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True North Archives - December 28, 2010
Radio | Editorial | News & Views

Radio Archives

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

More on the Failure of Burlington Telecom
Martin Harris photoBy Angela Chagnon

As the BT saga unfolds before us in Burlington, a few of us residents who still have our senses are wondering why Mayor Bob Kiss is so desperately clinging to the obviously failed, miserable disaster of a company called Burlington Telecom. BT has not only become a failure, but has always been a failure, according to the audit report just released by the Public Service Board.
         

Watch Out for a New Sales Tax on Services
By John McClaughry

Ever since his first appearance in the legislature, Peter Shumlin has been a staunch opponent of the sales tax. In 1991 he worked hard to derail a sales tax increase from 4% to 5%, offering an amendment to extract the foregone revenues from "the rich" through a four-tiered income tax with a horrendous top rate of 42% of Federal tax liability.

In a 1993 special session Shumlin voted against Gov. Dean's measure to restore the sales tax rate to 5% after it had sunsetted to 4%. As Senate President In 1997 he blocked a House-passed measure to raise the rate from 5% to 6%.

If, in his debut as governor, he suddenly decided that the sales tax on services was a great idea for reducing the $112 million general fund deficit, Peter Shumlin ought to bear in mind the fate of Gov. Martinez and lots of Democratic legislators in Maine. It wasn't pretty.

Jeffersonians in Sudbury?
By Martin Harris

Martin Harris photoIn normal times, the old Constitutional argument --Jeffersonians for more governance powers to the States and less to the Federal center, Hamiltonians for just the opposite-- had little grass-roots immediacy. It was once taught, briefly, in high school (is it now? check with your present-day civics student) but it was pretty much accepted that the Lincolnian gravitation of power to DC was inevitable and maybe even desirable. But these are not now normal times, and the J v. H debate has spawned not only a Tea Party at the national level and, at last count, 21 health-care rebellions at the State level, but even a parallel little school argument at the town v. State level in Vermont. In Sudbury, the locals want to keep the school open despite declining enrollments and rising costs, while the State Ed Dep’t doesn’t. The Progressive SCOTUS justice, Louis Brandeis, made two relevant comments more than a half-century before the passive-solar, earth-set, solar-oriented, open-plan classroom-design, 60-pupil 6000SF $207K structure was even built in 1980.


*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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This Week’s Mail Bag

Fear

People in the US are constantly bombed with bad news, so much so it is affecting the culture and the public perception. The average life span has increased over 50% in the last century. Poor people live in climate-controlled homes and are at risk for obesity. Folks just can’t seem to figure out what is actually dangerous to them. The panic comes from things they can’t even see like germs, pollutants, crazed bombers from unknown places and carbon dioxide. Things that ought to scare you like the idiot Director of National Intelligence (I know the title just begs to be called an oxymoron) who managed not to have any idea what the latest bomber plot MI5 just uncovered or what a realistic nightmare a 2500 page health care bill will do to your economy. No, people are worried about rare species disappearing while the roads and sewers serving the tens of millions illegal aliens crumble around them. One idiot on the no fly list from Nigeria gets on a plane (after his father informed the US authorities his kid was intending to blow up a jetliner) with a bomb and soon the brown shirts are feeling up old ladies and children. People are convinced that unseen things in the environment are destroying the planet (much like people thought thunderstorms were brought on by wickedness or witches spells can really kill crops) and that if we don’t turn control of everything over to boobs like people running the TSA, IRS or EPA we are all doomed. Let the truth be known the regulatory insanity is what should be feared and the lawlessness of those who run it. BHO decreed his subjects will not drill for oil offshore. The Court overturned the order. The ruler just reapplied the edict. The news is full of Chicken Little stories and the average Joe is giving away his money and freedom to chase dragons and hire more ICE agents that don’t arrest illegal aliens. The Court says the FCC can't regulate the internet. So what? They do it anyway. Who needs laws with the explosion of Administrative Agencies? The economy is being destroyed by morons who ordered banks to loan money to people who could not possibly pay it back. GM has offered up IOU’s to repay a pittance of what was stolen from the treasury and stock holders and we are told by the authorities they paid back the 80 billion we just printed up. Nonsense. The Treasury Secretary is handing out Trillions of dollars (the same tax cheat who was too stupid to runs a basic tax software program like Turbo Tax is guarding the money supply) to the IMF, the banks, insurance fat cats, the broke Fed, the squid eaters of the EU (who insist on living far beyond their means), the UN and now some 80 billion to the global warming hoaxers. The Attorney General’s greatest fear is from imaginary threats posed by the American people. Wake me up when this crummy movie is over…..

