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Commentaries

    The Institute encourages the downloading and circulating of its Commentaries.
    Please credit their authorship to "John McClaughry, Vice President, Ethan Allen Institute."

    In each of the issue categories, the most recently published commentary appears at the top of the list.
    (In July 2009 some 96 older and less relevant EAI commentaries were removed from this site.)

Corporate Welfare
Economics and Regulatory Issues
Education
Energy & Climate
Environment
Food and Agriculture
General
Health Care
Land Use and Property Rights
Welfare

    Constitutional and Legal

    Protecting Our Constitutions
    Each year in mid-September Americans celebrate the U. S. Constitution. Each generation’s never-ending task is to stand firm against usurpation – and eventual destruction - of both federal and state constitutions by irresponsible legislators and adventuresome judges. (September 2012)

    The Future of the “Affordable Care Act”
    The Obama “Affordable Care Act” is still alive after Chief Justice Roberts rewrote it into a tax law, but it faces a rocky road before it actually starts collecting taxes from people without government-approved insurance. (July 2012)

    Revisiting Vermont’s Constitution
    Vermont's rightly celebrated Constitution of 1777 is based on principles and character traits shared by the people who wrote and approved it. When those principles and traits fade away, our Constitution may fade with them. (July 2010)

    Taxation by Unaccountable Strangers
    If there's anything worse than being taxed by our accountable legislators, it's being taxed by unaccountable strangers. That's precisely the deal that recent legislatures have given Vermonters, in violation of a fundamental constitutional principle: no taxation without (accountable) representation." (October 2008)

    The Constitutional Agenda of 2007
    The four-year term constitutional amendment will doubtless emerge again in 2007. The legislature should propose it for the Governor-Lt. Governor team, reject it for legislators, and take the four lower statewide offices off the ballot entirely. (November 2006)

    Private Property At The Mercy of Government
    In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court amends the Bill of Rights to allow governments to use eminent domain for any (alleged) public purpose. Shorn of the 5th Amendment's protection against government confiscation, Vermonters may want to fashion a state constitutional amendment that protects them against both actual and regulatory takings. (June 2005)

    Constitutional Infidelity
    Two ancient Vermont Supreme Court cases clearly establish the constitutional requirement: "no oath, no office." But Justice John Dooley has never produced any evidence that he ever subscribed to his oaths of allegiance and office. Why should he be retained? (March 2005)

    Rescue The Constitution from the Court
    Justices John Dooley and Denise Johnson are serial offenders at concocting hitherto unspuspected constitutional "rights" and imposing judicial mandates on the legislature. The only way to discipline such Supreme Legislators is for the elected legislature to deny them reelection to new six-year terms. Now is their opportunity. (February 2005)

    The One Big Choice Plan
    Every two years Vermonters face campaigns for six statewide positions. Wouldn't it be better if this confusion was reduced to one meaningful choice? (December 2002)

    A Refresher Course on the Constitution
    Sen. Peter Welch wants to rewrite the Constitution for political advantage. Enough already! (October 2002)

    Sorrell Takes on Microsoft
    Vermont's attorney general jumps into the Microsoft court case to oblige its competitors - and shows high tech firms what they can expect when doing business in Vermont. (October 2001)

    Vermont's Smoking Gun
    The 46-state tobacco settlement is on increasingly shaky legal ground. Its demise would cost Vermont $24 million a year, but we'd get our integrity back. (August 2001)

    "Thus Saith The Lord": When A Supreme Court Should be Replaced, Not Obeyed
    Leading defenders of Vermont's runaway Supreme Court claim that everybody must do just what the Court says. Not at all, reply Hamilton, Marshall, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ethan Allen Institute President John McClaughry. (October 2000)

    Reining in an Errant Court
    Vermont's Five Supreme Legislators badly need to be reined in. But how? (October 2000)

    More from the Five Supreme Legislators
    The Vermont Supreme Court has instructed the legislature to enact domestic partnership laws -- or else the Court will decide that gays and lesbians have a "right" to marriage. (December 1999)

    Regulation and Taxation Through Litigation
    The legislature won't raise taxes or increase regulation? No problem. Have the Courts do it. (August 1999)

    Plain Language Baffles Supreme Court
    Vermont's Five Supreme Legislators have struck again, misinterpreting another 1786 constitutional provision to thwart religious school choice. (June 1999)

    Stopping the Next Predatory Lawsuit
    First tobacco, next firearms. Predatory trial lawyers are hoping to get rich from both industries. All they need is a cooperating attorney general or mayor. (March 1999)

    Who Owns The Vermont Constitution?
    The defenders of the Brigham Justices seem to think the Constitution belongs to the Supreme Court. It does not. It belongs to the people (February 1999)

    The Brigham Justices: Should They be Denied New Terms?
    Here's the full argument for why the justices who perverted the Constitution in Brigham should be excused from further service. (January 1999)

    Who Controls the Supreme Court?
    In a democratic government based on popular sovereignty, there must be a popular check on all branches of government. Who controls the supreme court? It's the duty of the legislature to do it, by disciplining justices who lose sight of the constitution. (September 1998)

    Sharp Practice
    Over the past 220 years the Vermont General Assembly, like any democratically-elected legislative body, has done some fine and memorable things, and some foolish and costly things. (April 1998)

    When the People Surprised the Politicians
    Twice controversial constitutional amendments passed the legislature with huge majorities, only to be rejected by the people at the polls. (February 1998)

    Constitutional Principles: The Legislature, the Court, and Education Financing
    Why the Supreme Court can and should be ignored on educational finance. (April 1997)

    The Dooley Principle
    Justice John Dooley comes up with a new legal theory: your life belongs to the state. (March 1994)

    Corporate Welfare

    Tax Credits to the Rescue!
    The Dean Administration faced some real embarrassment for failing to deliver Husky's $6 million bridge in Milton. So it handed out $10.6 million in tax credits to Husky. (October 2000)

    Crony Capitalism Starting To Get Bad Reviews
    According to a JFO study Gov. Dean's touted Economic Advancement Tax Incentives program is not working out well. Why are we not surprised? (June 1999)

    The Filene's Bills: Greasing the Skids for Burlington
    The main effect of the much-heralded "Downtowns Bill" has been to subsidize Burlington and one favored corporation. (May 1999)

    Crony Capitalism Comes to Vermont
    For your business to have a chance to succeed in Vermont, more and more you have to get in bed with the nice folks in Montpelier. (September 1998)

    Buying An Economy
    Gov. Dean's "economic advancement" incentives are an effort to buy an economy, instead of getting out of the way and letting it grow. (January 1998)

    Sweet Deal for the Big Dog
    The amazing lengths the Dean administration went to induce Husky Injection Molding to locate in Milton, and the hypocrisy of "planning". (November 1996)

    Economics and Regulatory Issues

    Economic Rankings and the Freedom to Grow
    Two different state economic rankings showed Vermont as 12th and 50th. Why the discrepancy? What can be done to push Vermont up the rankings? And why are the present legislative leaders unlikely to do it? (January 2008)

    The Disgraceful Fairness Doctrine
    Liberals (Dean, Sanders, Welch) are clamoring for reinstatement of the FCC's "Fairness Doctrine", to silence right wing talk radio. It's disgraceful that they support government regulation to suppress the free discussion of ideas, just because their side is losing so badly. (August 2007)

    The Petroleum Panic
    Gas has hit $3 a gallon, and politicans are falling over themselves to name a scapegoat or prescribe a silly "solution". Wouldn't it be nice if just one of them had the wit and courage to stand up and tell Americans that letting the market work is the only available remedy? (May 2006)

    Price Gouging Foolishness
    The Vermont Senate is at work on a foolish bill (S.228) to control "price gouging" of petroleum products. Passage would enlarge Vermont’s reputation as an anti-business state governed by the economically ignorant. (February 2006)

    Economic Freedom in Vermont
    If Vermont changed its economic policies so as to gain just one point on the 10-point economic freedom index, it would move from 38th into a tie with Indiana for 13th in the state rankings, and our per capita income would increase by $5,907. That seems worth doing. (July 2005)

