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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The State Knows Best

Socialism
Noun: socialism 'sowshu' lizum
An economic system based on state ownership of capital

Did you ever wonder how socialism actually manifests itself? Look to the front page of today's Washington Post.

Md. Passes Rules on Wal-Mart Insurance

Bill Obligates Firms On Health Spending
By John Wagner and Michael Barbaro, Washington Post Staff Writers


Maryland lawmakers yesterday approved legislation that would effectively require Wal-Mart to boost spending on health care, a direct legislative thrust against a corporate giant that is already on the defensive on many fronts nationwide.


"We're looking for responsible businesses to ante up . . . and provide adequate health care," said Sen. Thomas M. Middleton (D-Charles), the Finance Committee chairman, as the Senate approved the measure with a majority wide enough to survive an anticipated veto. A similar bill has cleared the House of Delegates, and legislators expect to reconcile their differences easily.

Lawmakers said they did not set out to single out Wal-Mart when they drafted a bill requiring organizations with more than 10,000 employees to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health benefits -- or put the money directly into the state's health program for the poor.

But as debate raged in the Senate yesterday, it was clear that the giant retailer, which has 15,000 workers in Maryland, was the only company that would be affected.

"This is crossing a bridge," said Sen. E.J. Pipkin (Queen Anne's), who joined the Senate's other Republicans in voting against the bill. "Annapolis is telling private business in the private marketplace what to do."

Wal-Mart officials, likewise, condemned the General Assembly's effort as an unneeded intrusion. "We think that this sets a bad precedent by singling out one employer when it's a much bigger issue," said Nate Hurst, a government relations manager at Wal-Mart. (link)

There is a fine line between state ownership of capital and state control of private sector capital. These new "Wal-Mart rules" go beyond any act of government intrusion into the affairs of an American corporation that I've ever come across.

You Democrats should be very proud. You business owners should get the hell out of the state of Maryland.

Run. Don't walk.

How Do You Know When You've Had Enough?

Ah, the age-old question. How do you know when you've had too much to drink?
Do You Have an Alcohol Problem?
Thursday is National Alcohol Screening Day and you can get yourself screened right here in Fredericksburg.
Darragh Copley, WFLS News

You don't have to have an alcohol problem to have a problem with alcohol, that's the slogan for the National Alcohol Screening Day which is Thursday.


How much is too much? Well, today, you can drop by the Fredericksburg Counseling Services and find out for yourself. (link)
The most effective method I was able to develop over the years involved my providing Moose, my personal bartender and confidante, with information relating to the balance I had remaining on my Mastercard.

It seemed to work. Moose would keep pouring the drinks up to that point in time when I had reached my credit limit, would cut me off, and would then help me find my car. I thus drank only to limited excess. And I never abused my credit card privileges.

Perhaps I could provide some advice to the Fredericksburg Counseling Service. You see it all starts with selecting only the finest Kentucky bourbon whiskey. Then it requires the assistance of the bank ...

Money Isn't Going To Help Byrd This Time

Robert Byrd (D-Ku Klux Klania) is apparently raising lots of cash and intends to run for reelection next year.
GOP Pounces on Byrd Link to Liberal Group

Republicans say they plan to make MoveOn's fundraising for the veteran Democratic senator an issue in his reelection effort.
By Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — With an early fundraising blitz, the online liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org has shown both its potential as a Democratic asset and a Republican target in the 2006 elections.

In less than three days last week, the group's political action committee raised from its members nearly $833,000 for Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), who next year could face his first competitive race in decades.

The amount represented more than three-fourths of the total that Byrd collected between Jan. 1 and March 31, and was the most money MoveOn has raised for one candidate at one time, according to the group's officials. (link)

The left-wing money machine could raise $800 million and it won't make any difference. Not this time. The people of West Virginia have come to the realization that it's not money the former Grand Kleagle of the KKK needs.

It's a brain. His left for home to be with his old dawg Billy long ago.

Say What?

To prove once again that membership in the ACLU requires a high degree of detachment from reality, there is this story out of New Orleans:
High school's pre-game prayer called 'un-American and immoral'

NEW ORLEANS -- The American Civil Liberties Union wants a federal judge to punish public school officials for a prayer that was recited last month before a high school baseball game. ACLU of Louisiana executive director Joe Cook says it was “un-American and immoral” to allow an adult to pray over Loranger High School’s public address system. (
link)

I've heard their kind make the "prayer is un-American" argument before. It holds absolutely no sway and is based on a completely and intentionally twisted reading of American Constitutional history.

But someone is going to have to help me through the "prayer is immoral" argument. Hmm. I'm afraid I'm not as smart as these ACLU members and confess that I don't understand what the heck that's supposed to mean.

Immoral prayer. I've now heard it all.

Big Dig Is Unsafe

I wrote a few weeks ago about the "Big Dig," the world's most expensive man-made hole in the ground, which happens to have been dug in downtown Boston. It seems the problem with the project is that it is in danger of collapse. A rather minor problem, I suppose.

Debris rains on vehicles in tunnel
By Raphael Lewis and John Ellement, Boston Globe Staff


One day after federal officials declared the Big Dig's tunnels safe, rocks and other debris rained down from an overhead vent in the Interstate 93 southbound tunnel yesterday and damaged at least five vehicles, including an ambulance transporting a patient from Massachusetts General Hospital.

The debris, which witnesses described as ranging from pebbles to rocks smaller than a golf ball, poured down near the Purchase Street exit between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., cracking windshields, damaging mirrors, and denting car roofs, according to motorists and the State Police.

