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True North Archives - November 23, 2010
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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

Government Food Policy Gives Heartburn
Rob Roper photoBy Rob Roper

According to the news this week, Vermont is now one of the hungriest states in the union. We do such a miserable job of feeding our people that... well, our Attorney General says we need to start taxing sugary drinks to fight the state’s obesity crisis. Apparently, any Vermonter not starving to death is killing himself with too many Mountain Dews and juice boxes.

In both cases (too much waistline and too little nutrition) as Ronald Reagan said so well, government is not the solution, government is the problem. In fact, these two juxtaposed headlines should be a real red flag to get government the heck out of food policy all together. Our government is, in a word, incompetent.

Same Old Sanders
Rob Roper photoBy Deborah T. Bucknam

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ opinion piece in the Caledonian Record on November 8, 2010 ("Where do we go from here?") was so wrong on so many counts it is hard to know where to begin. Sanders’ theses in his November 8 commentary are identical to his positions nearly forty years ago when he first ran for office on the Liberty Union ticket. His rigid fixed beliefs have not changed despite the overwhelming evidence over the last four decades that his policies would lead to economic stagnation and authoritarianism.

Reality has never intruded into Sanders’ belief system.

How does Sanders continue to cling to his socialist faith? By self righteously attacking his opponents as morally bankrupt and their followers as dolts. The November 8, 2010 piece is an example of Sanders’ approach. He starts by calling Republican candidates, who gained over 66 seats in the United States Congress and 680 seats in state legislatures as "extreme right wing". Republican candidates in 2010 ran on fiscal responsibility, more transparent, efficient government; less regulation and lower taxes. Those positions are not only mainstream, but many were embraced by candidate Barack Obama in 2008.

The Sustainably Fossil-Fueled Vermont Economy
By Martin Harris

Martin Harris photoA State government eager to shut down a third of its electric power can’t be considered, as the ALEC study does, a serious competitor in the arena of States looking for citizen prosperity via gains in production and productivity, what are still called economically Progressive ambitions, but are certainly not politically Progressive ambitions. ALEC hasn’t yet done the study which compares State-by-State success in de-industrialization, "smart-growth", local-vore-ism, more green energy and less manufacturing, passive-income growth, and, of course "sustainability". I’d guess that the new Vermont would score close to a 1. Consider this contrast: a frequent LttE writer in Middlebury advocates dissuading population growth, natural or in-migration, and applauds the job-seeking or tax-fleeing out-migration of recent years as a welcome population shrinkage toward "sustainable" levels. Conversely, ALEC scores net-in-migration as a "good thing", a marker for economic attractiveness, growth, and prosperity. Michigan leads in net out-migration, at -7.9% of population; while Utah shows a +0.5%. Vermont shows a +0.2%, caused by, I’d guess, passive-income in-migrants slightly out-numbering active-income out-migrants, but ALEC doesn’t differentiate. In Table 6, Net Domestic Migration, the authors report on the large population gains for FL and AZ, the middling gains for TN and CO, the small losses for CT and MA, and the large flight from CA and NY, but doesn’t segregate by active vs. passive income. You can easily guess. 

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This Week’s Mail Bag
Inclusion Fusion Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser

The High School that my son attends has a Dance Group where the teacher has been able to accommodate dancers of all levels, including those with disabilities, even some in wheelchairs into a Dance Group called Inclusion Fusion.  They have been in the news and have gained National Attention from a You Tube Clip that they made of their performance.  They were invited to dance at the Half-time at the Champ Bowl at the Citrus Bowl (College Football) in Orlando Florida on December 26th.  They were also invited to perform at Universal Studios.  They have been fundraising but are still $18,000 short of what it will cost to go (airfare and lodging).  I have been working on a Fundraiser for them and am asking you to help out by participating, attending, donating, and also passing this information on to others in your lists and groups.  If you own a business or know of a business that would be willing to be a Corporate Sponsor ($125 donation) your business will get a professionally made sign with your business name, logo, phone number and web address posted on the day of the event.

Please use this as an opportunity to show Free Market and Community Caring (versus government handouts) and that people can care for our communities and are willing to give to a great cause!