    Why Vermont is Permit Hell
    A Vermont radio station spends nine years and nearly a million dollars to win an Act 250 battle just to keep on using its existing tower - and the Environmental Board didn't even have statutory jurisdiction over radio broadcasting. Is it any wonder that people think Vermont is "permit hell"? (January 2005)

    The Mandatory Seat Belt Debate
    Since 1992 the Department of Public Safety has strenuously argued for giving law enforcement officers the power to stop and ticket motorists for not wearing seat belts. There's a good reason for the legislature to keep on saying No. (October 2003)

    It's Back: Taxpayer Financed Parental Leave
    A liberal coalition (partly financed by tax dollars) wants taxpayers to pay for government-mandated paid parental - and eventually medical - leave. It's not a good idea. (February 2001)

    Strict, Fair, Swift and Certain
    Vermont's Act 250 has become a weapon of choice for extortionists. Land use regulation ought to be made "strict, fair, swift, and certain." (August 2000)

    The Livable Wage Movement: Where It's Headed
    The "Livable Wage" legions are marching, with "mandated wages" on their minds. (November 1999)

    Nobody Cares About Her
    Liberal legislators increase the minimum wage supposedly to help the working poor, and pro-business legislators concoct new subsidies for business as their price for going along. But who cares about the unskilled worker whose job is wiped out? (May 1999)

    A Better Path Toward the Livable Wage
    A Burlington-based group wants the government to make sure everybody gets as much pay as they need. Imagine what this would do for our economy. (January 1999)

    Increasing the Minimum Wage
    Who will explain it to the unskilled worker priced out of a job? (February 1996)

    Understanding the Flat Tax
    How it works, and taxes everything at once. (February 1996)

    Education

    The Evil School Choice Plot.
    Vermont’s most outspoken opponent of parental choice in education, Dr. William J. Mathis, says “research” shows no academic benefit from choice. He arrives at this surprising conclusion by disqualifying every single study on the subject. (February 2012)

    School Tax Slight of Hand
    Gov. Shumlin is understandably loath to increase the two state education property tax rates – so instead hatched two ingenious sleight of hand schemes to grab the same dollars without raising taxes. (January 2012)

    Getting Out from Under NCLB
    The Governor and Education Commissioner want a better deal from the Federal NCLB Act: never mind the accountability stuff, just keep sending money. (November 2011)

    Universal Preschooling: The Liberal Grand Slam
    The Universal preschool advocates are back again, for a final push for state control over Vermont's 3 and 4 year olds. But every argument they make is either suspect for flat out wrong. (October 2010)

    The Vicious Acts of 2010
    The "Vicious Act of (18)92" terminated local control of public education in sub-districts within towns. The 2010 legislature is well on its way to killing  off what's left of local control at the town school district level today. (August 2010)

    Unifying School Choice Out of Existence
    The new House bill to encourage voluntary regional school districts is likely to kill off parental choice of schools in 90 tuition towns within a decade. (March 2010)

    Three Prescriptions for Vermont Education
    Three reports have recently appeared on the future of Vermont education. One produced by a legislative committee is a total flop. One from the Department of Education wants to strengthen centralized command and control of the "system". One from a EAI-sponsored Commission says "scrap the system" and give parents and children what they prefer, at less taxpayer cost. (January 2010)

    Rebalancing Education Cost and Value
    A new EAI report argues that the only way Vermont can bend down the rising education spending curve, while maintaining and increasing educational quality, is to get rid of our centralized bureaucratic union-dominated "system" of education, and empower parents to choose among diverse educational providers. (December 2009)

    Promoting Diversity in Education
    Four other states now offer generous tax  credits to stimulate corporate contributions to student tuition organizations,  that in turn grant scholarships to independent and faith based schools to lower  income students. Creating a similar credit in Vermont would unnerve the public  school establishment, but it would benefit kids and - eventually - improve  educational efficiency. (August 2009)

    Education Costs and Results
    Vermont ranked number 3 on the 2007 ALEC state education report card, by spending the fourth highest per pupil in the nation - and still no more than 42 percent of our students qualify as "proficient". Maybe we ought to adopt a Florida A+ plan to get better results for less money. (June 2008)

    Vermont’s New 15-year School System
    Gov. Douglas's signature on the preschool bill paves the way to a full blown 15-year public education system - at a time when rising education costs are a major concern for voters. So much for the "Agenda of Affordability". (May 2007) 

    The Expensive Future of Early Education
    The universal preschool committee's draft report has some merits, but the end result will likely be a further Big Momma government expansion, with the usual higher costs to taxpayers. The ultimate vision is "Building Bright Futures", a $300 million tax-funded mega-nonprofit. (January 2007)

    More Money for More Schooling?
    A study committee on the costs and benefits of universal preschool is at work in Montpelier. Here are ten incisive questions its members need to answer honestly in their report to the legislature. If they do so, the campaign for universal preschools may well be terminally crippled. (September 2006)

    Answering the Vermont NEA Questionnaire
    The state's most powerful political action organization is seeking responses to its five-question candidates' questionnaire. Here's a reply that will send the Vermont-NEA running for their smelling salts. (August 2006)

    The Perils of Consolidation
    It's back again - a proposal for public school governance consolidation. This idea has been debated for forty years; there are some benefits, but lots of downsides. (June 2006)

    The Raid on the Education Fund
    The fund raiders are loose again in the state house, and their target is the Education Fund, predominantly funded by property taxes. It's time for legislators to say No to fund raiding - and to tell the education establishment just what the citizens expect for their $1.3 billion. (February 2006)

    Hard Choices on Expanding Preschools
    The legislature is moving quickly to expand the public school system by two more grades - authorizing public preschools for all 3- and 4-year olds. This will deplete the Education Fund by as much as $70 million a year and produce few if any benefits beyond taxpayer- subsidized day care (unless driving private day care providers out of business is considered a benefit.) (January 2006)

    Getting Value for Education Tax Dollars
    Property taxes for education have increased 22% in the past two years - and the public schools still won't tell us how well our kids are doing. Parental choice would make them tell. (August 2005)

    Cutting Through the Preschool Smoke and Mirrors
    The Senate will soon approve another high-sounding public pre-K education expansion. It's a clever effort to hold down per pupil spending in the face of declining public school enrollment. It will also tap millions of dollars from the Education Fund, not to help at-risk kids, but to babysit all kids. (May 2005)

    Facing Up To the Free Rider Problem
    For years the Vermont NEA has wanted non-member "free riders" to pay an agency fee for the union's representation services. Will the union agree to independent accounting of its expenditures in return? Probably not. (August 2004)

    The Preschool Bait and Switch
    Providing taxpayer financed preschool programs for all children through a "public private partnership" has a certain appeal. But when one spots the bait and switch, and closely examines the arguments, the facts, the alleged benefits, and the very real costs, it looks like another costly big government disaster in the making. (February 2004)

    Vermont Education by the Numbers
    Vermont education spending is up, teacher numbers are up, student numbers are down, test results are distressingly poor, and taxpayers are being taken for a wild ride. The problem is the education monopoly. There's only one real remedy: parental choice and provider competition. (September 2003)

    The Solution Legislators Can’t See
    The Act 60 "reform" of 2003 is entering its final stage. Unfortunately, it's just elaborate tax shifting and centralization of power in Montpelier. The real solution - consumer choice and provider competition - is not even on the table for discussion. (May 2003)

    Nice Work!
    In the face of a rising revolt against Act 60, the Department of Education comes up with a New Idea - expanding public schools downward to absorb children ages 3 and 4. (April 2003)

    Where’s Theseus?
    Long ago the Athenians found a hero who bravely slew the monster that was consuming them. Vermont needs to find its own Theseus who can rescue taxpayers from the education spending monster. (March 2003)

    Where Act 60 is Taking Us
    Consolidating school districts and tinkering with tax rates, sharing pool, and income sensitivity won't fix Act 60's big problem. With the link between local voters and local spending broken, Vermont is heading toward One Big School System. (February 2003)

    Home Schooling as Cost Control
    More and more Vermont families are home schooling. A small tax credit to encourage the trend could pay huge dividends in restraining Act 60's spiraling costs. (October 2002)

