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

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Roanoke Times and Pavlov's Conditioned Response

When Bryan Harvey, his wife, and two children were murdered in their Richmond home on New Years Day (read about it here), there was no mention made of the horrific event on the op/ed pages of the Roanoke Times. No cries for retribution. No demands for a change in our laws. No interest in the slain family members. The Harveys, you see, had their throats slashed and, well, shit happens.

But you can bet, had the Harveys been shot instead of stabbed, the Times would have been all over it. How do I know? Because I predicted this:
'Pop!' goes the illusion of gun safety
Gun-rights advocates should be chastened by an accidental shooting that did nothing worse than embarrass one of their own.

The Roanoke Times

A shaken and embarrassed Del. Jack Reid got an unwanted lesson Thursday morning in just how fast and unintentionally gun accidents can happen when his own .380 semiautomatic handgun discharged while he was trying to unload it -- in his legislative office, in the General Assembly Building, at one of its busiest times of day.

Fellow legislators were forgiving -- members applauded after his apology on the House floor. And the incident quickly became grist for the Capitol's black humor mill -- don't invite Reid to take his best shot in the General Laws Committee, which he chairs, wags joked.

But while forgiveness is certainly in order for so unintentional and unforeseen an accident, forgetfulness is not.

State lawmakers should remember it well when they consider legislation that would deny universities the authority to prohibit guns on campuses. And they should rethink their own stubborn insistence on allowing guns in the Capitol complex. (link)
You're wondering what a firearm being accidentally discharged has to do with a university's right to void the Second Amendment to the Constitution? Beat's me. I thought the Times would come out with the tired refrain "We need more gun control." I thought too highly of the folks working there, I guess. Instead we get some goofy attempt at linkage to legislation relating to colleges and firearms bans.

The point is, like Pavlov's dog that was trained to salivate whenever a bell rang (link), the Roanoke Times editorialists can be counted on, whenever a firearms related story hits the news, to trot out some column decrying the prevalence of small arms in our society and demanding ... something.

The Harvey murder didn't make the bell ring, it seems.

So predictable. And in this case, so strange.

SW Virginia - Looking To The Future

I cited Honduras and China yesterday in a discussion of job losses here in Southwest Virginia (see "Why SW Virginia Is Losing Jobs To China"). Although our manufacturing base is rapidly collapsing and the related jobs are fleeing to the third world, there is a country in the western world that provides an excellent example of how we can turn things around here. Ireland.

Relatively backward and economically stagnant just two decades ago, Ireland has exploded with growth and prosperity in recent years. How? Neal B. Freeman, Chairman of The Blackwell Corporation, provides some insight in yesterday's American Spectator:
... the world now knows how effectively Ireland could leverage its assets. Stunned visitors to the island insist on calling it the Irish Miracle.

A rundown, almost seedy place on my last visit, Dublin is now a big, bustling city on the make. A drive through the countryside reveals a different side of the new Ireland: an archipelago of clean, green industrial parks producing high-end goods and services for he world market -- computers, pharmaceuticals, software, financial services. More than 1,000 multinational corporations have established facilities here during the boom. As you spot the more familiar logos -- Intel, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Microsoft, Dell, Wyeth, Citigroup, IBM, Motorola ...

With the high-paying jobs has come remarkable prosperity.

... how did the Irish do it?

1. Create an independent and aggressive business development agency. In its drive to recruit world-class employers, the [Industrial Development Agency] gave new meaning to the word "aggressive." First they picked the businesses they wished to enter -- businesses that were likely to win in the future. Then they identified the individual companies with which they wished to partner.

2. Create a tax haven. The Irish knew that they had the workforce and they were betting that they could acquire the high-tech skills. What they needed was other people's money and the only way to attract it was to offer a higher return than investors could expect elsewhere. The one sure, upfront way to give that assurance was to cut the corporate tax rate -- and to cut it dramatically.