Cliuck to check out the Inclusion Fusion Flyer and the Inclusion Fusion Pledge Sheet.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Pat Crocker
Coordinator Green Mountain Patriots

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A Heads Up on S 510

It's been a while since I've sent a personal appeal for help out but here I am. I've bcc'd 57 people who may or may not know each other but who I feel will understand the gravity of S.510 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (latest text at link-- thomas times out after 30 mins so you may need to refresh the page). This is a bill I've been paying attention to for what feels like forever, sometimes more closely than others but always with an eye on where it is and what it is going to do.

I can tell you what it will do. It will forever change the way people relate to the food they eat. It will mean that virtually every aspect of farming and gardening will require and be subject to various licensing, fees, regulations, red tape, documentation, site inspections, and on and on and on. Those boxes of zucchini and tomatoes and cucumbers left in the post office will turn an otherwise overzealous home gardener into a smuggler.  Say goodbye to your farm stands. Say goodbye to drinking your own cow's milk. Legally, that is.

If you're not familiar with S510, please take some time to do a little digging. Plenty has been written on it. Some hysterical, some pathetic and everything in between. This has all of that and more but generally solid information about S 510. Everyone receiving this is a free thinker. That's why I'm enlisting your assistance ;)

Since the cloture vote last week we have a timetable. S 510 will be voted on Monday Nov 29. That gives us one week to organize. We may or may not be able to defeat this but we can send a message loud and clear to Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders that Vermonters take food seriously. Vermont has crafted an image of itself as an organic mecca. At any rate, I am now preaching to the choir ;)

Sharon (Zecchinelli of No-NAIS, VT C4L and other groups) and I are coordinating a peaceful S 510 demonstration. The purpose is to send a loud and clear message to our federal delegation that this intrusion into our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness will not be tolerated. I hope to get the word on this demonstration to as many people and groups as is possible in one week. Please let me know if you are willing to help-- whatever it is that you can do.

Location: Middlesex, VT park-n-ride (Middlesex is exit 9 off of RT 89, one exit north of Montpelier.)
Why this location is important: Patrick Leahy lives in Middlesex. There is ample parking. The state police barracks are nearby. Patrick Leahy will learn of this event.

Tentative date/time: Sunday, November 28, afternoon
Why this date was chosen: Thursday is Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Saturday travel.

Sharon and I will do as much plugging in as we can with any group or individual that we think will be able to assist in some way. Please help get the word out. Especially interested people can contact me or Sharon. My number is 279-1261. Sharon will set up a conference call for later this week for a check-in/update. If you want in let me know asap.

And just so you know, this is just the beginning ;)

Jessica Bernier
Jessica Bernier lives in Barre and is a member of the Vermont Campaign for Liberty

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"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."

-- Charles Mackay, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds"

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Vt. Ranks #1 in Hunger Increase
From WCAX-TV, November 16 2010

New numbers show that Vermont now ranks among the top hungriest states in the country.

The USDA just released its annual report which shows that 1 in 7 Vermont households don't have enough to eat. These figures are determined by census data on families' eating habits. According to the USDA's analysis, Vermont and Alabama are tied for the highest increase in household food insecurity over the past decade.

Virtue = Revenue: Here Come the Calorie Cops
From Vermont Tiger, November 18 2010

The appetite of the governing class is unappeaseable.  There is no small corner of life where it will not intrude in order to regulate and, of course, tax ordinary citizens leading ordinary lives which their masters have decided are flawed and must be changed.  By persuasion, if possible. Which means lots of propagandizing in the schools and endless public service announcements in the media.  And when these soft strategies don't work, then the rulers ratchet things up a few notches with regulations and taxes.  These, incidentally, provide secure employment for many, many people who work in the public sector and, by the way, vote.

Vt. Environmental Group Criticizes Green Energy
From Fox 44, November 17 2010

A Vermont environmental group says the state's push to go "green" shouldn't destroy one of its best features - the Green Mountains.

Vermonters for a Clean Environment says they aren't necessarily against wind power. They just don't want giant wind turbines built atop Vermont's unspoiled mountains.

How to Kill an Economy
By Art Woolf, Vermont Tiger, November 16, 2010

That's the title I considered giving to a study I did, that was just released, analyzing the impact of the sales tax on the counties of New Hampshire and Vermont that border the Connecticut River.  Instead, I called it The Unintended Consequences of Public Policy Choices: The Connecticut River Valley Economy as a Case Study.

