July 26, 2018

By John J. Metzler

UNITED NATIONS— Not surprisingly countries leading in Research & Development are among the world’s most successful economies.  Switzerland,  the Netherlands, and Sweden top the list among the top ten global innovation economies which also include the United Kingdom, Singapore, the United States, Finland, Germany and Ireland. 

The release of the Global Innovation Index 2018 (GII) proves the point with a listing of 126 countries standings in the world.

In a joint survey between New York’s Cornell University and the UN’s World Intellectual     Property Organization (WIPO), the annual GII ranks economies based on 80 indicators ranging from “intellectual property filing rates, to mobile application creation, education spending and scientific and technical publications.”

The Survey states that “the U.S. ranks 6th overall this year, down two spots from 2017, a change that is partly related to model changes.  In absolute terms the U.S. remains the top

contributor in key innovation inputs and outputs, including in investment, in research and      development, and comes second after China in the volume of researchers, patents and scientific and technical publications.”

East and South East Asia powerhouse economies predictably rank well with Singapore coming in fifth, South Korea (12), Japan (13), and Hong Kong (14).

For example, South Korea “maintains its top rankings in patents applications by origin and various indicators measuring R&D efforts, gross domestic expenditure on R&D, R&D financed and performed by business, and research talent in business enterprise.”

Yet it’s China’s dramatic rise to17th place globally that has grasped attention.  Beijing government policies have focused on prioritizing research and development as well as development-intensive ingenuity.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry states, “China’s rapid rise reflects a strategic direction set from the top leadership to developing world class capacity in innovation and to moving the structural basis of the economy to more knowledge-intensive industries that rely on innovation to maintain competitive advantage.”

Education remains a key indicator for success.  According to GII, “translating investments in education, research and R&D expenditures into high-quality innovation outputs.  Leaders are Switzerland, Luxembourg, China, the Netherlands, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Malta, Hungary, Germany, and Sweden.”  In other words good education reaps long term benefits.

Israel leads in many indicators.  According to the Survey the number of researchers, R&D expenditures, venture capital deals, R&D funded by business enterprises, and research talent  are part of Israel’s standing at 11th place.

Despite the educational and research metrics used in the wide ranging survey, an obvious truism underscores much of the success; good governance and free market economic policies.

With the exception of China whose corporate state system underlines Beijing’s model, the   other top twenty countries are free market or mixed economies.  Significantly, most have low levels of corruption and a vigorous rule of law.

Vietnam’s innovation ranks 45th while Russia is 46th; in Vietnam’s case a hybrid socialist/capitalist economy exists while in Russia there’s a quasi-free market kleptocracy.  In neither case is there a strong incentive for innovation.

India which ranks 57 is equally complex. After years of an underperforming democratic socialist model, the county has embraced a largely free market economy.  Stifling bureaucracy, ingrained corruption and the vestiges of the past still hinder development.  This despite a vibrant and growing software and IT sector.

South Africa ranks highest for the African continent at #58 with a “sophisticated market and business sector.  Other strong indicators: access to credit, market capitalization, university and industry research collaborations.”  Equally, Brazil who scores #64 shows strengths in “R&D  expenditures, high-tech net imports and exports, quality of scientific publications and universities.”

Sadly other countries such as Yemen who are at the bottom of the list are battered by poverty, civil war and terrorism.

Yet many other states such as Cuba, Burma  and North Korea are not even listed.  Others like Venezuela, have been willfully destroyed by an incompetent socialist regime which turned a once middle class democracy into a dystopian dictatorship.

Education matters, but so too does government policy.

John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism The Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China.


July 25, 2018

by John McClaughry

In the Seven Days newspaper  of July 11  Sen. Patrick Leahy issued a full-throated blast at Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, claiming that Judge Kavanaugh, in a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article, wrote that “the president should be above the law when they’re president.”

Reporter Taylor Dobbs then accurately quoted the law review article that proposed “that sitting presidents should not be subject to indictments, civil lawsuits, or criminal investigations.”

In it Judge Kavanaugh wrote: “The first [counterargument to that proposal would be] that no one is above the law in our system of government.  I strongly agree with that principle. But …the  point  is  not  to  put  the  President  above  the  law  or  to  eliminate  checks  on  the  President,  but  simply  to  defer  litigation  and  investigations until the President is out of office.”

Judge Kavanaugh based that conclusion on the tribulations of the Clinton presidency: “Looking back to the late 1990s… the nation certainly would have been better off if President Clinton could have focused on Osama bin Laden without being distracted by the Paula Jones sexual harassment case and its criminal-investigation offshoots.”