3. Design an education system for the 21st century. One of Ireland's problems for generations uncounted was that its school system educated young people for a future unlikely ever to materialize [sound familiar?]. The predictable result was a harvest of frustration, unemployment and one-way tickets to America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand [Manhattan, Charlotte, Atlanta, DC]. The Irish answer -- again, innovative rather than off-the-shelf -- was to establish a chain of regional technical colleges.
Each college is situated near a cluster of export-aimed companies and fine-tunes its curriculum quickly to meet evolving market needs. In other words, the new graduates are synched up tightly to the job openings. (
link)
I'm not a big believer in "central planning" but it seems to have worked for the Irish. We can learn from their example and make use of their methods in bringing prosperity to a tormented land or we can build some more bike paths and hiking trails and wait for the occasional tourist to stray off the interstate to pee - and maybe buy a Snickers bar and a Faygo afterward.

The Irish provide us with the path. It's up to us to take it.

It's up to us.

Joel Stein Revisited

I made mention the other day of an article written by a lowlife scumbag for the Los Angeles Times, a columnist by the name of Joel Stein, in which we were finally given an honest reaction from the left to the war on terror. To paraphrase, Stein opposes our troops who are in harm's way, blames them for the conduct of the war, and has no interest in whether they live or die. That's the way I read it anyway.

In response, Ben Stein (no relation apparently) has this (in The American Spectator):

The man from Iowa or South Carolina, the woman from Mississippi or Idaho or Oregon or New York or California or Washington, D.C. or anywhere in America who leaves the comfort of home to fight against an evil as monstrous as what did happen and what is happening in Iraq are great warriors. But they are something more. They are saints in body armor, men and women of staggering moral virtue in a time and place when those words mean very little in the modern world. Their lives have the most meaning of any lives being lived on this earth right this moment.

Do I support men and women who are fighting Nazis who call themselves insurgents or Islamic militants? Do I support men and women who offer up their lives to fight the very same terrorists who killed three thousand totally guiltless Americans on 9/11? Do I support the troops who have more moral decency in their toes than I do or anyone I know does in our whole bodies? I support them, pray for them, am humbled just to be on the same planet with them. With every morning I wake up, every meal I eat, every walk I take in freedom, every night I sleep in peace, I ask God to look after the men and women who guard the ramparts of this blessed island of peace and decency called America. Without them, we would be nothing. Without them, Joel Stein would have his head sawed off. Saints in armor is what I call them and what they are. They are God's gifts to a wayward world. (link)
This has always been a fight between good and evil. Right and wrong. Freedom and subjugation.

Now it's right against left. Republican and Democrat. Stein versus Stein. The battle is joined.

Can there be any doubt which side will win?

What Makes a Car Worth $40,000?

John Travolta starred in a movie several years ago entitled "A Civil Action," that begins with this:
A dead plaintiff is rarely worth as much as a living, severely maimed plaintiff. However, if it's a long, agonizing death as opposed to a quick drowning or car wreck, the value can rise dramatically. A dead adult in his 20's is worth less than one who is middle-aged. A dead woman less than a dead man.. Black less than white. Poor less than rich. The perfect victim is a white male professional, 40 years old, struck down in his prime, at the height of his earning power. And the least perfect? A dead child is least perfect of all.
Harsh, yes? Cruel? Cynical?

Whenever you hear a plaintiff's attorney tell a TV interviewer that "it's not about the money," understand that it's all about the money. In the end a jury assigns blame - and puts a price tag to it.

In the case of a 22-year old Hispanic female who was "partially paralyzed" when her 10-year old Firestone tire came apart and her Ford Explorer rolled over, that price comes to a staggering $29 million. And that's only what Ford has to shell out. Firestone settled separately for an undisclosed amount. From the Detroit News:
Ford ordered to pay $29 million in rollover crash

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. was ordered to pay $29 million Friday in the case of a 22-year-old woman who was partially paralyzed after the Firestone tire on her Explorer failed and the vehicle rolled over.


The accident occurred in 2002 near Poteet, Texas. [Maria] Munoz was one of four occupants of an Explorer that had been sold as a 1999 Mazda Navajo. The left rear Firestone tire on the Navajo de-treaded, and the vehicle rolled several times. Munoz, who was ejected from the vehicle, was the only one seriously injured.

The vehicle in question was using an original spare tire sold with the vehicle that was more than 10 years old. (link)
Next time you go to buy a car, look at the sticker price, and your heart stops, understand why. A young Hispanic female's life is now worth 29 million dollars - and climbing.