Friday, January 30, 2009

Thought For The Day

Politicians don't make economic decisions, they make political decisions that have economic consequences.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ward Armstrong WILL DEFINITELY be opposed....

The only question remaining is which opponent will it be...

Earlier I mentioned a possible candidate who is garnering quite a bit of support here in Henry County from the business community. That candidate is not quite ready to announce officially yet.

Now I hear of another fine candidate from Patrick County who is also developing a following. This candidate, too, is reluctant to officially announce.

I don't know yet when the 10th Legislative District Committee will meet and decide on a method of nomination - Mass Meeting, Convention, or Primary, - though the information I have points toward a likely Mass Meeting. Neither candidate is aware of a specific date or method either. That information is being closely guarded by the few GOP insiders who make such decisions.

I suppose both are waiting for some certainty in the nomination method before making an official announcement.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Inconsequential Story

The ownership of a blog is not as simple as some would think.

Sure, most bloggers simply regurgitate various news items, as though their readership would never find them through the real media. That's pretty simple. Other bloggers dig deep into some real investigative journalism, but they are rare indeed.

Still others, such as this one, simply provide what is hoped to be thoughtful commentary on a wide array of subjects. Sounds simple, but just which subjects should one cover?

In my case, a subject must mean something to me. Personally. I really don't write this stuff for my readers, though I do appreciate each and every one of you, I write it only for myself.

Through some tools available to all bloggers I know who my readers are. Most of you anyway. I know that many in the Virginia General Assembly, and members of their staff, are regular readers. I have several readers inside the beltway, presumably involved with the Federal Government in some way. I only hope that in some small way I can enlighten and entertain you.

At any given time I have a half-dozen or so article ideas floating around, and typically just as many pieces in draft form. Most never make it to the publish stage. You see, that's the really hard part of maintaining/writing/publishing a blog. Just what does get past the gate and onto the web page?

Right now, for example, I have a couple of stories that I could tell. Stories that may or may not mean anything to you, my reader. It all depends upon who you know, how you know them, and even where you are. A local story could mean nothing to a local reader, yet mean a lot to someone in Richmond, or Washington, if a character in the story is recognized.

Yes, there is a lot to think about before publishing what most readers would see as an inconsequential story. Such as this one.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rube Goldberg, Phone Home

By Barnie Day;

Want to experience the audio equivalent of deer-in-the-headlights? Call your senator, your congressman, your governor, your delegate, your state senator, your commissioner, your member of city or town council, or your mayor and ask how the $1 trillion "stimulus" package coming out of Washington sometime around mid-February is going to work, what form it will take, who gets the money, how the dough will be disbursed.

This is not chicken feed we’re talking about. Or is it?

Remember the $600 "stimulus" ($1200 for couples) the government put on your credit card and gave to you in 2007? That was chicken feed.

How ’bout the "stimulus" package of 2008, the one that insisted that things would be alright if banks that got into trouble making bad loans simply made more of them? Remember? That was chicken feed.

How ’bout the Detroit bailouts? You know–that one– where we pay the car makers to re-tool so they can build more cars that people don’t want to buy. Chicken feed.

Virginia’s $3 billion deficit? Pfft! Shoo! Go Away! We’ve got a trillion dollar issue to sort out!

Don’t bother asking if any of this makes sense. We’re way beyond that. We’re in the netherworld, that mind-place that says you can borrow yourself out of debt, that dark warm place some people jam their heads into and shout in a thousand muffled voices, "A trillion dollar deficit is horrible so let’s double it!" (Assuming China will loan us another trillion.)

And don’t bother dragging the economists into it. They’ve all succumbed to lemming-think. Let them sleep.

So what to do? How shall we sort it out? How shall we understand what’s coming?

Herewith, three approaches:

1. Do the math. If it’s a trillion dollars, and 40 per cent goes to tax cuts, that leaves $600 billion in direct government spending-healthcare, bridges, whatever. It won’t be distributed fairly (in politics, the fair leaves in October), but let’s imagine, for the moment, that it will be– say on a per capita basis. That works out to about $1714.29 for each of us, or here in Patrick County $32.5 million–about enough to build another two miles of U.S. 58 up Lover’s Leap Mountain.

2. Go for the audio equivalent of the deer-in-the-headlights, mentioned above.

3. Ask your cat. At least mine had the decency to offer a throaty "meow." (I cheated, though. I was holding a carton of milk when I asked him.)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Henry County Is Becoming A Blogging Hotbed

For its population, Henry County is now, suddenly, probably more blogful than any other Virginia county.

For way too long I was here all by myself. Then badrose came on board. Next came Billy Jack, (come on back Billy), and then we got a Lowell Feld imitator in James White.

We now have two new Democratic blogs here in Henry County. Both of these new Democratic blogs are respectful, thoughtful, idealistic, progressive blogs. I enthusiastically ask my readers to go over and check out 220South and Dem-Bones.

