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

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

We Want It BACK

Isn't there a law against fraud?
Surplus rankles GOP leaders
By Michael Sluss, Roanoke Times

Republicans say the surplus undercuts the reasons the governor gave for raising taxes.

RICHMOND - Republican leaders in the House of Delegates said Monday that a projected budget surplus raises questions about the accuracy of Gov. Mark Warner's revenue forecasts and the need for tax increases that Warner championed in 2004.

Republicans on the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee expressed frustration with the Warner administration's financial forecasts after Secretary of Finance John Bennett explained why general fund revenue collections for the first 11 months of the current fiscal year were 15.2 percent greater than the total for the same period last year. The committee's chairman, Del. Vince Callahan, R-Fairfax County, said the state should finish the fiscal year June 30 with a surplus of at least $500 million. "I think most would agree that forecasting is not an exact science - or an art, for that matter," Callahan said. "But it seems that our ability to forecast has got to get better." (link)
What enrages me about this bit of news is that, throughout the days when Governor Mark Warner was making dire predictions about fiscal calamity and every Democrat in the state of Virginia was crying out for a tax increase in order to stave off disaster, I knew they were lying through their teeth. The $500 million surplus - a portion of which had been set aside for my grandchildrens' college fund but instead was confiscated by the state - proves it. This travesty is - and should be - the primary issue in the upcoming race between the two main rivals to replace Governor Warner, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Jerry Kilgore. And where do they stand?
The tax debate has become a friction point in the campaign to elect Warner's successor. Republican nominee Jerry Kilgore trumpets his opposition to the tax increases. Democrat Tim Kaine argues that the additional revenue was needed to adequately fund education, public safety and other essential services.

For the love of God. Would someone get to Tim Kaine and explain to him that a surplus involves money left unspent after education, public safety and other essential services obligations have been met?

I want an apology. I want a promise that they'll never do this again. And I want my grandchildrens' money back.

I Agree With The Roanoke Times ... ?

We travel in parallel universes. How else to explain the fact that on the subject of regulating skin treatments, we (the Roanoke Times editorial staff and I) are in agreement but for totally opposite reasons. They propose that government oversight of skin care be as intrusive as it is in regulating that slight trim at the barber shop. I agree.

But the Times wants to expand the bureaucracy. I think we should end it. Here's their argument in favor of regulation:

Consumer protection that's at least skin deep
Facials and other special treatments should meet at least as strict safety standards as haircuts. (link)
If I wanted to make crap up to discredit the intellect of the Times staff, I couldn't do better than that line. Strict safety standards. Haircuts. That's funny. But let's proceed.

Virginia, until recently, was one of only two states to hold hair braiders to higher standards than those who slather chemical peels on sensitive skin.
That's because people in 48 other states understand that government bureaucrats aren't going to improve a barber's handling of a pair of scissors any more than they are going to police a beautician's wielding of a bottle of Head and Shoulders. Legislators in those 48 states probably have the same standard for both - none. The other state on par with Virginia has to be Tax-and-regulate-achusetts.

A rational person at this point would say: "This whole notion is silly. Let's fire the haircut police and add the payroll savings to the burgeoning budget surplus." But one would be mistaken if one were to think of the folks at the Times as being rational. Oh no. They advocate the creation of a separate bureaucracy to oversee perms.

The General Assembly recently recognized that estheticians [?] ought to fall under the same regulations as hair stylists, manicurists, body piercers and tattoo artists.

Including the practice of esthetics under the regulatory umbrella of things people do in search of beauty allows the law to keep pace with consumer trends.
Thus the deep thinkers at the Roanoke Times - and their pals in the legislature - have come up with a way to deplete that massive budget surplus. This new bureaucracy, you see, is going to require much time and effort (and more of your grandchildrens' college fund).

The law's amendments place regulation of esthetics where it belongs, with the Board for Barbers and Cosmetology, and it requires practitioners to obtain licenses. However, the required training for certification will take time to develop, as will setting up the regulatory bureaucracy [my emphasis].
What's bizarre about all this? Nowhere in the editorial does the author cite even one example of an individual being harmed by an "esthetician." Here is the rationale for making such a whacky proposition;

In trained hands, processes such as micro-dermabrasion, intense light and chemical peels can work wonders.

But those same tools can also cause scarring and eye damage if applied by inept hands. The danger to consumers' health is as perilous as hairdressers' mixing volatile batches of hair bleach, or manicurists' spreading of bacterial infections through unsterilized equipment.

Although a bad haircut eventually corrects itself through new growth, burned skin doesn't rebound as quickly.

And the esthetologist - or is it esthete? - could pull out a butcher knife and slice an unsuspecting granny to ribbons. But will another regulation prevent that from happening? No. Will a regulation proscribing the use of harmful chemicals prevent their use? No. Are the esthetology police going to patrol every Mindy's House of Beauty and Bait Shoppe in the state of Virginia? If these people had their way - yes.

How have we survived all these years without a bureaucracy watching over skin cream application? By the skin of our teeth, it appears (an esthetic play on words; add teeth skin trauma to the proposed regulations).

Putting Things In Perspective

(A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
(B) Number of accidental deaths caused by physicians per year is 120,000.
(C) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171.
Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health Human Services.

Now think about this:

(A) The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000. (Yes, that's 80 million..)
(B) Accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
(C) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .000188.
Statistics courtesy of FBI

So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

Remember, "Guns don't kill people, doctors do."

Author unknown