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

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The News Isn't Good

As a follow-up to a story reported here yesterday, the latest news regarding the mine explosion in central West Virginia is not encouraging:

One body found in West Virginia mine

TALLMANSVILLE, West Virginia (Reuters) - One body has been found in the West Virginia mine some 36 hours after an explosion trapped 13 miners, a Red Cross volunteer said.

Tamila Swigler said the body had not been identified and that rescuers had not yet located the remaining 12 miners. Officials had reported poisonous gas in the mine.

Swigler said family members gathered in the church near the mine were "breaking down" after the news was broken to them by rescuers. Rescue work was continuing in the mine, she said.

There had been no communication with the miners since they were trapped after an explosion at 6:30 a.m. (1130 GMT) on Monday at the Sago mine in central West Virginia. (link)

This is bad.

A Day In The Sweltering Sun

I spent the better part of the day in Pageland, South Carolina ... and you didn't. For those of you back home who had to endure 40 degree temperatures in a dreary overcast day with intermittent drizzle coming down, I feel for you. I got down here about noon and immediately started shedding clothing. The temperature was in the 60's and the sun was beating down.

What a nice day.

Wish y'all coulda been here.

Your Solution Is The Problem

The Roanoke Times this morning, in an editorial entitled "Cushion the blows to the Southside," (link) sheds light on the economic devastation that has come to the Dan River region of Virginia:

Repeated crippling economic blows have tested the fortitude of Southside Virginia in the last few years, and yet no disappointment has posed a greater test of resilience than the sale of the Dan River Fabrics plant.

Before the end of the year, an Indian chemical firm announced that it had bought the company, which had been a mainstay of employment security in Danville since 1882. Just when valiant efforts the last few years had begun to show progress in reducing double-digit unemployment caused by the virtual collapse of the textile and tobacco industries in the region, Dan River's operations now will lose most of its 1,600 manufacturing jobs to new operations overseas.

News reports indicate a strengthening U.S. economy, and robust economic activity has led to housing booms and even development-related congestion in the more densely populated areas of Northern Virginia and parts of Tidewater.

Yet the Southside groans under yet another body blow to its industrial and other employment infrastructure.

See my related post on this subject here.

After sketching out the problems Southside residents face, the Roanoke Times offers up a solution - do more of that which has - at mimimum - done nothing to stem the tide and - at worse -actually contributed to the demise of Danville's economy,
Gov. Mark Warner's administration began an earnest effort to direct state resources into rehabilitating and revitalizing local and regional economies.

Those efforts are commendable, but the departure of Dan River only reinforces the awareness that the 21st-century global economy will demand intensified efforts to prepare the work forces of the "old economy" to advance into the new.
The governor tried but failed and therefore should try again. And again. And again.

For the love of God.

To people who see the government as the solution to all problems, as is the case with the Times editorial staff, rather than the cause of the problem (I refer you once again to my recent post), for government to fail simply means it hasn't poured enough money and bureaucracy into it.

If the citizens of Danville get any more "support" from state government, they might as well close their doors and move to Pennsylvania.

The people there don't need more government; they need more employers - for starters, the very same employers who are moving jobs overseas because the costs of doing business in Danville, Virginia are higher than are the costs of doing business in Tegucigalpa. "Job training programs" won't alter that equation.

But you can't reason with these people. Government intrusion is their only answer.
As the General Assembly prepares for its 2006 session, it should continue dedicating resources to help uplift the troubled regional economies, especially Southside.
And raise taxes to do so. And increase the burden. And send more jobs overseas.


What was that definition of the word insanity again?

Why I Hated 'Dances With Wolves'

When Kevin Kostner's hit movie, "Dances With Wolves," came out, Paula told me she wanted to go see it. I told her I didn't want to. "I know how it will play out," I told her. "White people are/were bad people and Indians were a noble lot who were slaughtered en masse by the to-be-hated white people."

We went to see it ...

I was right.

Kevin Kostner abandoned his whiteness, became a Cherokee or Chickasaw or Choctaw or Chiracahua or some such (to a point anyway; he "coupled" with a white chick who had been kidnapped by the Injuns years before but aparently held no grudges or harbored hard feelings about it and so became - joyously - one of the above-named tribes as well). And the white people in the movie were very very bad. And ugly. And overweight. And they smoked.