That does not support Leahy’s inflammatory charge that the Judge believes that “the president should be above the law when they’re president.”

You will hear a lot of false and wild charges about Judge Kavanaugh over the next two months. Don’t take Patrick Leahy’s word for any of them.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute

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July 24, 2017

by John McClaughry

Home health care workers in Vermont will soon see more money in their paychecks due to a proposed federal rule change. Two weeks ago the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed repealing an Obama administration rule for Medicaid in-house personal care providers that allows unions to get the State to skim off the union dues before sending out Medicaid reimbursement checks. That should take effect next month.

In particular, the change targets independent home health care providers who state law – Vermont’s Act 48 of 2013 – classifies as state employees to allow a labor union to collect their dues.

Meg Hansen, executive director of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, said “In most cases, home health care workers are family caregivers who are taking care of a loved one, like a spouse or grandparent. …They know they’ll get X amount of money for taking care of their loved ones.” But X would be less than what they’re being paid, because the State and the union made a deal to subtract the union dues from the payment.

Home health care workers have the option to join the union or not, but if they join the union they have no choice about the State subtracting the dues from their pay.

“The Supreme Court  in a 2014 case  said they are not state workers and you cannot deduct agency fees or union dues from the Medicaid funds for union membership,” Hansen said.

If the union wants the dues of home health care workers, it can go ask for them. Chances are a lot of them will say “no, thanks.”

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute


July 23, 2018

by Rob Roper

Congress voted on a resolution introduced by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) titled, “Expressing the sense of Congress that a Carbon Tax Would be detrimental to the United States Economy.”

The full text of the resolution reads:

Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)

Whereas a carbon tax is a Federal tax on carbon released from fossil fuels;

             Whereas a carbon tax will increase energy prices, including the price of gasoline, electricity, natural gas, and home heating oil;

             Whereas a carbon tax will mean that families and consumers will pay more for essentials like food, gasoline, and electricity;

             Whereas a carbon tax will fall hardest on the poor, the elderly, and those on fixed incomes;

             Whereas a carbon tax will lead to more jobs and businesses moving overseas;

             Whereas a carbon tax will lead to less economic growth;

             Whereas American families will be harmed the most from a carbon tax;

             Whereas, according to the Energy Information Administration, in 2016, fossil fuels share of energy consumption was 81 percent;

             Whereas a carbon tax will increase the cost of every good manufactured in the United States;

             Whereas a carbon tax will impose disproportionate burdens on certain industries, jobs, States, and geographic regions and would further restrict the global competitiveness of the United States;

             Whereas American ingenuity has led to innovations in energy exploration and development and has increased production of domestic energy resources on private and State-owned land which has created significant job growth and private capital investment;

             Whereas United States energy policy should encourage continued private sector innovation and development and not increase the existing tax burden on manufacturers;

             Whereas the production of American energy resources increases the United States ability to maintain a competitive advantage in today’s global economy;

             Whereas a carbon tax would reduce America’s global competitiveness and would encourage development abroad in countries that do not impose this exorbitant tax burden; and

             Whereas the Congress and the President should focus on pro-growth solutions that encourage increased development of domestic resources: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States.

The final vote  (229-180) was largely along party lines with all but one Republican supporting the resolution and all but seven Democrats opposing (17 were absent and two voted “present”. Vermont’s Peter Welch voted no, thus supporting the concept of a Carbon Tax.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute


July 20, 2018

By David Flemming

Not content to merely “ask” Vermonters to go without single-use plastic straws, VPIRG is telling our legislators that they should pass a proposal to ban these straws altogether to keep them out of landfills in 2019. For some Vermonters, this ban would be environmental big-brother as usual, perhaps less intrusive than VPIRG’s success at banning cheap appliances that use too much energy. But for some of the 6% of Vermonters who already have difficulty caring for themselves, this ban would force them to decide between eating and drinking at home, or going without a drink at restaurants.

The straw seems like a simple thing. But it was not always so.

The son of a man who helped settle Ohio, Marvin Stone was sipping whiskey through a rye-straw one night in Washington DC during the 1880’s, but was put off by the grassy taste it left in his mouth. To remove this annoyance, “he wound paper around a pencil to make a thin tube, slid out the pencil from one end, and applied glue between the strips.” Stone commercialized his invention by funding machines to twist paper into a cylinder, which were then coated with a water-resistant paraffin wax. Little did he know, his invention would eventually lead to the creation of the single-use plastic straw, making the lives of millions of disabled individuals a little easier.

