Saturday, November 06, 2004

They're Going To Have Us Wearing Clown Suits

For the life of me I don't understand what the Democrats in this state find so appealing about tourism. Congressman Boucher (D-Abingdon) made it his only campaign issue. And won reelection on Tuesday I might add. And now I hear that our Governor - Mark Warner (also a D) - is happily promoting tourism as the cure-all for our problems here in southwest Virginia. Referring to a new privately funded initiative called the Fiber Arts Guild, staff reporter for the Bland County Messenger Stephanie Porter-Nichols writes
If successful, the shop would mesh with Gov. Mark Warner's plan to create an arts and crafts trail in Virginia similar to The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. This driving route, which features bluegrass, country and gospel music sites from Floyd to far Southwest Virginia, was designed to enhance the economy by focusing attention on this region’s abundant music resources.
I swear to God, I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. I've looked high and low for studies on how much incremental revenue these two geniuses think tourism is going to bring into the area. I haven't found them. If a report exists (and I have my doubts), I'll surely post it so that we can all get a chuckle.

Look, I have nothing against tourism. In fact there are a number of citizens in this part of the country that make a decent living off of people that come here to look at our leaves and rocks. My guess is there will be several that will benefit from a government initiative to bring music lovers here as well. But unless Mark Warner or Rick Boucher can convince Dolly Parton to move to Max Meadows and change its name to Dollywood, the number who will benefit won't be more than several.

But nobody has ever called me closed minded when it comes to new ideas. I'll even go so far as to support a test of their tourism initiative. I hereby suggest that both Boucher and Warner come down to Bland at their earliest convenience. They can put on their blackface makeup and antebellum garb; one can strum the banjo while the other does the Virginia Reel and sings, "Mammy." I'll volunteer to count the proceeds.

That is what they are expecting us to do, after all. While our decent, hard-working neighbors are out trying to make ends meet at the same time that other neighbors are watching their textile mill jobs and coal mining jobs and furniture factory jobs disappear, our governor and congressman ask that we form one big long chorus line, grin, and entertain their tourist friends from up north. And hold a tin cup out should they wish to toss us a few coins in appreciation. 

What we need here are employers. What America's corporations need is incentive. What the politicians can provide is tax incentive. And a modicum of protection. Rather than take our precious income and confiscate a sizeable portion of it for state and federal taxes, only to return a piece of it so that we can build a "pickin' and grinnin'" booth somewhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Boucher and Warner should create conditions such that America's leading corporations will want to come here to take advantage of a lucrative tax structure. 

It worked wonders with the maquiladoras in Mexico, for God's sake. Why not lure the same businesses here?