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True North Archives - December 11, 2007
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Exempt Property Not Subject to Property Tax
By Vermont State Representative Rick Hube

There are almost 20 categories of exempt property; everything from state, federal and municipal property to agricultural property to property that is for public, private or charitable purposes. Some of these properties are exempt by law, while others can be granted an exemption by a vote on the local level. ... The issue of exempt property is so thorny that the Legislature decided the best way to deal with the issue in the late 1990s was to drop back 10 yards and punt. In other words, the Legislature simply put off a decision by grandfathering until 2007 all properties that were granted exemptions at the local level. Well this "punt" must now be fielded; these properties are coming off their "grandfathered" exemptions. ... As these properties come off their exemptions, there are two options available. First,  voters in the town can decide to continue to exempt the property, which would add to the local tax burden because that cost would no longer be passed on to all Vermont property owners, but be picked up by the local grand list. Two, the entity that is presently exempt would have to pay property taxes.

Socialist Script 
By Linus Leavens

The Burlington Free Press has followed the script handed to them by Socialist activists.  On December 1, 2007, an Anti-War club at Mount Mansfield Union High School conducted a protest at the Vermont National Guard recruitment office in Williston, VT. just a day after trying to oust military recruiters at their high school. The headlines "War protesters cited" & "High-schoolers organized demonstration" appeared 12/1/07 along with photos of the event. BFP reporters & photographers had recorded the events as they unfolded, videotaping the protesters as they approached the recruitment office. Photos & video were posted on the BFP web site.

Bobos in Paradise
By Martin Harris

If the editor uses my headline suggestion for this column, it will read "Bobos in Paradise". Even though I actually had a little hot-lead experience, sitting at the multiple keyboards of a Linotype-machine a very long time ago, Iím not a highly skilled journalism professional, but even I was able to comprehend that my preferred headline "Nobody Here But Us Authentic Vermonters, and We Wouldnít Patronize No Starbucks" probably wouldnít fit into the assigned space. Therefore, I used the short phrase, invented by author David Brooks, seven years ago, in his book describing upper-middle-class "bourgeois bohemians" whom I have, in these same columns, frequently described as the "gentry-left". These are the folks who, among their many and varied other attributes and accomplishments, have vaulted top-end coffee retailer Starbucks to unique levels of nationwide cachet, prominence and profitability. Theyíve come to Vermont with sufficient funds and in sufficient numbers to be able to own and operate most of it, and have been using their very considerable political and economic skills to change the governance template, the basic economy, the tax structure, the sociological climate, even the demographic structure, in ways which they are quite confident will keep the State the paradise they migrated into in order to selflessly protect and defend it from every sort of modernity except painless dentistry and the monthly passive-income trust-funder or retiree paycheck. 

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"I mean, if we do Hillary-care and socialized medicine in this country, where are the Canadians going to go for health care?" ---Rudy Giuliani

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Christmas Or The ACLU In Vermont Schools
Caledonian Record Editorial, December 03, 2007

With Christmas three weeks away, the annual political question of how to celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah in Vermont's public schools has raised its annoying head once again. The militant leftists and the PC chorus want every possible reference to religion or religious traditions, no matter how remote or how painful the logic in concluding that there is a religious connection, snuffed out. And that includes not only the obvious symbols like Christmas trees and Christmas carols, but also Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the Christmas colors of Red and Green, kids exchanging holiday cards, and parties on the last day before Christmas - whoops, winter vacation.

Related: Another Twisted Christmas

But It Could Never Happen Here
From, December 03, 2007

The state of Maine experienced a power watch over the weekend because there's not enough power in the regional grid. The Power company says:

"[There's] a capacity deficiency, creating a need for Mainers to conserve electricity through Sunday night. Consumers are being asked to reduce their electricity use by shutting off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances and putting off activities such as laundry and dishwashing."

We all know this could never happen in Vermont because we have ample reserve capacity at Yankee.  However, we'd sure be in a pickle if Yankee ever went off line. This of course has me a little concerned so I set out to calculate what it would cost to install a home solar setup. Unfortunately, the economics are still not in favor of small scale solar, even with the generous state and federal subsidies. The system recommended for my home had a 27.3 year payback assuming a $41/month in tax savings from interest deductions.  If this tax incentive is removed from the mix, the system never reaches break even.  However, I may still be able to justify the system if I can come up with a way of quantifying the political risk of climate change policies resulting in capacity problems in the future. 