Take Jordan Carlson’s son, whose poor motor skills prevent him from drinking without a straw. While visiting a zoo, “we went to the snack bar and found out they had a ‘no straw’ policy.” (Doesn’t this sound similar to the pledge VPIRG has encouraged VT businesses to take)? She continues, “it was a hot day and he couldn’t drink.” The Carlsons were forced to leave the zoo early that day.

Carlson tries to remember to bring reusable straws from home with her, but “I’m human and sometimes I forget,” she explains. People with disabilities have to be much more conscious of what businesses and communities offer, Carlson says.

Certainly! While only about one in twenty Vermonters are disabled, Vermont should remain as inclusive as possible to our disabled neighbors.

The straw is a victory of capitalism for the disabled. As much as progressive folks like to discuss income inequality, the deepest gulf of inequality lies between the able-bodied individual and the disabled individual. This gulf has shrunk dramatically over the past century, due in large part to entrepreneurs discovering markets for their inventions that often become repurposed for those with disabilities. The straw is one of thousands of such inventions.

Stone, like many entrepreneurs, did not intend to improve the lives of disabled people worldwide. Nevertheless, their desire for wealth by keeping a fraction of sales from their inventions has made the lives of millions of the disabled more enjoyable. And the US has a proud history of capitalist inventors who have bridged the gap between the able-bodied and disabled.

Some of the more bold mobility-increasing inventions like Ford’s Model T were certainly not created with the disabled in mind. Regardless, the advent of affordable cars 100 years ago has made personalized care for the disabled and elderly far more easily accomplished today than if our past representatives had saddled us with a system of public transport that produced fewer CO2 emissions.

Ford did not invent the assembly line primarily out of the goodness of his heart. He saw an opportunity to enrich his own life, and enriched millions of people worldwide, because our institutions created the incentive for him to do so. Without Ford’s efforts, the disabled would put far more of a strain on our healthcare system. Stone’s straw may not be on par with Ford’s car, but we can still appreciate the contribution each have made to giving all us, most especially the disabled, the tools to improve our own lives.

We able-bodied people would be guilty of gross discrimination at eating establishments if we took away such an instrument to human dignity like the straw. The straw lends the most unfortunate of us a little more independence. Sure, we might create a little more trash than usual, but that’s small price to pay for human dignity, isn’t it?

VPIRG might protest: “we are only banning single-use plastic straws, we don’t want to ban paper straws!” But, disabled individuals generally take longer to eat and drink than the rest of us. Which means that paper straws tend to dissolve in water (imagine that!) and leave a bad taste in your mouth. Just think about what folks did before Mr. Stone’s inventions.

Not to mention, the children and the disabled may tear and swallow the much more fragile paper straws if parents aren’t careful. Safe straws are one thing parents and the disabled shouldn’t have to worry about a restaurant having on hand. Do we really want to jettison that safety standard just because it might keep a few straws out of landfills?

Even a bill allowing “straws upon request” might cause embarrassment for some disabled individuals. It could easily open restaurants to discrimination lawsuits if they get out of the rhythm of regularly ordering straws. I for one, would not want to explain to disabled customers why straws are out of stock.

At the moment, finding a way for all people with poor motor skills to drink out of a cup seems unattainable. While we wait for entrepreneurs to find a solution, we should let the disabled Vermont residents and visiting tourists have their straws without having to ask for one.

David Flemming is a policy analyst at the Ethan Allen Institute.


July 19, 2018

by EAI Staff

On July 10, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to protect the integrity of the Medicaid program by ensuring states are no longer able to take union dues from the support checks of in-home caregivers who look after our country’s most vulnerable. If the rule is enacted, people who stay at home to care for elderly, sick, and disabled loved ones will be able to keep the entirety of their Medicaid support checks; states will no longer be able to siphon money away and give it to government unions.

Each year, in-home caregivers lose an estimated $200 million from their support checks, and this proposed rule is a way to stop this unfair and deceptive scheme once and for all.

HHS said it will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register on Thursday, July 12, marking the start of a 30-day-long period during which the public may comment on what the rule would mean for them. Impacted caregivers are especially encouraged to provide comment on the personal impact of the rule to them and their families and patients.

The public comment period is now open. Comment on the proposed rule to end the Dues Skim here. All comments are due no later than 5 p.m. EST on August 13, 2018.

