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

Monday, May 22, 2006

Let's Get Real When It Comes To Tourism

Great news regarding the tourist industry here in the commonwealth of Virginia:
Tourism Spending Up 9.6 Percent In Va.
The Associated Press

Richmond (AP) - Tourism spending in Virginia continues to grow at a brisk pace.

Governor Tim Kaine's office says tourists spent $16.5 billion in 2005, up a record 9.6 percent over spending in 2004.

Preliminary data from the Virginia Tourism Corporation also shows that more than 200,000 Virginians are directly employed in the tourism industry, with a total payroll in 2005 of more than four billion dollars. (
link)
I'm inclined to believe that, when it comes to that 200,000 figure, there was some serious permutation and extrapolation going on. After all, is a person slinging hamburgers at a McDonald's along I-81 near Winchester there because tourists are driving up to the window to load up on their morning coffee, or because New Yorkers are stopping by (passers-through) on their way to Dollywood, or because commuters are getting their morning fix before joining the migration to their places of employment over in DC?

Anyway, taking the figures at face value, what do they mean?

One cannot argue with the fact that Virginia is a powerhouse of a tourist mecca. We have Yorktown. Williamsburg. Fredericksburg / Spotsylvania / Cold Harbor / Malvern Hill / Seven Pines / Manassas / Cedar Creek / Petersburg / Appomattox Court House / Winchester / Balls's Bluff / Drewry's Bluff / Lee's tomb / Stonewall Jackson's grave / Monument Avenue / Hollywood Cemetery. The old state Capitol. Arlington National Cemetery. Quantico. The Pentagon. Antebellum plantations. VMI. Newport News. The battleship Wisconsin. The George C Marshall Museum. The Marine Corps War Memorial. The Museum of American Presidents. The National D-Day Memorial. Natural Bridge. UVA. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library. Not to mention the finest beaches on the east coast.

The downside is this: If you were going to join the tourist ranks and take a week to visit Virginia, would you plan a stop at one of the above or would you drive to Southwest Virginia and walk an abandoned railroad track? Or drive the Crooked Road? Or travel past dozens of parks - local, state, and national - to cook wienies on the grill at Hungry Mother Park?

Folks, we cannot compete on this playing field. Don't let any politician tell you we can. Our bike paths and hiking trails will never bring in enough revenue to make an appreciable difference to our local economies. Ever. Nor will the efforts ongoing to have us all learn to strum the banjo and sing for the passers-by at local gas stations/craft shops/bait & tackle stores.

Will Vehrs, over at Commonwealth Conservative, fashions the dilemma in eloquent terms:
I’m an enthusiastic booster of trails. If there’s an old rail bed with no other use, make it a trail. But in a society where finding the closest parking spot to the door of the local fitness center is a triumph, trail tourism is the tiniest of niche markets. Trails are a wonderful local amenity that contribute to an area’s “quality of life.” Disney World they aren’t.

Just do a Google search on “trail vacations in Virginia” and see if you can find any program to attract hikers from outside Virginia to the network of beautiful and diverse trails this state offers. I have yet to see any business development assistance program specifically targeting entrepreneurial opportunities that might be associated with trails. (link)
"... tiniest of niche markets."

Some will argue that recent history is proving that Southwest Virginia cannot compete in the manufacturing arena either, what with all the textiles and furniture plant closings we've endured. And then there's coal... Well, they would be wrong. Manufacturing thrives in the USA like never before. Just not here. Because we don't demand that our leaders bring about changes that allow for our manufacturers to run at a profit.

I had the opportunity to tour one of my employer's manufacturing facilities up north recently. We were just completing a $14 million upgrade to the plant. The German crew that had been brought in to make the changes were just completing their work. The plant is operating with three shifts round the clock. The facility is a sight to behold. In the industry, the plant is considered the finest of its kind on earth. And we make money. In manufacturing. In the USA. In 2006.

So, it can be done. It's even been done right here in Southwest Virginia. It's still being done by a dwindling number of companies.

But they need our help. The kind of help that won't come about as long as we're focused on hiking trails and paths that lead nowhere.

On That Whole Compromise Thing

One compromises when trying to get the four-year old to eat the carrots and peas.

One compromises when the boss says to you "Get it done" and your employees say in response "He's lost his mind."