Shelley Palmer, Williston, Vermont

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Quotable
"The historical experience of socialist countries has sadly demonstrated that collectivism does not do away with alienation but rather increases it, adding to it a lack of basic necessities and economic inefficiency. "

-Pope John Paul II

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Digger Tidbits: The Big Good-Bye; Shumlin in Transition; Is Single-Payer Viable? Anti-Tax Sentiment Bubbles Up
By Anne Galloway, Vermont Digger, December 18 2010

Hsiao told Mokhiber the pure single-payer plan option set forth under Vermont law "ignored reality," including "legal barriers," such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which allows employers to set up self-insured plans. The law bars states from passing legislation that is "related to" an employee benefits plan. Hsiao described ERISA as a major obstacle – no other state in the country has managed to get a waiver. In an interview last week, Shumlin acknowledged it would take an act of Congress for the state to sidestep the federal law. ...

Meanwhile, the anti-tax forces, which include grocers and the Beverage Association of Vermont, have begun to pick up momentum on the Internet. A Web site has been launched: Stop the Beverage Tax, and a Facebook page posted on the site has more than 3,000 fans.

Confessions of a State Stimulus Czar
I'd like to think Vermont did better than many states, but much of the money ended up continuing bloated programs, sustaining government jobs or building solar cells in China.
By Tom Evslin, The Wall Street Journal, December 26 2010

In March 2009, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas asked me to become the state's chief recovery officer, or stimulus czar. Vermont was about to get $1 billion or so in 300 separate and unrelated programs stapled together in the federal stimulus package, aka the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The governor needed someone with start-up experience to manage the money and programs. Before selling my last company and retiring, I'd been a high-tech entrepreneur.

Part of my job was to coordinate stimulus money awarded directly to state government, both to assure that we complied with federal regulations and that we used this one-time money in ways that made sense. Complying with the regulations was the easy part. Using the money well was another story. Although I'd like to think Vermont did better than many states, much of the money ended up continuing bloated programs rather than providing a transition to a sustainable future.

The $19M ‘Gift’ Was the Easy Part
By Emerson Lynn, Vermont Tiger, December 23 2010

The governor has one voice. The commissioner of education has another. [And they are not connected.] The school boards have another voice, and so do the superintendents, the principals, the teachers, etc.

There is no coordinated vision. Each competes on an equal basis. Together they amount to a divide and conquer barrier to change that has become institutionalized.

It may be that school boards can create budgets that do not result in higher property taxes. We’ll see. But that’s not the hard work. The message that needs to be sent is that we can no longer afford to pay more for the results being produced, and for that message to be received, and then implemented, will require a complete change not only in vision, but in Vermont’s educational hierarchy – beginning with the governor.

New Vt. Gov's Picks have Potential Conflicts
By Dave Gram, Boston.com, December 19 2010

In a long fight over Omya Inc.'s plan to dispose of marble processing waste, a citizens' group had some top-notch legal help.

David Mears, director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School, took up the cause for the group Residents Concerned about Omya in a case decided earlier this year.

Now, Mears has been tapped by Vermont Gov.-elect Peter Shumlin to head up the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the agency responsible for making sure Omya heeds the conditions of a waste disposal permit it eventually got for the Pittsford project.

Can a lawyer who was Omya's adversary fairly keep tabs on the company now that he's a state regulator?

Vermont Schools come up $15.8 Million Short on Challenges Target
By Anne Galloway, Vermont Digger, December 17 2010

Most Vermont school districts balked at the Challenges for Change target reductions for fiscal year 2012.

In the aggregate, Vermont schools will be $15.8 million short of the Challenges goal. The Department cited the target number as $19.9 million; the Legislature asked schools to voluntarily reduce their budgets by 2.3 percent or $23 million.

Bridge Building
From Vermont Tiger, December 23 2010

Governor-elect Shumlin held a news conference Wednesday morning to announce what everyone who has been paying attention already knew.  His administration will not enforce the spending cuts last session's legislature "requested" that school boards make in their budgets as part of the Challenges for Change initiative.  Shumlin, himself, had voted for the "Challenges" package.  That was then.  This is now.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Why Does Religious Freedom Matter?
By Jennifer Marshall, The Heritage Foundation, December 20 2010

Freedom of religion is a cornerstone of the American experiment. That is because religious faith is not merely a matter of "toleration" but is understood to be the exercise of "inherent natural rights." As George Washington once observed: "[T]he Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support." And "what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator," James Madison wrote in his 1786 Memorial and Remonstrance. "This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society."