The Ethan Allen Institute’s comment is as follows:

“The Ethan Allen Institute welcomes the proposed rule. In Vermont, the legislature (Act 48 of 2013) authorized a “pseudo union” of home health care workers, many of them Medicaid-financed. The Act authorized mandatory bargaining over deduction of union dues and agency fees from Medicaid payments to these providers, often family members. This is a “pseudo union” because the union pocketing the money is not bargaining with an employer of home health care providers, but with the compliant state legislature, to increase Medicaid reimbursements and deduct dues and agency fees.

“The current (July 1, 2018) State contract with “Vermont Homecare United” (AFSCME) requires the state to deduct “voluntary” contributions from union members to the union’s Political Action Funds (PACs), as well as union dues.

“We believe that if a union wants to enroll members, it should be free to do so – but it should not be entitled to enlist the State as the dues collection agent (other than for actual unionized state employees). It should absolutely not be given funds from the Federal-State Medicaid payment stream for union dues, “collective bargaining service fees”, or political action contributions. Medicaid is obliged to compensate qualified providers, but it should be the union’s task to persuade providers to affirmatively join and pay to the union the required dues and “voluntary” political contributions.  (Cf. Janus vs. AFSCME, 2018)”


Refuses to call it that

July 17, 2018

by Rob Roper

In a July 9th interview on WDEV’s Dave Gram show, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist came out in favor of a Carbon Tax on Vermonters.

The first question the host asked her was, why are you running for governor, and her first answer was, “My passion was to solve climate change using the electric grid,” and promised to “accelerate the work we’re doing on climate change, because we can.” Hallquist then cited her qualifications as CEO of an electric cooperative, the Vermont Electric Co-Op.

She was then specifically asked if she supported the latest Carbon Tax scheme, the ESSEX Plan, which would place a tax on fossil fuels (ultimately, gasoline at 32¢ per gallon, diesel and home heating oil at 40¢ per gallon, and propane, natural gas, and others similarly). The revenue would then be used to subsidize electric rates by giving grants to utilities like the one Hallquist used to run. (She stepped down from her position to run for governor.)

Hallquist replied. “Yeah…. Putting a price on Carbon IS the most effective policy [for reducing climate change].” She then qualified that she would look at all ideas in a collaborative process, but reiterated, “I will tell you that is the most effective method of mitigating carbon — is putting a price on Carbon.”

What followed was a bizarre debate between the host and the candidate over language as Hallquist steadfastly refused to call the Carbon Tax a tax. “You’ve got to be careful. I think using the word “tax”… becomes inflammatory,” Said Hallquist. The host, Dave Gram, was having none of it…

Dave Gram (DG): “You expressed a great deal of reluctance to use the “T” word – “tax” — when referring to a new levy on carbon based fossil fuels, and I just sort of sat back for a moment and thought to myself if we can’t use the word tax anymore in our political discourse – you know taxes are a pretty matter of course thing that are raised to various degrees on various things to fund government…. Tell me a little bit about your reluctance to use that word. That is what we’re talking about? A tax on fossil fuels?”

Christine Hallquist (CH). “I don’t want to miss innovative ideas like a price on carbon by using language that might have been coopted by others… [A long dissembling explanation on use of language referencing Reagan, income inequality, and dividing people as opposed to bringing them together] … “If we call it a price on carbon, which is what I believe it is, opponents are going to call it a tax. Now, taxes have been used to drive fear and division into Vermont and really specifically so within the last two years, and that’s exactly why I am running….”

DG: Aren’t we ceding that there has to be a negative connotation to the word “tax”?… Because we have now decided to relegate “tax” to a word that is divisive and bad, we’re not even allowed to use it anymore and be straight forward about what we’re doing. I mean, I think people will peel back the phrase “a price on carbon” and say, oh, that means I’m going to be paying an extra thirty or forty cents a gallon for gasoline. Then maybe you could make the argument that, yeah, there are very good reasons for doing that. We’re trying to discourage the use of gasoline. We want to raise this money to put into other kinds of energy conservation, or other types of transportation, or whatever. We’re going to employ it to try and fight climate change. My own thought as a writer and reporter for thirty years is I’ve always tried to use words that were more direct and straight forward. And, I think if you are a liberal who believes in the idea of government needing to raised money for good purposes, you should raise the flag and say … we do impose taxes and it’s something we have to do in order to have a decent government…. ”

CH: “I think I’m going to bring people back to where you’re going by talking about “strategic investments.” Investments. These are all investments in our future….” She cited historical examples of infrastructure projects.

