North Archives - September 14, 2010
| Editorial | News & Views
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$8000, Get $4.3 Million is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
The press had done a good
job shedding some light on the $8000 donation to Peter Shumlin by big time
donor David Bilttersdorf, Shumlin’s appointment of Bilttersdorf to the
Clean Energy Development Board, and Bilttersdorf’s company ultimately receiving
$4.3 million tax credits from that very board.
However, this $8000 investment
with an apparent $4.3 million payoff is just the tip of the iceberg, and
only presents one small aspect of how a few wealthy special interests are
manipulating the political process to extract millions of dollars from
They Come; Why We Stay:
Lessons for the Upcoming
By James Ehlers
But clearly, people visiting
don’t want the real Vermont anyway: Newport’s perennially ridiculously
high unemployment, Burlington’s drug issues, Rutland’s never-ending budget
issues, virtually nil private sector job growth in a decade, leading on
the Moocher Index as the state with highest rate of people above the poverty
line receiving some sort of welfare, and, oh yes, the taxes. Pick any tax
burden study, and we are in the top 10 or looking to get into it. No wonder
that Vermonters who vacation in Vermont responded that they want to be
seen as "thrifty." This is okay, though. Our perception of Vermont and
ourselves is all that really matters, right?
By Martin Harris
been decades since agriculture was the major industry or employer in the
US – urban consumers first out-numbered rural producers in the data of
the 1920 Census—and similarly, it’s been almost as many decades since public
education became the major industry and employer in many suburban and exurban
municipalities, as it is today in the majority of Vermont’s 251 Towns.
Agriculture chose to respond to its political-minority status by pursuing
increased productivity, which has meant fewer farmers and more output.
Producers are now a mere 1% of the labor force, while corn, for example,
which, in my youth harvested at about a 30/bushel/acre rate is now close
to 200, and for fewer labor hours per acre. Public employees (civilian)
are now 20% of the US labor force, an all-time high, the Bureau of Labor
Statistics reported last year, and have the highest union-membership rate,
within which sector educators have the highest at 38%. Farmers have been
"rewarded" for their productivity gains and political ineffectiveness by
negative returns on crops and inflation-only returns on investment; educators
have been rewarded for their productivity reductions (reductions in class
size without gains in student achievement) and political effectiveness
by pay increases which have brought the profession from well-below-the-white-collar
average in the ‘50’s to well above it today. Corn yields in the 35bu/a
range were profitable to producers in the ‘50’s; 2009 yields at the 165bu/a
level were sold at less than cost-of-production. Per-pupil education costs
in the ‘50’s were in the $250 range. Adjusted for inflation, that would
today equate to $2500. In Vermont they’re five times as much.
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"It does not
require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen
to set brush fires in people's minds."
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Weekly News Round-Up
Man With Shumlin Ties at Center of Controversy
From Fox 44 News, September
A major donor to Democratic
gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin has gotten $4.3 million in tax credits
from Vermont's Clean Energy Development Fund after serving on the fund's
board, a position to which Shumlin appointed him. Shumlin wrote to David
Blittersdorf on July 8 asking him to resign from the development fund's
board after complaints that Blittersdorf's serving on the panel while applying
for money from it was a conflict of interest.
Caledonia Record Editorial,
September 11, 2010
Two weeks ago, we warned
of an approaching perfect storm when the teacher unions' demands become
critically unsustainable by the taxpayers. Since the warning thunder of
that gathering storm, there has been more, even closer, thunder.
Last week, the Burlington
Free Press had two articles on the front page that, quite unintentionally,
pointed like an arrow at the coming educational cost/union-demand Armageddon.
The first article was about the 10-plus Chittenden County school districts
starting school without teacher contracts. All are at or beyond impasse,
because union demands are invoking unsustainable costs. The other article
was about how Winooski parents are whining about what to do with their
kids when the district lets them go home early in order to train teachers.
That, despite Winooski High School's designation as one of the worst-performing
high schools in the state and its teachers' need of extensive training
to overcome the school's cellar position.
Study Finds Vt. Most Expensive for Manufacturers
By Stephen Singer, The Burlington
Free Press, September 7, 2010
Connecticut, long criticized
as a costly place for manufacturers to do business,
is not that expensive after all, according to a new University of Connecticut
Instead, Vermont, New Hampshire
and Rhode Island are the most expensive states in the country for manufacturers
to operate, while Connecticut ranked 43rd, the study found.