Regulatory Purgatory
From VermontTiger.comDecember 03, 2007

"Biggest perceived disadvantage of operating a business in Vermont is the permitting process." This is a quote from a ten year old OíNeal Groupís State sponsored research report titled "Brand Identity of Vermont as a Place to do Business" which found that the business community widely agreed that our regulatory and permitting requirements are unduly expensive, complicated and unpredictable. 

Anger Flares as 50 People Discuss State of Economy
By Terri Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press, December 6, 2007

When Tom Licata asked Vermonters to join him to talk about Vermont's economy Wednesday night, he lit a fire under some 50 people, many of them angry about government spending. ... Licata laid out the pressures facing state government -- from a decrease in federal support to crumbling roads at home. His comments did not align with or against any political party, but he suggested the state is in a financial bind that elected officials are not addressing. 

In a petition to Gov. Jim Douglas and the Legislature, he states: "Our unsustainable and oppressive tax burdens need to be addressed with a comprehensive, Long-Term Economic Plan." 

Duncan Harvey of Essex Junction, who has joined with Licata, said the economy must be elected leaders' main focus when the Legislature convenes next month. "I'm really worried if my grandchildren are going to be seventh-generation Vermonters," he said. "When January comes around, I want the economy and my children's future to be the No. 1 priority." ...

Many at the meeting said Vermont needs to do more to make the state business-friendly. James Ehlers of Colchester said the state doesn't offer businesses stability. He cited Vermont Yankee, whose license to operate will soon be up for renewal but which faces strong opposition from some in the state, as an example. 

Vermont's Challenge
From, December 06, 2007

As a society, we have yet to find a substitute for profitability. Without it, there is no economy. We can debate at what level profitability is acceptable, or at what level it should be taxed, or where these profits are best invested. But we canít debate the fact that profitability is at the center of what allows us to survive, or what provides us our quality of life, or what underlies our basic levels of freedom.

The challenge in Vermont is that we confuse one set of issues with another and, in the process, thwart our ability to make any substantive progress where it is most important, namely to provide solid employment opportunities for todayís Vermonters, and for those a generation from now.

The assumption is made that where there is growth there is opportunity. Thatís true, in the broadest sense of the term. But those who create jobs look for the environment that produces the best return on their investment. In a global economy, that competition is fierce. 

Why Education Canít Study Itself
From, December 07, 2007

As a body of work, education research is not held to the scholarly standards of, say, psychology research.  And often it contradicts psychology research.

Education bureaucracy has been studied in recent years, and Iíve been an eager consumer of that research.  This research points to data that indicates that bureaucracy hurts student achievement. But, of course, this research doesnít come from the education "experts."  It comes from the field of public administration.

This doesn't, of course, mean that there aren't some smart people in the field of education who have their hearts in the right place.  But they have to be careful.  As I pointed out in another post, Professor Giangreco, who has been studying the overuse of instructional paraprofessionals, has had to be careful to say his ideas are "cost-neutral." 

No intelligent consumer of research should ever accept education research without careful inspection.  And Iím guessing there are some intelligent consumers of research who visit this site.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Nukes, Terrorists, and the Nation-State Connection
By Douglas Hanson, The American Thinker, December 04, 2007

While Pakistan is teetering on the brink of a massive political upheaval, the question on everybody's mind is what will happen to the country's nukes?  The big fear is that fissile materials or a complete weapon will somehow end up in the hands of Al-Qaeda (AQ) or some other radical group.

Jihadis Post Scenario for the Defeat of the United States
By Abdul Hameed Bakier & Erich Marquardt, The Jamestown Foundation

On May 14, jihadi forum users Abu Kandahar and Roslan al-Shami posted a five-point scenario for the collapse of the United States and the rise of the Islamic ummah, entitled, "The Next Strikes in the Heart of America, When and How." It appeared on the forum, although at least one other jihadi forum,, reposted the scenario. The posting outlines a scenario for attacking the United States, although the sheer size of the operation suggests that it is jihadi propaganda and not an actual plan that could be operationalized. The alleged operation is dedicated to Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq.

