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True North Archives - December 05, 2006
Radio | Editorial | News & Views

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Featured Articles

Coming to Terms with Terms
By John McClaughry
"…. Spurred by the League of Women Voters, the 1971 legislature proposed a four-year term for all five constitutional officers. The voters rejected the proposal on town meeting day 1974. The four-year term proposal has reappeared in the legislature every four years since 1979, but has never again won even initial Senate approval…. On its merits the four year term proposal would seem to be assured of easy legislative passage and, in 2010, final voter approval. There is, however, one large fly in the ointment. Legislators also want four-year terms…." -- John McClaughry is president of the Ethan Allen Institute (

A Potpourri of Topics
By Pete Behr
"Since I have several things to write about, this column is organized by department, just like the government…." – Pete Behr lives in Woodstock and writes a regular column for the Woodstock Standard

Property Taxes, Education and the Future of Vermont
By Jack McMullen
"… In the nine years since Act 60 passed, spending on public education has risen 115 percent while enrollment has dropped 9 percent from 106,341 to 96,774. Consequently, per pupil spending has skyrocketed 136 percent. Public records, teacher contracts, and state reports reveal four basic reasons for the spending increases.…" -- Jack McMullen, a strategy consultant to Fortune 500 and technology-oriented companies, lives in Burlington. He was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2004.

Vermont News

Taxes and schools: More does not mean better
NH Union Leader Editorial, Nov. 28, 2006

THE EVER-INCREASING cost of public education is sending property taxes through the roof. Residents are near revolt. Towns are beginning to demand a repeal of the statewide property tax…. And all of this in a state that has both a sales and an income tax.… The average per-capita state and local tax burden in New Hampshire was $3,136 this year, according to the Tax Foundation. In Vermont, the figure was $4,118. Vermonters pay nearly $1,000 more a year in state and local taxes, and still the public schools claim they don't have enough money…. Not content to take more than $4,000 from each resident, Vermont in January will impose a tax on Internet sales…. The problem is not a lack of money. It is a lack of accountability. Don't be duped, New Hampshire. More taxes will not make our schools any better. They will just make them more expensive.

Do-over democracy
Eagle Times Editorial, 11/20/2006

Opponents of efforts to expand a gravel operation near Green Mountain Union High School in Chester plan to petition for a revote on a measure on allowable activities in one of the town's zoning districts. Supporters of the revote may think of this as "democracy at its best," but we suggest the results of the Nov. 7 vote, while closely divided, be allowed to stand. There doesn't appear to be any good justification for the revote, only an opposition group unwilling to accept the results of a legitimate election….

Home districts drive up taxes
Rutland Herald Editorial, Nov. 19, 2006

The peculiar politics of property taxes were on display in Bennington last week when the Board of Selectmen endorsed a movement to "Revolt and Repeal" the education finance system created by Acts 60 and 68. The board took this action despite the fact that Bennington gains significant revenue benefits from the system as it exists….

Tradition Trumps Political Correctness - Christmas resurrected
Caledonian Record, Nov. 29, 2006

…Three weeks ago, Wal-Mart's policy makers announced that they had resurrected Christmas this year and all of their employees would be allowed, nay, encouraged, to wish "Merry Christmas" to customers. Following Wal-Mart, other biggies like Kmart, Kohl's, Macy's and Target jumped on board. What happened? What changed the minds of these disciples of Political Correctness? Quite simply, their elimination of Christmas from Christmas last year spawned powerful reactions among the hoi polloi who boycotted them and hurt business. And since the religion of business is sales and more sales, they saw the light and came back, fully repentant, to business orthodoxy, declaring that if their customers want Christmas, Christmas is what they'll get….

Preventing Vermont's Brain Drain
By Beth Parent, WCAX November 27, 2006

… The Next Generation Commission has been working for the last few months to find out what is causing the brain drain in Vermont…. Many students leave the state after graduation because of a lack of good paying jobs. "It's vital, if we don't have jobs we don't have a life," said Bill Stenger, of the Next Generation Commission…. The next generation commission will formally make its recommendations to legislative leaders and the public by mid December….

