Wonks on the Web

James A. Bacon: Bacon's Rebellion


Jim Bacon publishes the Bacon's Rebellion web site and authors the column by the same name. Raised in Washington, D.C., and Norfolk, he attended the University of Virginia and has spent virtually his entire adult life in the Old Dominion. He now lives in Richmond. Though far from perfect, Virginia, in his opinion, is the greatest place in the universe.


Bacon also publishes a daily business blog, R'Biz, for Richmond.com, as well as electronic newsletters on a contract basis under the name Bacon & Eggheads LC. To read more about his services, click here.


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.

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.

(See the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities web page on Bacon's Castle in Surry County.)

Curriculum Vitae          

Place of Birth: New London, Conn.

Hometowns: Washington, D.C., and Norfolk.


  • University of Virginia, B.A. in History (1975)
  • The Johns Hopkins University, M.A. in History (1976)
  • Hollins College, M.A. in Creative Writing (1981)


  • 1976-1979: Martinsville Bulletin; reporter; covered Martinsville City Council, Patrick County Board of Supervisors, furniture and textile industries
  • 1979-1984: Roanoke Times & World News; reporter; worked in New River Bureau covering Blacksburg Town Council and Radford City Council; then worked in the Roanoke office writing about the coal and railroad industries.
  • 1984-1985: AMVEST Corp.; manager of corporate communications in the Charlottesville headquarters.
  • 1985-1991: Virginia Business; Editor; member of the magazine's start-up team in Richmond; in charge of the magazine's editorial content.
  • 1991-1995: Virginia Business; Editor & Associate Publisher; took on the responsibility of originating and producing special sections.
  • 1995-2002: Virginia Business; Publisher & Editor in Chief; CEO of the magazine
  • 2002-present: Bacon's Rebellion; Founder, Publisher, Editor, Proof Reader, Web Editor, chief cook and bottle washer.
  • 2002 - present: Bacon & Eggheads, owner.
  • 2008-present: R'Biz; editor, and partner with Richmond.com.

Guiding Principles

The philosophy articulated by Bacon's Rebellion is based on the following guiding principles:


 q  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.


 q   On occasion, the vitality of the economy and well being of a community require collective action, either in the civic realm or in the governmental realm.


 q       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.


 q       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.


 q       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.


 q       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.


 q       Any proper accounting of the general welfare must include the health of the environment.


 q      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.


Columns and Articles


September 8: Passing the Baton. After six great years, the time has come to step down from the Bacon's Rebellion e-zine. It's been fun, rewarding -- and exhausting.


September 8: Who Will Report the News? How's this for irony: The knowledge economy craves information more than ever, but newspapers and print media are imploding. Where will Virginians get their news in the Internet age?


August 25: Salvaging Tysons. The Tysons task force on land use has articulated a compelling vision for the future of Virginia's largest -- and most dysfunctional -- business district. Just one problem: It's not clear who will pay for it.


August 4: Brainy Power. Dominion's proposed $600 million investment in a "smart grid" is the first step toward an electric power system in which conservation and renewables have equal standing with with coal and nukes.


July 21: No Salvaging the Mill Towns. Ten years and $400 million has failed to transform the economies of Southside and Southwest Virginia. Until leaders confront dispersed human settlement patterns, they will never address root causes.


July 7: The City of Squares. The historical core of Savannah, Ga., is one of the great urban places in the United States. Modern-day Virginia could learn a few lessons from James Oglethorpe's unique experiment.


June 23: The War on Sprawl. Andrew Jackson had his "kitchen" cabinet. Tim Kaine has his "sub" cabinet: five secretaries whose job is to marshal state resources to promote smart growth.


June 2: Personalities and Prosperity. Ever wonder why New York is full of neurotics and L.A. full of surfer dudes? In his latest book, Richard Florida suggests that regions, like people, have personalities -- with big implications for prosperity.


May 19: Cultivating Creativity. The da Vinci Center at Virginia Commonwealth University is elevating product development to an inter-disciplinary art. It may well be the future of American innovation.


May 5: Second Battle of Fredericksburg. A Yankee invader... er, investor... wants $30 million in incentives to build a giant waterpark in Fredericksburg. Local foes say they are fighting to save the city's tax base -- and its soul.


April 21: The Tribune of the People. In two high-profile lawsuits, Patrick McSweeney has defended the interests of the common citizen against power grabs by the political class. Virginians owe him a bigger debt than they'll ever know. 