The Brittle Culture of Islam
By Robert Spencer, Human Events, December 02, 2007

The insightful Flemish journalist Paul Belien observed last year, when Muslims were rioting over the Popeís quoting the 600-year-old words of an obscure emperor: "If a person is incapable of tolerating criticism, including mild criticism, and especially if he perceives criticism where there is none, this is often a sign of this personís deep psychological insecurity. Rude aggression and wild rage, too, are usually not the normal behaviour of a self-confident person, but rather of someone who knows that he will lose an argument unless he can bully others into silenceÖ.It looks as if Muslims cannot cope with an open society and the modern globalized world."

Security, Economy in Iraq Improving From Local Level Up
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

A focus on security in local areas has brought about an improvement in security throughout Iraq, and officials believe the countryís economy needs to follow a similar track, a Defense Department business transformation official said. "The security progress weíve made in Iraq is because of our realization that everything in Iraq is local," Paul A. Brinkley, deputy undersecretary for business transformation, said in an interview. Brinkley leads the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations in Iraq. And the security situation is improving. Attacks throughout the country are down, Multinational Force Iraq officials have said. Brinkley said the improvement was like someone flipped a switch. "I would never have forecast in September this suddenness of normal," he said. 

The Key Question about the NIE's Key Judgment
By Herbert E. Meyer, The American Thinker, December 05, 2007

In the Intelligence business, you get paid for just one thing: to be right. So here's the key question about the Key Judgment of the National Intelligence Council's new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear intentions and capabilities: Is this judgment supported by the evidence? The judgment that's stirring up all the controversy -- and it's a real shocker -- comes in the very first sentence: We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.  The judgment is astonishing for two reasons.  First, it flies in the face of virtually everything we know - or thought we knew -- about the Iranian regime, its capabilities and its intentions.  Second, If the new Key Judgment is correct it means that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program fully two years before publication of the National Intelligence Council's 2005 Estimate on this same subject, which concluded "with high confidence" that Iran "currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons."

Related: Doesn't Iran Matter?
By James Taranto, WSJ Opinion Journal, December 4, 2007

Here's what troubles us about the report, though: If one can have high confidence in the NIE findings, then those findings are good news for America..... But we haven't seen anyone celebrating the NIE as good news for America. The people who profess to believe it all seem to view it as a partisan document, a weapon to be used in their battle against the Bush administration.

Al Qaeda is finished in Iraq: From the Horse's Mouth
By Clarice Feldman, The American Thinker, December 05, 2007

In his speech released yesterday Abou Omar Al Baghdadi the supposed leader of the Islamic State in Iraq which is Al Qaeda in Iraq said that only two hundered Mohajeroon are left in Iraq. Mohajeroon which means immigrants in Arabic are the foreign terrorists who came to fight in Iraq. This is yet the most stunning admission by Al Qaeda in Iraq that they are totally destroyed and from the tens of thousands of foreign terrorists they had, almost all of them are killed and captured and only two hundreds are left.

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From Elsewhere

Economic Freedom of the World: 2007 Annual Report (pdf)
Nations that are economically free out-perform non-free nations in indicators of well-being
The Cato Institute

Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom have an average per-capita GDP of US$26,013, compared to US$3,305 for those nations in the bottom quartile (exhibit 1.6).

The top quartile has an average per-capita economic growth rate of 2.25%, compared to 0.35% for the bottom quartile (exhibit 1.7).

In nations of the top quartile, the average income of the poorest 10% of the population is US$7,334, compared to $905 for those in the bottom quartile (exhibit 1.10).

Life expectancy is 78.7 years in the top quartile but 56.7 years in the bottom quartile (exhibit 1.11).

Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom have an average score of 1.8 for political rights on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 marks the highest level, while those in the bottom quartile have an average score of 4.4 (exhibit 1.18).

Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom have an average score of 1.7 for civil liberties on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 marks the highest level, while those in the bottom quartile have an average score of 4.1 (exhibit 1.18).

Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom have an average score of 81.0 (out of 100) for environmental performance, while those in the bottom quartile have an average score of 58.9 (exhibit 1.19)..

Ron Paul: He Won't Win the Presidency, But...
By Michael D. Tanner The Cato Institute

Most of the current Republican candidates fall squarely into the big-government camp. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney imposed a Hillary Clinton-style health plan in his state and not only supports No Child Left Behind but calls for the federal government to buy a laptop computer for every child born in America. He thinks we should increase farm price supports.

John McCain has an admirable record as a fiscal conservative, but he shows a disturbing predilection for making a federal issue of every personal pet peeve from steroids in baseball to airplane service quality. He embraces heavily regulatory environmental policies that hurt businesses and cost jobs, such as expanding the Clean Water and Clean Air acts and implementing the Kyoto Protocols, and compulsory national service. More important, he is also the principal author of a campaign finance bill that severely restricts political speech. 

Rudy Giuliani's record on civil liberties suggests he views the Constitution as an afterthought.

Fred Thompson talks a good game, but his record suggests he is closer to McCain-lite.

Mike Huckabee may be an even bigger spender than President Bush, and he never met a tax increase he didn't like.

Thus, when Ron Paul talks about returning to limited constitutional government, a great many Republican primary voters sit up and take notice. For voters hungering for a return to the party of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan rather than the party of George W. Bush, Paul's rhetoric is a breath of fresh air.

No, Rep. Paul is not likely to be our next president. But he is delivering a message that the other candidates would do well to heed. Is anyone listening?

The Roots of Revolution
By Reginald Firehammer, The Automist

In the opening article to this series, "Marxist Revolution of the West," I explained that the revolution that has all but destroyed Western civilization, and is in its final stages in every aspect of Western society and culture, though explicitly planned and initiated by avowed Marxists, it was contributions of other individuals, movements, and institutions that made it possible for the revolution to be so spectacularly pulled off. The interrelationships between these various contributors to the revolution is very complex. There are six major threads of influence which I have identified and in terms of which all the complexity of that revolution can be explained. 

Six Anti-Western Anti-civilizing Threads: The six threads are: 1. Cultural Marxism; 2. Post Modernism; 3. Psychology; 4. Sociology; 5. Education; and 6. Humanism.

The Other Hsu Drops
By Rick Moran, The American Thinker, December 05, 2007

Hillary Clinton fundraiser and major league con man Norman Hsu has been indicted in New York: ... Hsu has been charged with 6 counts of mail fraud, 6 counts of wire fraud, and 3 counts of violating FEC laws. Will he sing in exchange for a lighter sentence? I'll bet there are more than a few Democrats sweating out that question as we move toward trial. 

Related: Clinton Rolls a Sizable Pork Barrel
The senator embraces 'earmarks' ... received campaign funds from project beneficiaries.

Redefining Conservatism
Mike Huckabee is far from being Reagan's heir. 
By Kimberley A. Strassel,The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2007

If Mr. Huckabee does turn out to be everything Republicans "want" or "need" in a conservative, it will only be because the definition of a conservative has morphed to include tax hiking, protectionism, corporate scolding and an unserious approach to foreign policy.

Romney: Religious Liberty versus Establishment
By Amy D. Goldstein, The American Thinker, December 07, 2007

Reaching above the heads of the media and past political pundits, Mitt Romney spoke to the heart of the American people - reminding us that the very basis for the creation of the United States was religious freedom and highlighting the tolerance that this country finally achieved during the struggle for independence.

Another Twisted Christmas
By L. Brent Bozell, Media Research Center, December 10, 2007

The Christmas season is upon us, which means it's that special time of year for the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State to make sure no wayward city council will allow a whiff of frankincense on government property. They must send out direct-mail fundraising letters asking "Help Us Crush a Creche at Christmas!"

John McCain Urges Rejection of MoveOn.Org Filibuster
By John McCain, December 10, 2007

U.S. Senator John McCain today sent the following letter to Senators Biden, Clinton, Dodd and Obama urging them to reject's campaign to block funding for our troops and their mission in Iraq...

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