The model of religious liberty brilliantly designed by Madison and the other American Founders is central to the success of the American experiment. It is essential to America’s continued pursuit of the ideals stated in the Declaration of Independence, the ordered liberty embodied in the Constitution, and peace and stability around the world.

The key to America’s religious liberty success story is its constitutional order. The Founders argued that virtue derived from religion is indispensable to limited government. The Constitution therefore guaranteed religious free exercise while prohibiting the establishment of a national religion. This Constitutional order produced a constructive relationship between religion and state that balances citizens’ dual allegiances to God and earthly authorities without forcing believers to abandon (or moderate) their primary loyalty to God.

Iranian Chaos: Spontaneous Revolt Against the Regime
By Dr. Michael Ledeen, Family Security Matters, December 15 2010

The port of Bandar Abbas is one of Iran’s major shipping hubs, as well as a big naval base in the Straits of Hormuz, and the site of a big refinery.  It is now in chaos.  Thousands of trucks, many of them loaded with imported foodstuffs, commercial goods of all description, and even oil products, have blocked the city’s roads, effectively ending all movement in and around the port.  The drivers simply shut down their rigs, took the coils out of the engines, and walked away.  On the water, there’s a similar shutdown of the hundreds of small boats and ferries that usually carry thousands of people each day to the nearby islands as well as to Dubai.  They have clogged the harbor, and nothing is moving.

This is the result of the Iranian regime’s cancellation of energy subsidies, proudly announced by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday.  One of the subsidies was on diesel fuel, which has now become eight or nine times as expensive as it used to be, and the drivers can’t survive the cost, nor can the ferry companies.  So they went on strike.

Failing Over Korea
From Investors Business Daily, December 20 2010

The problem here is not an inability to agree on what happened or state who's at fault, but quite simply a void in U.S. leadership that's left a window open for Russian and Chinese power politics.

The two tyrannies have paid lip service to democracy and wealth creation in the recent past, but their failure to condemn North Korea suggests that they're dropping those masks to reveal their old Cold War identities intact. Both vetoed any criticism of the North by insisting that the only statement they could sign was one urging both sides to show "restraint" equally.

It shows that item one is not preserving peace on the Korean peninsula, but ending U.S. influence in Asia.

Muslim Jihad Battleplan Hearings in Congress
By Connie Hair, Human Events, December 20 2010

Terrorism investigations of jihad in America will commence early in the new 112th Congress with a fearless, no-nonsense New Yorker at the helm.  Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the next chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told the New York Times that hearings in his committee early next year will center on the radicalization of the Muslim community in the U.S.

King explained that the planned hearings were prompted by frequent concerns raised by law enforcement officials over uncooperative Muslim leaders in terror investigations.  "When I meet with law enforcement, they are constantly telling me how little cooperation they get from Muslim leaders," King told the Times.

Terrorism: 'London' Bridge has Fallen Down
By Gadi Adelman, Family Security Matters, December 27 2010

In what Scotland Yard called the biggest anti-terrorist sweep in Britain in two years, police arrested a dozen men accused of plotting a large-scale terror attack on Monday December 20.

Saying this was big news would be an understatement. Given the amount of people arrested and the proximity to the Christmas holiday, you couldn't turn on a television, the radio or the internet without hearing the news unless you lived in a cave somewhere.  I take that back. I bet even Osama bin Laden heard the news.

That same afternoon, Diane Sawyer from ABC World News sat down with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan for a round table interview.

These three people make up the agencies that are supposed to keep us safe. You would think that they would all be aware of something as big as the largest terror arrest in the UK in two years; you would think that they would have known about it before it ever even made its way to the media. Yes, you would think that, but you would be wrong.

TSA Has Its Security Priorities in the Wrong Place
From The Heritage Foundation, December 24 2010

One lesson that emerges from all these foiled plots is the need to stop the attempt early, before the terrorist has a chance to put the public in any danger. Hint: If a would-be terrorist is waiting in the TSA screening line with a bomb in his shorts, the public already is in danger and the government already has failed.

This is why Napolitano’s defense of the more extensive deployment of full-body scanners is so disconcerting. In fact, she recently announced that Homeland Security may start to deploy full-body scanners on trains, ships, and other mass transit. Such a focus has little to do with preventing terrorism before it starts.

