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True North Archives - November 18, 2008
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Featured Articles

Striving for Excellence: Another Look at American Individualism
By Robert Maynard

The vision of the left is one of a socially engineered society in which those running the show would guarantee an egalitarian equality of results. This would require obliterating any natural distinctions between individuals. The result is that individuals end up as mere cogs in massive socio-political collective machine run by all knowing bureaucrats.

The conservative worldview begins with the Judeo-Christian notion of the individual person as a moral agent who is endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness. Further clarification is in order here. Today our view of happiness tends to be hedonistic. We want to feel good immediately and tend not to think too far ahead. So we see a night out or a pleasant activity as a route to happiness. This was not the view that the founders had in mind.

George W. Bush's Last Sorry Gift to America
by John McClaughry

Michigan Congressman John Dingell, the venerable Democratic chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the proposed regulations had "the potential for shutting down or slowing down virtually all industry and all economic activity and growth." It would surely wreck what's left of the U.S. auto industry.

The Notice governs not only industries, power plants, cars, trucks and airplanes, but also greenhouse gas emissions from dairy herds of more than 25 cows. It would regulate logging and farms with over 500 acres of crops, farm tractors, and lawn and garden equipment. EPA even proposes regulations for snowmobiles and dirt bikes.

The Gentry-Left and the Wealth Gap
By Martin Harris

Based on anecdotal evidence you might conclude that Vermont has experienced, in recent years, an enlargement of its own internal Wealth Gap (measured as the percent of total income, including capital gains, going to the top 1 percent of earners) and some of us trace this result to specific long-running State Government policies regarding job-creation, regulatory climate, planning and zoning, and so on, but you must also note that enlargement of the Wealth Gap is likewise a nationwide phenomenon. Historically, the charts show, the share of total income now going to the top 1 percent is at 23 (as of 2006) which is just about where it was at its pre-Great-Depression peak in 1926. It bottomed out at 8 percent in 1975. This 1 percent of the population pays 35 percent of all income taxes. 

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This Week’s Mail Bag

Tragedy Times Two

In August of 1998, my 18 year old son was killed by a drunk driver.  Just two weeks ago, on Nov. 5th, 2008, my father, who lives in Florida, was seriously injured in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver.  This driver was heading the wrong way on the highway, directly at oncoming traffic.  One of the vehicles was a tractor trailer truck, who attempted to avoid this driver, lost control, crossed the median and hit my father head on.   Thank goodness my father is expected to make a full recovery, but that is beside the point.  Two accidents caused by drunk drivers have affected my family in the past ten years.  Totally unacceptable!!  At any given time, other members of my family are in danger from drunk drivers due to ridiculously lenient punishments, at least in Vermont. 

I have been reading the court news for several months now, and am flabbergasted at the lack of consistency and punishment that judges apply to these cases.  First time offenders get fines anywhere from $200 - $350 and suspension of their licenses.  I say amend this to $750, which if not paid, can be worked off through community service at minimum wage.  As for the license suspension, we all know this does not work, and the offender needs to be held accountable.  A fine of $750.00 per offense should be assessed, and if not paid, again, community service at minimum wage. 

Second time offenders should automatically be fined $1000, have their licenses suspended, with the same stipulations as noted above, and should spend 60 days in jail as it is apparent that they did not learn from the first round of punishment.  Third time offenders should automatically be sent to jail for 10 years, no reduction in sentence, no matter the excuse.  I hear bleeding hearts cry that these individuals have jobs and families to support, etc.  Well, each and every time they get behind the wheel drunk, they show that their jobs and families do not matter.  They also show that everyone else's family does not matter either.  Lastly, there should be no more reducing the charges to a lesser offense, such as careless and negligent operation of a vehicle, which is done more times than I wish to count.    Three strikes, you are out!!

Until we demand that our lawmakers and judges make and apply laws that are in accordance to the crime of drinking and driving, more tragedies will occur.   None of us is safe. 

I do wish to thank the Vermont State Police and other local police forces for their diligence in trying to keep our roads safe.  They work hard, oftentimes giving up their holidays to make sure that our holidays will be happy ones.  Now, if only the judges will do their jobs.

