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True North Archives - December 14, 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

Vermont as a "Laboratory for Change"
By Robert Maynard

You can be sure that this scheme is where the funding will come for what Shumlin expects to be the first single payer health care system in the U.S. See this article in the Boston Globe: "Governor-elect Peter Shumlin yesterday announced his appointments to a team he hopes will lead Vermont to become the first state with a single-payer health care system." He sees the Vermont effort as a "laboratory for change" that the administration is looking for and will not hesitate to ask for funding for it that would otherwise go to other states. This quote is from a Burlington Free Press article: "He said Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made it clear that they see states as laboratories for change." Vermont’s Congressional delegation has already asked the Department of Transportation to send money to Vermont that was rejected by other states. See this article. The DOT turned down that brazen request, but who is to say that the administration would turn down a request to fund a program that would be billed as a model for the nation to follow?

ISaveRx: A Cautionary Tale
By John McClaughry

Now for last month's court case. Act 80 of 2007 sought to ban the sale or use of commercial "data mining" to improve marketing of prescription drugs. The U.S. Second Circuit held that unconstitutional: "The legislative findings are explicit that Vermont aims to do exactly what has been so highly disfavored [by the courts] - namely, put the state's thumb on the scales of the marketplace of ideas in order to influence conduct."

Big Pharma, with its embrace of high entry barriers for new products and patent law manipulation, ought not be immune from political attack. But 12 years of liberal chest-thumping against Big Pharma, involving at least two judicial embarrassments and a failed program, has produced, essentially, nothing but a lot of demagoguery, bureaucracy, legal costs, and incompetence - plus, admittedly, some coerced "supplementary discounts" and lots of useful name recognition for the leading chest thumper, Sen. Peter Shumlin.

Tribal Savagery
By Martin Harris

Martin Harris photoIf you find Steinberg’s research findings and conclusions more persuasive, you have to find the current focus on  booting out teachers-who-don’t-teach less persuasive. You also have to question one of the new themes in the pre-K argument, the one which says that parenting is so poor that, for Head Start to work successfully, government will have to remove the kids for large blocks of non-school time from mom or, more rarely, from mom and dad. Under the Steinberg thesis, parental failure to wield books at home doesn’t matter; getting kids into groups which think an after-school jaunt to the town library beats basketball is the key factor. He doesn’t say where such teen groups are more or less likely to be found, but I’d guess that the odds favor the neighborhood around PS 7 somewhat less than the neighborhood around, say, the Chicago-suburb New Trier High School. Boston Latin is in a separate Brown-v.-Board-and-bussing classification; high-SES neighborhood from which local kids are shipped by their parents to non-neighborhood schools, and BL itself enrolls mostly bus-ins from elsewhere in Boston. It has a lot of SWWL problems it didn’t have when enrollments were local.

Government Health Care for Vermont - Act 128
By Charlie Bucknam

Burdening Vermonters with higher taxes to fund more bureaucracy to control our health care choices is not the solution to lower costs or for better health care. Instead, we should be seeking solutions that preserve and expand Vermonters’ freedom to choose their health care options, and, that will attract the best and brightest physicians and other health care providers to our State.

*Welcome Home Veterans*

As a special service of True North and the Defenders Council of Vermont for our Returning Veterans, we have done some research and found an online employment and social networking site to help those returning Patriots who are seeking employment and have a desire to network with other returning Patriots. The first group is a social network that is dedicated to providing a "fresh approach to transition from military to civilian life". The group is called "My Vetwork" and can be accessed here. There is another group called "Hire Patriots" which is an employment network for people looking to hire veterans and for veterans looking for work. This site can be accessed here.

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"A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves."
– Edward R. Murrow
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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Green Mountain Nanny
By Sen. Randy Brock, Vermont Tiger, December 7 2010

Now that Vermont’s Attorney General and several score of his non-profit association acolytes have determined that we all must be protected against Coca-Cola, it’s time to begin looking more broadly for other dragons that we can slay with our tax code...

 The beauty of all of this is that we can create hundreds of good-paying government jobs to enforce this new regimen.  Indeed, we may need to create an entirely new agency to monitor, tax and police our personal habits.  It could be called the Department of Uniform Monastic Behavior (DUMB), and would likely soon become the largest agency in state government.  George Orwell’s nanny would be proud.

