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

Sunday, February 12, 2006

We Should Expect More And Get It

Steve over at SW VA Law Blog has this to say about Congressman Rick Boucher:
I know my Virginia blog friends frequently complain about Boucher, but I guess I was raised on his ideas about telecom and agree with maybe all of them. Indeed, I have written them down for him a couple of times - including this brief. (link)
I'd like to think I am included on that list of Steve's Virginia blog friends who complain frequently about Boucher's performance, track record, and overall leadership capabilities - or lack thereof.

I will be the first one to give Boucher credit for being on the right side of the telecom issue, and if I were a lobbyist for the companies that will profit from his efforts, I'd be singing his praises right now. But I'm not. And of all the problems that Southwest Virginia is facing, telecom is not high on the list. Keeping employers and employees in the area who can take advantage of it is. In that regard - the economy of Southwest Virginia and the leadership role Rick Boucher could be taking in getting it turned around - he is an absolute failure.

I'm trying mightily to avoid using the "Adolf Hitler built a wonderful autobahn" analogy here. So I'll use the "walk and chew bubble gum at the same time" analogy instead. We ought to be able to demand a whole lot more from Rick Boucher than we've gotten from him thus far.

How many more plant closings are we willing to endure?

How many more counties with declining population are we going to accept?

How many more studies revealing the fact that area citizens are drinking from grossly polluted streams must we read?

The thousands of homes with no indoor plumbing.

No electricity.

The telecom issue is an important one. And its development will have a positive impact on our economic performance here in Southwest Virginia. But it alone won't keep the plants open or keep folks in The Narrows and Pocahontas and Tazewell from doing what their neighbors are doing - packing their bags and heading north.

We must demand more from our elected leaders. Starting with Rick Boucher.

It Can Be Done

I have communicated in the past via email with individuals who have read my (ongoing) lament regarding the widespread devastation that's afflicted our manufacturing base here in Southwest Virginia. One reader, a former instructor at Virginia Tech, suggested - in so many words - that the trend playing out here is just a microcosm of that which is taking place around the country as commerce and business trends here in the USA shift from large-scale manufacturing to smaller, more streamlined companies that are focusing on such things as high-tech telecommunications and the like.


But I wouldn't write our manufacturers off just yet. It appears many around the USA are doing better than ever. From Business Week Online:

Full Throttle On The Factory Floor

Manufacturers have been on the long road to recovery the past two years. Now the sector is set to be a source of strength for the U.S. economy in 2006 as businesses increase investment spending and as manufacturers ratchet up their own capital outlays as well as hiring.

According to the fourth-quarter Manufacturing Barometer from PricewaterhouseCoopers, 76% of large manufacturers are optimistic about the U.S. economy, up from 45% in the previous quarter. The survey of 62 large industrial manufacturers also showed that 71% feel good about prospects abroad.

The positive views seem warranted. New orders for durable goods were up 12.4% from a year ago in the fourth quarter, and unfilled orders surged 14.1%. What's more, the Institute for Supply Management's January index of new orders for manufacturing shows demand is holding up well.

More vigorous activity is pushing manufacturers into pumping up their own capital spending. They plan on spending 9.8% of their sales on new investments, vs. the overall average of 8.8% from the 59 large non-manufacturing companies surveyed by the accounting company.

More than 60% of manufacturers also said they plan on hiring new workers this year. (link requires subscription)

How can this be? Does this mean manufacturers here in the USA are still doing well? That they are, in fact, expanding? Hiring? Thriving?

If that's the case, why are they closing left and right in Southwest Virginia?

There is a reason. Hopefully we'll address the reason sooner rather than later. Before later becomes too late ...

More Of The Same For Dems

If European leaders had been allowed to decide for us, John Kerry would have been chosen to be our President in 2004 - overwhelmingly. This was one - of many - reasons why the Massachusetts Democrat lost - overwhelmingly.

Well, E.U. elitist support for liberal Democrats in this country continues:
Hillary for Prez Says Ousted German Chancellor

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a fierce critic of the Bush administration, said Saturday that he's pulling for U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to win the White House."

I'd be very pleased if Hillary Clinton would become the next American president," Schroeder said to applause from a largely Saudi audience at the Jeddah Economic Forum, which opened here Saturday. "But don't quote me too loud. I hope I'm not harming her by saying that." (link)
Based on her most recent poll numbers, I think Hillary has been harmed already beyond resuscitation. But you never know.

We were able to rely on Europeans like Schroeder to help send Kerry into semi-retirement. We can only hope that they do as much for Hillary and her ilk.

Quote of the Day

If you want to understand what is and isn't at stake in the Danish cartoon furor, just listen to the man who started it all, Flemming Rose, the culture editor of the newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

"To me," he said, this "spoke to the problem of self-censorship and freedom of speech." The publication of the cartoons, he insisted, "was not directed at Muslims" at all. Rather, the intention was "to put the issue of self-censorship on the agenda and have a debate about it."

I believe him. And not only do I believe that he has nothing against Muhammad or the doctrines of Islam, I believe that he has no interest (positive or negative) in them at all, except as the possible occasions of controversy.

Mr. Rose may think of himself, as most journalists do, as being neutral with respect to religion — he is not speaking as a Jew or a Christian or an atheist — but in fact he is an adherent of the religion of letting it all hang out, the religion we call liberalism.

The first tenet of the liberal religion is that everything (at least in the realm of expression and ideas) is to be permitted, but nothing is to be taken seriously.

The thing about respect is that it doesn't cost you anything; its generosity is barely skin-deep and is in fact a form of condescension: I respect you; now don't bother me. This was certainly the message conveyed by Rich Oppel, editor of The Austin (Tex.) American-Statesman, who explained his decision to reprint one of the cartoons thusly: "It is one thing to respect other people's faith and religion, but it goes beyond where I would go to accept their taboos."

Strongly held faiths are exhibits in liberalism's museum; we appreciate them, and we congratulate ourselves for affording them a space, but should one of them ask of us more than we are prepared to give — ask for deference rather than mere respect — it will be met with the barrage of platitudinous arguments that for the last week have filled the pages of every newspaper in the country.

Stanley Fish, "Our Faith in Letting It All Hang Out," The New York Times, February 12, 2006 (link)