Briefly, (the study itself is 50 pages, but there's a short two page executive summary), until 1969 neither Vermont nor New Hampshire levied a sales tax.  Vermont had not yet passed its development control law, Act 250, and the bottle bill didn't exist.  Both sides of the river were similar, with small towns and similar populations. Not surprisingly, there were a wide variety of stores on both sides of the river supporting the local population. Spending in those stores, on a per capita basis, was nearly identical throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

Tax Code Rescue
By John P. Gregg, Valley News, November 18 2010

The three-member Blue Ribbon Tax Structure Commission looking at how Vermont collects revenue plans to issue preliminary recommendations before January, a clear sign that its work could have some real influence as Gov.-elect Peter Shumlin takes office.

Among the issues the commission, which is chaired by Norwich resident Kathy Hoyt, is looking at are whether to use adjusted gross income, rather than taxable income, as the starting point for collecting state income taxes.

That would end such deductions as mortgage interest payments and gifts to charity, but would also broaden the tax base from $10.2 billion to $15 billion, no small sum, and could lead to the lowering of marginal income tax rates.

Against the Wind
By Hugh Kemper, Vermont Tiger, November 1 2010

Big Wind Is Not the Answer; Pursue Alternatives Instead.  This was the overriding message directed at the Legislature and the in-coming Shumlin Administration and delivered yesterday in Montpelier by over 8 Vermont citizen groups opposed to the development of industrial scale wind projects in Vermont.  Annette Smith, Executive Director of Vermonters for Clean Environment, hosted the one-hour press briefing. Her introductory remarks to a packed conference room were pointed and poignant:

"We are gathered today to sound the alarm bells – nothing less than the future of Vermont is at stake. The proposed ridgeline wind projects will irreparably harm our natural resources and habitats, make hundreds of Vermonters sick, and leave scars that will never heal – all for little if any benefit to Vermont or the environment. There is a better way, and now is the time to change course."
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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Islam as Victor of Western Value Relativism
From Politically Incorrect

The clash of civilizations, the collision between cultures, forecast by Samuel P. Huntington, has long since become an obvious fact in modern-day Europe, finding its clearest expression in the confrontation of Islam with the remnants of European Christianity. This collision not only is echoed in form of terrorist attacks but also in form of a bitter fight of ideals between two systems of values that could hardly be more opposed to each other, namely the archaic-totalitarian value system of Islam and the one represented by post modern European Enlightenment.

In the wake of this quarrel, the world of Islam has already achieved considerable partial success thanks to something we might call value indifference coupled with blind tolerance exhibited by European political elites which has already lead to a process of disintegration of both Europe’s ethic-religious foundations and sphere of rights. By the end, Islam may well emerge as victorious should Europe fail to rethink its occidental Christian roots.

The Real Threat To Homeland Security
By Peter Huessy, Family Security Matters, November 17 2010

Many analysts continue to concentrate on individual terrorists and their network of mosques from which they emerge. Many assume they represent the most serious security threats facing the country—often termed "Al Qaeda and its affiliates". But the Administration’s recent Asian trip illustrates the much more important, and more dangerous, side of the US security and foreign policy equation—good old fashioned states. That landscape looks increasingly dark. 

For example, the Chinese have down-rated the US currency, again, even though the PRC is currently in default of some $300 billion it owes thousands of American bond holders. A new report from the congressionally mandated US China Commission warns of current PRC missile deployments having the capability to conduct massive strikes against our military bases throughout the Western Pacific. And not more than a few weeks ago, Global Security Network reported a State Department official calmly noting that Peking has been helping Iran with both its ballistic missiles and its nuclear weapons program. And not more than a few months ago, the Secretary of State correctly pushed back on Chinese hegemonic aims in the South China Sea over oil resources. Yet official US policy is to consider Peking a "cooperative" country with respect to US efforts to stop the proliferation of weapons technology to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Next of Kim no Upgrade
By Peter Brookes, Heritage Foundation, November 20 2010

Over the weekend, North Korea promised a "1,000-fold" rise in its military strength, The Associated Press reported. And Pyongyang may be keeping its word.

For example, the Institute for Science and International Security, a U.S.-based research group, says that North Korea is busy as a beaver, building its bomb-making capabilities. It says Pyongyang is up to something suspicious at the home of its plutonium-based nuclear-weapons program at Yongbyon, and not even trying to conceal the work from satellites.

Ghailani Found Not Guilty on 285 of 286 Charges
By John McCormack, The Weekly Standard, November 17 2010

Jurors have delivered mixed a verdict in the first civilian trial of a Guantanamo detainee.