DG: Did they call them “strategic investments back then, or did they say we’re going to build interstate highways and we’re going to charge a gasoline tax [fades off into laughter]”

Hallquist conceded, “They did that,” but she stuck to her guns that she would not call a carbon tax the tax that it is.

So, will Vermonters allow the wool to be pulled over their eyes, or will they see a tax for what it is — a tax?

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.


by John McClaughry

In his Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom (1785), Thomas Jefferson famously declared that “to compel a man to furnish contribution of money for the propagation of opinion which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

In that spirit, the U.S. Supreme Court last month struck down “agency fees” taken by public sector unions from non-members’ paychecks. “The First Amendment,” Justice Alito wrote in the Janus v. AFSCME case, “does  not  permit  the  government  to  compel  a person  to  pay  for  another  party’s  speech  just  because  the government  thinks  that  the  speech  furthers  the  interests  of the person who does not want to pay.”

The case not only held that requiring non-members to pay “agency fees” is coercing political speech, but also that “neither  an  agency  fee  nor  any  other  payment  to  the  union  may  be  deducted  from  a  nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a  payment,  unless  the  employee  affirmatively  consents  to  pay.”

The ruling applies only to public sector unions, the most prominent of which are the Vermont State Employees Association and the Vermont-NEA teachers union. The reason it doesn’t apply to a unionized private employer like General Electric is important.

Private sector unions have no way to influence the decision makers – management and stockholders – of their employers. A union’s ultimate bargaining asset is the right to withhold its members’ labor – to go on strike. But state employees and teachers unions are inherently political. Through their political activities they can elect and influence the governor, the legislature, and the school boards to give them greater gains in the bargaining process.

This leads public sector unions to join political coalitions with other like-minded organizations to elect liberal office holders who once in office will support the causes of all of the coalition members. These may include civil rights, social issues, union privileges, climate change measures, immigration laws, government-run health care, and “free” college tuition.

The public sector unions invariably support expanded government programs and taxpayer-financed spending increases, which lead to better pay and benefits for more dues-paying union members. In Illinois, where the Janus case originated, the state employee union (AFSCME) made tax increases to support higher pay and benefits a contract bargaining issue with the governor.

So what’s next? Vermont’s public sector unions are still entitled to organize and bargain with state government, school districts, and municipalities. The resulting contracts will still cover wages, benefits, working conditions and grievance procedures for all employees in the defined bargaining unit. But the unions can no longer automatically pocket “agency fees” (of as much as 85% of full union dues) from employees who want no part of the union’s political activities.

The Janus ruling inevitably means that more workers will decide not to pay money to a union advocating against their own political preferences. The National Education Association is projecting a 14% decline in membership.

An article by Alana Samuels in The Atlantic (6/27/18) describes how some unions are reconceptualizing their relation to prospective members. The United Domestic Workers of America represents Medicaid-funded home health care workers in California in a contrived “pseudo-union” it lobbied into existence. (The Vermont legislature succumbed to the same pressure in 2014.)

An earlier Supreme Court ruling struck down agency fees payable to this pseudo-union. So, according to its executive director, UDW “had to prove it was providing a valuable service to members and their clients that went above and beyond bargaining over pay.” It launched a home-care registry that matched workers with potential employers, and started offering free CPR and dietary classes to discuss with workers how to feed clients with special dietary needs. It did all this and more on a budget that was 30 percent lower than what it had been before the [Court] decision.

Not surprisingly, VSEA and VT-NEA are moaning about the impact of the Janus case. But that case doesn’t restrain the unions from conducting their core functions– representing the interests of workers to their employers.

The ruling will push those unions, like UDW, to better market their services to attract members who see an advantage in belonging. It will likely reduce the union’s temptation to use union funds to support coalitions to advance unrelated causes that a significant number of prospective union members disapprove of.

That’s a lot healthier for the unions than collaborating with government to coerce non-members to pay fees to finance political activities that they find offensive. Thomas Jefferson would have understood.


John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org)

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July 14, 2018

By David Flemming

For the second straight year, US Senator Bernie Sanders made over $1 million in income in 2017. Quite the contrast to the Sanders of the 1970s, who told the Burlington Free Press that “nobody should earn more than $1 million.” While Sanders might permit higher incomes, given that his own income cleared the $1 million mark recently, Sanders continues to embrace a democratic socialism that advocates for a maximum income as a way to reduce inequality. Such a policy would be catastrophic for all Americans.