Be safe this holiday season.

Joan Beaudry

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The Gift of the Jews


Thank you for writing your piece, "The Gift of the Jews."  I very much appreciate your research effort as it helped bring understanding to the core struggle in America today, which I believe is full circle back to the core struggle in 1776.  That is, whether we as a culture will embrace that basic human rights come from our Creator or from man.  As a nation whose predominant cultural values lay the foundation for our public policy, it is especially important that each citizen seriously consider their own understanding of humanity and our world and its consequences personally as well as to our nation. While Americans have very high disapproval rating for Congress, we must admit that Congress as a whole is a reflection of the people of this nation, because we elected each member. It is folly to think that Congress even consider foundational principles and their consequences until we first consider them and apply them to our own lives. 

It is no accident that we live in the freest and most prosperous nation in all history. As your piece demonstrates, it is a direct result of our nation’s foundation being on the Judeo-Christian worldview, which acknowledges among other things that man is created and not merely a result of chance. The importance of this should not be underestimated and the truth of it can be backed up by the outcomes of those societies that embrace a creator or reject a creator. 

Like the saying, "the proof is in the pudding," results give credence to ideas. If even a quarter of this nation seriously considered this issue personally, and claim both the rights and responsibilities that accompany this proven worldview, I believe our nation would rebound in a hurry and be the envy of the world for the next century, like it has been for nearly the past two centuries.

Mark Shepard

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"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of "liberalism," they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened." – Norman Thomas, U.S. Socialist Party presidential candidate 1940, 1944, and 1948

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Dumbing Down: A View from Inside
Vermont Tiger November 14, 2008

In Vermont classrooms and in classrooms around the country, expectations of teachers for their students are constantly being dumbed down.  Most of our readers probably already suspect this.  What people might not know is exactly how it happens.  Let me offer one of many instances.

The Ubiquitous Permit Trap as Seen in Newport
Caledonia Record Editorial November 10, 2008

Once again, Vermont's permit trap is stopping construction of a needed facility, this time the 22,000-square-foot expansion of North Country Hospital. The expansion had already applied for and received permits from the Newport City Development Review Board and the District 7 Environmental Commission (Act 250) when two sets of disgruntled neighbors, Mark and Sharon Stewart and Dan and Sarah Roy, appealed these permits to the Environmental Court, thereby stopping construction until the Environmental Court rules on their appeal, a significant and, in our opinion, unjustified delay.

WalMart: A Test
From Vermont Tiger November 13, 2008

The basket of consumer goods bought at the Williston supermarket was 16% more expensive than the one purchased at the nearby WalMart.  The same basket, bought in St. Albans where the people have been defended against the predations of WalMart?  Well, it was 29% more expensive but, then, that doesn’t take in to account quality of life.Then, we elect a governor to somehow rationalize it all.  To square the circle.  To make revenues match expenditures (instead of the other way around) and somehow save us from ourselves. 

Busted Illegals Highlight a Bigger Problem
From WCAX-TV November 14, 2008

While the five illegal construction workers will likely soon be deported-- their employer will probably receive little more than a slap on the wrist. "The law is toothless if you will," explained Sen. Vince Illuzzi, R-Essex and Orleans Counties. The penalty for hiring an illegal worker in Vermont is a $100 to $300 fine for a first offense; up to $750 for any subsequent offenses.

We Are Not an Island ... and VSAC is a sinking ship
From, November 12, 2008

VSAC offices and the VSAC Resource Center were closed yesterday for the VSAC annual meeting, and one can only hope they booked a large room and blocked off the whole day – they have some serious issues to discuss.  Despite an estimated $19.6 million dollar appropriation from the legislature (read: taxpayers), VSAC still needs an estimated $390 million to fund loans, of which $230 million is needed annually in new capital. In recent years VSAC has financed their operations with Auction Rate Demand Securities (ARS). The blow-up of the ARS market was touched on several times here at Vermont Tiger and on Vermont Scrap Wood in March and April. At the time we were assured that this was a temporary situation and that VSAC would seek alternative funding. Well folks it's November and according to a recent report (pdf), every single VSAC auction for their auction rate securities failed, and the penalty rate of interest is still as high as 9.27%. This doesn't bode well for VSAC, or taxpayers who may well end up footing the bill through increased requests for appropriations. 