From Elsewhere

Global Warming Gag Order
Senators to Exxon: Shut up, and pay up.
Opinion Journal, December 4, 2006

Washington has no shortage of bullies, but even we can't quite believe an October 27 letter that Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe sent to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Its message: Start toeing the Senators' line on climate change, or else.

We reprint the full text of the letter here, so readers can see for themselves…. Let's compare the balance of forces: on one side, CEI; on the other, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, the U.N. and EU, Hollywood, Al Gore, and every politically correct journalist in the country. We'll grant that's a fair intellectual fight. But if the Senators are so afraid that a handful of policy wonks at a single small think-tank are in danger of winning this debate, they must not have much confidence in the merits of their own case…. Every dogma has its day, and we've lived long enough to see more than one "consensus" blown apart within a few years of "everyone knowing" it was true. In recent decades environmentalists have been wrong about almost every other apocalyptic claim they've made: global famine, overpopulation, natural resource exhaustion, the evils of pesticides, global cooling, and so on. Perhaps it's useful to have a few folks outside the "consensus" asking questions before we commit several trillion dollars to any problem….

The World According to Jimmy Carter
Alan Dershowitz, November 22, 2006

I like Jimmy Carter…. That's why it troubles me so much that this decent man has written such an indecent book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His bias against Israel shows by his selection of the book's title: "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid." The suggestion that without peace Israel is an apartheid state analogous to South Africa is simply wrong…. Israel's motive for holding on to this land is the prevention of terrorism. It has repeatedly offered to exchange land for peace and did so in Gaza and southern Lebanon only to have the returned land used for terrorism, kidnappings and rocket launchings. I don't know why Jimmy Carter, who is generally a careful man, allowed so many errors and omissions to blemish his book. Here are simply a few of the most egregious….

A Democratic Tax Cut (Subscription required)
Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2006

If this month's elections were a mandate for higher taxes, the news apparently hasn't reached Democrats in West Virginia. Immediately upon gaining seats in the state legislature his party already dominates, Democratic Governor Joe Manchin called lawmakers into session for a quick round of tax cuts. He now expects to have moderate reductions in corporate, franchise, personal income and grocery taxes on his desk within a few days.

Not bad. But then, tax reform is long overdue in Charleston. The Tax Foundation ranks West Virginia a dismal 34th out of 50 in state tax competitiveness. All three states bordering West Virginia to the east are more attractive for running a business: Maryland and Pennsylvania ranked 29th and 22nd respectively, while Virginia has the 13th most competitive tax code. With more jobs shifting between states than are moving overseas, its tax code has left West Virginia with an economy too dependent on a coal industry that's leveling mountains in search of pockets of naturally occurring wealth. And too many of its young people go elsewhere.

Governor Manchin is popular, but he's also aware that West Virginia is no longer a one-party state. President Bush carried it twice and this year Republicans hoped to pick up legislative seats by campaigning for lower taxes. Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, the largest coal producer in the state, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to elect tax-cutting Republicans.

Mr. Manchin neutralized the issue by promising to cut taxes himself and unveiling his own ideas for reform a week before voters headed to the polls. Now he will soon sign into law a $70 million tax-reform package, a modest sum considering the state pulled in a $400 million surplus this past year. He's promising more next year. The message from West Virginia is that Democrats don't have to be the high-tax party. And they'll do better politically when they aren't.

Unwed-Birth Boom: BAD NEWS
By Christine B. Whelan, November 29, 2006

"The CDC preliminary data released last week: A record 37 percent of all U.S. births were to unmarried women in 2005. It's not a teen issue: The birth rate for under-20 women fell to the lowest on record. But births to unmarried women aged 20 to 44 continued a long-term rise."







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