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

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Latest Rage From The Clueless

"Food deserts."

Good grief.

The Roanoke Times:
[P]oorer families without cars living in parts of Roanoke's northwest and southeast ... struggle daily to find sustenance in places called food deserts. Nearly 30 percent of Roanoke residents live in neighborhoods that share two distinctions: Most of the residents are of low income, and the nearest supermarket is more than a mile away.

As Matt Chittum reported in last Sunday's edition: "When you get to the supermarket just once a month, it changes how you shop, and therefore how you eat -- and usually not to the benefit of your health."

So the poor in wallet become poor in diet, and in turn, poor in health. Which should concern you, if not for compassionate reasons then for the financial burden to society. The cycle can break.

It's unrealistic to expect supermarkets to flock to underserved areas. But there are ways to bring people more frequently to existing markets, whether through targeted weekly runs by Valley Metro, churches organizing regular shopping excursion vans or even superstores hosting cost-cutting runs.

Community leaders and neighborhood advocates, if they give this some attention, can find ways to make the end of the month no different than the first. [link]
Pardon me while I wring out my hankie.

I have a better idea.  Instead of writing about the heartache, why not open up a freaking supermarket in those poor and depressed areas of Roanoke?  No?  Why not?

I think we all know why not.

Those areas are not inviting when it comes to business. (How those words must cut to the quick.)  You think, if there were an opportunity for Wal-Mart to make a buck, it wouldn't have a super center in all parts of Roanoke?  Think maybe they don't like poor people?  (Ever been to the Wal-Mart in Kimball, West Virginia?)  Think maybe they don't like black people? (Ever been to the Wal-Mart in Evergreen Park, IL?)  (Don't forget who it is that fights to keep the world's most prolific retailer out of black neighborhoods in Chicago, New York City, and Washington D.C.  It ain't white folk.)

Consider: Large parts of Roanoke can be considered "food deserts."  But those same sections of town are car dealership deserts, Best Buy deserts, and, for all practical purposes, appliances, electronics, furniture, sporting goods, and soft goods deserts too.  For a reason.

Make no mistake.  Wal-Mart's grocery does a booming business nationwide.  Including in areas where Americans are the poorest.  But not in parts of Roanoke.

Why is that, do you suppose?

A Misreading of History

I don't think I'm splitting hairs here.  But I find it necessary to correct a premise put forth by a contributor to the pages of the New York Times this morning.  Marc Egnal, professor of history at York University, in "Becoming the Party of Freedom," writes:
Republicans began the Civil War as the party of Union, not the party of Freedom. They did not become the celebrated destroyers of slavery until almost two years into the war, with the Emancipation Proclamation, issued Jan. 1, 1863. But during the summer of 1861 the direction of change was unmistakable, as Republicans took the first, crucial steps in a mounting attack on the South’s “peculiar institution.” Long-held beliefs about the immorality of slavery combined with the challenges posed by an escalating conflict, explain the evolving outlook of the Republicans.
In truth, Republicans began the Republican Party because of their interest in the abolition of slavery and freedom for America's four million slaves.

No, they may not have called for outright emancipation - nationally - when the Party was founded in 1855 by anti-slavery activists. A move that would have been, at the time, too bold to garner widespread support from the electorate at large, and a stance that would rend the country even earlier than the issue did five and six years later. But there was no doubt at the time why the GOP existed.

It's worth remembering that the GOP's predecessor in our two-party system of governance - the Whig Party - had crumbled because of that very same issue.  The party was ultimately destroyed by the question of whether to allow the expansion of slavery to the territories.  Out of those ashes arose the Republican Party.*

Is this a small matter?  Am I reading more into Mr. Egnal's contention than he meant for us to take from it?  Perhaps.

But all I know is this:  Had we maintained the system whereby major candidates for high office affiliated with either the Democratic Party or the Whig Party, slavery might still be in existence today.****  It required a lot of brave Republicans to step up - beginning in 1855 - and end the nightmare.

* It's worth noting that Abraham Lincoln was originally a member of the Whig Party.

** In its first Party platform in 1856, the Republican Party adopted the following:

"Resolved: That, with our Republican fathers, we hold it to be a self-evident truth, that all men are endowed with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that the primary object and ulterior design of our Federal Government were to secure these rights to all persons under its exclusive jurisdiction; that, as our Republican fathers, when they had abolished Slavery in all our National Territory, ordained that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, it becomes our duty to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it for the purpose of establishing Slavery in the Territories of the United States by positive legislation, prohibiting its existence or extension therein. That we deny the authority of Congress, of a Territorial Legislation, of any individual, or association of individuals, to give legal existence to Slavery in any Territory of the United States, while the present Constitution shall be maintained.

"Resolved: That the Constitution confers upon Congress sovereign powers over the Territories of the United States for their government; and that in the exercise of this power, it is both the right and the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism — Polygamy, and Slavery.

