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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, June 13, 2005

Your Tax Dollars At Work

The last time I attended a business meeting, it was held in a small conference room inside a manufacturing plant. The table around which about twenty of us were assembled was designed to comfortably seat ten. The temperature in the room was stifling and the noise of functioning machinery over which we tried to conduct business was annoying. But we made do.

Not so our government employees. Only the best is to be afforded them.

National county gathering in Hawaii under scrutiny
By ALEXANDRE DA SILVA, Associated Press Writer


HONOLULU (AP) -- County officials in some states have backed out of attending a five-day national conference next month in Hawaii, saying they would feel guilty spending taxpayers' money on expensive airfares and beachside hotels in the islands during tight budget times.

The Hawaii Convention Center is booked to hold the annual meeting of the National Association of Counties.

Airfares from East Coast counties to Hawaii cost anywhere from $600 to $1,600. Room rates at the five Waikiki hotels listed for convention attendees range from $179 to $295 per night. (link)

A conference is to take place in Honolulu so that county administrators can learn how to better maintain their records and to obtain instruction on which forms to use for federal handouts. Like they couldn't pick this information up from the internet or by email.

The most exasperating aspect to this story is that it pops up every year. In 2004, as I recall, a number of county administrators here in Southwest Virginia migrated to The Greenbrier over in White Sulfur Springs for a similar party, er ... meeting. I guess they either didn't learn anything at that conference or our county administrators simply see these extravagant junkets as being of a particular value that is beyond your ability to comprehend. Or they needed to work, once again, on that backswing.

They know you don't like it but they don't care.
Skepticism about business trips to coveted travel destinations is common, said Jeremy Ratner, spokesman for the National Association of Counties in Washington, D.C.

Convention organizers - mindful of the perception that county officials are traveling to a place known for its sand and surf - have armed participants with an unprecedented list of "helpful reminders" they can use to counter negative publicity about the trip.

One of the tips advises participants to bring materials from the meeting back to their home states to prove the trip was worthwhile.

"This isn't just a Hawaii thing," said Ratner, referring to other convention cities, especially Las Vegas, that are also well-known tourist meccas that generate criticism. "Obviously, Hawaii is a beautiful place and there's somewhat of a perception that Hawaii is a place where people go for vacation rather than a conference ... But our days are nine to five out there."

Grueling.

Expect this same bunch to book an Alaska cruise for next year's meeting. And for your county administrators - with enthusiastic support from your local newspaper - to plead poverty and demand an increase in taxes in order to stave off bankruptcy and a government shutdown and social upheavel and ...

Gitmo Torture Put In Perspective

He writes so well he makes me feel like putting my quill back in my goose.
Attributed to Fred Allen

Mark Steyn ripped into the hypocrisy built up around the Gitmo-is-Gulag kerfuffle in an article originally appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times yesterday. He makes mention of the fact that while Islamists around the globe - and their leftist pals here in the USA - got their undies in a bunch over the fallacious story about a prison guard flushing a Koran down a toilet, they had no problem with Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe ordering a mosque to be bulldozed in an effort to disperse the squatters living in the neighborhood.
Selective angst
By Mark Steyn

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's kleptocrat strongman, destroyed a mosque the other day. It was in Hatcliffe Extension, a shantytown on the edge of Harare, razed by the "police." Mr. Mugabe is an equal-opportunity razer: He also bulldozed a Catholic-run Aids center.

The government destroyed the town to drive the locals into the countryside to live on land stolen from white farmers. Quite how that's meant to benefit any of those involved or the broader needs of Zimbabwe is beyond me, but then I'm no expert in Afro-Marxist economic theory. (link)
Then Steyn draws a comparison in order to give some much-needed perspective to the Amnesty International charge of Gitmo being a torture chamber on par with the 20th century Soviet gulag system. This is a good line.
... these are diminished times for gulags. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, some 15 million to 30 million prisoners Russians (sic) died in the Soviet gulags. By comparison, Guantanamo at its peak held 750 prisoners; now there are 520. None have died in captivity, and, as I wrote 3½ years ago, it has the distinction of being "a camp where the medical staff outnumber the prisoners." You'll get swifter, cleaner and more efficient treatment than most Canadians get under socialized health care. [my emphasis] Indeed, it's the only gulag in history where the detainees leave in better health and weighing more than when they arrive. They're in much better shape when they get back to their hectic schedule of killing infidels: Of the more than 200 who've been released, around 5 percent — that's to say, 12 — have since been recaptured on the battlefield.
Great writing. Point made.