    One Big School System
    If you want to know where Act 60 is taking Vermont, take a look at Hawaii. You won't like it. (January 2002)

    Schoolchildren First
    Act 60 is sinking and will have to be replaced. Instead of accepting One Big School System, why not just empower Vermont's parents to choose what's best for their children? (July 2001)

    Looking Beyond Act 60
    Before long the legislature will have to replace the fading Act 60, It's time to start looking at the alternatives. (May 2001)

    Fraudulent Choice for Vermont Parents
    Gov. Dean and the legislature say they want to expand "choice" for Vermont parents. Their bill is a fraud at best, and a menace at worst (May 2000)

    A Tiger Behind Every Door
    Act 60, so bravely passed in 1997, is heading for a fiscal crash. Every method for avoiding that crash will make a lot of voters very angry. (March 2000)

    Grassroots Education Reform
    The Education Freedom District bill would let your townspeople escape from the clutches of the education special interest groups, and do school reform on their own. (February 2000)

    Court Bungles Chittenden Case
    In the Chittenden case the Supreme Court discovered that the Vermont Constitution's "compelled support" clause prohibits tuition payments to faith-based schools. This time the Court didn't write its own bogus history, but it failed to understand the plain language of the Constitution. (June 1999)

    Draining the Shark Pool
    Gov. Dean thinks we should do away with the "shark pool" crafted by his friends in the legislature. Chances are real good we won't. (September 1998)

    New Brunswick's Lesson for Vermont
    Thirty years ago New Brunswick enacted its version of Act 60. It's not hard to see where Vermont will soon be heading. (June 1998) 

    Educational Financing Lessons from California
    After a property taxpayer's rebellion, California moved to state financing of local school districts. Now the state's education system is a disaster area. (December 1997)

    Local Control, R.I.P.
    How Act 60 sounds the death knell for local control of public education. (October 1997)

    Any Way Out of Act 60?
    A real alternative to centralized state control of education. (September 1997)

    Vermont's New Centralized Education Regime
    How Act 60 will transform public education, for the worse. (June 1997)

    The Brigham Decision as the Route to Education Reform
    How the Vermont Supreme Court's Brigham decision could lead to a really smart educational finance system (but probably won't). (February 1997)

    Why Educational Choice
    Public education has changed; now it exists for the providers rather than the customers. (January 1997)

    Energy & Climate

    The “Energy Efficiency Excise Tax”
    Gov. Shumlin has disinterred the “thermal efficiency utility” that Sen. Shumlin fought for in 2007 (and Gov. Douglas vetoed). The new version carries an “energy efficiency excise tax” that will relieve Vermont heating oil users of $260 million over seven years. (December 2012)

    Pirates of the Winooski
    That lovable rogue Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean can’t hold a candle to Captain Pete Shumlin, who is enormously ingenious in scrounging up more money from unsuspecting victims to feed his renewable industrial complex cronies. (April 2012)

    The Doleful Road to $6 Gas
    America is on the doleful road to $6 gas, because the present administration has bought into the environmentalist groups’  program for making carbon-based fuels expensive, all in the name of defeating the supposed Menace of Global Warming. Can we get real here? (March 20112)

    Federal Judge Strikes Down Legislative Extortion Ploy
    Largely unnoticed by the media, a federal judge has struck down Peter Shumlin’s attempt to extort lower electric rates from Entergy as a violation of the interstate commerce power. It’s also a rare black mark against Vermont’s good reputation for probity in public affairs. (February 2012)

    Unicorn Power for Vermont!
    Four years ago Sen. Peter Shumlin sponsored the VPIRG Extreme Green Makeover bill, that the Douglass administration whittled down to relative insignificance. But now two his key allies of the erstwhile Senator from VPIRG have introduced bills to send Vermont racing  down the same road, to the desk of Gov. Shumlin. (December 2011)

    A Pro-Growth State Energy Plan
    The Shumlin Administration's energy plan declares for getting 90% of Vermont's energy from renewables by 2050. That might be possible, if taxpayers and rate-payers cheerfully absorb the taxes, mandates, and subsidies achieving that goal will require. Hopefully, they won't. (October 2011)

    The New Climate Change High Command
    Gov. Shumlin has launched his expected “Climate Cabinet” to coordinate a sweeping program of laws, regulations, mandates, taxes, and propaganda in the cause of putting Vermont in the lead in the war against “climate change”. But no conceivable collection of Big Brother regulations, taxes, mandates, and subsidies will achieve anything besides turning Vermont into an even less free and more taxed enclave of bureaucracy, servility, and economic stagnation. (June 2011)

    Shumlin’s Vermont Yankee Coercion Scheme
    Entergy and the State are locked in judicial combat. The major legal issue is federal preemption of state regulation, but Entergy also charges that Vermont’s Governor is using the legislature to coerce the company into selling electricity to Vermont utilities at a  below market price. If so, Vermont’s reputation as a place to do honest business will take a serious hit. (June 2011)

    A Better Idea for Renewable Energy
    Gov. Shumlin and green legislators are groping to find a way to keep the Clean Energy Development Fund paying out renewable energy subsidies after the Entergy funding disappears next March. Here’s a better idea:  Forget taxing everybody’s electric bills, scrap the Clean Energy Development Fund, approve twenty more years of low cost nuclear electricity from Vermont Yankee, and let David Blittersdorf’s upscale customers pay for their boutique energy investments out of their own pockets. (April 2011)

    End Game for Vermont Yankee
    Three months from now Entergy Vermont Yankee will have to make a fateful decision whether to abandon the state’s reliable low cost electricity supplier a year from now  – or get a court to overrule the Vermont legislature’s plan to shut the plant down for purely political reasons. Vermont’s future economy is very much in the balance. (March 2011)

    The Coming Shumlin Green Police State
    With a strong liberal majority in the legislature, Gov. Shumlin now has the opportunity to enact the Manhattan Project of green social engineering that he and VPIRG failed to push through when he was Senate leader three years ago. (January 2011)

    The Renewable Industrial Complex
    Take a look at the political game plan of the renewable energy industry, as executed by Sen. Shumlin and VPIRG, and you'll see why Vermont has a poor reputation as a place to do business. (September 2010)

    Saving the Planet Through Higher Taxes
    Congress is moving to push through the Kerry-Lieberman energy tax bill, a combination of industry payoffs, consumer energy taxes, and subsidies that promise $7 a gallon gasoline and much greater political control over the energy industry, all in the name of saving the planet from bogus computer projections and promoting energy independence, which it won't. (June 2010)

    Vermont’s Looming Energy Sinkhole
    Want to know what Vermont's energy picture will look like if Vermont Yankee is forced to shut down? Color it brown. (May 2010)

    Think Again: Vermont’s Nuclear Future
    The Vermont Senate has voted to rid Vermont of its lone nuclear reactor. A far better idea is to plan now to replace Vermont Yankee with an advanced Generation IV reactor within ten years. (February 2010)

    The Collapse of the “Global Warming” Scam
    For 20 years the global warming alarmists have  prophesied planetary doom unless we create supranational controls, subsidies,  taxes, and rationing of energy consumption. Now, as many skeptics have expected,  the ClimateGate revelations threaten to make this the global scam of the  century. (December 2009)

    The New Solar Electricity  Ripoff.
    The enviro-dominated legislature has just  handed out an enormous subsidy to would-be solar photovoltaic electricity  producers. Its new ”feed in tariff” fixes the price at which utilities must buy  power from  these producers at five times the current price of nuclear  energy. The rest of us will pay dearly for this corporate  welfare. (November 2009)

    The Return of Reactionary Liberalism
    Old-style liberalism raised taxes to pay for government programs to meet perceived social needs. Today's reactionary liberals, nervous about more tax-raising, force businesses to pay for desired programs, and pass the cost on to consumers. The high-cost renewable energy mandate bill (H.446) is the latest ugly example. (May 2009)

    The Mother of All Global Warming Scams
    Enviros and their political allies are pressuring the Obama EPA to regulate motor vehicle carbon dioxide emissions as "pollution". This would produce a catastrophic cascade of costly regulation of businesses, buildings, construction, and farms. We'll soon see if the President has enough sense to say No. (February 2009)

