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Saturday, January 10, 2009

This Could Be Us, Virginia

Thank God for big government. Without it, and without the high paying jobs it brings to tens of thousands of northern Virginians, the commonwealth, if left to the devices of the Democrats who now dominate, might soon be California.

California's Gold Rush Has Been Reversed
By Devin Nunes, writing in the Wall Street Journal

On Jan. 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall found gold at Sutter's Mill, in Coloma, Calif., sparking a mad rush of some 300,000 people desiring to strike it rich. San Francisco grew from a tiny hamlet to a boomtown in no time, and in 1850 California entered the Union as the 31st state.

With this history at their back, state leaders might have understood that people have a propensity to get up and move when a better life is to be had elsewhere. But no. After more than 150 years of being a destination, California is becoming a place entrepreneurs, investment capital and the hardy workers who made it a global leader in agriculture, technological innovation and scientific research are fleeing. This exodus is the marker of something deeper than a national recession. It's a sign that the attempts by state leaders to spend their way back to prosperity are killing California.

[J]ust as a fallen tree can divert the flow of water in a creek, bad economic policies divert the flow of investment. Entrepreneurs and investors, seeking the path of least resistance, leave when it becomes easier to make a living in more business-friendly states. In 2000, according to the state's Department of Finance, about 150,000 people moved into California. But in the years that followed the in-migration slowed, and in 2005 it reversed, when a net 52,000 people moved out. In 2008, the outflow topped 135,000 people.

Consequently, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming all have unemployment rates around 5% at a time when California is suffering an unemployment rate of 9%. Californians are moving east and creating jobs in their new home states. [link]
Here in Virginia, there'll be no end to investment in companies that provide sustenance to an ever expanding federal government. It's Big Business to make money off of Big Government. So it's fair to say that Arlington and Fairfax and Prince William will continue to thrive.

But the propensity in Richmond these days is toward more taxes and more regulations and "smart growth" and environmental restrictions and on and on. We're chasing after a chimera in the form of something called global warming. We fight against the development of our massive uranium fields - without a sound basis outside of the comic books to fight it. We latch onto silly notions like carbon sequestration so as to appease leftists, and make coal more expensive - and our coal companies less profitable - in doing so. We look to expand the role of (very expensive) public schools despite the fact that it is generally agreed that our school systems are utter failures. And, less we forget, we ban smoking. And feel good doing it.

All of which make entrepreneurs look to more fertile, less cumbersome ground. But not Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. We're talking China, Indonesia, and Korea.

All of which make us, as time goes on, ... California.

Still got a few investment dollars? Look to the thousands of companies that live off of Washington largesse up in northern Virginia. Beyond that? Look to Shenzhen. Look to the future. A futre that grows ever more dim here.

Mainstream Media At It Again

When will they learn? When faced with the possibility that film footage (or still photographs or tear-jerking narratives) used by a major news outlet may have been faked, why do they throw up the walls and try desperately to defend their actions by defending the fake footage?

Did Dan Rather's ignominious demise teach them nothing?

Apparently. CNN, rather than being embarrassed by what it's done, is digging in. Deeper and deeper and deeper ...

Here's the original story: "CNN Airs Questionable Film of a Palestinian Death."

And in response: "CNN Digs In On Israeli Airstrike Fraud."

The money quote: "This is CNN's evidence?"

When will they learn?

It's Time To Drag Out The Tattered Tome

With circumstances here in America (and around the planet) hurtling toward what appears to be uncertain doom, it might do us all well to read the greatest piece of literature ever written on the subject of America, 2009: Atlas Shrugged.

Actually it was written in 1957 by a Russian emigre - Ayn Rand - about a fictional United States of America caught up in the love of government. In a United States that was crumbling. A feckless yet dangerous, all-powerful government, one that lacks, in fact, any power - or will - to affect positive change. A government, seemingly, that existed to perpetuate government.

I only read it once and then put it on the shelf, so I'm not the true believer in capitalism like some (those who have read Atlas Shrugged several times and can quote from it - lovingly - are the real purists). It is, it seems, time to read it again.


From "'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years" by Stephen Moore, The Wall Street Journal:
For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.

In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as "the looters and their laws." Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?

These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" and the "Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act." Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan." This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion -- in roughly his first 100 days in office.

The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."
For those of you who haven't read it, "Atlas Shrugged" ends on a wonderfully positive note.

We can only hope ...