Unfair Competition
Caledonia Record Editorial November 13, 2008

On Nov. 1, the federal government went into unfair competition with a small, privately owned pharmacy that has served our towns for over 75 years, since 1933. Gauthier's Pharmacy, started by the Gauthier family and now owned by Dr. Carol Novick, has just lost a pile of business and long-term customers to the government's ever-more grasping socialized medical services. Dr. Novick has lost its contractual arrangement with Northern Counties Health Care, of St. Johnsbury, Concord, Danville, Hardwick, and Island Pond. Northern Counties, and four other federally qualified health centers, have formed an exclusive mail order drug store in Colchester called the Community Health Pharmacy.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Why Europe is Secretly Afraid of a Socialist America
By James Lewis, American Thinker, November 14, 2008

Suppose you've been living under the protective wings of a benevolent superpower for sixty years. And suppose you've used that big half century to take off on an endless vacation -- spending all your tax money to buy votes for the socialist Ruling Class. It's been one long, grand, drug-infested, sex-drenched, self-indulgent, tabloid party scene. Any time danger threatens you look to Washington for protection. The rest of the time you noisily abuse those Yankee imperialists, merely to boost your fragile ego. Corruption has become pervasive.

That's Europe today. What a sweet deal. But now you see your guardian superpower electing a guy who wants to follow your example. Whooops! Time to sober up. Fast.

Know Thy Enemy
By Michael Ledeen, National Review, November 14, 2008

Laurent Murawiec’s The Mind of Jihad is, at last, a book on radical Islam that does it all. Unlike many engaged in the heated debate over the nature of our enemies, Murawiec does not believe that ancient texts tell us all we need to know. He insists that all ideas change over time, even those believed to have been dictated by God’s angel. He has therefore immersed himself not only in the sacred texts of Islam but also in the richly variegated speeches, writings, and actions of its most extremist practitioners: the jihadis waging war against us.

Iran Poses New Threat to Region and World
By Riki Ellison, Family Security Matters, November 15, 2008

Earlier this week, Iran launched a two stage solid fuel ballistic missile with a range of 1,200 miles making U.S. troops, bases, and allies in the Middle East most notably Israel vulnerable to threats, intimidation and influence from Iran and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This display of provocation intended to engage the new administration under President-elect Obama follows the similar tactics of the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev who set a precedent less than a week ago by threatening the deployment of ballistic missiles on its border if the new U.S. administration does not withdrawal from the agreements that would deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Obama’s Road to Damascus
By John Perazzo,, November 11, 2008

History will record that Barack Obama’s first act of diplomacy as America’s president-elect took place two days after his election victory, when he dispatched his senior foreign-policy adviser, Robert Malley, to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—to outline for them the forthcoming administration’s Mideast policy vis-à-vis those nations. An aide to Malley reports, "The tenor of the messages was that the Obama administration would take into greater account Egyptian and Syrian interests" than has President Bush. The Bush administration, it should be noted, has rightly recognized Syria to be not only a chief supporter of the al Qaeda insurgency in Iraq, but also the headquarters of the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the longtime sponsor of Hamas—the terrorist army whose founding charter is irrevocably committed to the annihilation of Israel. Yet unlike President Bush, Obama and Malley have called for Israel to engage in peace negotiations with Syria.

Beware this Saudi deal to help bail out Britain. It comes with a devastating IOU
By Melanie Phillips, UK Mail Online, November 9, 2008

A week ago Gordon Brown, accompanied by his new best friend the Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, went cap in hand to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to ask them to help bail out the stricken economies of the West by pumping billions into the International Monetary Fund. It is more than a little strange that the British Prime Minister should have apparently taken it upon himself to speak on behalf of the IMF. But the real concern is that asking for help from Saudi Arabia is not like tapping your friendly neighbourhood bank manager for a bigger overdraft.