After hitting a snag earlier this week when one juror said she felt threatened by others, the panel on Wednesday delivered a guilty verdict against Ahmed Ghailani on only one of nearly 300 counts against him.

The Manhattan jury deliberated over seven days before finding Ghailani guilty of just one count of conspiracy to destroy U.S. buildings. He was acquitted of multiple other counts including murder and murder conspiracy.

Prosecutors said Ghailani helped an al-Qaida cell buy a truck and components for explosives used in a suicide bombing in his native Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998. The attack in Dar es Salaam and a nearly simultaneous bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Report: As U.S. Moves Out, Iran Moving Into Iraq

Iran has significantly expanded its intervention and is ready to transform Iraq into a proxy, a report said.

The Center for New Politics and Policy asserted that Iran was filling the vacuum left by the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq. In a report titled "Iraq’s Shi’a Leadership Crisis and the Iranian End Game," the Washington-based center said Iran was using both Shi’ite and Sunni militias to destabilize Iraq to prevent the emergence of a pro-U.S. government in Baghdad.

"Teheran is now transitioning to a post-U.S. occupation end game strategy — the transformation of Iraq into an Iranian proxy state," the report, authored by senior fellow Webster Brooks, said.

Ortega’s Land Grab
By Jaime Daremblum, The Hudson Institute, November 18 2010

With the world distracted by currency fights, European debt problems, and other economic challenges, Nicaragua has quietly invaded and occupied the sovereign territory of Costa Rica. It is an act of naked aggression that deserves to be condemned and resisted by governments everywhere, yet most Americans have probably read little or nothing about it.

Here's a brief synopsis of what happened. At the direction of their government, Nicaraguans were dredging the San Juan River, which forms a section of their southern border with Costa Rica. They were doing so in a manner that was damaging many Costa Rican properties, which understandably prompted San José to complain. Then, Nicaraguan military troops entered and occupied a large river island (Calero Island) that has traditionally been considered part of Costa Rican territory. Indeed, they even raised a Nicaraguan flag there. The soldiers are refusing to leave Calero Island, and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega is insisting —against all evidence— that the island belongs to Managua.

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From Elsewhere

What Sparked the Tea Party
Barack Obama’s policies get blamed (or credited) with triggering the movement. Actually, they were George W. Bush’s.
By Michael Hirsh, The National Journal, November 13 2010

There he was again, after nearly two years of silence, silver-haired and gracious, hawking his new book with just the right touch of self-deprecation. Once an errant son, George W. Bush is returning as a gray eminence. His steely resolve is now mainly focused on staying out of the politics he once ruthlessly practiced. "I’m through with it," the former president told Oprah Winfrey on Tuesday, resisting all attempts to get him to sound off on Sarah Palin, or criticize President Obama, as Bush ran through a gamut of interviews on TV this week about his memoir, Decision Points. "I’m not going to wade back into the swamp." ("Come on in!" Oprah gamely urged, to no avail.) Oprah’s studio audience applauded his discretion. But there is no small irony at play in Bush’s dignified reemergence in this autumn of the nation’s discontent, considering how much the 43rd president is responsible for creating today’s political swamp. And more, how big a part Bush and his policies played in engendering the new force that is upending American politics, the tea party movement.

That may sound like a bold statement at a moment when Obama is blamed for nearly every ill, and the electorate so clearly repudiated him on November 2. But there is a reason the Republican Party—which Bush once confidently declared he had redefined—has also been put on such stern probation, and why so many independents who voted tea party were in reality disaffected Republicans who left the party in disgust in the eight years before Obama. It was no surprise that last week, at one of the conservative election-night galas on Capitol Hill, the biggest applause line came when a tea party activist proclaimed: "Tonight, we fired the Democrats. Republicans, if you mess up, you’re next."

Don’t Touch My Junk!
By Felicia Cravens. Liberty Juice, November 17 2010

No wonder people are standing up to the TSA. No wonder people are standing up to Big Government everywhere. The same type of bureaucratic yahoos that run the TSA run government agencies all over the country. I have ceased to trust them to deal with my safety, my money, my retirement, my children, or anything else I have.  And I have taken up John Tyner’s rallying cry, not just for security screenings, but for everything in my life:

Related Article: The 'don't touch my junk' Guy: Should the TSA Leave John Tyner alone?

