North Archives - December 09, 2008
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Taxpayers While Raising Transportation Revenue
By Mark Shepard
Vermont's roads desperately need help and that requires more transportation
money. But it is very important that proposals be presented with historical
integrity and that the legislature not pull the rug out from under the
taxpayer, even if the rug was flawed from the beginning, as was the case
with both Act 60 and Act 68 that have only further bloated the public cost
of education in Vermont while providing no long-term property tax relief.
In addition, the fact that
Vermonters are at the top in terms of tax burden must be taken into consideration.
Treasurer Spaulding's proposal should be modified along the lines of what
I proposed to the Douglas Administration's 2005 proposal. Every increase
in gas tax revenue should be matched with a near equal tax revenue reduction
from either sales or income taxes, which means a reduction in non-transportation
related government activities. One goal must be to not increase the tax
burden on any taxpaying sector of Vermonters or more and more taxpayers
will find another home state and Vermont will lose all their tax dollars.
Malaise: The Root of Our Current Fiscal Crisis
By Robert Maynard
If you add in all the social
spending promised by the incoming administration and the Congressional
majority, we are in for some serious problems ahead. That is just at the
national level. Here in Vermont we have the same problem, perhaps worse.
I have read numerous articles
that deal with the problem strictly in financial terms. While there certainly
is a financial dimension to the problem, the root of the problem is a moral
malaise. The fiscal problem is the symptom of this deeper root cause.
By Martin Harris
integration advocate Richard Kahlenberg of the Poverty and Race Research
Action Council no longer defends the 1954 Brown v. Board SCOTUS decision
for black or low-SES kids benefitting from sitting next to white or middle-SES
kids; his new claim is that white or middle-SES parents demand higher-quality
schools, and black or low-SES parents don’t, and so "low-income schools
spend about half of what more affluent schools spend per pupil" and are
therefore worse. So I looked up spending, by State, in the 50-State Comparison
published by The Taxpayers’ Network. Top-spending "State" for 2006-7 was
the low-SES District of Columbia public school system, at $16,540 annually,
per pupil. The national average was $9,557. Top median-family-income State,
Connecticut, was 7th at $13,005. Vermont, at #20 for household income,
spent more ($13,385) than #2-for-income Maryland and less than such now-high-poverty
cities as Boston, with a 26 percent poverty rate and $14,602 in per-pupil
spending in 2002, as reported in the 2005 National Digest of Educational
Statistics. Kahlenberg does better when writing on SES and behavior, when
he recognizes that "good schools require an orderly environment. Low-income
schools report disorder problems twice as often as middle-class schools".
"Disorder", of course, equates to the diversity-of-behavior medium-and
high-SES parents don’t want their kids exposed to.
# # #
Week’s Mail Bag
VETERANS DAY 2008
As I look back on the month
of November 2008 which I will ever remember as "Black November" for conservatives
like myself, I am reminded of a letter of mine about Veterans Day that
the Argus published on 1 December 07. In it I wrote about how some liberals
and Democrats trash conservative values even on November 11th. In that
letter I noted the gathering of the anti-war America crowd at the Aldrich
Regrettably things didn't
improve much this year with the election and the take over both Houses
of the Legislatures at the State and Federal Government by the the liberals
and Democrats. The future does not bode well for anyone with conservative
values especially here in Vermont and Barre. Conservatives have virtually
no one representing them anywhere. Sounds like liberal dictatorship to
Veterans Day 2008 where I
attended the Barre ceremony at the park. In a deja-vu moment it struck
me. Among the flags, bands and many gathered citizens were many representative
of vet groups, city, town and state officers the picture became clear to
There at the podium stood
recently elected to the Vt. House was Paul Porier (D). He delivered a short,
vague talk and had not even bothered to wear a suit as had others on the
stand. In contrast Leo Valliere (R), was appropriately dressed delivered
a moving talk on the meaning of Veterans Day. A veteran and a Norwich
graduate, he recently lost to Paul Porier. The two came into quick contrast.
The contrast became even clearer when I reread last year's article.
Present at the anti-war circus
at the library in 2007 was, I believe, our newly elected representative.
Paul Porier, and again, at least to me, the ceremony 2008 was demeaned.
As the great Benjamin Franklin
once said "If you lay down with dogs, you are likely to get up with fleas."
Any voters need flea powder?
* * *
"It is bad policy to
fear the resentment of an enemy."
--Ethan Allen refusing instructions
by a timid Continental Congress to move war material captured from the
British to a place of safe keeping until it could be returned.