    George W. Bush’s Last Sorry Gift to America
    George W. Bush will leave an improvised explosive device for Barack Obama: an EPA greenhouse gas regulation that will if implemented wreck the already battered U.S. economy. Vermonters who heavily favored Obama ought to suggest that he toss this stinker out along with the rest of the unpopular Bush program. (November 2008)

    Moonbeam Lawsuits to Stop Growth
    California's hyperGreen attorney general, Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown, is threatening legal action to stop a project that he thinks doesn't do enough to combat greenhouse gas emissions. The legal authority he claims is almost exactly what Vermont's legislators passed in 2006, Act 168. Don't be surprised if Vermonters soon see the same kind of lawsuit to stop growth. (August 2008)

    The Multibillion Dollar Energy Tax
    The Lieberman-Warner CO2 cap and trade bill will extract trillions of dollars from the U.S. economy, make certain rent-seeking corporations much richer, drive up the price of energy for every American family, and do nothing to combat the (supposed) Menace of Global Warming. But Vermont's liberal senators are at the forefront of this parade. (June 2008)

    The Green Police State Averted For Now
    Sen. Shumlin's S.350 proposed what amounted to the creation of a Green Police State - but as it progressed through the Senate and House it shrank and shrank, until there was only a smoking cinder left for VPIRG to wail over. (This double length account of the legislative action appeared in the May 2008 Vermont Business Magazine.) (May 2008)

    The Green Police State
    The Senate is about to pass a sweeping bill to register every carbon emission in the state, set up a cap and trade exchange for carbon controls, and commit more nanny-state enormities to make Vermont the Perfect Little Green State. How much of this costly foolishness can Vermonters stand? (April 2008)

    The Fanatic Anti-Nuclear Movement
    Over Vermont's history there have been numerous strange political movements: anti-Masonry,Know-Nothingism, and Prohibition had some initial successes and then fizzled. The current (post 1972) anti-nuclear fanaticism richly deserves the same fate. (April 2008)

    Extreme Green Makeover
    The House has passed a restrained bill aimed at promoting conservation and alternative energy - but lurking in the Senate wings is Sen. Shumlin's astonishing bill to create a green super-government with tentacles reaching into almost every aspect of Vermonters' lives. Aaaagh! (February 2008)

    The Big VPIRG Climate Scare
    VPIRG says human greenhouse gas emissions are causing more frequent extreme precipitation events in Vermont. File this under "manipulating data to aid political objective." (January 2008)

    The New Green Regime
    The Governor's Commission on Climate Change declares that the scientific debate over climate change is over, and that Vermont, already "the nation's greenest state", must make sweeping and costly changes to combat The Menace of Global Warming. Whoa! Not so fast. (November 2007)

    The Statehouse Polar Bear Pageant
    VPIRG brought a guy in a polar bear suit to the state house to campaign for an override of Gov. Douglas's veto of the Shumlin energy bill. And now, here's the rest of the polar bear story... (July 2007)

    Sen. Shumlin’s Desperate Search for New Taxes
    As the 2007 legislative session drew to a close, the big story was Sen. Peter Shumlin's desperate attempt to slap a big new tax on Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, to pay for a new bureaucracy to fight the menace of global warming. The state's treatment of Vermont Yankee is simply extortion, and even the Mafia wouldn't go back on a deal once made. (May 2007)

    The New Tax for Thermal Efficiency
    The Senate wants to give the Public Service Board the power to create an ‘expanded energy efficiency utility” to explain to Vermonters how not to use so much heating oil, and to levy another tax on their heating fuel bills to pay for this service. It's time to say No to the unaccountable tax raisers. (March 2007)

    Big Money from Big Wind
    The enviros are red hot for industrial wind farms in Vermont. Huge wind towers marching along Vermont's ridgelines may be a poor energy source - but they're a wonderful government subsidy machine for their investors. Why not slap an offsetting 1.9 cent/kwhr tax on Big Wind, and see how many wind towers go up? (July 2006)

    The Regional Greenhouse Gas Scam
    The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative bill will increase our electric bills, give state government new tax revenues, and direct the PSB to distribute those revenues to the enviros' favorite corporate welfare project, "renewable energy" (read: wind). This is the Grand Slam of Scams! (March 2006)

    New State Revenue Technique: Simony
    The state that taxes everything known to man has rediscovered an ancient revenue raising technique: simony, more commonly known today as extortion. The principal victim (so far)is Entergy Nuclear. (May 2005)

    Pay More for Electricity!
    Backers of "renewable" electricity (especially wind power)are demanding that the legislature force Vermont utilities to buy their high priced product. Amazingly, 24 Senators bought into this green corporate welfare, and higher energy prices for all Vermonters.. (March 2005)

    Senate Votes for Higher Electric Bills
    Here's the Next Big Idea in energy policy: force ratepayers to pay more for their power, to benefit politically favored renewable energy producers. Twenty-four Senators thought it was a great idea. It's not. (March 2004)

    Sorrell’s Carbon Dioxide Lawsuit
    In the name of protecting Mother Earth from "global warming", Attorney General Bill Sorrell has signed Vermont on to a lawsuit to force the federal EPA to regulate carbon dioxide as a "pollutant". This latest partisan courtoom stunt is a good argument for having the Attorney General appointed by the Governor, not running his own public interest law firm at the taxpayers' expense. (December 2003)

    Little Kyoto
    Little Kyoto: Gov. Dean is off to Quebec to sign a sweeping commitment to impose an enviro agenda on the people of Vermont, and it's all based on a ridiculous lie. (August 2002)

    Renewable Corporate Welfare
    Another industry seeks a corporate welfare handout. This time it's renewable energy. (May 2002)

    Vermont's Debt to Nuclear Power
    Vermont's enviros detest nuclear power, but for 30 years Vermont Yankee has quietly powered their eco-paradise.
    (June 2002)

    Environment

    Nutty Enviro Scheme of the Century Passes U.S. House
    The U.S. House has just passed a prodigious bill to impose an enormous hidden tax on every American consumer, lavish benefits on countless rent-seeking special interests, launch dozens of new government spending and regulatory programs, employ thousands of new bureaucrats, promote billions of dollars in wealth transfers to Third Worlders peddling dubious carbon offsets, and drive a large part of our economy overseas.Thanks a lot.

    The Enviro Wish List
    The state's environmental organizations have announced their composite wish list for the 2007 legislature. It exhibits a fanatic desire to regulate, require, prohibit, tax, and subsidize everybody and everything, until Vermont becomes the enviros’ Perfect Little State. (September 2006)

    The Underhanded Wilderness Grab of 2006
    The Wilderness Coalition, and their pals Sens. Leahy and Jeffords, have a new scheme to slip through their yearned-for designation of thousands more acres of permanent wilderness in Green Mountain National Forest: under the table, with no impact analysis, no hearings, no explanation, no record vote, and no accountability. Slick. (August 2006)

    Another Carbon Dioxide Lawsuit Travesty
    Attorney General Sorrell has sued five Midwestern coal burning utilities for the "federal public nuisance" of emitting carbon dioxide, thus stimulating calamitous "global warming". This is political science, not real science. (July 2004)

    Refighting a 900 Year Battle
    After the Norman Conquest of 1066, the Saxon peasants of England fought for over two hundred years to regain from arrogant kings their historic rights to make use of the forests. That struggle is playing out again in the battle over Federal wilderness designation in the Green Mountain National Forest. (June 2004)

    Permit Reform is Not Enough
    House and Senate are deadlocked over reforming the environmental regulatory process. But process is not all of the problem. It's time to attack the barnacles added to the permit criteria over 33 years. (September 2003)

    Biota or People - Take Your Pick
    The Conservation Law Foundation is using the purported health of "aquatic biota" to shut down development in Chittenden County. It's about time for our legislators to put people first. (August 2003)

    The Battle of Potash Brook
    Thanks to the efforts of one enviro law firm, the Water Resources Board shuts down development by rejecting of a state of the art stormwater management system. (September 2001)

    Thirty Years of Straightpiping
    Why does government require thirty years to stop 14 houses from straightpiping sewage into the Moose River? (August 2000)