"Resolved, That Kansas should be immediately admitted as a state of this Union, with her present Free Constitution, as at once the most effectual way of securing to her citizens the enjoyment of the rights and privileges to which they are entitled, and of ending the civil strife now raging in her territory."

No, there was no call for the abolition of slavery nationally.  But it certainly demanded it with regard to its various territories. In 1856.  The GOP, from the outset, was the Party of emancipation.  But in incremental terms.

*** This, from the University of Richmond, is instructive:

"The Republican Party was formed as an anti-slavery party and in the presidential election of 1856, John Fremont became the party's first candidate for president. Ironically, Fremont was the only candidate in the presidential election from the South, yet he was also the only one who spoke out against slavery. Fremont campaigned to wipe out what he felt to be the two biggest sins plaguing the country: polygamy and slavery.

"The political climate of the era remained particularly tense due to conflict in Kansas and Missouri over slavery. This anti-slavery stance did not help him gain popularity with the majority of southerners. In addition, Fremont, if elected, wanted to admit Kansas into the Union as a free state, which enraged southerners even more. Southerners were further provoked by speeches given by Fremont supporters that declared if Fremont won the election he would “subjugate the South to freedom (The Daily Dispatch, Aug 8, pg. 3).' Needless to say, Fremont did not win over southerners with his abolitionist rhetoric and this eventually led to his defeat."

**** Okay, that might be an exaggeration.

Apply This To The Dept. of Education

Understand, the responsibility for educating our children - should you and they choose to have them attend public schools - resides with the various states - working with your local community.  The United States government is not responsible in any way for educating anyone.  Yet here we have the federal government demanding that you send money to Washington so that your kids can be educated.


That's right.  Thus, we have a situation in this country where your state government seeks and receives funds from you necessary to run our schools, and we also have the national government taking tax dollars to Washington, only to send those dollars to the same states for the same purpose.  After huge sums are skimmed off the top to pay for the Department of Education bureaucrats so that they can maintain their lavish lifestyles.

What, a sane person might ask, would happen if the middleman were cut out of the deal and we simply sent the needed funds to our state (or, better yet, our local) government?

Two things.

1) We'd save a lot of money.

2) Education won't suffer one whit.*

Keep that process in mind - the U.S. government takes money to send money where it came from originally - when you read the following:
River Hills draws scrutiny for trying to sell federal block grant
By Steve Schultze, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

River Hills, Milwaukee County's richest suburb, has found little use for what has become an annual allocation of about $20,000 in federal community development block grant money.

So village leaders instead have cut deals with other suburbs to lend or transfer the grant money and have even sought unsuccessfully to sell the River Hills block grant allocation to another community.

Those practices have drawn increased scrutiny by the county and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the agency in charge of the block grant program.

HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan said this week that the agency would review the River Hills practice "to see if it violates any rule or law. . . . It just strikes us as a bad idea." Sullivan, based in Washington, D.C., questioned why the county wouldn't simply transfer the money earmarked for River Hills to some other suburb or allowable use if River Hills itself had no need for the funds.

Sometimes the suburbs cut side deals, in effect borrowing from another suburb's HUD allocation.

The block grant program provides money for a range of uses, including building new sewers and streets, fixing homes and making public buildings accessible to people with disabilities. The program is aimed at helping families with low to moderate incomes. [link]
A sane person might ask why these local municipalities can't raise the necessary tax revenue on their own to pay for such projects.  Why does the federal government have to get involved?

Government types will tell you its because some communities can't afford to build new sewers and streets and the taxpayers there can't afford higher taxes.  So richer communities elsewhere must pay for their upkeep.  Even if you accept such twisted logic, why does the United States government have to insert itself into the process?  Is it because the federal government has the most guns?

None of this makes sense.

But, then, welcome to America.

- - -

* Special note:  The U.S. Department of Education currently staffs 5,000 workers.  Its current budget is $69,900,000,000.  Since the U.S. Department of Education was created - by Jimmy Carter - in 1979, neither math scores nor reading scores have improved.

I Hope There's No Devil In The Details

This from the Wall Street Journal is right:
A Tea Party Triumph

If a good political compromise is one that has something for everyone to hate, then last night's bipartisan debt-ceiling deal is a triumph. The bargain is nonetheless better than what seemed achievable in recent days ...

The big picture is that the deal is a victory for the cause of smaller government, arguably the biggest since welfare reform in 1996. Most bipartisan budget deals trade tax increases that are immediate for spending cuts that turn out to be fictional. This one includes no immediate tax increases, despite President Obama's demand as recently as last Monday. The immediate spending cuts are real, if smaller than we'd prefer, and the longer-term cuts could be real if Republicans hold Congress and continue to enforce the deal's spending caps.

