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

Monday, May 07, 2007

We Have Something In Common

What do the fabulously wealthy folks up in Fairfax County (median household income $82,481) have in common with the schlubs over in Tazewell County (median household income $29,339)?

All are dependent on government jobs for their livelihood.

Course, they's government jobs and then they's government jobs:
Prison officials hope to fill many positions at job fair
By Larry Hypes, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Tazewell, Va. — Jobs are coming to town.

The long-awaited “Job Fair” for the Pocahontas State Correctional Center is set for Wednesday, May 9 from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., and Thursday, May 10 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. at Nuckolls Hall on the Tazewell County Fairgrounds. Warden Stanley K. Young and Virginia Department of Corrections officials hope to interview and offer full-time positions to many applicants for several of the anticipated 350-plus positions which will be required at the 1,024-bed medium security facility set to open in early September when inmates arrive.

Additional positions will include clerical and office personnel, inside and outside maintenance workers including electricians, electronic technicians, and plumbers.

Additional positions will include clerical and office personnel, inside and outside maintenance workers including electricians, electronic technicians, and plumbers. (link)
So you know, the largest employer in nearby Bland County is The Virginia Department of Corrections. And now the same may be said of Tazewell County. With the agreement reached just a few weeks ago on the location of a new prison over in Grayson County, the largest employer there may prove to be The Virginia Department of Corrections as well. Then there's the correctional unit over in Patrick County and the correctional facility in Pulaski County and the state prison over in Wise County and ...

We here in Southwest Virginia see something that the rich folk in Fairfax don't - the upside to crime.

It keeps the boys employed.

A Race Martinsville Would Rather Not Win

When will it end?

Martinsville regains top spot in state unemployment
By Bill Wyatt, Martinsville Media

Virginia's unemployment rate fell to 3.1 percent in March, according to the Virginia Employment Commission, down from 3.2 percent in January and February.

Martinsville once again has the highest unemployment in the state at 8.6 percent. Danville was close behind at 8.5 percent. Pittsylvania County had an unemployment rate of 5.6 in March, down from 6.2 percent the month before. The unemployment rate in Martinsville is blamed on the closing of Hooker Furniture Co. (link)
Have you all thought that maybe you need a bike path? A hiking trail? Another prison?

Competing Philosophies

Where do we go from here?

Now that Cho Seung-Hui was, in everyone's mind, nuts, what do we do to protect society from all the other Cho Seung-Huis wandering our streets?

On one solution the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial page and Dan Radmacher, editorial page editor of the Roanoke Times agree: The mentally ill should not be allowed to purchase a firearm.

But beyond that, the two quickly move off in different directions.

Radmacher offers up the "we need to do something but ... " argument:
After Seung-Hui Cho's murderous rampage at Virginia Tech, the compelling interest of society in keeping guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill is self-evident.

But let's be on guard for unintended consequences. If seeking treatment for mental illness becomes a lifetime bar on gun ownership, some people might be even more reluctant to get needed help.
Essentially he goes on to argue that we need to keep guns out of the hands of psychopaths but we also need to be careful - and more effective - in the way we deal with those who suffer from mental illness. As for society's needs? Well, his thoughts end with gun control.

To those at the Times-Dispatch, the focus needs to be on helping those who are mentally ill and, at the same time, protecting society from those who are dangerously psychotic. They blame society for the mess we've created, and they offer solutions beyond gun control. And they bring up the words liberals fear to utter - institutionalization:
The distinction between inpatient treatment for mental illness and outpatient treatment matters less today because of the deinstitutionalization movement that took off during the 1960s -- and continued in Virginia long after that.

Deinstitutionalization blossomed as society grew horrified by the snake-pit conditions of many mental institutions -- and the fact that some persons capable of leading nearly normal lives in society were being needlessly imprisoned in mental wards. It enjoyed a natural constituency among fiscal conservatives who saw an opportunity to cut social spending. And it gained greater acceptance as understanding of, and treatment of, mental disorders improved.

In a perfect world, deinstitutionalization might have worked flawlessly. But it relied too heavily on the hope that those released would receive appropriate care outside the hospital walls. Too often, that hasn't happened.

E. Fuller Torrey, the president of the Treatment Advocacy Center, wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal that while only a small fraction of the seriously mentally ill -- perhaps 10 percent -- commit violent acts, European studies have indicated the mentally ill may be responsible for somewhere between 5 percent and 18 percent of homicides.

This presents a genuine quandary: Is it wiser to lock up large numbers of individuals against the day when they might act out, or to let most of them out and lock up the small percentage of those who commit crimes after the fact?

Virginia can take other steps to improve matters. Among them:

(1) Systematize the process of involuntary commitment;

(2) Provide a wide range and level of services to ensure treatment without commitment where possible; and

(3) Improve continuity of care, with particular attention paid to housing.
Another layer of gun control is the easy answer. But no solution.

