "coexistence" that had given the Soviets a breathing space during which they expanded their military.

Why Islamic Moderates Are So Scarce
It goes back to a ninth-century theological dispute
By Joshua Gilder, National Review Online, September 2, 2010

Reilly does in fact locate the elusive moderate Islam — back in the 8th and 9th centuries, when the rationalist Mu’tazilites dominated Islamic thought under Caliph al-Ma’mun. The period is often referred to as the "golden age of Islam," when that civilization produced some of its highest achievements in philosophy and science. It didn’t last. In 849, the second year of the reign of Caliph Ja’afar al-Mutawakkil, the Mu’tazilites were overthrown. Holding Mu’tazilite beliefs became a crime punishable by death, and the decidedly anti-rationalist Ash’arites soon came to dominate the faith, as they would continue to do, in one form or another, through the modern era.

What makes Closing so compelling is Reilly’s ability to tie seemingly arcane questions of Islamic theology to many of the characteristics of Islamic civilization that we in the West find so hard to fathom. Fundamentally, Ash’arism was a rejection of "natural law" and reason in favor of an all-powerful God of pure will and power. The idea of an ordered universe that behaves according to certain ordained laws — whether moral or physical — would have been understood by the Mu’tazilites. For the Ash’arites, this was blasphemy, an outrage against God’s omnipotence.

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From Elsewhere

Thomas Sowell's Pessimism
By Norah Petersen, American Thinker, September 2, 2010

Last Tuesday, Dr. Thomas Sowell was interviewed on The Rush Limbaugh Show by Walter Williams, who was serving as guest host. During this interview, Williams inquired about Sowell's opinion of direction that America is heading in. "Are you optimistic or pessimistic?"  Williams asked. "Pessimistic, and I am fighting off becoming despairing," replied Sowell. 

Sowell's words should not be taken lightly. As a recent Investor's Business Daily editorial about Sowell said, "Doomsters are a dime a dozen. But when a leading economist who's been called "the nation's greatest contemporary philosopher" sees serious trouble ahead, we'd better listen up."

Is It Time to Listen to Rep. Paul Ryan's Economic Prescription?
By Samuel Gregg, Forbes Magazine, September 1, 2010

Paul Ryan, a professional policy wonk from Wisconsin, sees trouble ahead if the country stays on its present course. The cost of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security is racing ahead, at the same time that the federal government is ladling out dollars to fight the recession and collecting less in tax revenue because of the recession. Meanwhile, he argues, we are contending with chronically high unemployment, insurmountable debt payments and a crushing tax burden that could kill U.S. competitiveness. Maybe, just maybe, those entitlements have to be redesigned. He's not quite saying, "Stop Social Security!," but he is getting dangerously close to the thought.

Who is this guy? It would be no surprise if he turned out to be a wealthy financier who had taken up budget policy as a retirement hobby (like Peter G. Peterson) or a professional forecaster whose views on consumer spending are bearish (like Gary Shilling). The surprise is that Ryan is an elected official. He's running for election to a seventh term in Congress, representing a district with a razor-thin Republican edge south of Milwaukee.

An Inconvenient Extremist
By Kenneth Spitz, American Thinker, September 2, 2010

James Jay Lee bought into the doomsday environmental ideology. His concerns were certainly radical, but they are not unique to him. There is evidence Lee was led to his warped conclusions. It is a relatively short trip from"humans are killing the planet" to "humans must die to save the planet".

In fact, A&E Network's The History Channel aired a series entitled "Life After Humans". One of the show's premises was that the planet would quickly return to a better state if people were not present. Perhaps, Mr. Lee felt that Discovery had dropped the ball vis-a-vis the History Channel.

The New Face of the Union Movement: Government Employees
By James Sherk, The Heritage Foundation, September 1, 2010

Unions have been a familiar part of American working life for more than 70 years. Less familiar is the state of the union movement today: More union members now work for the government than for private employers. The above-market salaries and benefits that government employees receive are paid for by taxpayers. So, the union movement that began as a campaign to improve working conditions and salaries for workers in the private sector, now pushes for ever-higher taxes to increase the generous compensation that government employees enjoy. Heritage Foundation labor policy expert James Sherk details the changes in the union movement, and explains how Congress can react to this new reality.

The American union movement has reached a historic milestone—more union members currently work for the government than for private businesses. As a result, the union movement’s priorities have shifted. Because taxes fund government pay and benefits, unions are now pushing for tax increases across the country. The union movement that once campaigned to raise private-sector workers’ wages has transformed into a government union movement that campaigns to raise their taxes.

Jim DeMint Looks toward November, and Beyond
The American people are finally waking up -- and the Senate Republican old bulls had better take note
By Robert Costa, The National Review Online, September 3, 2010

Joe Miller (Alaska), Sharron Angle (Nevada), Ken Buck (Colorado), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania), Marco Rubio (Florida), Dino Rossi (Washington), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), Mike Lee (Utah) — these are just a few of the Reaganite insurgents with whom Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) hopes to work in the upper chamber come January. Should they win in November, DeMint predicts, this new crop of conservatives will help to push the GOP back toward the party’s principled, free-market roots.

"These candidates have gotten the message," DeMint says in an interview with National Review Online. "They understand that if we get the majority, and we don’t do what we said we would, then we’re dead as a party — and should be."

No Taxpayer Bailout for Union Pensions
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth,The Hudson Institute, September 3, 2010 

This Labor Day some labor union officials should be concerned. The Financial Accounting Standards Board, a private organization that sets the standards for financial standards, is considering a proposal that would require companies to disclose their potential liability from collectively bargained multiemployer pension plans.

With the liability on view for all to see, it would be difficult for unions to assert to potential new members that failing pension plans are solvent. Unions would lose a valuable tool to recruit new members.

Labor Day Special: Top 10 Union Highlights of the Obama Administration
Big Labor has reasons to celebrate: an ally in White House and a cheerleading left-wing media. 
By Jeff Poor, Business & Media Institute, September 1, 2010

On Labor Days past, we’ve seen a sort of labor union celebration, particularly from pro-union voices in the media. But in commemorating the 129th celebration of Labor Day in the United States, the Business & Media Institute has compiled the 10 top moments for Big Labor [since Barack Obama was elected].

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