Mariellen Burns -- a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which manages the tunnels -- said rocks and sand poured through a shaft that leads from an above-ground vent building that workers are demolishing. Burns said the debris was not falling from the tunnel ceiling and said the episode did not suggest that the Big Dig is structurally unsafe.

''This is not a tunnel issue; it's an issue of demolition going on up above," Burns said.

There were no reports of injuries, but an executive with the company that owns the ambulance, American Medical Response, said he would no longer send vehicles through the tunnels until he was certain the Big Dig is safe.

One motorist, Maura Vogel of Somerville, said a rock slightly smaller than a golf ball whizzed through the open sunroof of her BMW and landed on the empty passenger seat, while other rocks caused two small holes in her windshield.

''I was pretty startled," Vogel said. ''I worried that the tunnel was going to implode." (link)
The Big Dig has cost taxpayers - yes, including you and me - $14.6 billion, and they ain't done.

"One day after federal officials declared the Big Dig's tunnels safe ..." These people crack me up.

It Won't Matter

The average owner of a Chevy pickup truck might be scared by this news (from the Houston Chronicle).
Silverado, Sierra fare worst in pickup crash tests
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Two General Motors Corp. pickup trucks, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, fared the worst in a new batch of government crash tests of 2005 pickups, the government reported today. (
link)
This shocking news won't matter to my wife. She would dump me before she would consider selling her 3/4 ton long-bed Silverado with that screaming 350 V8 and heavy-duty suspension.

You think I'm kidding.

Heads Will Roll ...

Actually heads won't roll. But if a Republican senator had written a memo chock full of lies and deceit, with the intention of destroying his or her opponents, the mainstream media would be outraged. Ask Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich's assistant - er, former assistant. This memo, however, seems to have been generated by a Democrat, so the story will die an early death.

Was the Schiavo memo a fake?
By Brian DeBoseand Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

All 55 Republican senators say they have never seen the Terri Schiavo political talking-points memo that Democrats say was circulated among Republicans during the floor debate over whether the federal government should intervene to prolong her life.

A survey by The Washington Times found that every Republican said the memo was not crafted or distributed by him or her. Every one of them said he or she had not seen it until the memo was the subject of speculation in major news organs, particularly ABC News and The Washington Post.

Democrats said Republicans distributed the memo, and one Democratic official told The Post that a Republican senator gave it to a Democratic senator.

The Times surveyed all 44 Democrats and the chamber's one independent, and only one of them, Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, said through a spokeswoman that he saw it circulated on the Senate floor.

"He said that the memo was being circulated by Republican members on Thursday before we went out of session, and that is when he saw it," said his spokeswoman, Allison Dobson.

Two Democratic offices refused to respond -- Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat -- the latter even as he continued to accuse Republicans of being behind it.

"We will not participate in the survey. News outlets have investigated and authenticated the memo was real and came from Republican sources. We have no further comment," said spokeswoman Tessa Hafen. "If you want more information on the memo, you should work on finding the Republican who wrote it."

She did not respond to a request to name the newspaper or network that had "authenticated" the memorandum. (link)
There is only one way to resolve this. All 44 Democratic senators must resign - immediately.

Get Out Your Checkbook

Bruce Bartlett, a normally rational person, is touting the goodness of the value-added tax this morning, what many consider to be the most egregious tax ever devised. He begins his effort to convince us that it is needed by describing its worst features - in the New York Times.
Feed the Beast
By BRUCE BARTLETT

Great Falls, Va. — GROWING numbers of policy analysts and politicians are saying that it may finally be time to consider a value-added tax as part of our federal revenue system. In years past, I would have been in the forefront of those denouncing the idea. But now, reluctantly, I have joined the pro-V.A.T. side.

There are many arguments against a value-added tax, which is essentially a sales tax that applies at each stage of production. It is costly to put into effect, and it hits the poor and the elderly hardest because they spend a higher percentage of their income. [my emphasis]

When the idea of a value-added tax for the United States first arose during the Nixon administration, there was no question that it would have fueled the growth of government, just as it did in Europe. As a recent Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out, in the countries that established a V.A.T. in the 1960's and early 1970's, taxes as a share of the gross domestic product have risen significantly. (link)
Let's not gloss over the "sales tax that applies to each stage of production" issue. Several western European countries (where economic growth is something they read about in American newspapers) adopted the value-added tax back in the 60's. Their citizens' tax burden skyrocketed. Production costs went up (a tax is included as a cost of producing a product, just as are utility charges, equipment fees, payroll, property, etc.).

Take the case of the pencil. When the timber is cut down and fashioned into manageable sections of wood with which to build pencils, the timber company is taxed before the wood is sent to the pencil company. What are erasers made of? I don't know but the manufacturer is taxed. As is the mine that brings the graphite up out of the ground. As is the steel company that manufactures the little band around the eraser. The freight haulers of each are taxed. The plant where all the pieces are assembled is taxed. When shipped to a warehouse, the freight hauler is taxed. The warehouse is taxed. The freight hauler that transports the product to the retailer is taxed. The retailer that takes posession of the product is taxed.

And the pencil goes on the counter for sale at the low,low discount price of $8.27.

Because, in every case, the companies in business to bring you that pencil will do so only if they can turn a profit. And that profit will come from you. In the form of higher prices.

So, I'm going to assume that Bruce Bartlett consumed great quantities of my favorite bourbon whiskey last night and wasn't himself when he wrote this article.

If not, may he be banished to the ranks of loony Democrats who you can normally count on for such terrible ideas.