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. True North Archives 10/03/06

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Featured Articles

Stop Over Spending! 
By John McClaughry
"….What would a SOS tax limitation measure do for Vermont? A 2004 calculation showed that beginning in FY1998, the year that the Act 60 state property tax went into effect, population and inflation grew a combined 17% over five years. But major state tax revenues grew by over 23%. With an SOS limitation in effect, over that five-year period the state would have been required to rebate on the order of $323 million to its taxpayers…." – John McClaughry is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. (

Will It Educate?
By Robert Maynard 
"Dr. Elkind explains that children who receive academic instruction too early, usually before the age of six or seven, are put at risk for no apparent gain. By attempting to teach the wrong things at the wrong time, early instruction can permanently damage a child’s self esteem, reduce a child’s willingness to learn and block a child’s natural gifts and abilities…. In fact, our informal decentralized early education system is outperforming the more centralized and inflexible European model and is excelling at preparing our children for superior achievement in the elementary years."

Common Denominator
By Steve Cable
"When concerned citizens take a panoramic view of the troubles we have in Vermont and the trends that have led us to this sad state of affairs, it can be very depressing. Property tax has been outpacing income increases for ten years in a row. Over-regulation of private property is making it less valuable to the owners. State and Federal land grabs, such as Wilderness Protection is restricting valuable traditional uses of our land; logging and recreation are banned. Vermont has close to the highest taxes per capita in the USA while having a below-the-curve median income…." – Steve Cable is President of Vermont Renewal

Burlington Electric Department’s Intervale Land Sale: Whose Interests are being served?
 By Steve Ciardelli
"….Make no mistake, this complex deal is really being driven by Mayor Kiss, and not the supposed BED obligation to sell the land. Surely the price shouldn't be below the City assessment…. I have no confidence that a majority of the City Council will protect the public's interest. The Council has already voted NOT to place this important issue before the voters…." – Steve Ciardelli is a resident of Burlington

Campaign ‘06

Sanders Wrong To Perpetuate Outsourcing Myth
By Emerson Lynn, St. Albans Messenger Editorial, September 25

Few things provide the same political drama as the anecdotes of workers who have lost their jobs to overseas competition. Saturday, these stories were part of a political rally for Rep. Bernard Sanders who said that this "outsourcing" was a big part of the reason that "the middle class is shrinking, poverty is increasing and millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages."

That is not true, but unfortunately, the congressman is not held accountable for his hyperbole. Thus, the myth spreads.

When someone says they lost their job, our first response is to be repelled by the circumstances that caused the person's job to be lost. We want them to be gainfully employed and it's hard to accept the correctness of any system that allows for the jobs to be shipped overseas.

That's the political card politicians like Mr. Sanders plan.

Not only is that partially xenophobic, but if Mr. Sanders' political stump speech were to be accepted as policy, the very people he says he would like to help -- the poor and middle class -- would be hurt most of all. Our cost of living would soar. It would also be a foreign policy disaster. His opponent, Republican Richard Tarrant, is correct on this particular issue: the stronger our trade relationships, the less we fight, which is why progress between nations should first be trade-based, not political.

But it's important to consider the "size" of Mr. Sanders' alleged crisis. The worst-case scenario is one offered by Forrester Research, which said that outsourcing would cause a loss of 3.3 million jobs between 2000 and 2015.

On the surface that sounds alarming. 3.3 million jobs lost! But there are roughly 140 million jobs in the United States and we lose an estimated 7.7 million jobs each quarter. Thus, the 3.3 million job loss equals less than one percent of the total.

All this for less than one percent?

Consider, too, that according to the Organization for International Investment, America is "insourcing" manufacturing jobs faster than it's "outsourcing" them. But we never hear about that -- perhaps because those "insourced" are not Americans? Our story is not that different from other industrialized nations. The decline in manufacturing employment between 1995 and 2002 was 11 percent, the same percentage decline recorded worldwide. Why? Vastly increased productivity and technological advances within the world of manufacturers. China lost 15 percent of its manufacturing jobs over that same seven-year period.