    The People vs. the Despots
    District environmental commissioners are essentially unaccountable to anybody. Here's one way to make them a little bit accountable. (January 1998)

    Food and Agriculture

    Exploring the Nether World of Politics
    For thirty years now-Senator Bobby Starr has worked tirelessly to rig deals to channel more money to dairy farmers. This year he pushed again for a hidden milk tax on families with young children, to be levied by an unaccountable commission, the proceeds distributed to dairy farmers - plus a special tax provision intended to finance his favorite lawyer's continued employment. (June 2009)

    Get Ready for a New Tax on Milk
    Now comes yet another new tax idea: tax fluid milk from 38 to 50 cents a gallon to capture the retailers' "surplus profit margin", and turn the proceeds over to dairy farmers, rich and poor alike. Consumers should tell the Milk Commission to bag this indefensible idea. (September 2008)

    Vermont’s Agricultural Future
    The Vermont dairy industry can have a bright future - if dairy leaders stop pleading for government subsidies, price fixing, and protection and start emulating their New Zealand counterparts. (November 2005)

    After the Dairy Compact
    The milk price-fixing cartel is dead. Now it's up to Vermont's farmers to get competitive. (October 2001)

    Next Step for the Dairy Cartel
    On May 3 the New England Interstate Dairy Compact Commission took the first step toward putting in place a supply management system, to pay farmers more for making less milk. Guess who will pay. (May 2000)

    Milk Cartel Economics
    How the Dairy Compact charges consumers to subsidize producers. (July 1997)

    A Shabby Special Interest Story: The Dairy Compact
    Gov. Dean looked far and wide for a compliant consumer to appoint to the dairy cartel, and guess who he found? (May 1996)

    The Reverse Robin Hood Dairy Compact
    The Dairy Compact is based on an interesting principle: take from the poor and give to the rich. (September 1995)

    General

    The President’s New Gun Violence Agenda
    President Obama has ambitious plans to do battle against “gun violence”. The centerpiece of those plans is doing again what failed before, with the fatuous hope that it will make any noticeable difference this time. (January 2013)

    What to Expect from the 2013 Legislature
    The overwhelmingly liberal 2013 legislature convenes this week –and faces a lengthy agenda of taxes, subsidies, mandates and spending. (January 2013)

    Tax Prospects for 2013
    Vermont is facing another $50-70- million budget gap for FY14, plus a coming $3 billion tax hike for Green Mountain Care, plus funding two state pension funds now $3 billion in the red. But the governor and his liberal legislature have more new tax tricks up their sleeve. (November 2012

    Averting the Fiscal Cliff Catastrophe
    The coming “fiscal cliff” promises catastrophic effects – 9.1% unemployment and a double dip recession, not to mention a national credit downgrade. The solution lies in reining in the insupportable excesses of Big Government and – to make that just barely acceptable to liberals – installing a pro-growth tax code that has the effect of extracting more tax dollars from the rich and successful. (November 2012)

    Centennial Tribute to a Onetime Vermonter
    On the centennial of his birth, it’s a good time to review the enormous contributions of Milton Friedman to the cause of liberty and prosperity. (August 2012)

    Citizen Questions for Office Seekers
    Want to put your candidate on the spot? Here are ten incisive questions about next year’s issues that will help. (July 2012)

    More Taxation by Unaccountable Strangers
    In acceding to Gov. Shumlin’s pressure for $21 million from the utility merger  to fund some of his pet projects, the Public Service Board has become a prime example of “taxation by unaccountable strangers”. (June 2012)

    Vermont’s $3 Billion Problem
    The state of Vermont is now $3 billion in hock for its obligations to retired state employees and public school teachers. And on top of this unpayable debt, the governor and legislature are going to launch and finance a $3 billion government health care program? (May 2012)

    Playing Thimblerig in Montpelier
    Thimblerig is the old name for the three shells and a pea scam, a budget version of which is being acted out at the Statehouse now.  (May 2012)

    Merry Fiscal Christmas!
    Vermont is one of only nine states to enjoy a AAA bond rating. But with $2.6 billion in unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations, plus the prospect of finding $3 billion to finance Green Mountain Care, this happy status may not continue for long. (December 2011)

    Jefferson’s “Profusion and Servitude”
    Public debt is becoming the ruin of Europe, the United States, and even Vermont. Thomas Jefferson had it right when he predicted public debt would lead us into “profusion and servitude” as far back as 1816. (November 2011)

    An Indiana Success Story
    In his new book Keeping the Republic two-term Indiana governor Mitch Daniels tells how he governed Indiana. It's a pity - nay, a tragedy - that he won't run for President. (October 2011)

    Obama’s New Stimulus and Tax Proposal
    President Obama wants another $447 billion to create jobs, paid for by raising taxes on “the rich and big corporations”. It won’t work any better than  Stimulus I. It’s time for taking major hard-nosed steps to revive the economy and avert impending bankruptcy and economic chaos. (September 2011)

    Who Are You Gonna Believe?
    The Rutland Herald's editors have emphatically made the case for liberal fiscal policies, and denounced the ideas of "the extreme right wing Tea Party". Most Vermonters are not likely to endorse this collection of views. (August 2011)

    Solving the Debt Crisis
    A week from now the U,.S., government will bump up against the $14.3 trillion debt limit. There are two paths around this obstacle. Obama wants higher taxes on “the rich”, and some promises of lesser spending cuts. The Republicans want more spending cuts than debt increases, and no net new taxes. It’s important for the country that the Republicans win this one. (July 2011)

    The War Against the First Amendment
    Gov. Shumlin is distressed that the U. S. Supreme Court keeps upholding the First Amendment, thereby thwarting his designs for suppressing the speech of people not committed to his vision of the social progress.

    The Legislature's Budget: Who Will Pay
    The 2011 legislature produced a balanced budget – but laid $47 million in new taxes on the people who Gov. Shumlin said had no more tax capacity. (May 2011)

    Vermont's Feeble Job Creation Philosophy
    Gov. Shumlin's "one job a a time" economic development philosophy relies on government as the wellspring of correctly managed and channeled economic progress, Maybe we ought to emulate a more successful state, like Indiana.
    (February 2011)

    Take Out the Trash
    Amid the recurring liberal enthusiasm for enacting new legislation, some sensible legislator should start moving to repeal legislation of yesteryear that didn't work, proved counterproductive, or was downright destructive. Here are nine examples. (January 2011)

    Watch Out for a New Sales Tax on Services
    The Blue Ribbon Tax Commission report in January will open the door to a new tax: extending a sales tax to services. The main but unspoken argument will be that the state needs the money to support its spending habit. Will the new Governor reverse his lifelong opposition to the sales tax, and buy in? (December 2010)

    Our Nanny in Chief Targets Obesity
    Attorney General Sorrell is making a strong bid to become Vermont's Obesity Nanny in Chief, while we're paying him to handle the state's legal business. (November 2010)

    The New Governor’s Fiscal Challenge
    Somewhere the Governor and new legislature will have to find $112 million to close next year's budget gap. To hear candidate Shumlin tell it, tax increases are not an option. And after that knotty problem is solved, there is the problem of financing - or abandoning - his health care, preschool and broadband promises. (November 2010)

    Time to Think About Election Reform
    The election campaign of 2010 is mercifully over. Now it's time to start thinking about how to improve the process for 2012. (November 2010)

    Put their Feet to the Fire
    Here are twelve pointed questions tht citizens would do well to put to those who want to represent them in Montpelier. If the candidates evade - find someone else to vote for. (September 2010)

    Facing Up to the Fiscal Storm
    America is facing an unprecedented fiscal storm. The Congressional Budget Office projections of July 2010 show that, under the most likely scenario, U.S. debt will reach 188% of GDP by 2027. This is destruction. (August 2010)

    Revisiting Vermont’s Constitution
    Vermont's 1777 Constitution is the nation's oldest, shortest, and (for its day) the most liberal. Citizens ought to reacquaint themselves with its bold declaration of their rights. (July 2010)

    The Challenge for Change Dream World
    The vaunted "Challenge for Change" bill promises $37.8 million in General Fund savings in FY2011. The more notable outcome will be a new commission's report on what went wrong with the grand plan. The next Governor needs to create a totally independent commission to reexamine what state government is spending money on, and how much goes beyond the taxpayers' capacity to pay for it. (June 2010)

    Here Comes the Pro-Growth Rhetoric
    It's election season, and candidates are rolling out their versions of  pro-growth, pro-jobs rhetoric. When they're in office, they'll cave in to the prevailing gentry anti-growth political consensus. (June 2010)

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    The 2011 legislature got a couple of things right, but we have yet to see the end of its penchant for big government foolishness! (May 2010)

    Another Voynich Manuscript?
    A mysterious 16th century manuscript appears to be written in a recognizable alphabet, but after four hundred years it remains unsolved. The Challenge for Change progress reports are in English, and can be read, but it's hard to see how the state will solve an enormous budget crisis just by greasing the machinery to run more smoothly. (April 2010)

    Continue the Carnage
    In light of the current fiscal mega-crunch, Gov. Douglas plans to terminate some 61 boards and commissions - 44 of them already defunct. That's good - but there are many more that deserve the axe.

