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

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Upside To High Oil Prices

I read a forlorn message on a community bulletin board the other day from someone in Dickenson County (Virginia). He was essentially conveying his belief that the economy in Dickenson is on the decline because his Southwest Virginia county is isolated from the rest of the country and employers wouldn't want to relocate to an area so far removed from our urban marketplaces.

My thought when I read that was, "So how is it companies in the jungles of Honduras are doing so well?"

We need to talk ...

Dear reader:

1) What was Virginia's number 2 export in 2004?

- Answer: Wood (

2) Where was much of that wood shipped?

- Answer: China (

3) What was the number 4 import to the USA from China in 2005?

- Answer: Furniture (

The number 9 export from the USA to China in 2005 was cotton. The number 5 import from China to the USA in the same year was apparel.

Did you know that most of the shoes being purchased here in the USA are made in China (particularly if they're made of leather)? A full 53% of the world's total shoe production resides there. (

So where do the Chinese get their raw leather? In part, it comes from cattle ranches here in the USA.

So what is my point?

Actually I have two:

First - If we can cut down a tree in Dickenson County, haul it to a port, put it on a boat, ship it to China, have it processed into furniture, package it, truck the finished product to a port, put it on a boat, ship it to Newark, put it on a train to an inland warehouse, truck it to the Big Stone Gap Wal-Mart where it will be sold at some every-day low price, by comparison just how remote is Dickenson County? In this case, it's a heck of a lot closer than the point of manufacture.

This leads to the obvious question: Why can't the raw material be processed right here in Southwest Virginia - as it had been for many decades?

Second - how much fuel is consumed in that process? Trucks, trucks, trains, ships, trains, processing, trucks, trains, ships, trains, trucks, forklifts, trucks ...

With the ever-rising cost of fuel, the likelihood of cotton and wood and leather being shipped half way around the world and apparel and shoes and furniture being sent back becomes ever more cost-prohibitive.

Which means - believe it or not - there is an upside to the staggering prices we're all dealing with at the pump. Removing taxes from the equation (the Chinese don't pay Governor Kaine's taxes), it will become more and more attractive for manufacturers to locate their plants here as the cost of transporting goods climbs.

Dickenson County by God, Virginia - if it plays its cards right - can reap the harvest.

Strange as it may sound, you should cheer when oil hits $100 a barrel. Before, that is, you pull up at the pump ...

Senator Allen Needs To Learn This Lesson

Virginia Senator and possible presidential contender George Allen made a feeble attempt a few days ago to reach out to America's black community by declaring an interest in Congress apologizing for the institution of slavery. Read about the pandering here.

Anyone who has been around politics for any length of time and has an understanding of 21st century race politics in particular, would know that his attempt was bound to fail.

Fail it did. This response to Allen's shameful stunt appears in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Allen seeks race-image makeover
By Michael Paul Williams, Times-Disptach Columnist

The odd couple of civil rights have completed their pilgrimage to Farmville.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Sen. George Allen, R-Va., are free to return to Washington, or perhaps record a remake of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder's "Ebony and Ivory."

Of Lewis, there can be no doubt: His efforts to rid the nation of the cancer of racism are sincere. The creasing of his skull during a bloody march in Selma, Ala., is but one price he paid to advance the cause of civil rights.


Sorry. Not buying it.

Only Allen knows what's in his heart. But from where I sit, this looks like an Allen image makeover as he eyes the White House. Call it conservatism with an emphasis on the con. (

I think what the columnist meant to convey was that there are only two people who know what's in Allen's heart - George Allen and the columnist.

In any event, the good Senator needs to take this kind of abuse and learn from it. When it comes to race politics, a Republican will not win. Not until all the race-consumed hatemongers are dead and buried anyway. The best one can do is avoid the blood-letting - by not entering the arena.

So stay away from it, George. And fire the consultant who talked you into such foolishness.

Making My Point

A few weeks ago I took the time to chastise those in Patrick County (Virginia) who oppose the construction of (potentially) dozens of unsightly wind turbines on an isolated ridge there, writing at the time:
Personally, I find the tall, statuesque windmills to be awe-inspiring. And they would be much more appealing to the eye than are all the abandoned and decaying homes that dot the landscape throughout the county today. (link)
Apparently the same sort of irony wasn't lost on a West Virginia fly fisherman recently. He sent a note to the Charleston (WV) Gazette:
Protesters complained last week that a proposed Greenbrier County wind farm would mar the scenic countryside. Afterward, a Charleston fly fisherman, just back from the Greenbrier River, sent us a note saying the countryside already is marred by trash and shacks. “I would much rather see a distant wind turbine on a mountaintop than garbage dumped in the river and unkempt structures along the highway,” he wrote. (link)
I guess he needs to understand that those ghastly wind turbines would mar the scenic beauty of all that shoreline trash and the abandoned and decaying hovels that lend a special ambience to the pristine West Virginia landscape.

Another Retreat

If you listen to the arguments of Jack Murtha and other worldly thinkers on the left, we now need to withdraw from Kashmir. There are terrorists there:
Suspected Rebels Kill 22 Hindus in India
By Binoo Joshit, The Associated Press

JAMMU, India -- Suspected Islamic militants raided a village and killed 22 Hindus after lining them up outside their homes in India's portion of the disputed territory of Kashmir, police said Monday. (
The military strategy of a growing number in the Democratic Party involves positioning our troops where the terrorists won't harm them. That's getting tougher to do - by the day - as Islamist terrorists are spreading hatred and death around the globe.

Food For Thought

Just trying to get my arms around that proposed $2.8 trillion budget:
Congress is weighing a proposal to spend $250 billion rebuilding New Orleans — a cost of more than $500,000 per resident of the hurricane-ravaged city. Most people can’t comprehend a billion. To show the magnitude of the number, a math whiz wrote: “A billion seconds ago, it was 1959. A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive. A billion hours ago, our ancestors were living in the Stone Age. A billion days ago, nobody walked on the earth on two feet. A billion dollars ago was only eight hours and 20 minutes, at the rate Washington is spending it.” (link)
So 2,800 billion dollars was ... how long ago?