I sat and fumed through the entire thing, if only because of the tired, cliched, stereotyped Hollywood script.

Well, a new movie chronicling the manner in which Europeans abused /slaughtered America's noble savages in olden days has been released. "The New World," starring Colin Farrell, is apparently about the erstwhile relationship between Captain John Smith and Pocahontas - and probably about the abuse and slaughter ...

James Bowman, movie critic for The American Spectator, has a wonderful review of the flick, a portion of which includes:

The Indians, so far as we see them, never work. They take their ease and play all day, apparently, while living in peace, harmony and plenty. Meanwhile the settlers work and slave constantly and yet are reduced to eating shoe leather and each other. The latter seem to have no idea of hunting, fishing or agriculture and to be utterly dependent on getting game and corn from the Indians -- or supplies from England. They are only interested in searching for gold, even if they starve in the attempt, and in fighting each other. Similarly, the Indians are all attractive graceful, well-proportioned and handsomely decorated with tattoos, like Allen Iverson. The English are all dirty, ugly, toothless and bedraggled, or all of them except the obviously Irish Captain Smith, and their gold-lust -- or is it God-lust? -- makes them hate-filled, vicious, and constantly at one another's throats.

This easy schematization of complicated events only increases the basic incoherence at the heart of the movie. When Smith is saved from death by Pocahontas -- who, by the way, is never named in the film until she is re-named Rebecca -- he is presented with a stark choice: live the hippie life in peace, plenty, and sexual freedom among the Indians or go back to the English settlers and return to a life of nothing but hardship, treachery, bitterness, and celibacy. (link)

The rest is "history." Some things never change ...

Paula, I am NOT going to go see it.

Why Johnny Can't Read

This one goes out to all you public school teachers out there. You'll soon be getting the Master Card bill in the mail and will be wondering how your $28,139 salary (the average entry-level salary in 2000) is going to cover the cost of those Christmas gifts you bought. It must be tough.

In another life, you should be able to turn to your union bosses for help in negotiating a better contract; one that will at least allow you to own a very used car and put a Barbie under the tree for little Becky without putting the creditors at your door.

In another life.

As it turns out, your union bosses have far more important considerations. And they have need of more of your union dues in order to fulfill them. From The Wall Street Journal:
Teachers' Pets

If we told you that an organization gave away more than $65 million last year to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, AIDS Walk Washington and dozens of other such advocacy groups, you'd probably assume we were describing a liberal philanthropy. In fact, those expenditures have all turned up on the financial disclosure report of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union.

Many of the organization's disbursements -- $30,000 to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, $122,000 to the Center for Teaching Quality -- at least target groups that ostensibly have a direct educational mission. But many others are a stretch, to say the least. The NEA gave $15,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights." The National Women's Law Center, whose Web site currently features a "pocket guide" to opposing Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito, received $5,000. And something called the Fund to Protect Social Security got $400,000, presumably to defeat personal investment accounts. (link)
Gosh. Your union dues could be invested in the world's finest Montessori schools that do marvelous work in teaching children to read or they could be spent on doing God knows what to or for lesbians. Your tribute to your union. Out of that $28,139 you'll make this year.

Well, at least you can take heart in knowing that your union leadership is there fighting in the trenches with you ... if your trenches are in a gated community in West Boca that is:
We already knew that the NEA's top brass lives large. Reg Weaver, the union's president, makes $439,000 a year. The NEA has a $58 million payroll for just over 600 employees, more than half of whom draw six-figure salaries.
Mm Mm Mm. Gives those beanie wienies you're going to have for lunch a different flavor, doesn't it?

For what it's worth, here are some of the sad statistics with relation to the NEA and its disbursements:
The NEA is spending the mandatory dues paid by members who are told their money will be used to gain better wages, benefits and working conditions. According to the latest filing, member dues accounted for $295 million of the NEA's $341 million in total receipts last year. But the union spent $25 million of that on "political activities and lobbying" and another $65.5 million on "contributions, gifts and grants" that seemed designed to further those hyper-liberal political goals.
I'm still looking for any mention as to what the NEA proposes to do about the 50% of our children in metropolitan school systems who are dropping out and about the 50% of those who "graduate" who can't read. I guess we'll get that information when the union leaders come back from their extended vacation in Maui.