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

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Drilling Down

Are tourism commerce studies just smoke and mirrors, nothing more than wild-ass speculation, as one learned individual has asserted, or have the experts figured out a way to differentiate between the hamburger that's going into the mouth of that farmer who stops by the McDonald's fast food restaurant in Hillsville on his way over to Southern States to buy some grain for his cows from the hamburger purchased by the smelly college kid at the McDonald's fast food restaurant in Hillsville who is on his way to hike the Virginia Creeper Trail?

One is an honest-to-God tourist. the other isn't. Yet both potentially factor into the Virginia Tourism Corporation's "2006, The Economic Impact of Domestic Travel Expenditures on Virginia study.

Which makes that and similar studies nothing more than hokum.

It now appears that the learned individual cited above is not alone in his apprehensions. From "Tourists take memories, leave billions," appearing this morning in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Visitors to the Richmond region doled out about $1.84 billion in 2006 and spent enough time in bars, restaurants, theaters and shopping malls to support 25,990 jobs, a new study shows.

Those same travelers paid $454 million in federal, state and local taxes, saving households in the Richmond area $585 in taxes in 2006, the latest year figures are available, according to a study released this week by the Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau.

But Christine Chmura, president of Chmura Economics & Analytics in Richmond, said the economic impact of tourism is difficult to figure "because people often have more than one reason to visit an area, and also, there are few establishments that you can identify as tourism-only," she said.

The state-supported Virginia Tourism Corp. cites an annual survey provided by the Travel Industry Association. For 2006, the survey estimated that $1.7 billion was spent in the Richmond area.

The differing numbers between the Richmond convention bureau's recent survey and the state figures are not surprising, Chmura said. In restaurants, for instance, it is hard to differentiate between local and visiting patrons. (my emphasis)

But the state-funded Virginia Tourism Corporation figured out a way to know precisely that. It switches its study over from measuring tourism expenditures to one looking at "travel expenditures," comes up with a (preposterous) estimate of travel outlay, and then switches back and broadcasts that estimate as involving "tourism expenditures."

Here's how it's done: First the VTC study performs this maneuver:

The word tourism is avoided in this report because of its vague meaning. Some define tourism as all travel away from home while others use the dictionary definition that limits tourism to personal or pleasure travel.
Then the study defines "travel":
There is no commonly accepted definition of travel in use at this time. For the purposes of the estimates herein, travel is defined as activities associated with all overnight and day trips to places 50 miles away or more, one way, from the traveler’s origin and any overnight trips away from home in paid accommodations.
Sweet. We all become "travelers" every time we journey more than 50 miles from home.

All expenditures that occur on each and every journey thus become "travel expenditures."

Those expenditures, subsequently, go into into an economic impact study that is heralded far and wide as ... drum roll ... a travel study a tourism study! (here's one of many examples)

Got it? We're all Virginia tourists on any given day!

Bottom line? Outside of the Harry W. Meador, Jr. Coal Museum over in Big Stone Gap, where you're asked to sign a guest book from which hard statistics can be gathered, nobody has a clue as to the number of tourists that are roaming the area - much less how much money each is spending on a hamburger and a Diet Coke.

Bottom line? Take it all with a grain of salt. They're guessing.

These People Will Be In Charge Of Your Health Care

Something to consider, offered up by the Roanoke Times:
[P]uzzling is this: The Census Bureau [a part of the Commerce Department] earlier awarded a $600 million contract to purchase 500,000 computers. Since it now needs just 151,000 computers, the price has ballooned to $1.3 billion. Something doesn't quite add up.
"Short Takes," April 5, 2008

When The Going Gets Tough ...

... send in the marines:

Bush targets troops at Taliban
By Sara A. Carter, The Washington Times

The Pentagon had hoped for years that its NATO allies and the Afghan government could fight a rising drug trade and a resurgent Taliban; President Bush yesterday decided to dispatch a "significant" number of troops to do the job themselves.

"The president indicated [at this week's NATO summit in Romania] that he expected in 2009 that the United States would make a significant additional contribution" of troops to Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told reporters aboard his plane en route from Bucharest to Oman. (link)
NATO is proving itself to be - more and more each day - an anachronism.

This fight was ours to win all along. President Bush brought our European allies into the war on terror only at the urging of the Democrats in Washington, led primarily by former presidential contender John Kerry. We now see what that got us. Two years of setback.

But the marines will get us back on course. As they always do.

You Want Universal Health Care?

Go to Massachusetts:
In Massachusetts, Universal Coverage Strains Care
By Kevin Sack, The New York Times

In pockets of the United States, rural and urban, a confluence of market and medical forces has been widening the gap between the supply of primary care physicians and the demand for their services. Modest pay, medical school debt, an aging population and the prevalence of chronic disease have each played a role.

Now in Massachusetts, in an unintended consequence of universal coverage, the imbalance is being exacerbated by the state’s new law requiring residents to have health insurance.

“It’s a recipe for disaster,” Dr. [Patricia A.] Sereno said. “It’s great that people have access to health care, but now we’ve got to find a way to give them access to preventive services. The point of this legislation was not to get people episodic care.” (link)
The law of unintended consequences has no better example than that provided by the universal health care promoters. Everyone should have coverage? Neat. But how are you going to make it work?