Telecom: The "Cure" For What Ails You
By Chris Campion, Vermont
Tiger, September 9, 2010
As we wrap up our review
of the Proposal for Finding, we discover the cure for BT's problems, regarding
its many violations of the CPG:
I (the hearing officer,
John P. Bentley - ed.) recommend that the Board require Burlington Telecom
to file a report with the Board on September 30, 2010, and additional reports
every two months thereafter during the pendency of this proceeding, detailing
its progress in curing or addressing the violations of the CPG, which reports
should address with specificity the status of negotiations with its lender,
any development in finding a private investor in or buyer for the network,
and other efforts to cure or mitigate the violations of the CPG and the
That Should Be Public
Caledonia Record Editorial,
September 9, 2010
From 2005 to 2009, Vermont
contracted with a private health provider, Prison Health Services (PHS)
to take care of Vermont prisoners' health needs. Last year, a woman under
their care died three days into a 30-day sentence, because, as revealed
in her autopsy, PHS failed to give her potassium pills that she needed
to recover from an existent long-term illness.
A prison advocacy group,
Vermont Prison Legal News, sued PHS for refusing to provide the facts surrounding
her death and PHS's out-of-court settlement of her family's lawsuit because
of the death. The Prison Legal News wants other documents about other prisoners'
health care and any other out-of-court settlements. PHS claims that they,
as a private company, aren't obliged to follow Vermont's freedom of information
laws. Vermont Prison Legal News is taking the position that where substantial
tax dollars are being spent on a private contract, the taxpayers have a
right to know how and on what they are being spent.
Doable Energy Future
By Tom Evslin, Vermont Times,
September 12, 2010
Since one third of our electricity
comes from Vermont Yankee and another third from HydroQuebec, only the
remaining third is generated from fossil fuel and most of that from natural
gas which is both cleaner than oil in many ways and doesn't come from dangerous
places. So reducing our use of electricity doesn't help us towards our
shared goal of reducing oil usage by 46%; it doesn't substantially reduce
atmospheric emissions, reduce imports from outside North America, or slow
the flow of funds to the Mideast.
We have a lot going for us:
the electrical Smart Grid already being built in Vermont, our environmental
ethic, the cheap clean energy we now have available (including both Yankee
and HydroQuebec, which is expanding its capacity), and a mix of other renewable
sources. If we stick to our consensus, we can eliminate 50% of our oil
use in ten years – and be the richer for it in every sense of the word.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
Surprising Unemployment Problem
The country is failing
to properly educate its growing middle class.
By Shaun Rein, Forbes Magazine
Online, September 2, 2010
Dexter Roberts wrote recently
in Business Week that more than 25% of this year's university graduates
in China have failed to find a job. Meanwhile executives at nearly a hundred
multinationals recently told my firm that their biggest challenge for growth
is recruiting and retaining talent. At more than one-third of the big businesses
we talked to they said their annual employee turnover is 30%. In the U.S.
11% turnover is considered too costly because of the expense of recruiting
and training; 9% is just right for getting new ideas into an organization
and getting rid of dead wood.
Most analysts point to China's
growing income gap and the rural-urban divide as the main causes of social
instability in the country. We certainly should be concerned about poor
people from a humanitarian standpoint, but if China starts to suffer from
real social instability, it will most likely come from a disenfranchised
middle class unable to realize its dreams. From the French
Revolution to the Chinese one, most revolutionary leaders have
been university-educated, middle-class people who were marginalized by
society and had their hopes thwarted. The truly poor rarely cause massive
instability. They don't have the means to stop working--they work to eat--and
they don't have the ability to rally large groups.
"Illegals" Aren't Alone in Trying to Steal our Secrets
By Peter Brookes, Family
Security Matters, September 8, 2010
Just when you thought the
bumbling Boris Badenov and his side-number Natasha Fatale had retired to
a secluded dacha, the FBI uncovers the largest spy ring in the United States
in post-Cold War history this summer.
For more than a decade, Mother
Russia had been running a dozen, deepcover "illegals" posing as ordinary
Americans (but using assumed names and identities, some of them of the
deceased) right under our noses.
