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

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gosplan, Southwest Virginia Style

The economic planning committee recognized the need early on for the production of great quantities of bread in order to meet the consumption demands of the citizenry. So it "planned" for huge numbers of tractors to be built, for the harvesting of wheat, to be made into bread. And the nation's farms were "collectivized" at the point of the gun in order to facilitate the plan. Orchards were destroyed, vineyards plowed under. Villages burned. Those who resisted were summarily shot.

Recognizing that bread production capacity needed to be dramatically increased, planners called for the construction of the largest bread factory in history. It was planned; it was constructed.

And the plan worked. Bread was produced in quantities the likes of which the world had never seen before. It was considered by the planners to be a living example of the power of Soviet central planning. The planners were very pleased.

Only problem was, the planners didn't factor into their calculations the need to produce trucks so that the bread being produced could be transported to market.

So, each day, tons of bread came off the assembly line and tons of bread were tossed in the field behind the factory, there to rot in the sun. For lack of transport.

But production quotas were met. And "the plan" was considered a success. Bread was plentiful.

Of course, the Soviet people starved by the millions.

But "the Gosplan," the Soviet Union's marvel of economic planning, was the important thing. According to communist "planners," rapid economic growth was called for, especially in industrial channels. So "five-year plans," including those that called for more truck production to alleviate the bottleneck at the bread factory loading docks, were churned out. One after another. And all was well.

Of course, train production wasn't factored into the plan ...

The plan ...

From today's Roanoke Times:
Franklin planners make the right call
A Franklin County developer should have sought approval for his resort before the county adopted a land-use plan.


For at least six months, Trey Park has worked on plans to build a spa and resort complex on 650 acres off Virginia 122. For even longer, Franklin County officials have worked to create a new comprehensive land-use plan to guide development through 2025.

The county's plan wasn't a secret. In fact, the public was invited to comment. Too bad Park blew that opportunity.

Had he disclosed his plans, he might have gained the county's seal of approval. Instead, the Franklin County Planning Commission in a tight vote Tuesday recommended that supervisors turn down his request for a zoning change.

The four commissioners whose votes carried were correct: A planned commercial development does not coincide with the recently adopted plan. (link)
Those seeking permission to construct a breathtaking-in-scope commercial development in Franklin County that would have produced millions in tax revenue, in job creation, in goods and services got in the way of "the recently adopted plan." So Franklin County's planning commission shot them down.

And the Times is pleased. You don't screw with the plan.

The people of Franklin County (did I mention the fact that per capita income there, according to the last census, was $19,605?) be damned.

The Soviets have nothing - nothing - on this bunch.

Another Mess That Washington Made

I've never understood what the geniuses in Washington were thinking when they decided to start paying farmers not to grow crops. To leave fields fallow. Decades ago. Making weeds quite valuable for the first time in American history.

But the mess that Congress has made of agriculture goes well beyond payment for goods not produced. George Will attempts mightily (and rather well) to explain to us lay people what farm subsidies are and do:

The Farmer to Fix Farm Policy
By George F. Will, The Washington Post

[The Freedom to Farm Act] was supposed to phase out subsidies by 2001, but when commodity prices fell in 1998, Congress responded with "emergency" spending. In 2002, price supports were reenacted.

Fifty-seven percent of farms receive no payments and two-thirds of those that do receive less than $10,000. The largest 8 percent of farms receive 58 percent of the payments. Farms with revenue of $250,000 or more receive payments averaging $70,000.

Under the continuing New Deal approach, five commodities -- corn, soybeans, cotton, rice and wheat -- got about 90 percent of last year's $19 billion in subsidies. This is a perverse incentive for overproduction of the five, which depresses prices, which triggers federal supports.
link) (my emphasis)

Price supports depress prices, resulting in price supports.

What a crying shame.

A Fascinating Life

I was in a restaurant up in Fairfax last night, sitting alone, enjoying a light repast before I headed to Maryland.

I became aware of a conversation behind me. A waitress who was of Asian descent was speaking in broken English to a patron behind me who appeared to be of African descent, a man who also spoke broken English.

A Chinese girl speaking English to a Nigerian. The accents and butchered sentences made their conversation impossible. Neither could understand a word the other was saying.

If I had had any courage, I would have gotten up from my table, walked to the man who was struggling to order a meal, and translated for him. But I have enough trouble with hip-hop. There was no way I was going to try to decipher what these two were trying to communicate to each other.

Hunkering down a bit, I went back to reading my book.

God knows what the Nigerian ended up with on his plate.

Life in the big city ...

A Suggestion For Senator Webb

Let the Pentagon do its job; you do yours.

It is getting the job done without you. You're getting absolutely nothing accomplished.

Including this waste of our time and money:
Senate Narrowly Backs Bush in Rejecting Debate on Increasing Time Between Deployments
By Jeff Zeleny and David M. Herszehorn, The New York Times

Washington, July 11 — A solid majority of the Senate’s Republicans stood by President Bush’s Iraq policy on Wednesday and blocked consideration of a plan to give American troops more time between combat tours. But Democrats drew fresh Republican support for other proposals as they vigorously pushed to change the administration’s war strategy.

The first vote during a planned two-week debate over Iraq came on an amendment sponsored by Senator Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat, and Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, both combat veterans of the Vietnam era, who said men and women serving in the military deserved the same amount of time at home that they served overseas. The proposal died when the Senate voted 56 to 41 against moving to a vote, four short under the Senate’s rules. (link)
This coupled with Webb's failure to get his amnesty bill amendment passed means his batting average in the Senate is a big, fat goose egg.

Virginia deserves better.