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

Sunday, December 11, 2005

On That 'If It Ain't Broken, Why Fix It?'

I always enjoy reading Brian Patton, over at the creatively named BRIANPATTON.ORG. He comes across sometimes like a giddy, sycophantic Democratic Party cheerleader but (he's young and) my impression may be skewed by the fact that his candidate handily beat out my candidate in the recent gubernatorial election and I have "sour-grapes" issues with which to deal.


In a recent post to his weblog, see "Jerry Kilgore Ninth District Challenger," Brian fairly outlines a number of reasons why Kilgore, should he decide to try to unseat incumbent Congressman Rick Boucher in the 9th Congressional District, will have a tough time of it. Most of Brian's reasons come down to incumbency and experience and he's probably right in saying,

"For these reasons and others, the smart money will be on Boucher to be re-elected in 2006. "
I'd have let all this go if Mr. Patton hadn't included this:
Beyond all of these reasons, though, I am pulled back to something Governor-elect Kaine often repeated on the campaign trail – “if it ain’t broken, why fix it?”

Although some folks may not agree with his politics, Boucher’s constituent services are second to none.
He'll get no argument from me on the latter point. By all accounts, Boucher's office is there when a constituent is in need of federal help. But in this day and age, that's a given. Part of the reason we have a burgeoning workforce in Washington is because politicians have perfected the art of stroking the voter base. Boucher's office is no different from those of all other Congresspersons. He has people in our employ who get things done for voters back home. And that's a good thing.

And we know that Rick Boucher is always there when another manufacturing plant closing is announced. His one claim to fame - in all his years in Congress - is that he sees to it that unemployment benefits reach laid off workers quickly (see related post and press release). He's entitled to those bragging rights, I suppose, if he really wishes to claim them.

No. It's that vexing, "if it ain’t broken, why fix it?" line.

Can economic conditions here in Southwest Virginia be any more broken?

I'll not go into all the problems again. Just go here and read it for yourself. For those of you who are regular readers, you already know our sad saga. For the rest of you, suffice it to say that our problems abound, the most enraging having to do with drinking water in parts of Scott County being unfit for human consumption and thousands of homes in the 9th District not even having indoor plumbing.

Then there are the thousands of layoffs in the last few years in all those manufacturing plants around the area. In Giles County alone Celanese, which provides 25% of the county's tax revenue, has announced massive layoffs.

Someone please define the word "broken."

Rick Boucher responds to growing troubles in his district with a now famous request for funds in the recent federal transportation bill to construct a horseback riding trail in Scott County, upstream from the polluted creeks where local residents get their drinking water, one would hope. And funds to spruce up a remote park in Giles, where the laid-off Celanese employees can while away the time. I kid you not. Hollywood movie scripts are built around such idiocy.

Anyway. Odds are that Brian Patton is right. Rick Boucher will be reelected in 2006. But realities here will not improve with catchy phrases and pontificating.

We are grievously broken and in great need of fixing.

This Is More Like It

We as a community can raise taxes, drive up the cost of doing business, and watch our employers disappear - see the Floyd County method below - or we can try to drive down those costs and rebuild our business infrastructure.

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative is offering us a chance to stop the bleeding and to bring vitality back to the area:

Southside fiber to be offerred wholesale to telecommunications companies
by Bill Wyatt, Martinsville Daily

Tad Deriso, general manager of Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, spoke to the local Chamber Board Thursday about the new fiber line coming to Southside including Martinsville and Henry County.

A 770 mile long fiber-optic network will serve 20 counties and four cities and should be finished by mid 2006. (
You want a "path" to prosperity? Follow the fiberoptic cable.

Yes To Democracy

I'm a big believer in the democratic process. Not the kind of insular system we have today where we vote for people who vote for or against legislation of their choosing. I'm for participatory democracy. Let the people decide how we are going to live among one another. By referendum.

That's why this, in the Roanoke Times this morning, is a good idea:

Roanoke asks again for bill on polls
If passed, the council or Roanoke voters would be able to call for advisory referendums.

By Todd Jackson, The Roanoke Times

State legislators will soon decide if Roanoke voters should get more power at the polls to try to shape the city's government.

For the third time in recent years, the city council will ask the General Assembly for the local ability to call for advisory referendums. If granted -- and "if" is the operative word -- the council or a required number of Roanoke voters would be able to put such a referendum on the ballot on virtually any topic related to city affairs.

"I think it's good for democracy," said state Sen. John Edwards, who will likely carry the bill for the city during the upcoming legislative session. "It's a way for the public to promote an issue." (link)

It is illustrative that the city of Roanoke, not to mention the people of the city, has to seek permission from Richmond in order to gain for the citizenry some decision-making power.