Weekly News Round-Up
From Vermont Tiger, December
Guess where Vermont ranks
on Pacific Research Institute's 2008
U.S. Economic Freedom Index. The index ranks states
in five categories based on 143 distinct indicators. Vermont scored 42nd
overall which puts it squarely within the elite of least free states. Broken
down into the five high-level categories, Vermont scored:
What's worse is that our rank
has been increasing. In the 2000 edition of the index we ranked 34th and
in 2004 we were the 36th least free state. What will the next four years
bring? How many people will stick around to find out?
Fiscal Freedom - 31st
Regulatory Freedom - 23rd (they
clearly have never been to Vermont)
Judicial Freedom - 42nd
Government Size - 28th
Welfare Spending - 45th
A Pass On The Bucks
Caledonia Record Editorial,
December 01, 2008
We think the whole idea of
knowingly doubling the nation's deficit under the guise of stimulating
the economy is an example of voodoo economics and shouldn't pass the straight
face test. We think the illusion that Vermonters won't end up paying for
the flood of federal dollars sooner or later is a sad commentary on the
current state of politics.
State Bosses Under Gun to Cut $66M
By Louis Porter, Vermont
Press Bureau, Times Argus, December 4, 2008
Managers in state government
are beginning to come to grips with a $66 million budget gap that will
require nearly immediate cuts in state services and changes in how government
Twin Economic Poison Pills
Caledonia Record Editorial,
December 02, 2008
The New England Economic
Partnership has issued its economic forecast for the six states of New
England, and the news ranges from gloomy to dismal. The forecast says that
Vermont will suffer, but, by comparison, not as much as the other five
Should we conclude that we
are in better shape than the rest? Hardly. It is because the policies that
the no-nothing leftists have installed over the past 40 years have made
Vermont permanently the worst place in the country to do business. As a
result of that, Vermont is not economically shocked by the current meltdown
as much as others, because we have been in an ongoing recession of sorts
for the past 40 and more years.
it's Shap ... For Now
From Vermont Tiger, December
The Democrats made their
best choice that one could reasonably expect for Speaker of the House.
He's not full of bluster. He's not full of vitriol. He's affable,
seems open-minded, and has always been willing to engage. Still...
Well, we'll see. I wish the new Speaker-apparent, Shap Smith from
Down To The Real Business
Caledonia Record Editorial,
November 26, 2008
Sens. Sears, chairman, and
John Campbell, vice chairman, want the Senate to give committees formal
subpoena powers to compel those they want to testify to come and to answer
the committee's questions under oath.
Legislative rules currently
allow committees to issue a subpoena if the full House or Senate - or both
- passes a resolution calling for that to happen in a specific set of hearings.
This is an expansion of legislative
power that must be considered with kid gloves and great caution. It is
understandable that Sears and Campbell want to compel necessary witnesses
who thumb their noses at them to attend and answer under oath, and several
of the artful dodgers probably should have been subpoenaed.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
Motivations for the Mumbai Attack
By George Friedman, Strategic
Forecasters, December 1, 2008
Now, step back and consider
the situation the Mumbai attackers have created. First, the Indian government
faces an internal political crisis driving it toward a confrontation it
didn’t plan on. Second, the minimum Pakistani response to a renewed Indo-Pakistani
crisis will be withdrawing forces from western Pakistan, thereby strengthening
the Taliban and securing al Qaeda. Third, sufficient pressure on Pakistan’s
civilian government could cause it to collapse, opening the door to a military-Islamist
government — or it could see Pakistan collapse into chaos, giving Islamists
security in various regions and an opportunity to reshape Pakistan. Finally,
the United States’ situation in Afghanistan has now become enormously more
By staging an attack the
Indian government can’t ignore, the Mumbai attackers have set in motion
an existential crisis for Pakistan. The reality of Pakistan cannot be transformed,
trapped as the country is between the United States and India. Almost every
evolution from this point forward benefits Islamists. Strategically, the
attack on Mumbai was a precise blow struck to achieve uncertain but favorable
political outcomes for the Islamists.
Catholics and Muslims
By John F. Cullinan, National
Review, November 25, 2008
This month’s Catholic-Muslim
Forum at the Vatican highlighted several basic divisions between the two
sides, beginning with how the two sides understand the nature and purpose
of interreligious dialogue. What exactly is such dialogue for? Is
it a means to an end or an end in itself? What matters more, process or
These divisions are especially
clear in the dialogue’s agenda and in the composition of the two sides’
respective 29-member delegations. The Muslim side had sought to limit the
scope of the talks to purely "theological" issues, specifically excluding
any concrete and specific concerns like the plight of shrinking Christian
minorities in Muslim-majority states. After much backing and forthing,
an agreement was reached to split the difference, with the first day devoted
to "theological and spiritual fundamentals," the second to "the dignity
of the human person and mutual respect."
Cmdr: Attacks at lowest level since 2003
By Robert H. Reid, Associated
Press, December 3, 2008
Attacks fell in November
to their lowest monthly level since the Iraq
war began in 2003, despite recent high-profile bombings aimed at shaking
public confidence, a top U.S. commander said Wednesday.