It's also important to keep a balanced perspective -- something that politicians reject because it does not play to their advantage. When Mr. Sanders decries the number of jobs lost to countries like China and India he conveniently forgets to remind his audience that most American jobs are tied to proximity and thus, not at risk. According to Daniel W. Drezner Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, roughly 90 percent of all American jobs cannot be exported.

Boston University Professor Nitin Joglekar has also studied the issue of outsourcing among IT professionals and found that roughly 20 percent of those whose jobs are outsourced actually lose their jobs -- most find employment within the same organization.

What Mr. Sanders also ignores -- because it destroys his case -- is that, according to the McKinsey Global Institute we gain $1.12 to $1.14 in benefits for every dollar spent on outsourcing. Sending the lower paid jobs abroad also creates savings for companies and consumers here. For example, when Delta outsourced its 1,000 person call center to India, the $25 million in savings provided the capital necessary for Delta to hire 1,200 sales and reservations personnel here. Which jobs are better? The same is true for computer programmers: 70,000 lost their jobs between 1999 and 2003 but over 115,000 computer software engineers landed higher paying jobs, according to Mr. Drezner.

The fact that "outsourcing" is a political boogeyman does not make the pain go away for those whose jobs are gone. What we should adopt, as firm and prudent policy is an extended period of time for unemployment benefits and additional workforce training. That's the only prudent path to adjust to the "creative destruction" that underpins any robust economy.

What we should not do is to accept Mr. Sanders' political demagoguery and to accept his belief that the American worker is being threatened by the world's marketplace. We need to look forward, not backward. We face many challenges -- an over dependence on oil, is but one example -- but exporting jobs to China or India is not among them. It's an argument akin to the "giant sucking sound" Mr. Sanders accepted with the passage of the nation's various trade agreements, something that, obviously did not happen.

Forest bills sputter in House; N.H. reps rip Sanders
By David Gram, Associated Press, September 26
"New Hampshire's two U.S. House members ripped a Vermont congressman Tuesday for trying to scuttle a bill expanding the White Mountain National Forest because it lacked similar provisions for Vermont…."

Republicans call for repeal of statewide property tax
By David Gram, Associated Press, September 27
"MONTPELIER, Vt. --Five Republican lawmakers called Wednesday for repeal of the statewide property tax Vermont uses to pay for schools, saying a discussion on what they would replace it with could wait until later. 'We in the Legislature can no longer ignore the urgency of this crisis, nor can we ignore the cries of our neighbors who are being driven out of (their) homes and off their land,' Rep. Rick Hube of Londonderry said as he announced the plan, dubbed '"Revolt and Repeal….'"

Peter Welch’s Campaign Contribution Details on Political Money Line
Fans of tort reform may cringe at the $10,000 contribution from the Association of Trial Lawyers. Education reformers may wonder about the $10,000 from the American Federation of Teachers, which is not even the union that represents Vermont teachers (the NEA is, and they gave Welch half as much). There's much more...

Vermont Weekly News Round Up

Wilderness bill fails to clear House on final day
By Ross Sneyd, Associated Press September 30
"MONTPELIER, Vt. --A politically charged bill that would expand wilderness areas in the Green Mountain National Forest failed to clear the U.S. House in the final hours before Congress adjourned Saturday, shoving the issue back to the campaign agenda…."

Study: St. Albans Wal-Mart wouldn't hurt local jobs
September 25, 2006
"A developer hoping to build a Wal-Mart store in St. Albans says the store would have a minor impact on local employment, traffic and tax revenue…"

Board votes no on preschool pilot
By Sarah Hinckley, Rutland Herald, September 27
"Rutland City School District will not conduct a pilot preschool program this school year. "My recommendation is to not take any action," Moran said to the board. "We don't go forward with a pre-K program at this time." The board of commissioners supported her recommendation unanimously during the Tuesday night meeting…."