I am of the belief that part of the reason we suffer from such a high degree of voter apathy here in the USA is because we are so far removed from the process. We literally are allowed to participate in that process for a matter of seconds each year when we enter the voting booth. After that, we have to rely on emails and letters of indignation - oh, and Tim Kaine's highly scripted "town hall meetings" - and, if we're lucky, we get back an innocuous form letter thanking us for our opinion and wishing us well. A pat on the head. If we're lucky.

So I say, Let Freedom Ring. Let us vote. Let us decide our own future. Reduce the reliance on the weasels in Washington and the rotters in Richmond.

The first item on my agenda will be Mark Warner's unwarranted and unforgiveable tax increase and massive budget surplus...

You Knew It Would Come To This

When homosexuals and their liberal pals decided it was perfectly legitimate for gays to marry each other, there were a number of us who argued that to sanction such abnormality would open the floodgates to all other kinds of "marriage."

It has begun:
The marriage of many
By Cheryl Wetzstein, The Washington Times

"Polygamy rights is the next civil rights battle." So goes the motto of a Christian pro-polygamy organization that has been watching the battle over homosexual "marriage" rights with keen interest.

"We're coming. We are next. There's no doubt about it, we are next," says Mark Henkel, founder of www.TruthBearer.org. (link)
Why not? The word "marriage" is soon to mean nothing. Or, as Mark Henkel and the homosexual community would prefer to think of it, "anything."

An adult male "marrying" a little boy? Argue against it now. "Marriage" with sheep? If there is no moral underpinning, why not?

To you "open-minded" (or, as I prefer to think of you, empty-minded) people out there who argue rather lamely that morality shouldn't enter into the discussion, where are you going to draw your line? And when you draw that line, and Mr. Henkel accuses you of being bigotted and close-minded (I'm going to enjoy that), will you then agree that morality does play a part in the debate?

Once you (force yourself to) agree, you've joined us in the vicious, hate-filled homophobe club.

How are you going to be able to look in a mirror? ....

That Trail Will Cost You ...

Today's quiz:

Why do you suppose Southwest Virginia companies are shutting down their operations and moving to the Pacific Rim? It's not compicated. I'll give you a few minutes to think it through. And no, it's not because owners and executives are evil meanies who only wish to enrich themselves.

Answer: Because the cost of doing business is much higher here.

Now that we agree on the problem, what do you think the solution should be?

Why, to make our goods and services even more expensive, of course.

Here's the strategy over in Floyd County, Virginia:
Taxing powers requested
Supervisors giving proposals to state
Doug Thompson, The Floyd Press

Floyd County residents could face more local taxes if the Virginia General Assembly grants the board of supervisors broad new taxing powers requested in a wish list approved Tuesday.

Supervisors, looking for ways to raise more revenue from taxpayers, unanimously approved a list of 12 issues that includes four requests to allow the county board to levy a local income tax, a 1 percent local sales tax, a 4 percent “prepared meal tax” and expanded taxing authority presently enjoyed by other cities and towns in Virginia. (link)

I like that "looking for ways to raise more revenue from taxpayers." It must come from some "How We Made Detroit Number One" handbook.

The thought that the Supervisors might be awash in tax revenue if they increased the number of taxpayers in the county, particularly those who could be paying corporate taxes, seems to escape them. No, it's "let's raise taxes on an overburdened populace. We need the money."

On a related issue, a reader brings this to my attention:
Decision on grant due soon
Roger Mannon, The Floyd Press

The Town of Floyd should know in the next month if its CDBG grant application will be approved.

The most publicized feature of the grant is matching funds for facade improvement of town businesses. The upgrade of appearance is hoped to improve tourist traffic and draw more business. (link)
"Hope" and "tourist traffic." You can see where this is going.

It's not yet in the online version of the paper but here's "the rest of the story":
... but project officials remain optimistic that Floyd would get the grant because of the town's prominence on both The Crooked Road Music Trail and the Round the Mountain program.

During the meeting with Christensen [Associate Director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development], Town Council member Robert Shelor expressed some misgivings about putting the town into debt to fund its part of the project.

"I see this as a no-brainer," Christensen shot back. "You're part of the Music Trail and you have a good, solid revitalization plan. It's an investment in the future."

"Perhaps," Shelor replied, "but the town is going more than $100,000 in debt over this."
So the town of Floyd is going into debt because a trail runs through the county. "No-brainer" indeed.

There can be only one explanation for this collective madness that has seized every elected and appointed official in Southwest Virginia:

Rabid skunk bites woman, family pet
88-year old, grandson chased by animal before it was run over by truck
Wanda Combs, The Floyd Press

The scene around a Floyd County home was frantic as a woman and her grandson tried to avoid a wild skunk Monday. (

(Hattip to Tugboat Phil)