North Archives - December 28, 2010
| Editorial | News & Views
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Vermont's WDEV, AM 550 & FM 96.1, and on WTWK, 1070 AM (Burlington).
on the Failure of Burlington Telecom
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.
Out for a New Sales Tax on Services
By John McClaughry
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.
By Martin Harris
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.
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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Week’s Mail Bag
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
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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
Weekly News Round-Up
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
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
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.
$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.
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
Can a lawyer who was Omya's
adversary fairly keep tabs on the company now that he's a state regulator?
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.
From Vermont Tiger, December
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.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
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.
Chaos: Spontaneous Revolt Against the Regime
By Dr. Michael Ledeen, Family
Security Matters, December 15 2010
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.
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
Jihad Battleplan Hearings in Congress
By Connie Hair, Human Events,
December 20 2010
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.
'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
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
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.
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.
# # #
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.
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.
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
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.
FCC Should Not Regulate the Internet
By Jim Harper, The Cato
The FCC moves forward with
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."
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.
Neutrality and the TV Wars
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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