Sure, full-body scanners are a legitimate means of screening passengers who merit additional (secondary) scrutiny. We absolutely need some level of physical security at the airports. But the more resources the administration wastes piling up stuff at TSA screening lines, the fewer resources it can devote to practices we know are successful at stopping terrorism.

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From Elsewhere

Census: Fast Growth in States with No Income Tax
States’ public policy and law-enforcement practices can make a difference.
By Michael Barone, National Review Online, December 23 2010

This leads to a second point, which is that growth tends to be stronger where taxes are lower. Seven of the nine states that do not levy an income tax grew faster than the national average. The other two, South Dakota and New Hampshire, had the fastest growth in their regions, the Midwest and New England.

Altogether, 35 percent of the nation’s total population growth occurred in these nine non-taxing states, which accounted for just 19 percent of total population at the beginning of the decade.

A New Era For The City-State?
By Joel Kotkin, Forbes Magazine, December 23 2010

The city-state, a relic dating back to Classical or Renaissance times, is making a comeback. Driven by massive growth in global trade, shifts in economic power and the rise of emerging ethnic groups, today’s new independent cities have witnessed rapid, often startling, economic growth over the past decade.

The contemporary city-state has flourished primarily in two regions: the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia. The development of Hong Kong and Singapore provided a critical stage for Southeast Asia, which has been home to the world’s the greatest economic expansion. Hong Kong, now a quasi-independent part of China, competes with London’s West End as the world’s most expensive office market. By one account, it is experiencing the fastest growth in rents of major office markets in the past year. Once known for their poverty and destitution, these Asian city-states now boast incomes comparable to many European and North American cities.

Taxes and the Top Percentile Myth
By Alan Reynolds, The Cato Institute, December 23 2010

When President Obama announced a two-year stay of execution for taxpayers on Dec. 7, he made it clear that he intends to spend those two years campaigning for higher marginal tax rates on dividends, capital gains and salaries for couples earning more than $250,000. "I don't see how the Republicans win that argument," said the president.

Despite the deficit commission's call for tax reform with fewer tax credits and lower marginal tax rates, the left wing of the Democratic Party remains passionate about making the U.S. tax system more and more progressive. They claim this is all about payback—that raising the highest tax rates is the fair thing to do because top income groups supposedly received huge windfalls from the Bush tax cuts. As the headline of a Robert Creamer column in the Huffington Post put it: "The Crowd that Had the Party Should Pick up the Tab."

Arguments for these retaliatory tax penalties invariably begin with estimates by economists Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of U.C. Berkeley that the wealthiest 1% of U.S. households now take home more than 20% of all household income.

The Key Role Of Limbaugh And Levin
By Tony Lee, Human Events, December 20 2010

As the midterm elections and the lame-duck session of Congress clearly demonstrated, conservatives and conservatism are on the ascendancy.

Conventional wisdom after the historic election of President Barack Obama, though, hardly predicted such a quick revival. Liberal strategists were proclaiming 40 years of liberal dominance and many on the right were afraid to attack Obama, even his most liberal-leaning policies and pronouncements, for fear they would be called "racist."

Many figures -- ranging from Glenn Beck to Sarah Palin to Rick Santelli to the myriad of Tea Party organizers -- have been given credit for contributing to conservatism's quick revival.

None of these figures, though, would have been as successful as they were without the groundwork laid by two old conservative bulls -- Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin -- when conservatism seemed to be at its nadir.

The FCC Should Not Regulate the Internet
By Jim Harper, The Cato Institute

The FCC moves forward with a proposal to regulate Internet service today. It’s a bad idea.

The one thing that pleases me about the ongoing debate over Internet regulation is the durability of Tim Lee’s November, 2008 Cato Policy Analysis, "The Durable Internet: Preserving Network Neutrality without Regulation." My introduction of it is a good synopsis.

The arguments against government regulation in the name of "net neutrality" have not changed: A good engineering principle is not made better if dogmatized and given to lawyers and bureaucrats to enforce as law. The FCC and its regulatory regime are almost sure to be captured by major ISPs and turned to their benefit, used to suppress competition and blunt innovation.

Related: Net Neutrality and the TV Wars

Democratic Congress Ends With a Whimper
By Emily Miller, Human Events, December 22 2010

The Democrats’ four-year control of the House of Representatives crawled to an end with the passage of a short-term spending bill, which will allow Republicans to set the government funding levels in the new year....

The short-term CR was a victory for Republicans because government spending levels and priorities will be set by the new GOP-controlled House. The House Democrats passed a CR, which set their priorities and spending levels through the fiscal year, which ends on September 30. The yearlong CR was not brought up in the Senate.

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