Related Article: Network Double Standard: Obama's TSA Gropers vs. Bush's NSA Eavesdroppers

BREAKING: Rangel Convicted on 11 of 13 Corruption Charges
By Bryan Preston, Pajamas Media, November 16 2010

The former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Charlie Rangel, has been convicted on most of the corruption charges brought against him. A House ethics panel has convicted Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) on 11 of 13 counts of violating House ethics rules.

Why the Democratic Party Cannot Survive
By Monty Pelerin, The American Thinker, November 17 2010

The Democratic Party is unlikely to survive. This outcome is effected by Obama, but not directly caused by him. Likewise, the latest election results are confirming rather than causal. The party's amazing success since the 1930s contained the seed of its demise.…

One problem with the "ice cream" strategy is that you cannot promise ice cream to everyone. As a result, the political base for Democrats developed as a motley collection of beneficiaries "bought" at various times. These include minorities, government employees, big labor, trial lawyers, teachers' unions, gays, radical women's groups, and environmentalists, among others.

Another problem is the lack of commonality. Whatever is provided to one group demands that less be available for another. An underlying tension between groups must always be managed. This surfaced when Dems tried to attract Hispanics. Blacks looked at this as a threat to their importance.

Governing presents another problem. Interest group politics, while perhaps a good election strategy, is not conducive to effective governing.

The fatal flaw in the strategy, however, is the dependence on the continuing flow of goodies. Once you run out of ice cream, you can no longer buy or maintain your "clients." As Margaret Thatcher famously said, "The trouble with Socialism is, sooner or later, you run out of other people's money."

What Rattner Isn’t Saying About GM’s ‘Turnaround’
By Dan Ikenson, Forbes Magazine, November 17 2010

Rattner is like the foil in Frederic Bastiat’s excellent, but not-famous-enough, 1850 parable, That Which is Seen and That Which is Unseen.  Rattner touts what is seen, namely that GM and Chrysler still exist.  And they exist because of his and his colleagues’ commitment to a plan to ensure their survival, along with the hundreds of thousands (if not millions, as some "estimates" had it) of jobs that were imperiled had those companies vanished.  (For starters, I very much question even what is seen here. I am skeptical of the counterfactual that GM and Chrysler would have disappeared and that there would have been significantly more job loss in the industry than there actually was during the recession and restructuring.  But I’ll grant his view of what is seen because, frankly, the specifics are irrelevant in the final analysis)....

All along (quite contemptuously in this oped, which I criticized here) Rattner has been unwilling to acknowledge the costs that are unseen.  Those unseen costs include:

  • the added uncertainty that pervades the private sector and assigns higher risks and thus higher costs to investing and hiring (whom might government favor or punish next?);
  • the diversion of resources from productive to political purposes in the business community (instead of buying that machinery to churn out better or more lawn mower engines, better to hire lobbyists to keep Washington apprised of how important we are or how this or that policy might be beneficial to the national employment picture!);
  • excessive risk-taking and other uneconomic behavior that falls under the rubric of moral hazard from entities that might consider themselves too-big-to-fail (perhaps, even, the New GM!);
  • growing aversion to—and rising cost of—corporate debt (don’t forget what happened to Chrysler’s "preferred" bondholders in the bankruptcy process!);
  • the sales and market share that should have gone to Ford or Honda or VW as part of the evolutionary market process;
  • the fruitful R&D expenditures of those more disciplined companies;
  • the expansion of job opportunities at those companies and their suppliers;
  • productivity gains passed on to workers in the form of higher wages or to consumers as lower prices;
  • the diminution of the credibility needed to discourage foreign governments from meddling in markets, often to the detriment of U.S. enterprises.
  • The list goes on.

    Low-Tax States will Gain Seats, High-Tax States will Lose Them
    From Small Government Times, November 17 2010

    Migration from high-tax states to states with lower taxes and less government spending will dramatically alter the composition of future Congresses, according to a study by Americans for Tax Reform.

    Eight states are projected to gain at least one congressional seat under reapportionment following the 2010 Census: Texas (four seats), Florida (two seats), Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington (one seat each). Their average top state personal income tax rate: 2.8 percent.

    By contrast, New York and Ohio are likely to lose two seats each, while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will be down one apiece. The average top state personal income tax rate in these loser states: 6.05 percent.

    The Agency Fee
    I received a check from the California Teachers Association today, for $383. Why?
    By Darren, Right on the Left Coast, November 17 2010

    "To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." --Thomas Jefferson

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