Vermont Businesses Give Back This Holiday Season
From Fox 44 News, December 12 2010

Many local businesses are choosing to give back to the community this holiday season including Boloco, which for the next twelve days will give 50 cents to a local non profit for each burrito sold.

Last year it raised $2,100, and the money goes to a different local non-profit each day.

A Taxing Gift
By Art Woolf, Vermont Tiger, December 13 2010

Home and Garden TV's Dream Home 2011 Giveaway features a home in Stowe.  It's not your usual Stowe fixer-upper.  This one, according to the Freep, is... 

a $1.5 million ski house on the slopes of Stowe. One that comes with a new SUV and hot tub....The home is in the final stages of construction in the picturesque alpine setting of Stowe Mountain’s Spruce Peak.

But wait!  There's more!

The winner of the sweepstakes gets the keys to the 3,000-square-foot home that has an outdoor hot tub in a surround of native boulders, is stocked with more than $30,000 worth of kitchen appliances and sleeps 14. In the driveway will be a 2011 GMC Acadia Denali.

And still more!  Although the Freeps does not mention it, VPR's story notes that the grand prize also includes the minor matter of

$500,000 in cash…

The lucky winner of the house will pay about $1 million in taxes in 2011 on their good fortune.  With the $500,000 cash that is part of the winning package, the winner will only have to come up with an additional half million bucks.  Maybe they can rent out some of those extra beds to help pay the taxes.

Shumlin: Cabinet Meetings in D.C. 'Exciting'
(Editor’s alternative title: "Shumlin's Wealth Redistribution Goals")
By Neal P. Goswami, The Bennington Banner, December 2 2010

Early education was also discussed, Shumlin said. Duncan will be seeking $300 million from Congress to implement early education programs across the country, according to Shumlin. He said he urged Duncan to require states to provide matching funds because it will likely increase Vermont's share.

"I've made very clear that Vermont wants to be an active partner with him to make sure that we get our share," Shumlin said. "Many of the governors were swept in Tea Party electoral landslides. I don't think you'll see many of them committing state funds. A lot of these tea party states, I do not believe, will have the political persuasion to do it."

Shumlin was coy, however, on where Vermont will find state dollars for early education. "We're working hard on trying to find the money. Let's remember that we have to cut $112 million in the budget," he said.

Fantasy Headline: Act 250 Board Keeps Vermont Yankee Open
By Tom Evslin, Vermont Tiger, December 9 2010

Vermont Governor-elect Peter Shumlin and Deb Markowitz, his designee for Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources "suggested that climate change should become listed as one of the criteria in the Act 250 process for new projects" according to coverage of the announcement of Markowitz' appointment. Just so out-of-state readers'll understand, nothing significant gets built in Vermont without an Act 250 permit, and the permits are hard to get and easy to delay.

At the same news conference Shumlin reportedly said: "When the telephone rings … we want someone on the other end to say Vermont is open for business." Adding an impossible-to-define criterion or criteria to Act 250 isn't going to convey that message, but let's dream:

DOT to Vermont Lawmakers: Can’t have the Rail Funds
(Editor’s note: More Begging from our Political Leaders)
By Neal P. Goswami, Bennington Banner, Dec 10, 2010

The U.S. Department of Transportation has rejected a request by Vermont’s Congressional delegation to redirect high-speed rail funding to Vermont from two states that have rejected it.

Transportation officials announced Thursday that about $1.2 billion in rail funding rejected by Ohio and Wisconsin will be redirected, but only to projects already under way. California secured the most of 14 states splitting the funding with more than $620 million.

U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week asking that a project to return passenger rail service to Vermont’s western corridor be funded from the pot of money turned away by Ohio and Wisconsin.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Muslim Brotherhood Group Trains Airport Screeners
By Connie Hair, Human Events, December 6 2010

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) has completed training for 2,200 Transportation Safety Officers (TSOs) at the Los Angeles International Airport according to a press release found on the MPAC website. 

The MPAC release notes that the two-month training course informed officers of "the diversity of Muslims around the world from cultural dress to language to tenets. The four trainers taught the TSOs how to properly handle a Quran and discussed the different ways Muslim women and men choose to cover or dress. For example, the TSOs learned if a woman wears hijab and needs a secondary screening she should be screened in a private area by a female TSO officer."

(The Drudge Report shocked the nation with this photo of a nun being patted down by a Muslim woman in head garb. Apparently Christian women are afforded only public groping sessions.)

