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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, September 15, 2008

'Could You Move Those Trees?

... I can't see the forest."

Want a good chuckle this morning? Congressman Rick Boucher wants to do for Southwest Virginia what the Irish did to bring breathtaking prosperity to the island nation in the 90's. Not that he's willing to adopt the necessary policies that they did to affect that prosperity, of course. He intends instead to do it the way Democrats in this country have been talking about doing it for the last 40 years.

I can't wait for this conference to come ... and go:
Ireland could be model for renewal
Rep. Rick Boucher says Ireland's economic revival could work in Southwest Virginia.
By Duncan Adams, Roanoke Times

Rep. Rick Boucher plans to unleash a "Celtic Tiger" in Wytheville this morning but there will be no need for Katy to bar the door.

Boucher, D-Abingdon, will host a conference titled "Unleashing the Celtic Tiger: Southwest Virginia's Shared Heritage with Ireland and Western Europe." Boucher represents the 9th District, a region renowned for its Appalachian Scots-Irish heritage.

But that cultural connection will not be the key focus for the conference, scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Wytheville Meeting Center.

Instead, that heritage will be linked to regional economic opportunities that could be tied to an economic transformation in the Republic of Ireland. That previously agrarian-based, economically struggling country is now known to many as the Celtic Tiger because of a profound economic rebound during the past two decades.

Boucher, who is running unopposed for re-election this year, acknowledged Friday that Ireland's economic upswing has been driven in large part by national policies and emphases. (link)

Fine. Let's look at Ireland's transformation. What brought it about? According to IUSB Vision (see "The Irish Miracle: How Ireland Went from Economic Basket Case to Masterpiece"), the lessons are profound:

Ireland knew that they had to bring in foreign companies and investment fast to get the economic ball rolling so they created a tax haven. Ireland lowered the corporate income tax rate to 10% for manufacturing companies or companies that trade services internationally and would move into a selected enterprise zone. [jf: since agreeing to lower the corporate income tax top rate to 12.5% for all corporations.]

In 1987 the government started to embrace major reforms. The government realized that it could no longer be the people’s employer and enacted massive cuts in spending, slashing many government programs and agencies from 3-10%. According to The Economist Magazine, Ireland cut its capital spending by 16%.

The last piece of the puzzle that has made Ireland such an economic success is that it has been steadily dropping personal income tax rates over the years; dropping from a 65% top marginal rate (for the ultra wealthy) in 1985, to 56% in 1989, to 46% in 2000, to 44% as of 2001. [my emphasis]
So, is Rick Boucher going to recommend at this conference in Wytheville this morning that corporate tax rates in the USA, the second highest in the world today, be slashed, government spending be curtailed, and personal income tax rates be reduced?

Not on your life.

Instead he's looking to Ireland's example of "approaches to work force development, related adjustments to school curricula and state policies and other ways ..."

What?
"The 9th District has attracted call centers and other operations with ties to the knowledge economy, he said.

'But we are presently focused on an effort to attract a broader range of technology companies,' Boucher said. 'What we're doing now is moving up the technology scale.'

For example, Boucher said, he has brought to Southwest Virginia companies seeking a good site for a backup data center.

Would that be the backup data center in Lebanon that was located there only because the state government demanded - if Northrop Grumman was to be given the state contract - that it be built in Southwest or Southside Virginia?

Did the Irish bring about economic prosperity at the point of a gun? Is that what you took away from "The Irish Miracle" story?

The Irish reduced corporate and personal income taxes, and shrank government spending (it also dramatically altered its monetary policy). Prosperity resulted.

You can invite foreign companies to relocate to Southwest Virginia until the cows come home. And you can pour more and more money into our schools (that provide degrees to our youth who immediately move to more opportune environs up north). Only when the business climate here changes - and only when we get someone to represent us who has a clue - will circumstances change.

"Rep. Rick Boucher plans to unleash a 'Celtic Tiger' in Wytheville"? Seems more like another paper tiger to me.

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* Special Note: I'm looking to a "Southwest Virginia Miracle" too. Boucher is running for reelection unopposed. It's my hope that a write-in candidate defeats his ass, since the Republicans in this part of the state - their strongest, ahem - gave up without a fight. It'll be miracle, to be sure. But hope springs eternal ...

Quote of the Day

From the Wall Street Journal:

His lawyer says [Congressman Charlie] Rangel flubbed his tax return by failing to record some $75,000 of rental income he received from a beach house he owns at a posh Dominican Republic resort. Mr. Rangel professes to have made an honest mistake, and says "I personally feel that I have done nothing morally wrong." He explained that he didn't know how much income he received from the property because his Dominican business partners would "start speaking Spanish."

Plenty of Americans know how he feels since the IRS tax form might as well be in Spanish. The tax code now runs to some 67,000 pages, and Mr. Rangel has probably written a few thousand himself in his 38 years on Capitol Hill. If even the nation's top tax writer can't figure out what to declare as income, and what not to declare, how can the rest of us be expected to get it right?

"The Education of Charlie Rangel," September 15, 2008

Where's The Lie?