Head Incited Killers
By Bruce Loudon, The Australian
December 1, 2008
THE al-Qa'ida-linked Lashkar-e-Toiba
terrorists suspected over the Mumbai massacre were trained in Muzaffarabad,
capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, and were incited by speeches from
their leader in Lahore.
China’s corrupt model
produces toxic-baby formula but spic-and-span finances?
By Jonah Goldberg, National
Review, December 5, 2008
There’s an honest debate
about how much blame institutions like Fannie Mae and laws like the Community
Reinvestment Act deserve for the financial crisis, but few honest observers
dispute that they played some kind of deleterious role. Well, China’s entire
economy is one big Fannie Mae, its laws one big Community Reinvestment
Act. I’m willing to bet that the bill for that comes due long, long, long
before China catches up with the United States of America.
'Islamophobia' Canard after Mumbai
By Joel J. Sprayregen, American
Thinker, December 05, 2008
Saudi King Abdullah has been
urging the United Nations to pass a universal law prescribing imprisonment
for criticizing Islam. Some skeptics, including myself (notwithstanding
that I twice enjoyed the King's generous hospitality in Riyadh), have suggested
he start instead by establishing religious liberty in his own country,
where all religious observance other than Wahabi Islam is banned.
Two events occurring last week -- the hideous carnage in Mumbai, accompanied
by shameful proceedings at the U.N. -- convinced me it is urgent
for His Majesty to radically alter his plans.
# # #
Needs Its Frontier Spirit
'Traits of the frontier'
still shape America, even if the left doesn't like it.
From The Wall Street Journal,
December 4, 2008
The greatest danger in the
current economic crisis is that the United States will lose its historic
appetite for risk. The mood now is that risk-taking got us into this mess.
Risk, though, is the quintessential American trait that built the nation
-- from the Battle of Bunker Hill to the rise of the microchip. If we let
risk give way to a new ethos of commercial reserve and regulatory restriction,
the upward arc of the U.S. ascendancy will flatten. Maybe it already has.
Other Auto Industry
There is such a thing
as a profitable car maker in this country
From The Wall Street Journal,
December 1, 2008
The men from Detroit will
jet into Washington tomorrow -- presumably going commercial this time --
to make another pitch for a taxpayer rescue. Meanwhile, in the other American
auto industry you rarely read about, car makers are gaining market share
and adjusting amid the sales slump, without seeking a cent from the government.
These are the 12 "foreign,"
or so-called transplant, producers making cars across America's South and
Midwest. Toyota, BMW, Kia and others now make 54% of the cars Americans
buy. The internationals also employ some 113,000 Americans, compared with
239,000 at U.S.-owned carmakers, and several times that number indirectly.
Two:UN Data shows ‘Warming has Stopped!’
Climate Fears Called
‘Hogwash’ – ‘Global Carbon Tax’ Urged
By Marc Morano, U.S. Senate
Committee on Environment & Public Works, December 3, 2008
seems a bit odd" - Excerpt: The best fit linear trend since
2002 is about 0.025°C/year of cooling, and at this rate we will have
met the Kyoto target of 1990 temperature in just two years without having
done anything! ... If the Kyoto target of 1990 global temperature will
be met in just two years in spite of the continued increase in CO2 emissions,
doesn't it seem a bit odd that the world leaders are willing to sacrifice
the global economy to reduce CO2 emissions as though CO2 emissions reductions,
and not global temperature stabilization, was the objective of the Kyoto
Protocol?" Norm Kalmanovitch, email to Benny Peiser, CCNet
Victory Refutes Public Break With Conservatism
By Christopher G. Adamo,
GOPUSA, December 4, 2008
Georgia voters validated
the Reaganite template for victory once again on December 2. In a runoff
election for Senate, incumbent Saxby Chambliss won handily over Democrat
challenger Jim Martin, with an advantage of nearly fifteen percent.
How could this be? Republicans,
and particularly conservatives, we are incessantly told, have been politically
exiled since 2006 and are in complete disrepute these days. More often
than not, Chambliss is considered a reliable conservative. Worse yet, Alaska
Governor Sarah Palin, whom the media characterizes as a political pariah,
vigorously and visibly supported him, especially in the last few days of
his runoff campaign.
By Donald Devine, American
Conservative Union, November 19, 2008
Candidate Barack Obama may
have murmured only sweet platitudes to the general public during the campaign
but we now have learned he privately gave detailed assurances to Federal
employees promising pretty much everything on the public union agenda.
And The Left
By Thomas Sowell, GOPUSA,
December 2, 2008
Most people on the left are
not opposed to freedom. They are just in favor of all sorts of things that
are incompatible with freedom.
# # #