April 7: First, Shoot All The Cars. While Virginians seem hell bent upon raising taxes and building roads, Ameri-kiwi Claude Lewenz envisions a different path to a superior quality of life: Auto-free villages.


March 24: User Pays. Virginia's transportation system needs more money. But how we raise the money is just as important as how much. Only a user-pays system can break the political gridlock.


February 25: Curriculum VITA. The overhaul of the Commonwealth of Virginia's antiquated IT system is a textbook study of how government can improve performance and save money -- without a dime of taxpayer investment. 


February 11: The Innovation Gap. There are compelling reasons for people to ditch their cars and use mass transit. Unfortunately, auto companies are reinventing themselves while the transit sector stands still.


January 28: Tomahawk Chop. The departure of the R-Braves baseball team is no great loss to Richmond. Indeed, the region should take the tomahawk to other groups of marginal value and invest in institutions of knowledge creation.


January 14: Brain Gain. Human capital is the driving force of prosperity in a  globally competitive economy. Soon, regions will vie for it like they compete for investment capital. Will Virginia be prepared?


January 14: Gray Matter Migration. A chart ranking the 50 states by net in-migration.


January 14: Virginia Migration Winners and Losers. A spreadsheet ranking Virginia localities by net in-migration.


- 2007 -


December 27: Education for the 21st Century. As Virginians embrace lifelong learning, children will no longer progress in chronological lockstep, study a mere nine months a year and confine their education to school buildings.


December 12: Conservation Capitalism. Want to increase energy efficiency, ward off global warming and save the planet? Then send in the capitalists. They have the creativity, resources and drive to get the job done.


November 26: Vision Impaired. Jim Crupi is right about one thing: Richmond's regional leaders lack strategic vision. They can correct that deficiency by throwing out Crupi's policy prescriptions and doing their own thinking.


November 12: Hidden Advantage. Flexible labor markets are Virginia's unappreciated competitive edge. They speed the redeployment of workers from low value-added businesses to high-performance enterprises.


October 29: The Ruling Party. Forget Dems and Republicans. The people who run Virginia are the vested interests that hire the lobbyists and pass out campaign donations. Their never-changing mission: to buttress the status quo.


October 15: Taxes, Government and Prosperity. Virginia can't tax its way to prosperity, but starving critical assets like roads and schools won't create wealth either. The solution: Demand productivity and innovation from state and municipal government.


October 1: Dead End. Virginia's corporate recruitment strategy still delivers results. That's the problem. By neglecting home-grown entrepreneurial companies, Virginia is falling short of its economic potential.


September 17: A Bug in the Ointment. The relocation of Volkswagen USA to Fairfax County is a P.R. bonanza for Virginia. But is the region, already buckling under growth, prepared to handle the influx of 400 more jobs?


September 17: Measuring Prosperity. There are two ways to increase the standard of living: Increase income and reduce the cost of living. Virginia policy makers focus on the one and not the other. 


September 4: Economy 4.0: Introduction

Virginia needs fresh thinking about how to build more prosperous, livable and sustainable communities in a globally competitive economy. The "Economy 4.0" series is a start.  


September 4: Peak Performance in a Flat World

There is no easy path to prosperity and sustainability in a globally competitive economy, only the relentless pursuit of productivity and innovation. Virginia must bend every institution to that end.


August 13: Vanquishing the Density Demon. There's no reason that higher density has to mean worse traffic congestion. In the face of population growth and commercial development, Arlington County has kept its streets gridlock-free.


July 30: Libraries as Liberators. Libraries of yore were quiet, musty places run by bookish schoolmarms. Today these activity centers pack in the visitors, create economic value and even help transform human settlement patterns. by James A. Bacon


July 16: The Next Transportation Crisis. The federal highway trust fund has blown through its cash balance, and gasoline tax receipts are down. In the years ahead Virginia will be hard pressed to make up the difference.


July 2: Midlothian Leviathan. The impact of a Midlothian commuter rail project on the Richmond region could be enormous -- if Chesterfield County puts into place the necessary zoning and special tax districts.


June 19: Fire Trucks and Bike Lanes. Wilton on the James has solved the intractable "design by fire truck" issue without sacrificing its commitment to a pedestrian-oriented community. The result: an impressive network of bike paths.


May 28: The Excesses of Affluence. Americans are addicted to hyper-consumption. The stuff we buy doesn't make us any happier -- we throw most of it away. But it does mortgage our financial future and despoil the environment.


May 14: New Kent Ferment. Pete Johns has found a way to make growth to pay for itself: Pay $7,500 per house in proffers, issue $86 million in CDA bonds, and sell houses to affluent retirees with no children in school.


