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True North Archives - December 07, 2010
Radio | Editorial | News & Views

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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

A Modest Proposal for Redistricting
Rob Roper photoBy Rob Roper

If the Founding Fathers really intended to legally limit the terms of political office holders, they would have put those limits in the Constitution. They didn’t. But what they did put in the Constitution is the obligation to reconstitute the populations who elect those office holders every ten years, which brings me to my Modest Proposal….

Those same computer software programs that can rig a district to guarantee the election of a particular person, a particular party, a particular race or whatever are capable of generating district maps based on, well… anything or nothing at all.

Why not use the new technology to purposefully shake things up every ten years by having the computers generate a totally random congressional district map based only on population, and geographic considerations? Eliminate all political calculations, special interest inputs, and human biases entirely. 

Tax Slavery?
By Robert Maynard

There are many arguments for tax cuts on the grounds of economic efficiency. In my opinion, we need more arguments for tax cuts on the simple moral grounds that it is OUR money and not the government’s! Tax Slavery may be the right phrase after all to describe our current system.

Smart (Non)-Growth
Martin Harris

Martin Harris photoSG advocates argue that "the new urbanism" is better than the old sprawl. Voter preference in VT seems to be moving in the no-suburbia/yes-smart-or-no-growth direction, as I frequently saw and heard at zoning permit hearings, and if so that would be in contrast to the national stats amassed by such academics as planner Joel Kotkin, who has reached opposite conclusions. There are no numbers to prove which land use pattern is the right answer;  LB’ers in general seem to prefer larger lots (so do serious-enviro grow-your-own types, interestingly) and RB’ers in general don’t. LB’ers, in general, can co-exist with smart-growthers, but the reverse isn’t true: the smart-growth movement seeks legislative-governance police power to forbid the large-lot choice, and its no-growth component uses its skills at zoning hearings to prevent construction where possible. This isn’t visibly the result of numerical analysis: it seems to be much more the result of enlightened intuition and emotional connectedness.

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"Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

-Winston Churchill

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Here Come the Feebs
From Vermont Tiger, December 01 2010

Somewhere around the 18 minute mark in this interview, Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss is asked about the state of a criminal investigation into the diversion of city money to Burlington Telecom.  This, of course, violated one of the conditions of BT's regulatory license.

"I don't think there is a criminal investigation ...,'" the mayor answers and goes on soft peddling this and other questions regarding BT.

This morning, one reads in the Freeps that: The criminal review of Burlington Telecom has expanded with the FBI joining the case.

Related Article: Vt. City Stumbles in Effort to Do Telecom Itself

90 Vermont Troops Arrive Home
From Fox 44, December 2 2010

On Thursday, 90 more Vermont troops are back on home soil after serving nearly a year in Afghanistan.  They had just returned from Indiana, for demobilization.

But before the group arrived at the Army Aviation Support Facility, family and friends passed time. 

Many held up welcome home signs including Amber Flaugh, Rosamaria Fay, and Victoria McBride.  They were here to see Andrew Grenough, a close family friend.

The Nuclear Renaissance Continues to Expand
From Vermont Tiger, December 2 2010

That throwaway line.... The likelihood of finding sanity increases the farther one gets from Montpelier. .... continues to work quite well.

And the worldwide nuclear renaissance is gaining so much steam that it's becoming difficult to keep up with developments. Yesterday, your humble correspondent noted that an internal uprising in Australia virtually assures that that (uranium-rich) country will be getting aboard the train.

Shumlin Meets Obama During Washington Visit
By Nicole Gaudiano, The Burlington Free Press, December 3 2010

Shumlin said he was encouraged about the prospects of getting a federal waiver to implement a single-payer health care system in Vermont.

He said Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made it clear that they see states as laboratories for change. He met twice with Sebelius, who said she is open to working with states as long as governors aren't trying to reduce health-care standards.

He didn't use the controversial term "single-payer" with Obama, but he did with Sebelius and the White House council on health care.

School Spending ... and Spending
By Anna Vesely Pilette, Vermont Tiger, November 22 2010

During the gubernatorial campaign there was a well-publicized debate between out-going Governor Douglas and the Vermont Department of Education about the allocation of $19,000,000 of federal stimulus monies specifically designated for public education. 

Governor Douglas and the Republican gubernatorial candidate proposed to use the money to reduce the state's existing General Fund liability to the teachers' pension fund, a reasonable use of a one-shot injection of federal funds that would improve the state’s fiscal health. 

Last week, in an interview with Vermont Public Radio’s Bob Kinzel, Governor-elect Peter Shumlin stated that he is committed to using the stimulus monies to offset cuts that local school boards and taxpayers would make in accordance with the recommendations of the Vermont legislature’s Challenge for Change law -- cuts that necessarily involve teacher layoffs.  The Governor-elect’s plan would save those teachers’ jobs, for now.