    Muddling Through the Looming Deficit
    The Governor and legislature are trying to close a $150 million FY2011 budget gap. They way they're going at it is, alas, not likely to make any significant changes in our overgown government apparatus

    Crossing the State’s Fiscal Chasm: the PSG Report
    The legislature hired a Minnesota-based consulting group to explain how Vermont can avoid its yawning fiscal chasm. Its inadequate report has become a fiscal fig leaf for the principal actors in the state house. (January 2010

    Charting  a Path Away from Insolvency
    Vermont is seven years behind the power curve for a fundamental reconceptualization of the core functions of government. Revenue shortfalls now mean that we can't keep on the old way. Fortunately, some key legislators have gotten the message. (January 2010)

    State Spending: Totally Unsustainable
    Vermont state government is facing $470 million general fund  shortfall over the next four years - plus over $2 billion in long term  actuarial deficits for benefit plans. Vermont's liberal politics has created  a government spending machine that is now far outstripping the capacity of  already overburdened Vermont taxpayers to keep it running. (December 2009)

    Improving - and Bypassing - the Court System
    The Supreme Court is hard at work  creating a long-overdue unified court system. That's a good thing, but it needs to place strong new emphasis on cost-effective Alternative Dispute Resolution, making use of the talents of the elected side judges. (October 2009)

    Imagining Vermont
    The Council on the Future of Vermont's report "Imagining Vermont"  has many pleasant and even useful ideas in it - but ignores the elephant in  the parlor: our wonder-working over-spending state government is careering  toward insolvency. (September 2009)

    The Anti-Business Scorecard
    The 2009 legislature produced an unbalanced budget and numerous tax and regulatory increases that will fall heavily on small businesses - just at a time when small business needs more opportunity and a lighter burden. (June 2009)

    Tax Raising Mania Seizes the Legislature
    Not far underneath the surface of recent tax raising proposals is the ever-present liberal urge to commit progressive wealth redistribution. Vermonters ought to recall that former Gov. Howard Dean, the leader of the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party", consistently opposed raising income tax rates, as Gov. Douglas does now. (April 2009)

    Outside the Center Ring
    While gay marriage played in the center ring of the Vermont legislative circus, a host of costly and/or foolish pieces of legislation moved toward passage in the side rings: Gas tax on autopilot, new milk tax, Catamount Health expansion, paid leave mandate on small business, and driving Vermont Yankee out of the state. Can Vermont survive this avalanche of foolishness? (April 2009)

    The Murder of Federalism
    Time was, when a Democratic President could indignantly defend our federal system with a veto of bills to shower money on the states. Where is Andrew Jackson now when we need him? (March 2009)

    A Worthwhile Legislative Agenda for 2009
    While the legislature's money committees wrestle with Vermont's deepening fiscal crisis, there are nine other things the members could do to make Vermont more productive and solvent. (January 2009)

    Vermont Democrats Should Embrace Obama’s Slogan
    President-elect Obama vows to "go through our federal budget – page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way." Say - wouldn't this be a good platform for Vermont's majority Democrats (especially since they advocated exactly the same thing in 2004)? (December 2008)

    Recession As Motivator for Shaping Up Government
    Whoever is Governor in January 2009 will bring a grim fiscal message to the new legislature: for years politicians have written checks that our economy now can't cover. That will be a fine time for taxpayers to force the politicians to get serious about cutting back, shaping up, and encouraging wealth-producing enterprise. (November 2008)

    Candidates: Fish or Cut Bait
    This year's crop of legislative candidates are emitting a torrent of mostly empty promises about what they'll do if elected. Here are ten pointed questions that voters should be asking, to find out if their candidates have a clue about the choices they will be asked to make. (October 2008)

    A Badly Needed Unpopular Idea
    The Governor and the Joint Fiscal Committee are working to reduce spending by $32 million this fiscal year (2009). They will likely succeed - but things will get worse in FY2010, and Vermont's real need is a strategic plan to reduce the spending base, curb entitlements, and make state government more efficient. (August 2008)

    Fighting Fiscal Obesity in Montpelier
    Governor Douglas has offered a FY09 budget that is said to be the leanest and tightest of his five years. But there is little evidence of reduced spending on anything, and it adds twelve new obesity counselors. Maybe the state shold hire an Obesity Czar to shrink state spending. (January 2008)

    A Legislative Year Best Forgotten
    The 2007 legislature huffed and puffed about global warming, made a desperate effort to find new taxes to impose, passed a feeble education cost control measure, launched two more grades of the public school system, and did nothing to improve the economic prospects of Vermonters. 2007 was a legislative year best forgotten. (May 2007)

    Is Vermont Heading Off the Rails?
    What happens to a state when its population ages, its working age population shrinks, its tax rates discourage economic growth, and its education and health care obligations eat up all the available revenues? The EAI Off the Rails report spells out the consequences for Vermont in 2030, and the remedies. (December 2006)

    Voluntary Action for Stronger Local Economies
    The liberal movement for strengthening local living economies came to Burlington in June. Unlike big government liberals, these folks focus on working together to stimulate dynamic economic activity by free citizens, building stronger local economies and communities through mutual aid, free exchange, and voluntary action. May their tribe increase. (June 2006)

    An Agenda for Affordability
    Gov. Jim Douglas rightly points out that Vermonters are facing a "crisis of affordability". But he was unduly reticent about pointing out that most of that crisis is caused by a long series of government taxes, regulations, mandates, and interventions. Either we will make Vermont a land of freedom and opportunity, or we will slide into eventual stagnation and penury. (January 2006)

    Whatever Happened to the Performance Review?
    The 2-year Vermont Institute on Government Effectiveness project has brought forth its report, advocating an enterprise management approach for information technology. That's good, but a thorough-going Texas-style performance review it,     alas, is not. (October 2005)

    Get Rid of the Government Hammer
    Too few jobs in Vermont? Republicans and Democrats agree on the solution: More Government! Wrong. (February 2003) 

    Why Generating Economic Growth is So Difficult
    Want to know why generating economic growth in Vermont is so difficult? Ask the regional economic development specialists. They have plenty of reasons. (September 2002)

    Five Proposals for Legislative Reform
    Once again the legislature has stumbled into June, arguing over redistricting. Here are five ideas for reform that would fix that problem, and more. (June 2002)

    How Colorado Put the Brakes on High Taxes
    More and more Vermonters are beginning to feel that they are overtaxed. They should look to Colorado for a solution. (March 2002)

    Vermont Should Focus on the Concept of Liberty
    Seven prominent Vermonters offered their view on "what Vermont should be thinking about" in the 3/4/01 Burlington Free Press. This rejoinder, published 3/27, makes the case for thinking about restoring our disppearing tradition of liberty and democratic self-government. (March 2001)

    Policing the Regulators
    Policing the Regulators: It's about time that elected legislators got control of rules issued by state bureaucrats.
    (December 2000)

    The Rise of the Hidden Tax
    Once legislators voted taxes out where the voters could see it. Now they are increasingly finding hidden ways of extracting tax dollars to fund special projects. (April 2000)