But there are times when compromise is out and discipline is the order of the day. Unlike what some would have you believe:
Is the art of compromise dead in the General Assembly?
By Warren Fiske, The Virginian-Pilot


RICHMOND — Lawmakers left the Capitol without a budget again Thursday, leaving behind an increasing tab for taxpayers and a question:

Is the art of compromise dead in the General Assembly? (
link)
The short answer to that question is ... no. After all, politics is the very art of compromise, as someone said long ago.

But there is a principle at stake in this instance that contaminates the art of compromise. It's the art - perfected in 2004 by Governor Mark Warner - that could best be characterized as the art of bamboozle. At the time, we here in Virginia were told we had an education crisis. A massive tax increase was demanded and a handful of "compromising" Republicans in the House and Senate caved. Taxes were raised, revenue was generated, a huge surplus resulted, the schools continue to execute poorly, and now-Governor Kaine says funding for education is woefully inadequate. The education "crisis" continues unabated.

Oh, lest we forget, we now have another crisis - transportation.

Fool me once ...

No, now is not the time to compromise. Now is the time to set things right by the people of Virginia. It's time for our brave Delegates to raise the ante. To call for a reduction in taxes. To give that surplus back to those who - in good faith - coughed it up after our political leadership fooled us into thinking it was vital to our existence. To tell the governor and the legislature and the Washington Post that we now realize we were fooled once, but when it comes to faux crises and unnecessary tax hikes, from this point on, we're not playing their game - of compromise - ever again.

Without a Shot Being Fired

Back a few decades when we were debating the merits of MAD - Mutually Assured Destruction - a diabolical plan that called for the annihilation of both the USA and the Soviet Union in one big nuclear conflagration, an expert would have been laughed out of the room if he or she had suggested that we would win - not by being first to strike with the most multiple warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles - but by a rapidly declining Russian population.

That's what rampant alcoholism, cheap abortions, widespread poverty and related lack of opportunity, a declining birth rate, and a high mortality rate will do:
Running Out of Russians
By Padma Desai, The Wall Street Journal


In his state of the union address recently, Vladimir Putin divided his attention between his country's strategic forces and its alarming demographics.

The key problem he addressed was the decline in the Russian population, which has dropped from 148.7 million in 1992 to 143.5 million in 2003. The U.N. estimates that it could fall to 101.5 million by 2050. Earlier contractions of Russia's population were brought about by the massive losses associated with World War I, the civil war, famine, the repression and purges of the 1930s, and World War II. The current demographic decline is the result of a declining birth rate and a high mortality rate. (
link)
So Russia is on its way to self-annihilation. Who'da thunk it?

Of course, all it takes is for one insane Commie Mahmoud Ahmadiniwhackjob wannabe to push the nuclear button ...

The Party Of Corruption

As everyone on planet Earth knows, Congressman Tom Delay has been indicted for having allegedly broken a law that didn't exist at the time he allegedly broke it. When the indictment was made public, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi ran to the TV cameras and declared Delay's conviction ... er, indictment to be part of a much larger "culture of corruption." She launched a campaign to tie Delay to Bush to Al Capone to Attila the Hun.

Methinks she should have thought it through:
FBI Says Jefferson Was Filmed Taking Cash
Affidavit Details Sting on Lawmaker
By Allan Lengel, Washington Post Staff Writer


Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), the target of a 14-month public corruption probe, was videotaped accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from a Northern Virginia investor who was wearing an FBI wire, according to a search warrant affidavit released yesterday.


A few days later, on Aug. 3, 2005, FBI agents raided Jefferson's home in Northeast Washington and found $90,000 of the cash in the freezer, in $10,000 increments wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed inside frozen-food containers, the document said. (
link)

That "D" you see behind Jefferson's name, in case you weren't aware of it, stands for (debased debauched defiled depraved) Democrat.

Oh, the tangled web we weave ...

This Ain't Gonna Work

The President and Congress are working on a plan that will fix the illegal immigration problem. May I make a suggestion :

Fund the damn thing:
Illegals released for lack of funding
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times


More than one-third of the illegal aliens apprehended each year and found to be "removable" from the United States are released because of a lack of personnel, a shortage of beds and inadequate funding to hold them while determining their legal status, a report says.

The inability of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ensure their departure -- including those who pose national-security or public-safety threats -- exposes the country to "significant risks" from would-be terrorists and criminals, said a report by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General. (
link)
I think I should make it my life's mission to find out where that $2,800,000,000,000 is going that we will be providing our federal government this year.