The Post-Iran Proliferation Cascade
By Peter Brookes, Family Security Matters, December 9 2010

With the exception of a handful of capitals friendly to Tehran, and of course the Iranian regime itself, few now dispute the notion that the Islamic Republic of Iran is involved in a nuclear weapons program—and one that will, unfortunately, come to fruition in the next few years. News of Iran’s seemingly-unstoppable drive for nuclear status is no real surprise, of course; despite four UN Security Council Resolutions condemning Iran and imposing punitive economic sanctions, Tehran continues to enrich uranium for those weapons virtually unhindered.

Making matters worse, Iran recently informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it would move beyond the 3-4 percent uranium enrichment level normally used for reactor fuel, alarmingly increasing enrichment to 20 percent. While not illegal under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a signatory, there is no reason to enrich uranium beyond the 3-4 percent required for the production of nuclear fuel, leaving little doubt about Tehran’s strategic intentions. It clearly puts Tehran on track to being able to enrich uranium to 80 percent or more—the levels needed for a nuclear weapon.

The Game
By Lee Smith, The Hudson Institute, December 8 2010

This is how U.S. diplomats used to talk about their work in the Middle East: "Every American ambassador in the region knows that official meetings with Arab leaders start with the obligatory half-hour lecture on the Palestinian question," one with a long tenure in the Middle East told the New York Times before Thanksgiving. "If we could dispense with that half-hour and get down to our other business, we might actually be able to get something done."

But that was in the pre-Cablegate age. One of the surprising (to some) revelations of the leaked diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks is that, counter to what we’ve been told for over a half century, the Palestinian question does not dominate the thinking of Arab officials.

American journalists still get the "half-hour drill"—I’ve gotten it most recently from the prime minister of Lebanon—but with U.S. diplomats, Arab rulers have more pressing issues to discuss. Indeed, the Wikileaks cables seem to confirm that our Arab allies are consumed by their fear of the Iranians. But are they really?

Good News From WikiLeaks: Sky is Falling in Iran, North Korea
By Ryan Mauro, Pajamas Media, December 8 2010

The release of confidential diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks (and the pending release of thousands more) has undoubtedly done damage to our ability to win the trust of informants, foreign officials, and intelligence services. There is ample reason to be angry over this scandal, but there is also reason to be encouraged. The content of the documents shows the roof is collapsing on the Iranian and North Korean regimes and that a coalition has formed to support regime change for both.

Gitmo Follies
Obama’s Justice Department should ask Obama’s State Department about jailing jihadists.
By Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, December 11 2010

Attorney General Eric Holder is dismayed over Congress’s refusal to cough up funds that would allow the Obama administration to close down Guantanamo Bay and transfer the 170 fire-breathing jihadists still detained there to the United States — where, he insists, they’ll be kept under lock and key.

P. J. Crowley, the State Department’s assistant secretary for public affairs, is dismayed, too. He claims that federal judges are ordering the release of fire-breathing jihadists in droves, purportedly requiring that we free them out from under lock and key — whereupon they return to the anti-American jihad at an alarming clip, a totally predictable outcome Mr. Crowley says the Obama administration totally predicted.

Do these guys ever talk to each other?

A Rift with the Afghans
The U.S. needs to rebuild a few bridges.
By Ahmad Majidyar, National Review, December 10 2010

The latest WikiLeaks disclosures, in which U.S. ambassador in Kabul Karl Eikenberry described Pres. Hamid Karzai as a "paranoid" leader without knowledge of "the most rudimentary principles of state-building," will further strain relations between Kabul and Washington and undermine war efforts against the Taliban.

In an effort to limit the damage from the leaks, Eikenberry issued a statement: "The United States is absolutely committed to building and strengthening a long-term partnership with the Afghan people and the Afghan government. Our shared goals do not change based on the release of purported diplomatic reporting from the past." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also phoned Karzai to reassure the Afghan president of her support.

But the damage containment was too little, too late.

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From Elsewhere

Humility in Economics
By Kevin E. Schmiesing,The Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, December 6 2010

Among the reasons socialism does not work is one that Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek called the economic calculation problem. The economy cannot be planned but must develop organically. A central role in this development is the market price, which, they observed, functions as a carrier of information. The amount of information the price carries is so large that it defies the capacity of any central authority or single intelligence to gather and analyze it.