RELATED: FreedomWorks applauds Rutland City’s decision to nix taxpayer funded "universal" preschool... for now. 

Private childcare providers and taxpayers lead the opposition.

Rutland – On Tuesday, September 27, Superintendent Mary Moran recommended not to move forward with the universal "pilot" preschool program that Rutland City had been considering since December 2005. The board of commissioners unanimously agreed. 

Back on September 19th the board held an informational meeting at the Rutland High School in which Assistant Superintendent John Stempek and Business & Finance Director Peter Amons made the case for implementing the program. The audience of roughly fifty Rutland residents was, however, overwhelmingly opposed to the idea. 

FreedomWorks-Vermont State Director, Rob Roper spoke from the floor regarding the negative impacts of universal preschool programs on children in other states (Georgia & Oklahoma), the irrelevant nature of projected benefits for mainstream children based on the High Scope/Perry Preschool Project, an experiment that dealt only with poor, African-American children with IQ’s between 70 and 85 (This is what Stempek largely based his presentation on), and the real costs of implementing universal programs.

Several area private childcare providers also voiced their objections to plan. Before the September 27 meeting, one provider, Hope Will, gathered signatures from over 400 Rutland City residents in opposition to taxpayer funded universal pre-K. 

Superintendent Moran was quoted in an article by the Rutland Herald, "What we learned is there's still a great deal more to learn. We will, however, continue to study the topic."

The Senate Education Committee has been studying this topic for three years in connection with universal preschool bills S.166 (2004) and S.132 (2005-06). All failed to pass due to widespread public objection, and S.132 never even had enough support to get out of committee. The Vermont State Board of Education formed and Ad Hoc Committee on Early Education in 2005 to study Universal Preschool. They recommended in February 2006 that Vermont not pursue universal pre-k, citing high cost and a lack of benefit to children. A legislative study committee was formed at the end of the 2006 session to study universal preschool some more.... Their report is expected in January 2007. 

"This was a good decision by the board," said Rob Roper. "The more people study this topic and learn about it, the more they come to realize that universal preschool is not a good policy to pursue. It’s bad for kids, bad for taxpayers, and bad for hundreds of small Vermont childcare businesses. It was really gratifying to see how a group of citizens armed with the facts can stand up and make a difference. I expect we’ll see more of this throughout Vermont in the weeks ahead." 


Bill Clinton Pardoned Terrorists FALN clemency encouraged killers
By JOSEPH F. CONNOR, September 27
"BILL Clinton's scathing, defensive attack against Chris Wall ace and Fox News on Sunday left me once again struck by the former president's pure hypocrisy and arrogance. 

"Clinton wagged his familiar finger in the face of the American public - which he clearly takes for fools - as he defended the indefensible: his administration's abysmal record on terrorism…. What made his self-righteousness especially burn for me is that fact that Clinton pardoned terrorists from the group that killed my father…. In 1999, the Clinton adminstration cravenly offered pardons to 16 hard-core, remorseless terrorists of the Puerto Rican terror group Armed Forces for National Liberation - the FALN….

"Clinton invoked executive privilege to avoid explaining his reasons for releasing terrorists on the American public. But it remains clear that his motive was to garner Hispanic support for then-prospective Senate candidate Hillary Clinton's run in New York…."

Charter schools in New Hampshire are being starved to death
By BILL GRIMM, NH Union Leader, Sept. 26
"….The purpose of the statewide experiment and the challenge to operating New Hampshire charter schools is clear. Prove you can do education better and at a lower cost to the taxpayers…. On average, all the charter schools in the study received about 22 percent less in per-pupil operational funding than the local district public schools that surround them, a gap of about $1,800…. If the charter schools in New Hampshire are going to have a reasonable chance of proving their worth, the massive size of the funding gap has to be reduced. If not, most if not all New Hampshire charter schools will simply starve to death financially…."







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