These federal stimulus monies have come to Vermont as a result of the leadership of Senators Leahy and Sanders in Washington.  In order to assess the wisdom of sending stimulus monies to Vermont for public education and how best to spend them we need some context:

Arrests Quadruple at Vermont/Canadian Border
From WCAX News, December 3, 2010

More people are trying to sneak into Canada from Vermont. Officials at the Canadian border say they've seen border arrests of illegal immigrants quadruple this past October and November. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested 60 people over the past two months. That's up from about 15 arrests during the same time period in 2009.

Police attribute part of the increase to a quirk in the country's immigration law, which allows illegal immigrants to apply for refugee status upon arrival in Canada.

EPA Orders Vt. Farmer to Restore Swanton Wetlands
From WCAX News, December 6, 2010

The EPA's order says [the farmer] Bourdeau must, among other things, hire an experienced wetlands scientist to prepare a restoration plan that must be approved by federal officials, backfill a drainage ditch, remove any existing drainage structures and plant and seed the area with shrubs and saplings.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Why Does Sovereignty Matter to America?
By Steven Groves, The Heritage Foundation, December 3 2010

When America declared its independence in 1776, the Declaration described Americans as "one people" who had the right "to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them."

With these words, the United States declared its sovereignty. It became a separate nation, entitled to all the rights of existing nations. It therefore claimed the "full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do."

But the existing nations of the world were mostly monarchies. The Founding Fathers had a different vision for America. The United States is legitimately sovereign not because of a monarch’s decree, but because, in America, the people rule. …

But today, our sovereignty faces new threats. International organizations and courts seek to reshape the international system. Nations are to give up their sovereignty and be governed by a "global consensus." Independent, sovereign nations will be replaced by "transnational" organizations that reject national sovereignty.

The demand that the United States bow to this "global consensus" does not respect American sovereignty. The offenses the Founders complained of in the Declaration of Independence now have an international flavor. This new project is filled with examples of institutions, courts, and "taxes" that violate the spirit of the Declaration.

Don’t Get Your Hopes Up About Chinese Political Reform
By Dean Cheng, Heritage Foundation, December 3 2010

In recent weeks, there has been growing discussion about China’s internal political situation. Most tantalizing to the American press was Premier Wen Jiabao’s comments about the desirability of Chinese political reform.[1] What both this and speculation over the course of China’s 2012 leadership transition highlight is the growing belief among Western analysts that China’s political situation is in flux. Some even hold forth the hope that this will lead to changes in its political model.

Don’t get your hopes up. Unfortunately, too many Western observers equate Chinese jockeying for political advantage and factional politics with real political reform or even democratization. Instead, for the foreseeable future, there will likely remain firm Chinese Communist Party (CCP) control of China’s domestic politics—with all that means for Chinese behavior globally and the resultant impact on American national interests.

Related Article: Chinese Want Degrees, Not Democracy

Icky Leaks
By J.R. Nyquist, Financial Sense, December 3 2010

Sensitive diplomatic communications have been published by the Wikileaks Web site, and some of this sensitive material concerns Russia. The importance of Russia as a global power has been downplayed since the fall of the Soviet Union. Leaked U.S. State Department cables give us a glimpse of how dangerous Russia is becoming. The true nature of the Russian regime has not been a popular topic of public discussion; but in secret meetings between diplomats, statesmen and law enforcement officials, there is growing concern. Russia has become the center of international corruption, drawing other states into her orbit.

Sensitive diplomatic communications have been published by the Wikileaks Web site, and some of this sensitive material concerns Russia. The importance of Russia as a global power has been downplayed since the fall of the Soviet Union. Leaked U.S. State Department cables give us a glimpse of how dangerous Russia is becoming. The true nature of the Russian regime has not been a popular topic of public discussion; but in secret meetings between diplomats, statesmen and law enforcement officials, there is growing concern. Russia has become the center of international corruption, drawing other states into her orbit.

Islamist Turkey vs. Secular Iran?
By Daniel Pipes, November 30 2010

Looking ahead, Iran represents the Middle East's greatest danger and its greatest hope. Its nuclear buildup, terrorism, ideological aggressiveness, and formation of a "resistance bloc" present a truly global threat, ranging from jumping the price of oil and gas to an electro-magnetic pulse attack on the United States. But if these dangers can be navigated, controlled, and subdued, Iran has a unique potential to lead Muslims out of the dark night of Islamism toward a more modern, moderate, and good neighborly form of Islam. As in 1979, that achievement will likely affect Muslims far and wide.

Contrarily, while the Turkish government presents few immediate dangers, its more subtle application of Islamism's hideous principles makes it loom large as future threat. Long after Khomeini and Osama bin Laden are forgotten, I venture, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an and his colleagues will be remembered as the inventors of a more lasting and insidious form of Islamism.

Thus may today's most urgent Middle Eastern problem country become tomorrow's leader of sanity and creativity while the West's most stalwart Muslim ally over five decades turn into the greatest source of hostility and reaction. Extrapolation is a mug's game, the wheel turns, and history springs surprises.