Sanders received over $500,000 on an advance for his new book “Where We Go From Here” due out in November, plus nearly $400,000 on royalties from his past books like “Our Revolution.” Perhaps Sanders has upped his “max income” for reducing inequality a bit higher than in the 1970’s, or perhaps he is a capitalist-author-genius at night who plays at socialist-senator during the day. Either way, Sanders is currently making over 25% more than what the average Vermont one-percenter earns annually.

Indeed, ‘Sanders the power-challenging author’ would likely be a good deal poorer this year if he had grown up in a country with less inequality and more poverty like the Soviet Union, rather than his birthplace of New York.

All publications in the USSR needed the government’s blessing. As one Soviet put it, “our literature is not a private enterprise designed to serve various tastes of the market…we demand that our comrades may be reared in the spirit of…ideology.” Therefore, if Sanders’ “ideology” was not suitable for the entrenched USSR politicians, he would would never have had permission to print his book in the first place.

If only Sanders could see the irony. Variants of socialism share a backwardness with hunter-gatherer, agrarian, feudal and caste societies, in that none of them have ever come close to protecting freedom of the press and property rights on par with capitalism. Though to be fair, most of these societies were made up of individuals who weren’t able to accumulate wealth and thus couldn’t even imagine why copyright might be useful.

Copyright laws in free societies are the mechanism through which enormous profits are within the reach of even the poorest individuals. Say a budding author writes a book that strikes a chord with millions. Or, a brilliant doctor creates a medical invention that saves thousands of lives and decides to sell his invention. Even if the book and invention fall under copyright, the author and doctor will likely receive a mere pittance for the lives they inspired and saved. Though, if we look at the world the way Sanders does, this pittance can seem “egregiously large” when we refuse to look at the common good “corporate elitists” like Henry Ford and Steve Jobs have accomplished for society.

The counterpoint to this is that Sanders is for “democratic-socialism” (not “real” socialism) that works within capitalism and its copyright laws to ensure that no one has “too much.” However, the fact remains that Sanders made $800,000 by writing books in just a few weeks last year.

According to Sanders’ logic, wouldn’t 10 poor Vermonters in Burlington be “more deserving” of this income because Sanders benefited from the economic system that he is working within? The truth is, max incomes are merely imaginary lines in the sand that don’t mean much, even as Sanders keeps inching “his line” away from his initial maximum of $1 million.

Every dollar earned is obtained either justly or unjustly. Earning $10 million through an innovative business is just, but stealing $100 is unjust. The process for getting money can be condemned, but if we fail to establish “income by deceit,” the worker is worthy of their wages. Since we cannot establish a just income cutoff, the government ought not to set a “maximum income.”

Invention breeds inequality, despite the best efforts of redistributionists like Sanders. At the end of the day, democratic-socialism demands income cutoffs to achieve its goal of lower inequality. If Sanders were ever to impose income cutoffs on the US economy, few people would ever take the risks of building a company from the ground up, given the high probability of failure. We would all be worse off for it.

Writing books on the way to earning $800,000 is commendable. This, despite the admission that Sanders only got this money by arguing for an inequality-reducing income-cutoff, which would prevent future deserving authors from earning similar “egregious incomes” he earns now but once despised.

But free economies run best when they protect freedom of speech and the press, not just the most deserving. Over time, the worst ideas like democratic socialism will be discarded. Meanwhile, it is better to protect the corporate-busting revolutionaries like Sanders, than to use coercion to pick and choose what we don’t like being said and published. Try publishing a book condemning socialism in North Korea today, and you will see what I mean.

David Flemming is policy analyst at the Ethan Allen Institute.


July 12, 2018

by John McClaughry

President Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, to serve on the Supreme Court.

The President noted the importance of choosing a Justice who was committed to upholding the Constitution, stating, “In keeping with President Reagan’s legacy, I do not ask about a nominee’s personal opinions. What matters is not a judge’s political views, but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require.”

Judge Kavanaugh said “My judicial philosophy is straightforward—a judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written, and a judge must interpret the Constitution as written–informed by history and tradition and precedent.”

That of course is a central issue: does the Court have to find a base in the Constitution to uphold acts of Congress or strike down laws as unconstitutional? Or can the Court manufacture a rationale to uphold a law or create a new right  that can be found nowhere in the Constitution?

It’s pretty clear, from his twelve years on the Circuit Court, that Judge Kavanaugh believes the actual Constitution must determine the outcome of cases coming to the Court, not five justices just making up stuff to support their preferences. That’s a very good thing.

The Left’s campaign to reject Judge Kavanaugh will be extraordinarily savage, dishonest, and even hysterical. The American people deserve much better than what they’re about to experience.

– John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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