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

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Warning: Big Brother Is Watching

It's as if George Orwell was alive and well and writing from Blacksburg, Virginia:

Virginia Tech launches SafeWatch to further promote an inclusive community

Blacksburg, Va., February 27, 2006 -- To further support a diverse and inclusive campus community, Virginia Tech has launched “SafeWatch”— a new university program that promotes individual and collective responsibility among students, faculty, staff, and guests, and encourages them to incorporate the Virginia Tech Principles of Community into their interpersonal and intergroup relationships.

Patterned after the “neighborhood watch” program, SafeWatch will promote understanding of university policies and community expectations related to harassment, discrimination, or similar behaviors, and provide a way to report instances when policies and expectations are not followed. [my emphasis] (
link)
A learned student of Orwell or Aldous Huxley would have a field day with this. Note how the promotion of "understanding" and "an inclusive community" are encouraged and, at the same time, students who violate a vague set of guidelines relating to "behaviors" (within a climate "of civility, sensitivity, and mutual respect") are to be ratted out to the proper authorities.

What has happened to this a once-proud, independent and defiant center of reason, discovery, ideas, debate, nonconformity? Now students must adhere to thought codes and a whole host of regulations relating to forbidden interactions and unmet "expectations."

It's outrageous. And pathetic.


Hattip to Al.

On That Sale of Government Land

The Bush administration announced a few weeks ago that it was going to sell off 300,000 acres of park land, including some in the Jefferson National Forest here in Bland County, Virginia (disclaimer - I have a personal stake in this - the Forest is right behind my house).

County governments, I found out, have been getting paid by the federal government - to presumably keep the land clean of lice-infested hikers or something. And many county governments are nervous about losing that federal check (I should mention, by the way, that my Bland County administrator, a really smart guy, tried to impress upon the local citizenry that it could actually be beneficial; we'll soon see him turned out of office for making that mistake).

Anyway, the excrement hit the fan (as I told you it would a month ago) and now the federal government is looking for a compromise:
Forest land sale proposal stirs comment
Changes in the proposal fail to mollify conservationists and others who object to the federal government's plan.*
By Tim Thornton, The Roanoke Times


A change in the Bush administration's proposal to sell more than 300,000 acres of national forests would give local and state governments first crack at buying the land.

Mark Rey, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for natural resources and environment, said Tuesday that if Congress approves the proposal, local governments, states and land trusts acting on the governments' behalf could buy the land at market value. (link)
So. Let's look at this. If the federal government sold the park land to a developer, that builder would put up homes and shopping centers and hotels and casinos and airports and corporate offices and Seven Elevens and the eventual owners/occupiers would pay (exorbitant) property taxes on it all. The county would receive a windfall. We might even get a sewer system and not have to pee in the bushes out back any longer. Or, the federal government can sell the park land to the county and the county can expect zilch in the way of revenue - ever - but keep the rocks and bushes in place - like we have a shortage of either around here.

We needn't speculate on which route most local governments are going to take. Look for more bike paths and hiking trails to be constructed through all those newly acquired county properties. They won't lead anywhere of course, and you'll not find a Seven Eleven along any of them, but we should have easier access to all those rock formations, behind which we'll continue to be forced to relieve ourselves.

The move will be beneficial in that regard, I suppose.

That'll Be The Day

So let me get this straight. The state of Virginia imposes a (confiscatory) tax on automobiles. Then legislators magnanimously waive 70% of the tax the revenue from which goes to local governments and the state itself pays that portion, a portion that we as taxpayers pay as well. Am I to thank them or ask that they be imprisoned?

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry.

Anyway the tax is going up - or not:
Less tax relief for Virginia car owners
By Christina Bellantoni, The Washington Times


RICHMOND -- Virginia's car-tax relief program is stuck in reverse.


Starting next year, taxpayers will be required to pay local governments more money for the privilege of owning their cars.

The state currently picks up 70 percent of motorists' car-tax bills, leaving car owners to pay the remaining 30 percent to their locality.

However, the state's reimbursement will fall to 68 percent next year and 66 percent in 2008; it will continue to fall to 58 percent in 2013. (link)
Earth to legislators: Your tax revenue all comes out of my grandchildrens' college education fund, no matter how you decide to allocate it.

Only in the world of government will you find geniuses like these. And I'll bet they feel we owe them a debt of gratitude.

A Tax We'll Pay No Matter What

I hope the House of Delegates comes to its senses and allows the people of Northern Virginia to tax the livin' hell out of itself. We often talk about blue states and red states these days. In recent elections, it has become apparent that here in Virginia we have blue counties and red counties. And it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that blue counties are mostly urban and red counties are predominantly rural. And the rest of y'all are somewhere in between.

With regard to the Metro tax - well, most of you know how I feel. If not, check out my posting on the subject yesterday (scroll down). If we are going to fund the mass transit system for the rich folks up in Fairfax County, by God, we want our mass transit system down here in economically depressed Southwest Virginia funded as well.

Anyway, the House is still balking at allowing the DC counties to tax themselves:
Virginia kills Metro funding
By Bob Lewis, Associated Press


RICHMOND -- For the second time in a week, a House of Delegates panel has killed legislation to provide millions of dollars for the Washington area's mass-transit system.

The House Finance Committee voted 10-7 yesterday to table state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple's bill giving five Northern Virginia localities authority to boost their local option sales-tax rate by 0.25 percent.

The increase would generate $50 million annually if applied in the counties of Arlington and Fairfax and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax. (link)
I say, "Let them be taxed!"

Before you call me a hypocrite for supporting higher taxes, by the way, I should bring to your attention the conditions that affect the counties of Arlington and Fairfax and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax. Their economies are not driven by your normal system of capitalism. The people there are employed in government. And, as we all know, there is no slumping economy when it comes to government. Ain't no layoffs in that business.

So, run up that national debt! Take funds out of that which we throw at the U.N. and transfer it to payroll! Shut down the Education Department!

Oh, wait. Instead of doing any of that, the federal government will raise taxes to pay for Metro. I'll be paying for it anyway.

I support the House's effort! I oppose the government funding of Metro! Make the riders pay as they go!