Hayek put his finger on the source of the error that leads governments to attempt—usually with disastrous results—to manage centrally an economy or any piece of it. He called it the "fatal conceit." The agnostic Hayek did not write about it in religious terms, but his language rightly identified this seemingly political-economic mistake as, at root, a moral failing.

Judge Rejects Key Part of Obama Healthcare Law
By Lisa Lambert and Jeremy Pelofsky, Yahoo News, December 13 2010

A judge in Virginia on Monday declared a key part of President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law unconstitutional in the first major setback on an issue that will likely end up at the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2002, backed the state of Virginia's argument that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring Americans to start buying health insurance in 2014 or face a fine.

2010 Index of Economic Freedom
From The Heritage Foundation

The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom covers 183 countries around the world, ranking 

179 of them with an economic freedom score based on 10 measures of economic openness, regulatory efficiency, the rule of law, and competitiveness. The basic principles of economic freedom emphasized in the Index are individual empowerment, equitable treatment, and the promotion of competition. 

The results of the 2010 Index include the following: 

Four Asia–Pacific economies continue to lead the world in economic freedom. Hong Kong maintains its position as the world’s freest economy, a distinction it has enjoyed for 16 consecutive years. Singapore remains close, ranked as the world’s second freest economy. Australia and New Zealand, ranked 3rd and 4th this year, have solidified their position at the top of the rankings. As in 2009, a total of seven economies have attained "free" status in the Index rankings, although the composition of this group has changed a bit, with Switzerland moving in and the United States dropping out. 

Ethanol: Let Protectionism Expire
By Harry de Gorter and Jerry Taylo, The Cato Institute, December 6 2010

If the economic rationale for the ethanol-import tariff is to offset the tax credit, then the tariff should expire along with the tax credit. Letting the tariff expire can provide more competition in the ethanol market and allow more environmentally friendly ethanol onto the market — such as Brazilian sugarcane ethanol. The primary reason sugarcane ethanol is, by far, the world's lowest-carbon-intensity biofuel produced on a commercial scale is that one obtains twice the amount of ethanol per land unit from sugarcane as from corn. Furthermore, sugarcane is not a staple food crop and, unlike corn, has only an indirect effect on food prices. It is better for Brazil to produce ethanol and the U.S. to produce corn.

Brazil ended subsidies for ethanol over ten years ago and eliminated its ethanol tariff early this year. The U.S. should reciprocate. As the world's top producers of ethanol, the U.S. and Brazil should collaborate in building an open and global biofuels marketplace for clean, renewable energy.

'Superman' Exposes Myth of the Common School
By Jennifer Marshall, The Heritage Foundation, December 9 2010

'Each morning, wanting to believe in our schools, we take a leap of faith," filmmaker Davis Guggenheim says in Waiting for Superman. His much-acclaimed documentary then gives us every reason to doubt. By framing this account of the public school system's failure in terms of trust, the film manages to do something far more subversive than merely record union-induced systemic dysfunction. The documentary does nothing less than cast doubt on this core belief of America's civil religion: our faith in the public school system as the mediator of our national ideals and the gateway to opportunity for all children.

From Guggenheim's own admission that he's "betraying the ideals" he thought he espoused (driving his children past three public schools to a private school he's chosen) to deplorable facts (for example, six in 10 students in East Los Angeles do not graduate from high school), the film breeds skepticism about a popular national myth.

Related: Michelle Rhee Brings her Fix-the-Schools Drive to Sacramento

The Bush Tax Cuts Never Went Far Enough
A permanent reduction in capital taxes would increase productivity and wages. Postwar Britain shows how higher capital tax rates reduce investment and damage economic growth.
By Thomas F. Cooley & Lee E. Ohanian, The Wall Street Journal, December 8 2010

The Obama administration has announced its willingness to compromise on a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts for all income levels. But the Bush tax cuts never went far enough in providing sufficient incentives to promote higher rates of savings and investment. Temporary solutions like this one or the administration's proposed investment tax credit for businesses will not solve our problem of low capital accumulation. What matters is how the income from capital is taxed over its lifetime.

Economists agree that a large capital stock is a key ingredient for prosperity, as it expands our productive capacity and raises worker productivity, which in turn increases wages and consumer purchasing power. Our capital stock is comparatively much smaller today than it was before the Great Depression. The ratio of business-sector capital to output is about 30% smaller today than it was in 1929. This shortfall reflects the fact that recent investment rates have been lower and consumption rates have been higher compared to earlier in our history.

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