April 30: Missing the Point. A Heritage Foundation paper attacking the Journey Through Hallowed Ground as a tool of Virginia's landed elite is unsupported by the facts. Worse, it slights the Journey's important contributions.


April 16: Honoring Hallowed Ground. Cate Wyatt is reinventing the economy of Virginia's northern piedmont. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground weaves together heritage tourism, sustainable agriculture, landscape preservation and Main Street renewal.


April 2: Brain Games. Want Virginia children to excel in school? Spending $300 million a year on universal pre-K may not be the best solution. Try teaching kids to eat right, get enough sleep and stay away from the television.


March 21: Earthship Westerdam. The Westerdam isn't as self-contained as a spaceship, but it's as close as anything you'll find on the planet. Virginians have much to learn from the cruise liner about sustainable human settlement patterns.


March 5: One Man's Trash... is another man's energy-rich biomass. Warrenton Mayor George Fitch views the county landfill as the key to energy independence.


March 5: Voltage Hogs. Virginia has one of the most electricity-intensive economies on the planet. One reason: State energy policies don't foster conservation and energy efficiency.


February 20: Transportation Abomination. A mutant offspring of a tortured political process, the transportation compromise before the General Assembly will do more harm than good. Conferees should strangle it in the crib.


February 5: Power Politics. Dominion touts electric re-regulation as a way to ensure energy independence for Virginia. But its vision requires more power plants, not conservation, energy efficiency or renewable fuels.


February 5: Q&A: Building 14. The crucible of innovation in corporate real estate is a non-descript office building in San Jose, Calif. Inside, Mark Golan is redefining the relationship between worker and work space.


January 22: Power Play. Northern Virginia could face blackouts by 2011. But is it necessary to run a high-voltage transmission line through Virginia's piedmont to avert them? Many questions remain unanswered.


January 22: Q&A: he United States as Margaritaville. This interview with Jim Young is the second of three Q&As with commercial real estate visionaries exploring the changing relationship between workers and the workplace.


January 8: The Oregon Solution. Don't take it on my word that mileage fees and congestion charges are the best replacement for the faltering gas tax. See what they're saying in the land of Birkenstocks and lumberjacks.


January 8: When All Else Fails, Try Capitalism. Community leaders in Tysons Corner are at wit's end to find ways to reduce traffic congestion. One tool they haven't considered is congestion pricing. Here's how such a scheme might work.


January 8: Q&A: Chat with Mark Dixon, CEO of Regus Group. This is the first of three Q&As with commercial real estate visionaries exploring the changing relationship between workers and the workplace.


- 2006 -


December 18: Design by Fire Truck. Why can't developers today create walkable communities like the small towns of the 1920s? Go ask your fire marshal.


December 4: No Such Thing as Free Parking. Free parking is like a free lunch: Someone pays, whether they know it or not. Trouble is, the hidden subsidy increases driving and worsens traffic congestion.


November 20: Big Grid. Monster power plants and transmission lines provide Virginians with relatively cheap, reliable electricity, but they have hidden risks and costs. It's time to transition to a system of distributed generation.


November 20: Wind Shear. Virginia is an energy-rich state, and the mother lode sits off the coast. Electric power generated by off-shore wind turbines could slice our dependence on polluting fossil fuels within a decade or two.


November 6: Focused Growth. To tame scattered development and the ills it creates, Frederick County concentrates growth in an Urban Development Area. The idea works so well that House Republicans want to take it statewide.


October 23: The Devolution Solution. Any meaningful transportation reform would make fast-growth counties responsible for their secondary roads. The trick is coaxing them into going along.


October 9: Seventy-Five Years. Virginia's system for building and maintaining roads has changed little in three quarters of a century. Some people think it needs more money. Others think it needs an overhaul.


September 25: The Swedish Solution. If congestion pricing works in Sweden, why not in Virginia? Tolls that vary by congestion levels could dampen demand for added roadway capacity while raising new revenue.


September 25: A Congestion Pricing Primer. Answers? You want answers? I asked the U.S. Department of Transportation about its congestion- pricing policies. The answers were so good I had to reproduce them whole.


September 11: The Dog that Didn't Bark. Like the hound of Holmesian lore, former VDOT Commissioner Philip Shucet is keeping unusually quiet. That's a clue for deciphering the shifting momentum of the transportation debate.


August 28: Extreme Makeover. Burrell Saunders has mastered a skill vital to Virginia's future: transforming suburban decay into urban cool. His talents are on display at Virginia Beach's Town Center.


