Bacon’s Rebellion covers a wide range of public policy issues in Virginia with a special emphasis on the state budget, taxes, infrastructure, land use, transportation, energy, the environment and community health. Our mission is to provide Virginia citizens with the ideas and news they need to build more prosperous, livable and sustainable communities.
The Original Bacon’s Rebellion
In 1676, a Henrico farmer by the name of Nathaniel Bacon led a series of expeditions to defend the frontier against Indian attack. Raising his own militia, he acted in defiance of the colonial governor, Sir William Berkeley, who preferred to deal with the Indians more diplomatically. Elected to the House of Burgesses, Bacon also pressed the interests of the small farmers and common people in the colonial assembly. In a “Declaration of the People” — the first expression of popular sovereignty in the English colonies — he accused Berkeley of raising unjust taxes, elevating his cronies to positions of high office, exercising a monopoly in the beaver trade and interfering with his campaigns against the Indians. The power struggle between Bacon and Berkeley led to a series of armed skirmishes culminating with the siege and burning of Jamestown, the colonial capital. Bacon’s death of “bloodie flux” and “lousey” disease put an end to the first rebellion against English authority in the North American colonies.
The 21st Century Bacon’s Rebellion
In 2002 Jim Bacon departed Virginia Business magazine, where he had been publisher and editor-in-chief, to launch Bacon’s Rebellion as an electronic newsletter. Three years later, he added the Bacon’s Rebellion blog as an affiliated but stand-alone project. With funding from the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), Bacon’s Rebellion was the first digital enterprise in Virginia to conduct serious, in-depth journalism on topics related to state and local governmental policy.
After a hiatus working as vice president-publications for the Boomer Project, a Richmond-based market research firm focusing on the Boomer generation, he wrote a book, “Boomergeddon,” warning Boomers that an eventual collapse of federal government finances would shred the Social Security and Medicare safety net they are counting on for retirement.
After winding up the “Boomergeddon” project, Bacon re-launched the Bacon’s Rebellion blog, jettisoning the newsletter in order to spend more time on original reporting. He publishes the blog as a full-time endeavor, backed financially with sponsorships from the Piedmont Environmental Council and the Bon Secours Virginia Health System. Bacon’s Rebellion is open to working with other sponsors.
Bacon’s Rebellion is unique among Virginia’s leading blogs in having no partisan affiliation and entertaining a wide range of ideological viewpoints from its contributors. (Read more about the blog and its contributors here.)
Jim Bacon has no known relationship to Nathaniel Bacon, and he bears no grievance towards Virginia’s Indian tribes. However, he does live in Henrico County, and he does share his namesake’s predilections for shaking up the established order.
You can contact him at jabacon[at]baconsrebellion.com.
Guiding Principles of the Rebellion
The philosophy articulated by the 21st-century Bacon’s Rebellion is based on the following guiding principles:
■ Free markets and the individual pursuit of enlightened self-interest are the most efficient means of allocating resources and creating wealth – most of the time.
■ The vitality of the economy and well being of a community also require collective action, either in the civic realm or in the governmental realm.
■ Government is a necessary evil which requires constant oversight. Even at the state and local level, it falls prey to organized special interests seeking to acquire funds, influence regulations or curry some other favor.
■ Governmental institutions are slower to adapt to changing circumstances than are business institutions. Governments lack the discipline of the marketplace – failure does not result in bankruptcy, liquidation or takeover by a stronger entity.
■ Governmental institutions also have no clear “bottom line.” Governments have nothing comparable to sales, profits, return on investment and other vital measures – as defined by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles – that investors use to evaluate corporations.
■ The managers of all institutions, whether business, educational, civic or governmental, tend to shun accountability. The rules of governance, by which citizens hold these entities accountable, must be constantly updated. And leaders of these institutions must be subject to continual scrutiny.
■ Any proper accounting of the general welfare must include the health of the environment.
■ The proper focus of social justice is to create equal rights under the law and to open up economic opportunities for all citizens — not to mandate equal outcomes.