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

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Poverty & The Breakdown Of The Family

It's no coincidence that the areas with the highest rates of poverty in the commonwealth are also those with the highest rates of family disintegration. Seen below is a map of Virginia counties with rates of children (per 1,000 population) being placed into foster care.* Those with the highest (worst) rates are in dark blue. In Southwest Virginia, counties with high rates include Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Buchanan, Tazewell, Pulaski, Franklin, and Craig (along with the city of Roanoke). In the second tier are Russell, Grayson, Wythe, Giles, and Roanoke Counties.*

Northern Virginia counties - including Frederick, Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, Fauquier - have the lowest rates of poverty, and the lowest rates of children being placed in foster care.

As if our children don't face enough of an uphill battle ...

* Data (from 2005) and map courtesy of The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

* Bland County figures not available.

Do We Have a Plan B?

For two decades Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Abingdon) has been working to develop the tourism industry in Southwest Virginia. Two decades. You can read all about his efforts here.

Scattered across and throughout the region one can now find many, assorted tourism centers, bike paths, cultural centers, museums, hiking trails, even a horseback riding trail. All built, at least in part, with taxpayer dollars. All intended to lure tourists to this area that is in such great need.

If you were asked to name the two biggest tourism draws in Southwest Virginia, what would they be?

I don't think it's fair to include the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's not really a destination. An event perhaps. A means to a destination for some.

No, I think the two most popular tourism meccas in the region are the town of Abingdon, with its rich history and wonderful architecture. The Barter Theater. The Martha Washington Inn (formerly the Martha Washington College).

And then there's the Virginia Creeper Trail that runs (essentially) from Abingdon through the town of Damascus. At least we've been told it's a major tourist attraction ("According to an Abingdon businessman, the Creeper Trail has transformed the tourism economy of Washington County, VA ... He reports that the trail has 200,000 visitors per year, and trail-related tourism generates over $3M per year.") (source)

200,000 visitors.

$3,000,000 per year.

That said, try to square the fantastic numbers tossed about (the estimated number of visitors annually has been cited as being as high as a quarter million) with this:

Damascus officials discuss finances
By Caitlin Sullivan, Washington County News Staff

Discussion of financial problems dominated the Damascus Town Council meeting this month. “I want people to realize that we do have a financial shortfall and problem,” Council member Jim Cartwright said.

Cartwright said the town has to pay a $30,224 roofing bill, about $25,000 of which is not in the town’s checking account.

Last month, council agreed to cash the last of the town’s savings in the form of a CD of $50,000 plus accrued interest. But because it is a long-term CD the town will have to pay some penalties, Cartwright said.

“We need to get money in and I don’t want to bring back up the meal tax or occupancy tax,” Cartwright said.

And then there was the budget. Though the town spent only 72 percent of what was budgeted, it only received 67 percent of expected revenue. (link)

I suppose someone will argue that the revenue being generated (that $3,000,000 a year) is finding its way only to the Abingdon end of the Trail. And that Damascus is not "feelin' the love."

But a reasonable person might look at the fact that the town of Damascus, which is at the epicenter of the Trail, can't afford to replace a roof (!), and suggest that the numbers the experts routinely feed us are grossly inflated. And always have been.

I reported from there a year ago on Father's Day weekend, where I found the Trail to be virtually without human activity. A Saturday. A beautiful, sunny Saturday. On a holiday weekend. A relative handful of bikers and hikers. Many of whom were probably locals; not tourists.

What am I trying to say here? This, as clearly as I can state the case:

The attempt to bring tourists to Southwest Virginia with the desired result being the creation of economic vitality within the region has failed. Utterly.

You can listen to the experts talk of a quarter million visitors spending $3 million each year in the immediate area or you can continue to read - and finally accept - stories like the one above.

The town of Damascus can't afford to replace a roof. Tax collections are 67% of that which was anticipated.

Better yet. See for yourself. Walk the Virginia Creeper Trail.

And, while you're at it, buy something while you're there. You're hereby designated an honorary tourist.

A Day Of Warmth & Celebration

Jodi and Chase at the D-Day Memorial in Bedford last weekend. They were there for the gathering of Rolling Thunder. And to enjoy a wonderful day.

Jimmy One Note Loses Again

We're going to win this war, Mr. Webb. Despite your efforts:
Senate kills bid to curb deployment
By S.A. Miller, The Washinton Times

Senate Republicans yesterday blocked a bid by Democrats to restrict troop-deployment schedules for a second time, saying it would impede the ability of President Bush and generals to wage the war in Iraq.

"The majority has brought this back in order to reduce the numbers of fully trained and combat-experienced troops available to our military commanders and thus to force an accelerated drawdown of troops and units in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let's be honest about this," said Sen. John McCain ... (link)
And from the man who is doing his best to undermine the war effort?