The rolled-up Russians were
charged with being unregistered agents of a foreign government and with
money laundering, but interestingly, none was charged with espionage—likely
due to the lack of success of their clandestine efforts.
Is Fully Deployed to Afghanistan
By Julian E. Barnes, The
Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2010
The final U.S. brigade sent
to Afghanistan as part of President Barack Obama's surge strategy assumed
authority for a swath of the country's eastern territory Wednesday.
The 4th Brigade of the 101st
Airborne Division has only a short time to make an impact before the harsh
winter of eastern Afghanistan, due to set in by November, makes travel
and combat difficult.
Dept. Pressed for Imam Book Explanation
By Emily Miller, Human Events,
September 2, 2010
The State Department spent
$10,000 of taxpayer funds to buy 2,000 copies of the book written by Ground
Zero mosque promoter Feisal Abdul Rauf. U.S. embassy employees are distributing
the book during the imam’s taxpayer-funded tour to Bahrain, Qatar and the
United Arab Emirates. ??But the arrangement calls into question whether
the U.S. government’s funding of a book which promotes the Muslim religion
is in violation of the 1st Amendment’s separation of church and state.
The State Department is spending
$16,000 as on Rauf’s tour of the Middle East as part of the "speakers program"
within the Bureau of International Information Programs.
"There is no oversight by
Congress of the taxpayer-paid religious leaders sent on overseas tours
by the State Department," says Lynn.
Us "Citizens of the World"
By Frank Gaffney, Jr. Family
Security Matters, September 8, 2010
The President's serial apologies,
bowing and pandering to various unsavory international leaders has gained
the most notoriety for his policy approach - giving rise to this column's
characterization of the "Obama Doctrine" as: "Emboldening our enemies;
undermining our friends; and diminishing our country."
More worrisome are myriad
other steps largely being taken out of the public eye. Particularly
when such actions are taken together, they will have the effect of institutionalizing
the core notion behind Mr. Obama's brand of what his top international
lawyer (and prospective future Supreme Court nominee), State Department
Legal Advisor Harold Koh, calls "transnationalism": A new world order
in which the United States is simply one nation among many, subject to
a higher - if utterly unaccountable - authority.
Many of these changes involve
the secular strain of this phenomenon and its holy of holies, the United
Nations. Team Obama has made a point of building up the UN at American
expense by: legitimating the organization at every turn; deferring to one
lowest-common-denominator consensus after another - no matter how inconsistent
they might be with U.S. positions and interests; and joining discredited
entities like UNESCO and the Human Rights Council.
Wages of Primitivism in the Islamic World
A little perspective
on Pastor Jones.
By Rich Lowry, National
Review Online, September 10, 2010
The madman theory didn’t
work out for Nixon, but it has now become the strategy of a slice of an
entire civilization. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the Ground Zero
mosque, says failing to build the mosque will threaten "national security"
by empowering Islamic radicals. Practically everyone in America urged Pastor
Terry Jones not to burn a Koran to avoid provoking Muslims around the world.
This is the "madman theory" writ large: Don’t offend Muslims for fear of
their wholly unhinged reaction.
Jones deserved the condemnation
heaped upon him for his planned gap-toothed act of interfaith belligerence.
A little perspective, though: Jones wasn’t intending to threaten or hurt
anyone or destroy anyone’s property besides his own. The truly freakish
villains in the story — should the worst have happened — would have been
the inciters, excusers, and perpetrators of mayhem in response to one man’s
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The Cost of Banning DDT
By Dennis T. Avery, The Hudson Institute, September 13, 2010
3 Billion and Counting is a new documentary film on the awful human cost of banning DDT. The film's producer, medical doctor Rutledge Taylor, circled the tropical world, finding that malaria has claimed some three billion human lives throughout history and the toll of needless deaths is continuing to mount by perhaps 1.5 million per year. Moreover, it permanently debilitates millions more. Taylor says malaria treatment is a "tangle of red tape, misguided prevention policies and treatment that is ineffective in the face of continual re-infection." Above all, he found "willful deafness to the pleas of local populations to help them eradicate the mosquitoes that deliver the deadly cargo."
