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

Monday, May 02, 2005

Your Taxes Went Up. So Shut Up.

If you make any money, the government shoves you in the creek once a year with it in your pockets, and all that don't get wet you can keep. Will Rogers
An editorial in today's Roanoke Times heralds the news that our state taxes went up at a rate better than double that of inflation (factor in Governor Mark Warner's massive tax increase last year and it exceeds triple the rate of inflation).

If the news wasn't enough to anger you, the smarmy attitude of the editors is.

Virginians' tax burden

When politicians start talking about high taxes and big reductions, voters should take the spiel with a big grain of salt.Uh-oh. The Census Bureau's annual state-by-state statistics on average tax burden are out, just in time to catch the early start this year of Virginia's tax demagoguery season.

And now along come the Census data that show the average tax burden on Virginians rose last year by $147, an 8 percent increase over the average in 2003. And that does not even reflect the full effect of last year's controversial state tax increases, which went into effect in September.

Horrors. (link)
In what can only be described as a jejune analysis of the reasons for the extraordinary jump in our state tax burden, the genius who wrote the article informs us that, well, costs go up.
... well, costs go up. Average taxpayers notice this, not only in their tax bills, but in their day-to-day expenses. The bill at the grocery store check-out is higher than it was five years ago. It is for state workers, too.

They, like every other wage earner, must hope for raises just to more or less stay even. They, like other wage earners, find that doesn't always happen.

Costs other than salaries increase, too. The gas bill goes up in homes and businesses. It goes up in government buildings, as well.
Here's another quotation that seems appropriate at this point in time.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. Abraham Lincoln
The author doesn't seem to connect the two aspects of his or her own argument. The people of Virginia have seen their "bill at the grocery store check-out" go up. Substantially. As well as their tax burden. By at least 8%.

While average real wages in 2004 went up only 4.1%.

Do the math, ace.

So in order to feed the ever-expanding behemoth known as state government (consuming an ever-growing amount of our hard-earned tax dollars at twice the rate of inflation), the people of Southwest Virginia have to decide which they'll sacrifice; their childrens' college education or that ground round at the meat counter. There is no third choice. They can't not pay their taxes.

Of course the author resorts to the argument that, yes, your taxes went up, but the tax burdens for others in other states went up even more. To make you feel better, I guess.
Interestingly, though, Virginia actually fell in the ranking by highest per capita state tax burden, from from 29th to 31st among the 50 states. Other states had to raise their taxes more.
That does not make me feel better in the slightest. We find ourselves, in 2005, in this global economy, to be in competition with Sri Lanka for jobs, not Hoboken.

If the small-minded people at the Roanoke Times would take their heads out of their backsides long enough to look around at the bleak outlook the citizens of Southwest Virginia face - influenced in a major way by our onerous tax burden (ask the executives of all those furniture and textile plants who are now working in the Philippines and in Indonesia) - they'd realize that "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results," meaning to continue to raise taxes more each year - expecting prosperity to result - only to watch job opportunities decline, is causing us to go in the wrong direction.

A report issued by the Milken Institute a few months ago, in which it ranked the Roanoke area 181st out of 200 large cities across the country in terms of job growth prospects and economic opportunity, should have been a wake-up call, had anyone at the Roanoke Times read it. Is anyone shocked by the fact that that devastating statistic never appeared on the editorial page of the Times? Of course, had it shown up, I probably would have read the glowing achievement made by the local business community for having beaten out both Detroit and Cleveland. (!)

So, be flippant about a very serious subject if you choose. But things are going to change around here. They have to. And we are going to affect that change - with the Times kicking and screaming about it - beginning with reducing the tax burden on the citizenry and - especially - on business. And we'll see if we can't turn things around for our children and grandchildren.

Your kind failed us. Get out of the way.

Public Schools Closed To The Public

We often hear school administrators and the teachers unions chastise parents for not getting involved in their childrens' education. But in Montgomery County, Maryland they are prohibited from doing just that.
Parents Can't Sit In On Sex-ed Classes
By Jon Ward, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Montgomery County Public Schools have barred parents from sitting in on classes in which a new sex-education curriculum will be taught, despite an official schools policy that encourages parents to visit their children's classrooms.

The policy states that parents are welcome to visit their child's classroom with permission from school administrators. The policy says, "Classroom visits and conferences by parents and other persons in the school community are encouraged."

Not this time.

Brian Edwards, a county schools spokesman, said the parents' presence at the sex-ed classes would have a "chilling effect on the educational process."

"If you're in a classroom and you want to have a frank discussion among your peers, with whom you've developed trust, and you're going to have Johnny Smith's mother sitting in the corner, you're not going to be as honest," he said. (
link)
Sounds to me like the curriculum calls for the students to educate the instructors. If it were the other way around, the educators wouldn't be concerned about the presence of parents in the classroom. In fact, they should be down-right pleased. Apparently not in this day and age.

Parents Keep Out. We have possession of your children and you cannot interfere.

How Times Have Changed

Can you imagine a commercial airliner crashing here in the USA and never to be found? Well, it happened to Northwest Airlines flight 2501.

Now famous author - and treasure/history hunter - Clive Cussler has volunteered his services to help find it and the remains of the 58 people who died aboard the flight on June 23, 1950.

Groups seek wreckage of 1950 plane crash in Lake Michigan

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) -- Nearly 55 years after a passenger airplane with 58 people aboard disappeared over Lake Michigan, a local and an international group are teaming up to search for the wreckage.

For two weeks after the June 23, 1950, disappearance of Northwest Airlines Flight 2501, human remains, clothing, personal effects and debris washed ashore all along Allegan County's coastline.

But the wreckage wasn't found, and the cause of the crash remains a mystery.

Adventure author Clive Cussler, who has helped find dozens shipwrecks and founded the Marine Agency, got interested in helping Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates find the wreckage, The Grand Rapids Press reported Sunday.

Cussler is offering to bankroll the project by providing the assistance of Ralph Wilbanks, the same sonar expert who helped him discover the Confederate submarine C.S.S. Hunley off the coast of South Carolina.

Outfitting a boat with equipment for the search Saturday, Wilbanks says this is his second visit to Holland to look for Flight 2501. He went out on Lake Michigan for five days in the fall. (link)

Fascinating story. If anyone can solve this mystery, it is Clive Cussler.