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

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Virginia Blog Carnival Is Up

Carl over at Spark It Up!!! is hosting the latest round of the Virginia Blog Carnival. You need to check this out.

Putting Taxes Into Perspective

Another perspective from the Martinsville Bulletin:
Taxes not key to recruiting firms
By Mickey Powell, Bulletin Staff Writer

In deciding where to locate, companies' decisions mostly are based on their overall "cost of doing business," said [Henry] County Administrator Benny Summerlin.

Taxes merely are one component of that cost, officials said. Others include skills of the local work force, whether industrial sites are connected to water and sewer systems, transportation costs for receiving materials and shipping goods, whether local roads can handle large trucks needed for receiving and shipping and the quality of schools that will educate employees' children.

Companies seem most interested in work force and transportation issues, said Martinsville City Manager Dan Collins. (
"Taxes merely are one component of that cost ..."

"Others include ... transportation costs ..."

"Companies seem most interested in ... transportation issues"

I agree with all this. Taxes are only a portion of the myriad expenses with which a company has to deal. But sometimes these components - taxes and transportation - become intertwined.

I wonder if the city manager and the county administrator are opposed to Tim Kaine's proposal to raise the cost of transporting manufactured goods out of Southwest Virginia? Because that's what the governor's tax plan will do - without doubt. Here's part of Kaine's proposal:
... sales taxes for cars and trucks would increase from 3 percent to 5 percent, adding an average $500 to the cost of every car [trucks!] and about $1.6 billion to the transportation budget.

It also would increase taxes on auto insurance premiums by about $15 to $18 and ... it would link registration fees to a vehicle’s weight. [my emphasis] (link)
Other proposals in the tax-happy state senate include increases in the gasoline tax and the tax on vehicle repairs.

No matter how you slice it, the cost of transporting goods out of this area is going up.

And area employers are shipping out.

Are taxes the greatest expense an employer faces? No. But can they bring a manufacturer to the tipping point - where a company's overall expenses exceed its gross profit? Ask the (former) managers at Sara Lee. And Mack Truck and Ethan Allen and Celanese and Johnson & Johnson and Lear and Dan River and Tultex and Spring Ford Industries and Buster Brown and Natalie Knitting Mills and American of Martinsville and Virginia Glove and Virginia House Furniture and Lea Industries and ArvinMeritor and Alcoa Wheels and VF Knitwear and Burlington Industries and Hooker Furniture and Stanley Furniture and Thomasville Furniture and Bassett Furniture Industries and Pulaski Furniture and Webb Furniture and Rowe Furniture and Bristol Compressors and Valleydale and Vaughan Furniture and Renfro. And all the other businesses that have shut their doors (all or in part) in recent years.

Wages are higher in Southwest Virginia than they are in the jungles of Guatemala. But so are taxes. And so are the costs of implementing the long and growing list of environmental regulations and workers comp requirements and Sarbanes-Oxley mandates and OSHA rules and ...

Add all this up - all the costs of doing business here in Southwest Virginia - and you have the makings for an economic crisis zone.

How can Governor Kaine help? He can start by not contributing to what the good city manager and county supervisor consider to be a major concern - the cost of transporting our manufactured goods to market. In other words, Tim Kaine can give up on his destructive plan to raise taxes generally, and to raise taxes on transportation specifically.

Either that or Tim will continue to journey down here to participate in what must to him seem to be an annoying distraction - his trip to Galax tomorrow to hold hands with the many displaced workers there; Virginians who simply looked to their government to not worsen an already devastating catastrophe.

For Those Who Know Where They're Going

A story:

Billy Graham is now 86 years old. In January 2000, leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor.

Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson's disease.

But the Charlotte leaders said, "We don't expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you."

So he agreed.

After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said, "I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time magazine as the Man of the Century.

Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it.

The conductor said, "Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it."

Einstein nodded appreciatively.

The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket. The conductor rushed back and said, "Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don't need a ticket. I'm sure you bought one."

Einstein looked at him and said, "Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going."

Having said that Billy Graham continued, "See the suit I'm wearing? It's a brand new suit. My wife, my children, and my grandchildren are telling me I've gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion. You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I'll be buried.

But when you hear I'm dead, I don't want you to immediately remember the suit I'm wearing. I want you to remember this:

"I not only know who I am ... I also know where I'm going."

Author unknown

From The Mailbag

I received this from an area resident today.
Mr Fuhrman,

I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I visit every day, often several times a day. Your focus and what you say about that focus on the sad state of affairs in southwest Virginia mirror my own. I'm a life-long resident
of Dickenson County and ...

Why so many residents of this area and congressional district don't get it is beyond my comprehension. Boucher is a God to the vast majority of people in Dickenson County yet we're in a lot worse shape now than when he was first elected. I could go on and on but I know you get the picture and already know where I would end up if I did continue. It's a old story--just like the ones you so often blog about.

Keep up the good work in pointing out that we're all dying on the vine.

Name withheld
Party politics is a strange beast. The most economically depressed counties in all of Virginia (I've not done an exhaustive study) are probably Dickenson, Tazewell, and Russell. And all have voted heavily for Rick Boucher and the Democratic slate over the years. Amazing.

Tradition is a great thing. And the Democratic Party's relationship with the people in these communities goes way back. But way back doesn't put food on the table or a paycheck in the bank. We here in Bland voted our (Democratic) bum out in the most recent House of Delegates election and sent a message that conditions must change. Or we'll have no communities.

Thanks to the reader for the kind words and for being the (seemingly) lone voice calling for change in all of Dickenson County, Virginia.

Always Misunderestimating

A joke to get your week going:

Dick Cheney and George W. Bush were having breakfast at the White House.

The attractive waitress asks Cheney what he would like, and he replies,"I'd like a bowl of oatmeal and some fruit."

"And what can I get for you, Mr. President?"

George W. replies with his trademark wink and slight grin, "How about a quickie this morning?"

"Why, Mr. President!" the waitress exclaims "How rude! You're starting to act like Mr. Clinton, and you've only been in your second term of office for a year!"

As the waitress storms away, Cheney leans over to Bush and whispers ... "It's pronounced 'quiche'."