The American DDT ban triggered similar bans across the First World and with it, their refusal to fund its use in poor countries. Malaria resurged all over the tropics. Rachel Carson, and Ruckelshaus were the indirect cause of more deaths than Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Genghis Khan combined. You can even throw in the Black Plague and still not match the numbers.
DDT is not only the most cost-effective mosquito killer, it is also a powerful mosquito repellent. If tropic homes get a mild interior DDT whitewash, the insects don't come in, bite somebody, and then die two hours later. They just don't come in! DDT is, by itself, capable of reducing a malaria outbreak by 80 percent—quickly.
Remembering the Anti-Federalists
By John C. Pinheiro, The Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, September 8, 2010
The U.S. Constitution won ratification on June 21, 1788, mainly because of promises to anti-Federalists that a Bill of Rights would be added as soon as possible. (Federalists had opposed the addition of a Bill of Rights on the grounds that listing Americans' liberties in amendments might unintentionally limit them.) Another comforting thought was that George Washington, who had proven trustworthy with power, would be the first president.
Still, anti-Federalists did correctly predict that the U.S. Constitution would become a much-abused instrument in the hands of those who wished to build a muscular, far-reaching government. They also foresaw that the judiciary might endanger liberty more than a quasi-monarchical president. Robert Yates's warnings about the Supreme Court and Congress certainly ring true today, as do Samuel Bryan's predictions about politicians taking advantage of crises to pursue ideological or partisan ends. These processes tend to limit Americans' liberties while chipping away at their virtue via government-constructed moral hazards. Indeed, as J. Budziszweski notes in The Line through the Heart, Yates's "arguments seem even stronger today than they did at the time they were written."
Scandal: Less than 7% of Trillion-Dollar ‘Stimulus' Spent on Infrastructure
By Connie Hair, Human Events, September 8, 2010
The first stimulus bill was sold as spending on "shovel ready" projects to provide the jobs that would put millions of people back to work.
According to Recovery.gov, the President's own website which accounts for the stimulus funding (ahem), of the first $787 billion stimulus bill, a full $275 billion has gone un-spent as of August 27, 2010. And of the $512 billion of stimulus already spent, only $18.5 billion (less than seven percent) has been paid out by the Department of Transportation on these "shovel ready" jobs.
Let me repeat that: less than seven percent has gone for the promised transportation infrastructure.
Russians Debunk Peak Oil Theory - as Bogus as Greenhouse Gas Scam
By John O'Sullivan, Canada Free Press, September 7, 2010
Russians prove 'fossil' fuel is junk science theory linked to global warming hype. Oil is shown to be mineral in origin-not from fossilized organisms. No more fears over shrinking reserves as experts say petroleum is naturally 'renewable.'
Yes, you read that right and over 2,000 eastern European peer-reviewed science papers sinisterly ignored by western governments and the mainstream media back up the claims.
Business Leaders Denounce Obama's Tax Increase
By John Gizzi, Human Events, September 1, 2010
Even before the President declared in Cleveland yesterday that he would not compromise on extending the Bush tax cuts on the highest-earning Americans, key business leaders were drawing the proverbial "line in the sand" on this issue.
In what is almost certain to be a repeated theme from the business community before the fast-approaching midterm elections, two business leaders who spoke to HUMAN EVENTS said without hesitation that Obama's ending of the Bush cuts was a tax increase.
The Next Joe Miller?
John Raese battles for Robert Byrd's seat.
By Brian Bolduc, The National Review Online, September 10, 2010
John Raese is West Virginia's most respectable also-ran. In 1984, he ran for Senate and lost to then-governor John Rockefeller by four points. In 1988, he challenged sitting governor Arch Moore in the Republican primary and lost by six points. In 2006, he
contested Sen. Robert Byrd's reelection and was crushed. But at least he tried.
Now, Raese wants to serve the remainder of the late Byrd's term. In his way stands another political titan, Gov. Joe Manchin. Sixty-seven percent of West Virginians approve of Manchin's performance, Rasmussen Reports found in a poll released yesterday. Yet Rasmussen also found that 62 percent of voters disapproved of President Obama's performance and that Raese trailed the governor by only five points.
The 'I Can't Wait To Vote' Election
By Merrill Matthews, Forbes Magazine, September 9, 2010
Not only is it likely that Republicans will take over both the House and Senate, I think it's probable. And a whole bunch of state houses and governors' mansions as well.
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