I encourage both 220 South and Dem bones to continue and welcome them to the Virginia blog community.

Five bloggers in one low population county? Who can top that?

Your Assessor Didn't Do It. Your BOS Did.

Patrick County citizens are up in arms over their latest property assessments. Well, to be a bit more accurate, they are upset over their latest property tax bill. This time of year that is a fairly common complaint all across Virginia. This year it's Patrick County, next year it may be Henrico. Or perhaps Suffolk. Or any of Virginia's other counties. What the good people of Patrick County do not know, and I'll wager most Virginians do not know either, is that their new re-assessment did not cause their property tax bill to shoot through the roof.

Yes, I meant what I wrote. Your increased assessment did not cause your property tax to increase. Your Board of Supervisors caused that increase.

The Code of Virginia, (that great big book with all of Virginia's many laws listed in an orderly manner), makes it clear. Any new assessment that causes a tax bill increase of more than 1% requires, yes, requires, a reduction in the tax rate. A rate reduction that will bring all tax bills back into that 1% range.

What the Code of Virginia does not require is that the new tax remain at the reduced rate. Read that again. The new tax does not have to remain at it's legally required lower rate.

My neighbors in Patrick County; Your tax rate went up, not because of your new assessment, but because your Board of Supervisors cannot control their spending.

I'm sure if you go back and look at the minutes of your Board of Supervisors meetings you will find the quick, quiet, probably unanimous vote to roll back your tax rate. A roll back that brought your tax bill within the legal 1% increase range.

Further searches through those minutes will reveal a vote, equally quick and quiet, unanimous or not, that immediately raised that rate to where it is now.

These two votes could have even occurred during the same meeting. They may have even been concurrent votes. Or even a vote on a single motion to both lower and raise the rate. All the law requires is that the rate be lowered.

Oh, to be sure, there is a requirement that all this be explained on your tax bill. And I'll bet it is. But is it explained in a manner that you can follow and understand? Not likely. Otherwise you guys would not be so upset about your assessment. Or nearly so mad at your idiot assessor.

As your former Delegate, Barnie Day recently stated in an Op-Ed in the Martinsville Bulletin;
Most of the rage, consternation and anguish brought about by the recent real property reassessment in Patrick County is misdirected.

The state does not establish the value of our real estate. The county does not — nor does the town council, the farm bureau, the Boy Scouts, etc.

Simply put, the marketplace sets this value — the marketplace and nothing else. It is a hypothetical expression of what a willing buyer would likely give a willing seller, as determined by the best evidence available — comparable sales, best estimates and so on.
The guy who assessed your property most likely got it right. Or at least very close. He or she has no reason to do otherwise, and many reasons not to get it wrong. As licensed, regulated professionals their work is based upon the marketplace, experience, research, and again, the marketplace.

I suggest you ask your Supervisor about this. Ask him why the board can't restrain its spending. Ask him why the explanation is not more clearly explained on your bill.

Just don't go on blaming the wrong guy. Your assessor didn't do it.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

What You Are About To See Is Unrehearsed And Uncensored.

Fascinating link I ran across this morning. In the late 1950s Mike Wallace hosted a show, sponsored by Phillip Morris, called "The Mike Wallace Interview". No, I'm not old enough to actually remember it. I was only two years old, besides, I don't think we even owned a TV in 1957.
"Whether you agree or disagree with what you will hear, we feel that none will deny the right of these views to be broadcast."
Given complete freedom by both the network and his sponsor, Mr. Wallace interviewed America's most influential, infuriating, introspective, and even incompetent newsmakers of the time.

From Gloria Swanson to Commando Kelly. From Steve Allen to Orval Faubus. From Eddie Arcaro to Margaret Sanger. It's an impressive list. And some amazing, uncensored interviews.

Mike Wallace donated those interviews, and the films, to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin where the old kinescopes, (16mm films taken of video monitors), were digitized and transcripted. Of Course Mr. Wallace maintained his copyright, or I would love to drop the interview of Dr. Henry Wriston into this page. On August 17, 1958 Dr. Wriston spoke on a variety of subjects, including the Middle East Crisis. Yes, Virginia, there has been a "Middle East Crisis" more or less continuously my entire lifetime. And for many years before that.
WALLACE: Well, we'll get to the foreign service, if we may, a little bit later in the program, but right now I'd like to stay in the Middle East, if I may. Talking about the Middle East, and I think you'll agree that it's a troubled spot .. now as well as back in the days of the Saracens..

WRISTON: And will be, for another fifty years.
There are many other interviews. Some light and fun, some very heavy and thoughtful. Many that will enlighten my younger readers and bring remembrances to those of my generation. I encourage you to go browse through the offerings at The Mike Wallace Interview Collection.