    Tocqueville's Warning
    Alexis de Tocqueville warned New Englanders in 1835 that docile subjects of a central power would never be true citizens. When will Vermonters wake up to this eternal truth? (February 2000)

    The Price Fixing "Solution"
    Liberal politicians have discovered that price fixing is just a swell idea - if done by the government instead of corporations. (January 2000)

    Lessons from the Kirby Bridge Saga
    The little town of Kirby want to replace a little bridge. Thanks to overgrown state government, the price tag more than tripled. (October 1999)

    The Unaccountable Energy Taxers
    Legislators have a new and very undemocratic idea: letting unaccountable bureaucrats raise taxes, in this case to fund electricity efficiency programs the enviro-liberals think you need. (April 1999)

    The Rise of the Nanny State
    All too often Gov. Dean, legislators and the people running state government seem to think Vermonters are incompetent chumps. Maybe they're right. Our system was designed to give effect to the will of the people. Unfortunately the Vermont General Assembly is marching steadily in the other direction. (February 1999)

    Restoring Vermont's Civic Culture
    Vermont rates high on a political science survey, but its authors miss an important point. (December 1997)

    Beyond “Restructuring” State Government
     
    "Restructuring state government" is a theme that reappears with budget crises,  but it hasn’t been attempted since 1972. The key requirement is determining exactly what government's role ought to be - consistent with maintaining a functioning economy. (August 1995)

    Governing Smarter and Cheaper
    Eight radical but do-able ideas for better - and less expensive - state government. (July 1995)

    Consumers, Bureaucracies, And Reform
    There are two kinds of public policy systems: one where consumers choose what they want, and one where government bureaucracies provide what consumers get (while seeing to their own comfort. (May 1995)

    Health Care

    Robin Hood in Reverse
    Gov. Shumlin indignantly opposes relaxing a health insurance mandate that for 20 years has enforced Robin Hood in Reverse - imposing a large premium burden on young families just getting started, to subsidize their older, richer but sicker grandparents. (October 2012)

    The Hard Choice for Medicare
    The Medicare program “as we know it” is finished. Congress must choose between two vastly different policies, before the bottom drops out in 2024. (October 2012)

    The Future of the “Affordable Care Act”
    The Obama “Affordable Care Act” is still alive after Chief Justice Roberts rewrote it into a tax law, but it faces a rocky road before it actually starts collecting taxes from people without government-approved insurance. (July 2012)

    Decoding the Language of Green Mountain Care
    Before Vermonters agree to have the government take over and remake the state’s $6 billion health care system, they need to be very clear about the vocabulary and implications of “reform”, terms like “single payer”, “choice”, and “global budget.” (June 2012)

    The Health Insurance Exchange: Your Questions Answered
    The Vermont House passed Gov. Shumlin’s health insurance exchange bill, but a lot of people – many legislators included- still seem to be in the dark about why. This handy Q&A format ought to illuminate the issue. (March 2012)

    Ducking the Shumlin Health Exchange Bullet
    Gov. Shumlin wants the legislature to construct a monopoly health care Exchange that offers practically no choices, sweeps in 98 percent of Vermont businesses, and puts 143,000 Vermonters at risk of losing their coverage in 2014. Even a former Sanders aide, now a respected expert on insurance matters, thinks this will be a catastrophic mistake. (January 2012)

    Green Mountain Care: Mission Impossible
    Gov. Shumlin, with great fanfare, has signed into law the Green Mountain Care bill. The condition of single payer health care in neighboring Quebec, after 40 years of what Vermont liberals are dreaming about, ought to give the wizards some pause. But it won’t. (May 2011)

    Health Care Reform Ain’t Beanbag
    The legislature is bravely marching off down Gov. Shumlin’s  path to single payer health care, but not showing much competence handling the subject matter.

    Single Payer Health Care: Promise and Reality
    Gov. Peter Shumlin’s single payer health care bill starts off on its legislative journey this week. To buy into this government monopoly mega System requires an enormous willing suspension of disbelief. Federal law won’t allow it to cover self-insured companies, the JFO says it’s fiscally unsustainable, many doctors are starting to look toward retirement, and state government can’t administer it. Legislators need only to look at Canada’s forty year experiment with the same scheme to figure out that single payer is likely to wreck Vermont’s quality of care, and possibly much of its economy as well. (March 2011)

    The Hsaio-Gruber Health Care Mega-System
    Before Vermont leaps into an all-encompassing health care mega-System run by a mysterious Independent Board, maybe we ought to take a look at the track record of the two leading experts behind that proposal. (February 2011)

    ISaveRX: A Cautionary Tale
    For over a decade political figures in Vermont have waged war against Big Pharma, with few positive results. One Douglas-Shumlin scheme to import foreign drugs, ISaveRx, has disappeared without a trace. (December 2010)

    The Liquid Metal Health Care Plan
    Like the liquid metal robot in Terminator II, single payer health care keeps coming back. But it doesn't get any better, just more expensive. (October 2010)

    The ObamaCare Tax on Your Existence
    First Congress said the Obama individual mandate was a tax. When that didn't pass, Congress said it was regulation of commerce. Now, defending against lawsuits, the Obama Justice Department has discovered that it's a tax after all - even though Obama himself says it's not. (July 2010)

    The Dumbest Bill of the Year
    Sen. Doug Racine wins this award, for his bill to spend $400,000, in the midst of the state's horrific fiscal crisis, to once again study how to socialize our health care system. (April 2010)

    Market Failure in Health Care? Advocates of a government takeover of the health care system constantly declare that "the market has failed." Oh? Actually it is foolish government meddling in the market that has produced the failures.(October 2009)

    Get Ready for the Obama Individual Mandate
    President Obama and his allies in Congress  want to impose a federal mandate on every American to purchase a  government-approved insurance product. This idea fails on grounds of  constitutionality, liberty, cost, taxation, jail, corporate welfare, and reverse  Robin Hood economics. (October 2009)

    The Real Message of ObamaCare
    Resistance to the Democratic ObamaCare plans  is rapidly rising - and it's no wonder. Here are ten compelling reasons for  scrapping the whole  thing. (August 2009)

    What to Do with the Uninsured
    Democrats in Congress are eager to impose a universal health insurance mandate, with fines for failure to enroll. There's a better way: require those who incur uninsured medical expenses to pay the providers back, over time, through the tax system. (August 2009)

    Twelve Health Care Questions for Your Members of  Congress
    Congress is racing to push through a mind-boggling  thousand-page health care reform bill. Here are a dozen sharp questions to put  to your Member of Congress during the August recess. If he tries to duck them,  send somebody for a rope.

    The Obama-Kennedy Health Care Reform
    President Obama and Senator Kennedy have a big idea for health care reform. It's called "public option", and unfortunately it looks a lot like a current program that is trillions of dollars in the red. (June 2009)

    MediScam Back in the News
    Seventeen years ago Vermont enacted its "MediScam" statute. Now, after 17 years of holding its hospitals harmless for the MediScam provider taxes, the state is diverting the refund payments into other uses. How long can Medicaid continue with this kind of shell game as its fiscal life support? (March 2008)

    No More State Mental Institutions!
    Replacing the 110-year old Vermont State Hospital with an expensive ($100 million+) new institution is a bad idea for mental patients and taxpayers alike. The right idea is "recovery in community", with compassion and peer support. (December 2007)

    Here Comes Catamount Health!
    "Catamount Health" will soon become law. The state will not take in enough revenue to pay for the program's rich benefits. By 2009 the two private carriers will tiptoe away, and the program will become another state run insurance company to be folded into single payer. (May 2006)

    The Perils of Health Care Delivery
    The legislature's approach to health care focuses on the "delivery" of services that patients passively "receive". If society wants improved health and wellness, legislators need to adopt a vocabulary based on patient empowerment, personal responsibility and choice. (April 2006)

    Health Care: First Undo the Damage
    Governor and legislature are locked into yet another end-of-session health care "reform" battle. Why not just undo all the dumb government decisions of 15 years ago, and assist the poor to buy the insurance they need? (April 2006)