"We need to put a safety net under our troops that are being called to go to Iraq and Afghanistan," said Sen. James H. Webb Jr., Virginia Democrat ..."

Whatever that means.

You Want This In Your Neighborhood?

The fur is flying up in northern Virginia where local municipalities are trying to get those illegal alien day laborer meeting places shut down, and liberals - who don't have to put up with Mexicans running around their back yards except when they are mowing - are supportive of the centers and are very vocal about it.

Well, perhaps a center needs to be located in their neighborhood. This is what they'll find themselves dealing with:
Melee spurs calls for action on day laborers
By Gary Emerling, The Washington Times

Community leaders scheduled a public-safety meeting in a Northeast neighborhood after a bloody clash among a group of Hispanic men that residents said began in an area where day laborers gather looking for work.

As many as 200 mostly Hispanic day laborers congregate each day at a shopping plaza in Brentwood looking to link up with area contractors for jobs.

Residents said some of the workers loiter, drink alcohol and urinate in public — and that a proposal by D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. to build a day-laborer center at the plaza to curb such problems is not the right solution.

"If we have them hanging out now, bringing a criminal element to our community, what are we going to do — allow them to have a meeting place?" said Raymond Chandler, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in the area. "We need to first enforce laws in place." (link)
Actually, my suggestion would be to ship them all to Fairfax where the illegals - and their antics - are apparently appreciated and encouraged. When the liberals there find their petunias being pissed on each morning, maybe they'll change their tune.

Really? Who Would Have Thought?

My faith in these guys has now been shaken:
Democrats can't afford '08 promises
By Christina Bellantoni, The Washinton Times

The 2008 Democratic presidential candidates are promising voters billions of dollars in new government spending, paid for in part by "rolling back" the Bush tax cuts.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois would give the middle class a tax cut. Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina would give everyone in America health care. Ditto for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who would also spend billions on the nation's bridges, implement universal pre-kindergarten and increase funding for cancer research.

The Democrats say their programs would be funded by ending President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest households, but that cash isn't nearly enough to cover their promises, and it might not be available by the time one of them would take office in January 2009. (link)
Of course, it's not about the execution of these plans. It's about the promises. Democrats enjoy promises.

The fact that none of these promises will ever come to fruition is unimportant. They sound so good.

'It's Always a Bunch Of Lunatics'

James Taranto on the anti-war protests, the weird people who attend them, and the way the events are covered by the mainstream press:

Let me paraphrase for those of you who don't have time to watch the video: The people who show up at these gatherings are aged fruitcakes stuck in the past. As are the journalists who write about them.

Hat tip to Ed Driscoll.

Click on video to activate.

An Expensive Sermon

The fact that Al Gore charged $25,000 for anyone wanting to sit down with him and partake of his Billy Sunday act at a luncheon in Australia doesn't bother me. More power to him.

But speaking as one who wouldn't go across the street to listen to his modern-day new-age evangelism - if his act was free and he was doing cartwheels - what kind of mushbrain would pay that kind of money to be in the same room with the lunatic?

The news:
Paying dearly to hear Gore's climate story
By Ben Doherty and Marian Wilkinson, theage.com

AL GORE has a story he wants to tell the world. But it will cost you a thousand dollars to hear it.

In a passionate attack on the climate policies of Prime Minister John Howard and US President George Bush, the former US vice-president, addressing a very expensive lunch in Sydney yesterday, called Australia and the US "the Bonnie and Clyde" outlaws of the global environment for their failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Mr Gore made his comments after reporters were asked to leave the lunch venue. Despite the cost, lunch in the 700-seat room at the Sydney Convention Centre was a sell-out, as is tomorrow's event in Melbourne. VIP packages, which included a spot close to Mr Gore and a meet-and-greet with him, cost $25,000. (link)
Beyond belief.

I expect shrines to be erected next ...

Politics & The Supreme Court

The law firm that is battling the city of Washington D.C. over our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms has some interesting commentary on its blog relating to the city's recently submitted Petition for Writ of Certiorari:

Motion to Lift the Stay in the D.C. Circuit

The cert petition filed by the District on September 4 was odd in a number of respects, including the extent to which it focused more on the supposed merits of maintaining D.C.’s gun ban than explaining why, from a broader jurisprudential standpoint, the Supreme Court should accept this particular case. Equally remarkable was D.C.’s attempt to reinvent the case as merely involving a handgun ban, rather than a ban on all functional firearms, which is the actual law. Thus, D.C. Code § 7-2507.02 specifically provides that all lawfully owned firearms in the home must be kept unloaded at all times and either disassembled or bound by a trigger lock. That’s a gun ban, every bit as much as it would be a book ban if the law said you can have a book in your home, but you have to keep it closed at all times. (link)

Read the whole thing.

Not only will our freedoms as Americans be enshrined or destroyed by the outcome of this one case - it's that important - but I find this stuff to be great reading.

The right of the people ...!