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

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

You Guys Aren't Making It Easy

One of a handful of charitable organizations to which Paula and I regularly donate cash is the American Red Cross. I'm beginning to wonder why:
Fraud Alleged at Red Cross Call Centers
Contract Workers in Calif. Stole From Katrina Aid Program, Indictments Say
By Jacqueline L. Salmon, Washington Post Staff Writer

Nearly 50 people have been indicted in connection with a scheme that bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Red Cross program to put cash into the hands of Hurricane Katrina victims, according to federal authorities.

Seventeen of the accused worked at the Red Cross claim center in Bakersfield, Calif., which handled calls from storm victims across the country and authorized cash payments to them. The others were the workers' relatives and friends, prosecutors said last week. (

I Have a Better Idea

My daughter brought to my attention a while back the fact that there is - or was - a huge number of registered sex offenders living in Bland County, Virginia. Now before you all start the jokes about us hilljacks marrying our sisters, you should know the rest of the story. Those animals all - okay, mostly - live over in the Bland Correctional Center - our local prison. The "residents" are required to show their official address as being where they currently reside - and that would be in their 6 by 8 cell out Route 42.

The New York Times touches on the subject this morning and wants that to change. They want the prison to be moved to heavily populated Northern Virginia and for us to be allowed to live without the fear of having perverts wandering our back roads. Well, no. Actually the Times simply wants prison inmates to be counted differently come census time. Sigh.
Phantom Voters, Thanks to the Census

... a glitch in the census that inflates the populations of some state legislative districts - thus exaggerating their voting power - has led to a ... problem. It involves counting prison inmates in the district where they are confined rather than where they actually live. The Census Bureau could fix this problem in a heartbeat, so it needs to get a move on.

The culprit is a provision in the census that counts prison inmates as "residents" of the institutions where they are held, often for relatively short periods of time. Denied the right to vote in all but 2 of the 50 states, the inmates are nonetheless treated as voters when the State Legislatures draw up legislative districts.

The bureau should get to work immediately on procedures that would allow it to count inmates where they actually live - and get those procedures locked in place by the 2010 census. (link)

I have a couple of alternative suggestions. How about we take the inmates out back and shoot the bastards? Or, if you find that violates some innocuous clause of the Constitution (after all, "cruel and unusual" are relative terms; Pol Pot quickly made cruel usual), maybe we could ship our criminals back to the suburbs of DC where they all came from in the first place.

A few thoughts to start your day ...

The Unintended Consequences of Taxation

For those of you who still think we can tax our way into prosperity (ahem, Roanoke Times editorial staff), the New York Times has an illuminating story this morning regarding the fires you ignite in your attempts to put out fires:

High Tax on Food in Tennessee Sends Shoppers to Other States
By The Associated Press

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Dec. 26 (AP) - When Julie Abel goes grocery shopping each week, she drives more than 25 miles to Georgia to avoid paying the nation's highest average tax on food: 8.4 percent in Tennessee.

A recent report ... shows Tennessee leads the nation with the highest average sales tax on food, 8.4 percent, and a 9.4 percent sales tax. (link)

I read a similar story a few months ago about folks over in West Virginia driving to Virginia and Kentucky to avoid exorbitant gasoline taxes in their home state. And don't get me started on the high cost of liquor in the state-controlled booze-and-beer stores here in the Old Dominion.*

There is a lesson to be learned here. People - and businesses - will travel to those areas where the costs of living - and the cost of doing business - are lower. For Julie Abel, the need to save money when she's shopping for food prompts her to drive out of state. For our area furniture plants, it means shipping jobs to China.

Of course, not everyone learns this lesson readily:
Some say a state income tax may help ease the burden of the tax on food, which accounted for $443.1 million, or 4.6 percent of all state taxes collected by the state, in the 2005 fiscal year.
Rather than ease the tax burden, shift to a different tax. Brilliant.

* Someone needs to fill me in on the bizarre state liquor store system (ABC) here in Virginia. It's as if I fell asleep and woke up to find the Soviets had finally invaded and took over the local packaged hootch business.