    Next Up: Medical Malpractice Reform
    Vermont's medical providers deserve protection from unconscionable malpractice suits. Here are six things the 2006 legislature could do - short of capping non-economic damages - that would largely achieve that goal. (November 2005)

    How Bad Laws Have Crippled the Private Health Care Market
    Sen. Peter Welch says the private market approach in health care has failed. What has really failed is massive and repeated government intervention that has thwarted the private market. (November 2005)

    Buncombe!
    Led by its medical society, the people of Buncombe County in western North Carolina have fashioned a community-based system to meet the health care needs of 17,000 uninsureds. Vermont could do it too - but for the determination of the single payer people to create a huge, governmental health system (September 2005)

    Understanding Health Care Cost Control
    For Vermont's Green Mountain Health (single payer)advocates, health care "cost control" means fixing the amount of money that the taxpayers are willing to pay for everybody's health care, and making doctors and hospitals ration it out. The high cost of health insurance is a direct result of foolish government interventions. Why would anyone see more big government as any kind of "solution"? (July 2005)

    Save Our Monopoly!
    Decades ago the 12 Visiting Nurse Associations carved out non-competitive regional monopolies for themselves, so Medicare and Medicaid patients had only one choice of provider: the local VNA. With a Federal antitrust investigation hot on their trail, the VNAs now want the legislature to ratify their private deal - and forever keep out any competition. (April 2005)

    Universal Health Care Disaster
    Univeral single payer health care is in full flower in Montpelier. A close look at the House proposal for a government-run mega-System reveals a huge disaster in the making. (April 2005)

    The Prescription Drug  Reimportation Mania
    The Vermont legislature is working at full speed to pass a prescription drug importation bill. Even if it were legal under fedral law, which it's not, it's hard to see where the benefits will come from - except of course to the politicians who think they are doing something important. (January 2005)

    Patient Power vs. Service Delivery
    Two dramatically different visions of health care policy are now on the table for 2004. Gov. Douglas argues for personal responsibility, empowered consumer choice,and Health Security Accounts. His opponents seek to expand government health care, on the road to single payer. (January 2004)

    Choice for the Home Bound
    Vermont is the only state in the union that requires a Certificate of Need for home health care services. This scheme is designed to protect 12 regional home health care monopolies. But now the monopoly is starting to crack, and Vermont's needy elderly, disabled, and homebound consumers have reason to rejoice. (January 2004)

    Repeal Community Rating
    The community rating of health insurance premiums is a Robin-Hood-in-Reverse scheme to tax the poor and benefit the rich, while prohibiting any rate incentive for people to take better care of themselves. Repealing it is not only right on fairness grounds, but also essential to any real market-based health care reform. (November 2003)

    Drug Reimportation - A Disaster in the Making
    Importing cheaper price-controlled pharmaceuticals from Canada is a very hot idea. If this is made legal, Americans will pay a terrible price in the economic destruction of our world-leading pharmaceutical industry. A better idea: radically reduce the cost of drugs by repealing the 1962 government efficacy requirement. (November 2003)

    Single Payer Health Care: Reform or Affliction?
    Vermont's single payer advocates are back at work. Upon closer inspection, their health care remedy boggles the mind (September 2002)

    The Hogan Commission Report
    Governor Dean's commission to make sense out of health care policy (after nine years of government failures) comes up dry. (November 2001)

    Command and Control Health Care
    The old Soviet system is gone, but Gov. Dean seems to want to reinstate it for health care in Vermont. (September 2001)

    Facing Up to Vermont's Health Financing Problem
    Gov. Dean's health care strategy - drive out private insurers, make thousands more Vermonters eligible for government care, underpay the hospitals and doctors, and drive up insurance premiums - is nearing the end of the line. (September 2000)

    Transcending the Drug Price War
    Politicians are eager to force price controls and discounts on the pharmaceutical industry, but the long term solution to high drug prices lies somewhere else. (July 2000)

    Dr. Dean's Road to a Single Payer Health System
    If Dr. Dean wants to ease Vermont into single-payer health care, he's making all the right moves. (December 1999)

    "Reforms" that Increase the Uninsured
    In the past six years the Vermont legislature has adopted several important reforms of health insurance market. Result: more Vermonters without health insurance. So the legislature expands government health insurance to cover them.
    (November 1998)

    Megamedicine: Coming Soon to Your Town
    What the Fletcher Allen-Dartmouth Hitchcock-Rutland Regional - Blue Cross merger will give us. (January 1997)

    Health Care: Collective or Individual?
    The real choice in health care, and the consequences. (January 1996)

    Land Use and Property Rights

    The Corrupt Government Squeeze on WalMart
    WalMart may be on the verge of getting its long-sought St. Albans permit. But the district Act 250 commission is insisting that the company pay half a million bucks to its economic competitors first. This used to be called simony, and the Church made it a sin. (July 2008)

    Smart Growthers and their Perfect Little State
    After a scary beginning in the House, a bill to encourage housing development in village centers was much improved when it passed the Senate. Its tortured path to passage reveals the fearsome complexity of Vermont housing and land use law that has defeated many a proposal to build new units for Vermont's housing market. (May 2008)

    Private Property At The Mercy of Government
    In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court amends the Bill of Rights to allow governments to use eminent domain for any (alleged) public purpose. Shorn of the 5th Amendment's protection against government confiscation, Vermonters may want to fashion a state constitutional amendment that protects them against both actual and regulatory takings. (June 2005)

    WalMart Tries Again
    Ten years ago WalMart tried to open its first Vermont store in St. Albans Town. It was blocked by an astonishing decision of the Environmental Board. Now WalMart thinks it's worth trying again. It's far from a sure thing. (December 2003)

    The Battle of Potash Brook
    Thanks to the efforts of one enviro law firm, the Water Resources Board shuts down development by rejecting of a state of the art stormwater management system. (September 2001)

    Goodbye to the Spaghetti Lot
    For 30 years the "10 acre loophole" has been a "safe haven" for developers, with very unfortunate land use results. Now it is about to be closed. (February 2001)

    Environmental Board Takes a Big Hit
    The Vermont Supreme Court slaps down the Environmental Board's regulatory power grab. (January 2001)

    Revisiting the Takings Issue
    Oregon voters, fed up with too much land use regulation, have added an important new protection for private property owners to their Constitution, Maybe Vermont should get with the program. (November 2000)

    Fighting Sprawl: Start with the Government
    This year's bogeyman is "sprawl". Who causes sprawl? Mainly the government. (November 1998)

    The Sprawl Monster is Loose!
    For almost 30 years the land use controllers have invented one land use crisis after another. Now it's the Sprawl Monster. (June 1998)

    Who Owns the Land?
    Vermont's new clear cutting law is one more step toward disposing of private property in land. (May 1997)

    The Astonishing St. Albans WalMart Decision
    In rejecting the WalMart permit for St. Albans Town, Environmental Board chairman Arthur Gibb seized on impossible facts, proposed to levy an unlegislated tax, and generally ran roughshod over the law. This preposterous decision ought to spur a thorough examination of the Act 250 law and process. (February 1995)

    Welfare

    Welfare Reform Battle Renewed
    Does the Obama proposal to issue waivers for the strong work requirements for welfare recipients threaten to fatally undermine the 1996 welfare act? Perhaps more importantly, does the assumption of waiver authority by the Administration presage government by executive decree? (August 2012)

    Vermont's Feeble Welfare Reforms
    Vermont comes in last of the 50 states in a new study on the effectiveness of five years of welfare reform. Why? Because liberals viewed work as an unconscionable burden on the welfare population. (November 2004)

    Helping Albert
    Vermont and federal taxpayers are spending over $61,000 a year each to support and control 1,850 developmentally disabled Vermonters. The policy is not only expensive, but it also leaves the people involved isolated and dependent on state-paid caretakers instead of fostering choice and autonomy. (September 2004)

    The Godzilla of Child Care
    How about this: a giant state-created nonprofit mega-corporation handing out $300 million to 12 regional nonprofit corporations that will organize and control child care, preschool, and medical programs for children 0-5. That's the Godzilla that Gov. Douglas has taken the first step to create. (September 2004)