If we are going to make headway in the fight to prevent the senseless slaughter of American citizens at the hands of sociopaths, we need to confront the illness, not the weapon, and that means we need to make the tough decisions relating to institutionalizing the dangerously unstable among us.

Until we do, we'll continue to nibble at the edges of the problem and its solution. And we'll have more - lots more - Cho Seung-Huis.

Detaching Themselves Further From The Mainstream

Have I mentioned that the United Church of Christ is being abandoned by its parishioners in droves?
Same Sex Marriage Approved
by Jeff Napshin, 9NEWS NOW

Arlington, Va. (WUSA) -- The Rock Spring United Church of Christ is about to make history. It could become the first church in Northern Virginia to offer full marriage rights to gay couples.

Last month, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to make the move -- stating they won't have second class citizens.

While gay marriage remains illegal in Virginia -- marriages performed at Rock Spring will be recognized in the church. That means gay couples will be treated exactly the same as straight couples. (link)
Only problem is, there is an ever-declining number of couples to be recognized, gay or straight.

It is no accident that the United Church of Christ has lost fully 40% of its membership in the last forty years as its liberal leanings have become ever more pronounced.

But nobody will argue that it doesn't strive to be inclusive. Yup, it's inclusive.

And its pews are empty.

A message is being sent. A message is being ignored.

A Good Line

Jeff Schapiro on Attorney General Bob McDonnell:

"On executive power, firearms rights, transportation and electric reregulation, McDonnell is upholding a great tradition of his office: running for governor."

"AG McDonnell caught between the bases," The Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 6, 2007

Edwards' Big Problem

Presidential candidate John Edwards has captured many a bleedy heart in recent years, what with his plea - and plan, of sorts - for ending poverty here in the richest nation on the planet.

Problem is, we been there; we done that:
On Poverty, Edwards Faces Old Hurdles
Critics Say He Brings Few Fresh Ideas to Signature Issue
By Alec MacGillis, Washington Post Staff Writer

[John] Edwards's plan to "end poverty in 30 years" ... underscores the challenges of tackling poverty in the political arena, of the intractability of the problem and of the seeming timelessness of the debates over solving it.

If there is a personal imprint on Edwards's plan, it is his argument for reducing racial and economic segregation ... To achieve this, Edwards proposes doing away with public housing projects and replacing them with 1 million rental vouchers, to disperse the poor into better neighborhoods and suburbs, closer to good schools and jobs.

The idea sounds bold, but it faces a deflating reality: A major federal experiment conducted for more than a decade has found that dispersing poor families with vouchers does not improve earnings or school performance, leaving some economists puzzled that Edwards would make such dispersal a centerpiece of his anti-poverty program. Edwards said he was unaware of the experiment. (link)
If it weren't bad enough that Edwards' big plan has just been trashed as having already failed, there is the startling (to some, including Edwards) news that Ronald Reagan had the better idea:

Standing apart from the back-and-forth has been an unavoidable fact: No program has helped lift up the poor in recent years as much as a strong economy. In the prosperous 1990s, the number of people living in high-poverty neighborhoods fell by 24 percent, or 2.5 million people. Since then, the poverty rate has increased, to higher than it was 30 years ago.

After pushing through the major anti-poverty programs of the past century -- the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society of the 1960s -- [Edwards'] party has had to defend some of the programs against charges that they are wasteful and promote dependency. Democratic candidates have urged help for the disadvantaged, but more often have couched economic issues in terms of helping the middle class.
The Democratic Party not being a party of ideas so much as a party made up of the discontented and resentful, it won't matter much that Edwards' plan is a non-starter. His heart is in the right place. For that reason alone, he'll go far.

The Difference Between Edwards And Webb

At least John Edwards wants to help the poor. To Virginia Senator James Webb, it's more a matter of punishing the rich. He exercised what has become his standard stump theme (besides his call for precipitate retreat from Iraq) yesterday at Radford University's commencement:
Finally, I can’t leave this podium without raising an issue that was a principal theme in my campaign last year, and will continue to be a strong focus of my time in the Senate. And that issue is economic fairness.

There are few challenges confronting this nation that are more serious or urgent than the growing sense of unfairness that hangs over our economic affairs. When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries.

When I graduated college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did. Today, that CEO makes nearly 400 times what the average worker makes. That’s not right, ladies and gentlemen. It goes against the notion of who we are as a people.
And what is his answer to that which he preceives to be a problem?
Your generation’s legacy ... should be that you restored basic fairness to the economic affairs of our nation that you fought against the emergence of a class system in our precious democracy and that you rejected the greed that today is all to common in the boardrooms of America’s corporations.
Say what? A class system is emerging? Like it hasn't been here since the dawn of the USA? Like it didn't exist when this country was founded and only (wealthy) land owners were allowed to vote? When half of America's population (women) was considered second-class citizenry and was denied the same franchise? When, in some states a majority of Americans were owned by other Americans?

An emerging class system.

Typical commencement pablum or sheer idiocy. You decide.