No, this loan comes with a devastating IOU — nothing less than a big slice of control over Britain and the West by a regime at the heart of the attempt to bring about the Islamisation of the free world.

Free (From) Willy
From Investor's Business Daily, November 13, 2008

Foreign bank accounts controlled by the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) were never reported to the Internal Revenue Service or even to the charity's own auditors, a former bookkeeper for the charity admitted Wednesday.

Mohammad Wafa Yaish worked as a tax and accounting consultant for HLF from 1997-2001. He was called as a defense witness to give an overview of the different projects run by HLF and to discuss financial records.

Five former HLF officials are accused of illegally funneling millions of dollars to Hamas through a series of Palestinian charities called zakat committees. If HLF was raising money for Hamas, he didn't know about it, Yaish said.

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From Elsewhere

The Victory of Socialism
Program Guest:Michael Miller, Acton Lecture Series, July 24, 2008

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the success of free markets many believed that socialism had seen its last days. But socialism did not die. It continues to advance in new ways. Socialist visions of man and society dominate many of our cultural institutions, academia, media, government, and religion. In Latin America, Europe, and even the US, proponents of socialist ideas are gaining influence. While we celebrated the triumph of freedom has socialism won over the culture?

Automakers Need Bankruptcy, Not Bailout
By Andrew M. Grossman, Heritage Foundation, November 15, 2008

The U.S. auto industry is in dire need of a shakeup. All of the Big Three are beset by plummeting sales and market share, high labor costs, aging fleets, and a surfeit of innovative automobiles in the pipeline. With General Motors, and perhaps Ford after it, facing looming liquidity crises, staying the course is no longer an option.

But rather than face facts, the auto industry is seeking yet another government lifeline: a $25 billion bailout on top of the billions in subsidized loans already approved by lawmakers. While a bailout promises continued stagnation and decline, reorganization is the only chance that automakers have to rebound and survive in the global marketplace.

The Birth of Freedom
Program Guest: Jay W. Richards Ph.D., Acton Media, August 14, 2008

Jay Richards talks and leads discussion about some of the themes from Acton's new documentary, The Birth of Freedom. The film treats the contributions of the Judeo-Christian tradition to the rise of political and economic freedom in the West.

Monetary Freedom and Its Opposite
By Mark Thornton, Ludwig Von Mises Institute, November 12, 2008

The only true path to reform is monetary freedom. We have gone from a situation where money was entirely free from government intervention to one that is completely dominated by government. Instead of privately minted coins made from precious metals we now have a system of government-printed paper fiat currency. We have gone from a system of private banking that provided bank notes and checks for demand deposits to one where banks are completely regulated by the central bank and a host of other regulatory bodies. The idea that our current financial mess resulted from a lack of regulation is truly laughable. Of course this process has taken centuries to complete. By giving up our monetary freedom—particularly over the last one hundred years—we have given government the ability to grow in size and scope and to achieve unthinkable levels of power. Every step forward towards government control of money has resulted in social chaos and economic destruction. The real economy only grows in the interludes when monetary mischief is at a minimum.

Keep Right
By Jonah Goldberg, National Review, November 14, 2008

This is not to say that one can’t be a moderate on this issue or that and be a Republican. But the idea that social liberalism and economic conservatism can coexist easily is not well supported by the evidence. For example, in Congress and in state legislatures, the more pro-life you are, the more likely you are to be a free-market, low-tax conservative. The more pro-choice you are, the more likely it is that you will be remarkably generous with other people’s money.

Thawing Fuel For Palin's Pipeline
From Investor's Business Daily, November 13, 2008

Sometimes, America lucks out. From the Arctic, a new energy source has emerged called frozen gas. It could cut prices and bring independence. We hope Democrats and Republicans can work together on this.

The Right Lesson
Conservatives moved to the middle after Goldwater. That was a mistake
By Paul Gottfried, The American Conservative, November 17, 2008

...the first thing to be done is to abandon the failed precedent of the post-Goldwater epoch. The course the conservative movement pursued in alliance with the GOP after 1964 ended disastrously last week, in a spectacular victory for the radical, multicultural Left.

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