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne has never let the truth get in the way of gutter partisanship. And he's been in a particular snit since Sarah Palin has come on the scene. Thus:

So now we learn that Sarah Palin did not go to visit troops in Iraq, as the McCain-Palin campaign originally claimed, nor did she visit Ireland, as a spokesman claimed – she went through Ireland only for a refueling stop. Good reporting by the Boston Globe got to the truth of the matter. The McCain- Palin campaign was forced to concede the facts, but only after being pressed.

There’s a pattern here, two patterns actually. The first is that the McCain campaign is willing to peddle all sorts of untrue and half-true claims. The second ... (link)
Well, let's go to the Boston Globe story.

The first thing we notice is the title to the piece: "Palin camp clarifies extent of Iraq trip." From that we fairly discern that Sarah Palin went to Iraq. The "clarification" involves only the fact that she was there briefly and only at a particular border crossing. Who ever said otherwise?

But here's what E.J. Dionne hangs his faltering reputation on:
During that trip she was said to have visited a "military outpost" inside Iraq. The campaign has since repeated that Palin's foreign travel included an excursion into the Iraq battle zone.

But in response to queries about the details of her trip, campaign aides and National Guard officials in Alaska said by telephone yesterday that she did not venture beyond the Kuwait-Iraq border when she visited Khabari Alawazem Crossing, also known as "K-Crossing," on July 25, 2007.

Asked to clarify where she traveled in Iraq, Palin's spokeswoman, Maria Comella, confirmed that "She visited a military outpost on the other side of the Kuwait-Iraq border."

Her visit to Iraq itself was during a short stop at Khabari Alawazem Crossing on the second day of her two-day trip to the region.

The McCain campaign let it be known that Palin had visited a military outpost in Iraq. The "clarification" involves the name of the military outpost in Iraq she visited.

Where's the scandal, E.J.?

You'd do well to go back to comparing Sarah Palin to Harriet Miers. At least you don't come across as being stupid. Angry and bigoted, but not stupid.

The Story That Isn't Going Away

On the Democratic candidate for president and the terrorist friends he keeps, "Obama has some explaining to do."

Another Perspective

Here's an interesting argument, offered up in this morning's New York Times. We should promote oil drilling in ANWR and off the coasts in order to save the environment.

The money quote:
[O]ur best attempt to get a fix on the non-use value of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge yields a figure of just $11 billion. In sum, this leaves about $1.7 trillion in tangible net benefits, so most people, one would guess, would still find the case for drilling to be compelling.

If a big chunk of that $1.7 trillion could be spent on preserving wilderness that didn’t happen to sit astride vast quantities of oil, would you really choose to spend it on keeping human hands off the currently protected sites?

One could imagine a political bargain in which several hundred billion dollars went into a fund with a charter to preserve wilderness in the United States, or climate-stabilizing rainforests in Africa and Latin America. As little as $100 billion would go a long way: the projected cost of preserving the entire Everglades against the encroachments of the Florida economy is $11 billion, while a comprehensive restoration of 200,000 acres of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands would run to $18 billion.

There's nothing like tax revenue - and Big Government spending opportunities - to sway a Democrat's opinion.

Now, are they willing to see the Everglades destroyed should they continue to oppose off-shore drilling?

This Is The Real Fear

You hear a lot of whining these days about how the McCain campaign is playing unfairly with Barack Obama. Like they're on the playground and little Johnny stole Barry's Barbi doll and won't give it back. So much sniveling about lies and deceptions and distortions, and all that. It's really all so undecorous.

I think, though, there's a reason why these guys are so upset these days with McCain. And it has nothing to do with the way he's conducting his campaign (after all, his methods and approach are no different from those of every other candidate winning candidate throughout history). No, I think what has them so upset can be summed up in one word ...

Sarah.
In this election, putting gender first
By Lynette Long, writing in the Baltimore Sun

I have given my loyalty to the Democratic Party for decades. My party, which is comprised primarily of women, has not put a woman on a presidential ticket for 24 years. My party stood silently by as Hillary Clinton was eviscerated by the mainstream media. My party and its candidate gave their tacit approval for the attacks on Mrs. Clinton (and, consequently, women in general).

I can vote for my party and its candidates, which have demonstrated a blatant disrespect for women and a fundamental lack of integrity. Or I can vote for the Republican ticket, which has heard our concerns and put a woman on the ticket, but with which I fundamentally don't agree on most issues.

Right now, for me, gender trumps everything else. If Democratic women wait for the perfect woman to come along, we will never elect a woman. I will vote for McCain-Palin. I urge other women to do the same. (link)
Feel the Earth tremble? The only scenario that frightens Democrats more would involve a mass exodus of blacks - their most loyal base - from the party.

In 2008 a number of women - Hillary supporters (thousands? hundreds of thousands?) - are going to switch and vote for a Republican. That's huge.

If I were a Democrat, I'd be a bit cranky - and scared - about now too.

They've Lost Their Minds

I have no reaction to this other than to shake my head in disbelief.

What's gotten these people so unhinged?