There's only one way. This about one doctor in Massachusetts:
Once they discover that she is Dr. Kate, the supplicants line up to approach at dinner parties and ballet recitals. Surely, they suggest to Dr. Katherine J. Atkinson, a family physician here, she might find a way to move them up her lengthy waiting list for new patients.

Those fortunate enough to make it soon learn they face another long wait: Dr. Atkinson’s next opening for a physical is not until early May — of 2009.
An appointment for a standard physical requires a one-year wait. If you are a current patient.

Rationing. It's the only way universal health care can work.

Ask the British. Ask the Canadians.

The only way.

That's what we want? Why?

Help Me Understand This

When they rail against the rich, is there some kind of self-loathing thing going on?

Clintons Made $109 Million in Last 8 Years

I get so confused.

Today's Book Club Recommendation

For those of you who like a good murder mystery, check out Harlan Coben.

Paula and I have read five of his suspense-filled novels and have become rapt followers of his work. There are no fiction writers churning them out today who are more talented or more skillful than Coben, in my estimation. Great stuff.

Graphic courtesy of harlancoben.com

What Are They Thinking?

Somehow elitist Democrats, who wouldn't otherwise be caught dead in the same room with normal Americans, feel it necessary at election time to prove that they are "one of us." So they don strange garments, grab an over-and-under, rack a shell, and ...

... shoot a goose.

Or pick up a bowling ball and ...

... roll a 37!

Obama Throws Gutter Ball, Clinton Plays Pals
By Margaret Carlson, Bloomberg.com

April 3 (Bloomberg) -- For his first time running a $200 million corporation, Barack Obama has done a good job. No small vendors left behind in Iowa or New Hampshire with their bills unpaid, no newspaper stories about staff members screaming at one another, no having to lend the campaign cash to keep going.

Yet he's made two big mistakes, and they are doozies.

First, he didn't see how regular folks who saw the videos of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright wouldn't be able to get them out of their heads.

His second big mistake is bowling with others in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He ignored the risk every politician faces when trying to be one of the people if they're not, a risk that doubles if you pursue the official state sport when you've never worn a league shirt with your name above the pocket.

By now, as many people who will ever watch a candidate forum have likely seen Obama's 37 score in a game that started with a gutter ball. He joked that an 8-year-old was giving him tips, but the reality is he didn't even know how low a score it was. (link)

Lord have mercy.

Photos courtesy of AP.

Texans Decide They Don't Need Air Conditioning

Texans Beat Big Coal, and a Film Shows How

They Don't See The Hypocrisy

Actor Leonardo DeCaprio is getting high praise for his having paid millions for an "eco-friendly" condo in New York City:
DiCaprio Buys Eco-Friendly NYC Condo On Hudson

New York (CBS) ― Environmentally conscious Leonardo DiCaprio is practicing what he preaches these days. The actor recently added an eco-friendly apartment in New York City to his impressive list of earth-healthy possessions, which already include a hybrid car and a solar paneled home in Los Angeles.

DiCaprio will seemingly have everything at his fingertips. The David Rockwell-designed high-rise features an indoor 50-foot lap pool, media cafe, fitness center, landscaped terrace -- and dog spa. (link)
Swell. Leo has purchased himself a luxury solar-paneled apartment. To go along with his breathtakingly swank (solar-paneled) home in L.A. To go along with his cars. And boats. And motorcycles. Planes? Trains? Electronics? Wardrobes?

It's so easy to placate these people. Buy a solar panel, along with every other amenity under the sun, and you get favorable press. Leonardo DeCaprio is saving the planet. What chumps.

And While We're On The Subject ...

... of "eco-friendly" purchases, is it helping the environment if you buy a big mutha of a Dodge Durango SUV with a flex fuel engine (which allows for an 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline mix) (a "Flex Magnum® V8 Muscle" engine no less)?

I saw one of these going down the highway the other day and wondered: If it was a Volkswagen Beetle, I'd get it, but a big honkin' Dodge SUV? Is it wasting precious fuel while it's saving precious fuel?

I get so confused ...

More On The Global Warming Hoax

Well, hoax is probably not the right noun to use to describe the fact that the thousands of "scientific experts" around the planet who have been watching heat variations on continents hither and yon have been off in their calculations and pathetic in their interpretations of the global temperature trends.

They were just flat wrong.

The latest:
Global temperatures 'to decrease'
By Roger Harrabin, BBC News environment analyst

Global temperatures will drop slightly this year as a result of the cooling effect of the La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said.

This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory.

A minority of scientists question whether this means global warming has peaked and argue the Earth has proved more resilient to greenhouse gases than predicted. (link)
Of course, those who earn a comfortable living off their patterned refrain, "We're all going to die," will say that this is a temporary hold and that the trend toward a hot planet will continue ... soon.

At some point, these jokers will be called to account.

This Seems A Little Excessive

It's probably a good thing I didn't have one of these mounted on my rental car last time I was trying to navigate the western suburbs of St. Louis. Still, I might have gotten the attention of that moron in the late model Mustang who cut me off at the light had I had my trusty Dillon M134D mini-gun with me.

Check this out:

Little boys and their great big toys.

Click twice on triangle to activate.