The framework (we haven't seen all the details) calls for an initial step of some $900 billion in domestic discretionary cuts over 10 years from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline puffed up by recent spending. If the cuts hold, this would go some way to erasing the fiscal damage from the Obama-Nancy Pelosi stimulus. This is no small achievement considering that Republicans control neither the Senate nor the White House, and it underscores how much the GOP victory in November has reshaped the U.S. fiscal debate.

No wonder liberals are howling. [link]
I'm not jumping for joy either.

It appears the "spending cuts" are those Washington is famous for.  In other words, they're cuts that will take place in a land far, far away in a time many, many years from now.  In other words, they're make-believe.

Just as bad, the Journal goes on to talk about a committee being formed made up of an equal number of congresspersons from both parties that will "recommend another round of deficit reduction of between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion, also over 10 years."  Like that'll ever happen.

Still, all in all, this debate ended about where I thought it would, considering the fact that Obama and his ilk still run things for a few more months.  We've laid down a marker.  We've told the other side that there's going to be no more manna spilling down from heaven.  The end is drawing nigh.

And Nancy Pelosi has been so frightened by us that she's reverted to wearing Depends.

So, all in all, we win.

For those of you who don't think so, look at it this way: Remember the night that the Berlin Wall fell?  It wasn't one sledgehammer stroke that brought it down.  It was thousands.  Administered by thousands of freedom-loving human beings.  The Berlin Wall here is coming down.  The first hammer stroke - the first of many - has fallen.

It may be only one blow, but it's one - because of what it represents - that we can celebrate.

Now, let's talk about ObamaCare.

- - -

I must be on the right side of this news.  The New York Times this morning weighs in with its own reaction: To Escape Chaos, a Terrible Deal.  It must be a better deal than I thought.

And Speaking of Obamacare ...

You might recall, when Obama was running for president he was telling us that his health care plan would reduce the cost of our monthly health care bill. Sweet! He got elected. Somehow, though, that plan, once he was firmly ensconced in the White House, morphed into ObamaCare which, in all reality, is nothing more than another welfare program, offering free health care to millions of Americans who had none prior. With a promise of savings to the rest of us someday through ... blah ... blah ... blah.

Well here's news. Obama's plan will reduce health care costs. So says an Obama lackie named Nancy-Anne Deparle, deputy White House chief of staff for policy. She writes in Politico:

"President Obama ... fought for a law that will bring down costs, not just pass them along.

"We achieve these savings because the new law implements important steps that will improve the quality of care and reduce costs."

Really? How, Nancy-Anne?
First, health reform gives businesses access to Medicare claims data, so they can assess which providers are offering the best care at the lowest cost. That creates a better, more competitive marketplace.

Second, the Affordable Care Act invests in prevention and wellness and other programs that save money over the long term.

Third, the law simplifies paperwork and enables electronic transactions, so businesses and workers spend less time filling out forms. This measure alone could save $12 billion.

And we are implementing a series of new incentives that cut waste and help deliver better, less-expensive care.
Where in all that is there any real savings? you might ask.  There is none.  Most of it is the same old Washington dodge and weave.

First, competition in the health care insurance field would be a good thing.  But many state laws, including those here in Virginia, stifle competition.  Companies having access to a database that reveals to them a list of the various insurance companies around the country they are prohibited from dealing with serves them what purpose, Nancy-Anne?

Second, the Affordable Care Act invests in prevention and wellness?  We heard that back when our government was promoting HMO's in the 80's.  Now everyone in government hates HMO's.  But the dream hasn't died.  We've "invested" in more of the same and called it something else.

Third, the law simplifies paperwork and enables electronic transactions?  This measure alone could save $12 billion?  Nancy-Anne's third most important point in making the argument that Obama is going to save us money already takes her into the minutia?  If the total cost of health care in this country annually is somewhere around $2,491,260,000,000 (17% of current GDP), what's $12 billion?  And does anyone believe that will happen with the new ObamaCare law - with its 2,000 pages of regulations and mandates, with a follow-on of hundreds of thousands of pages of instructions on how to implement it, is going to reduce paperwork?  Please.  Nancy-Anne has been smoking something.

Fourth, the classic Washington politician dodge: "We're going to cut waste" (and abuse).  Don't make us laugh.  The working definition of the United States government includes the words waste and abuse.  So stop with the wishful thinking.

Nothing in this propaganda piece delivers confidence.  Our health care delivery system - once, recently, the finest in the world - is soon to be spiraling out of control because of government - read Obama - read Nancy-Anne Deparle - meddling.  And this gal wants us to believe that everything is going to be just fine.

It isn't fine.  It's soon to be awful.  Unless we void the damage these people have done.

Now that "the debt ceiling crisis" has been solved put off for another day, maybe Congress can get to work on repealing this abomination we call ObamaCare before it starts doing grievous harm.