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True North Archives - December 09, 2008
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Featured Articles

Protecting Taxpayers While Raising Transportation Revenue
By Mark Shepard

Clearly 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. 

Moral 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.

Repeating History?
By Martin Harris

Thus, 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.

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This Week’s Mail Bag


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 Library. 

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 me.

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 me.

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?

John Gilligan

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"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.

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

What Next?
From Vermont Tiger, December 05, 2008

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: 

  • Fiscal Freedom - 31st 
  • Regulatory Freedom - 23rd (they clearly have never been to Vermont) 
  • Judicial Freedom - 42nd 
  • Government Size - 28th 
  • Welfare Spending - 45th 
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?

Take 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.

VT 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 functions.

Vermont's 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 states. ...

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.

Delighted it's Shap ... For Now
From Vermont Tiger, December 07, 2008

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 Morristown, well.

Get 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.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Strategic 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 complex.

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.

Basic Divisions Emerge
Catholics and Muslims talk
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 results?

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."

US 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.

Religious 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.

Foggy Crystal Ball
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.

The '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.

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From Elsewhere

America 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.

America's 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.

Part 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

"It 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

Chambliss 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.

Obama Bureaucracy Payoff
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.

Freedom 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.

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