North Korea's Undercover Journalists Reveal Misery of Life in Dictatorship
With its ruthless dictator, network of forced labour camps and iron grip of its ruling party, North Korea is the last country one might expect to see a middle-aged woman berating a policeman for demanding a bribe.
By Julian Ryall, The Telegraph, November 24 2010

But extraordinary video images smuggled out of North Korea, combined with reports of graffiti and posters critical of the regime, indicate a growing willingness among a previously cowed public to speak out and demand change.

Such dissent would once have been unthinkable in the reclusive state, but now hunger and plummeting living standards are now triggering demands for freedom - something that no North Korean has ever experienced.

Iraqi premier: No Need for US Troops after 2011
Fox News, November 27 2010

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that an agreement requiring U.S. troops to leave by the end of 2011 will stand because Iraqi forces are capable of taking care of the country's security.

The comments are his first on the subject since being tasked with forming a new government after nearly nine months of political deadlock, and some of his strongest to date on what is expected to be a key issue facing the next government.

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From Elsewhere

Mounting State Debts Stoke Fears of a Looming Crisis
By Michael Cooper & Mary Williams Walsh, The New York Times, December 4 2010

The State of Illinois is still paying off billions in bills that it got from schools and social service providers last year. Arizona recently stopped paying for certain organ transplants for people in its Medicaid program. States are releasing prisoners early, more to cut expenses than to reward good behavior. And in Newark, the city laid off 13 percent of its police officers last week.

While next year could be even worse, there are bigger, longer-term risks, financial analysts say. Their fear is that even when the economy recovers, the shortfalls will not disappear, because many state and local governments have so much debt — several trillion dollars’ worth, with much of it off the books and largely hidden from view — that it could overwhelm them in the next few years.

The Future of Health Care Reform: Paul Ryan’s "Roadmap" and Its Critics
By Robert Moffit, Ph.D. & Kathryn Nix, The Heritage Foundation, December 3 2010

The future of health care in America looks grim—but it does not have to be. Representative Paul Ryan (R–WI) has proposed "A Roadmap for America’s Future"—the only comprehensive plan in Washington that deals with the looming fiscal and economic crisis, driven by ever-increasing government spending on health care. Ryan’s Roadmap would reduce the deficit, allow Medicare to become truly sustainable, establish equity and efficiency in the federal tax treatment of health insurance, and improve access to health care for middle-class and low-income families. Congressman Ryan’s critics have accused him of trying to destroy the Medicare system and claim that the Roadmap will increase the deficit. While they may have honed the harshness of their rhetoric, they have not offered a comparable alternative. Heritage Foundation health policy experts explain how the Ryan Roadmap would really work, and how it would benefit Americans.

The Bulls Are Back In Town at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
By Steve Schaefer, Forbes Magazine, November, 2010

Feeling glum about America? Have a conversation with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney chief investment strategist David Darst and the rest of the firm’s global investment committee.

At a morning briefing with reporters in Morgan Stanley’s 5th Avenue tower Wednesday, Darst and global investment strategist Charles Reinhard both made the case that even with all the short- and long-term challenges facing the U.S. economy, the stock market is in a multi-year bull market and has been since the March 2009 lows. Neither suggested that the market’s path will be an unabated rally to all-time highs, but Reinhard argues that the common preconditions that have marked nearly every 20% correction over the past 80 years are largely absent.

Related Articles:

Economic Change We Can Believe In
Why the Chip Market Will Repeat the Boom of the '90s 
Democratic Group Would End Social Security for Wealthy
By Heidi PrzybylaBloomberg, Businessweek, November 30 2010

A Democratic-led policy group is defying party history by proposing changes to Social Security to pave the way for recommendations this week by President Barack Obama’s deficit-cutting commission.

Washington-based Third Way said its plan would raise the retirement age, trim or eliminate Social Security benefits for high-income retirees, limit cost-of-living increases and provide money to help young workers create private retirement accounts.

Heritage Employment Report: Little Cause for Thanksgiving in November Jobs Report
By Rea Hederman, Jr. & James Sherk, The Heritage Foundation, December 3 2010

The November employment report threw a bucket of cold water on hopes for an accelerating recovery. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that private sector employers added only 50,000 net jobs. Unemployment rose to 9.8 percent and has remained above 9 percent for 19 consecutive months. This ties the record for the longest such stretch since World War II. Weekly hours were flat in November, and average wages increased by just one cent.

The labor market remains mired in a deep recession. This is no time for Congress to raise taxes on business owners and entrepreneurs. Congress should act quickly to extend current tax rates for all Americans.

Union Drops Health Coverage for Workers’ Children
By Yuliya Chernova, The Wall Street Journal

One of the largest union-administered health-insurance funds in New York is dropping coverage for the children of more than 30,000 low-wage home attendants, union officials said. The union blamed financial problems it said were caused by the state’s health department and new national health-insurance requirements.

The fund is administered by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. Union officials said the state compelled the fund to start buying coverage from a third party, which increased premiums by 60%. State health officials denied forcing the union fund to make the switch, saying the fund had been struggling financially even before the switch to third-party coverage.

The fund informed its members late last month that their dependents will no longer be covered as of Jan. 1, 2011. Currently about 6,000 children are covered by the benefit fund, some until age 23.

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