August 7: Growth that Pays for Itself. Greenvest's proposed $1.3 billion development in Loudoun County would contribute $1 billion toward roads, schools and public facilities. A great deal for the public? Not everyone thinks so.


July 24: Loudoun Lightning Rod. VDOT sparked a storm last week when it released a traffic-impact analysis of development planned in Loudoun County. Agree or disagree with the findings, the debate is healthy.


July 10: CDAs, TIFs and TDMs. Lawmakers are overlooking a huge source of revenue to underwrite new transportation projects -- the increase in property values made possible by the transportation improvements themselves.


June 26: Gottschalk Got Game. Virginia's new secretary of commerce and trade is eager to help Tim Kaine put his own imprint on Virginia's economic development policy. Likely starting points: energy and workforce development.


June 12: Parking Madness. Virginians spend multi-millions of dollars paving parking spaces. Most of the investment in asphalt sits idle. Worse, sprawling parking lots destroy any sense of community or place.


May 30: Don't Worry, Be Happy. We Virginians grumble a lot, nothing ever quite suits us. But the best single measurement of well being -- growth in per capita income -- indicates that we're progressing far better than the nation as a whole.


May 15: Rail Rip-off. Extending METRO rail to Dulles Airport will enrich select landowners to the tune of billions of dollars. Why, then, are Fairfax County commuters being forced to pay so much of the project cost?


May 1: Suburbia Absurdia. Suburbs are full of sidewalks that go nowhere and nobody uses. What are people thinking? Why do we persist in building this schlock?


April 17: On the Chopra Block. Cutting costs in the Medicaid system may sound an odd task for Virginia's Secretary of Technology. But that's only if you don't know Aneesh Chopra.


April 3: Pod People. By stringing disconnected pods of development along our main roads, local planning policies force Virginians into their cars and aggravate traffic congestion.


March 20: Liberate Mass Transit. As an alternative to funding mega-sized road and rail projects, Virginia should give entrepreneurs more freedom to devise creative shared-ridership solutions.


February 27: Seek the Intersection. Innovation can be managed, says Frans Johansson, author of "The Medici Effect." And what individuals and enterprises can do, so can entire communities.


February 27: What's the Big Idea? The people at Play don't just talk creativity -- they live it. When they advise clients to tear down "walls" and "boundaries," they apply the nostrum to themselves -- quite literally.


February 13: Breakthrough. Newspapers treated the House transportation plan as a routine story about spending and taxes. It was so much more: House leaders are shifting the debate to land use and privatization.


January 30: The Waste in Maintenance. If the General Assembly doesn't tackle the $200 million-a-year waste in road maintenance, lawmakers can't even pretend to be serious about curtailing state spending.


January 16: The ABCs of SOQs. Educational spending in Virginia is driven by an obscure formula known as the Standards of Quality. The system  deprives policy makers of flexibility and inflates state spending.


January 3: Roads and Reason. Virginia is evolving toward a market-driven transportation system. Let's pick up the pace. Here's what an economically rational funding system would look like.


- 2005 -


December 12: The Gunst Guide to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Government regs have made a mess of real estate development, says the creator of Innsbrook. It's time to rewrite the rules and start over.


November 28: Mission Creep. VITA isn't delivering the savings that were promised to taxpayers. Perhaps that's because it has set higher goals for itself: providing a more robust, secure IT infrastructure.


November 14: New Man, New Ideas. Tim Kaine's victory will transform Virginia's  dead-end debate over how to raise more money and build more roads. The big new theme: How to manage travel demand.


October 31: Coping with $60-per-Barrel Oil. Sen. John Watkins wants to devise a long-term energy plan for Virginia. Let's hope that plan includes free markets, micro-power, conservation and land use reform.


October 17: Lost in Suburbia. Virginia's transportation "crisis" is really an urban design crisis in masquerade. Broad Street in Henrico County is a case in point: The ugly, dysfunctional retail strip is truly a road from hell.


October 3: UVa Under Siege -- from Within. Racial incidents at the University of Virginia last August were all too real. But the administration's over-reaction needlessly fed black students' fears and alienation.


September 19: It's the Global Economy, Stupid. A "flat" world is opening Virginia's economy to ferocious foreign competition. Business people worry about it every day. Our candidates for statewide office appear to be clueless.


September 5: Carpool Comeback. Thanks to $3-per-gallon gasoline and NuRide's online, ride-sharing service,  carpooling could stage a big rebound.


August 23: Does Not Compute. VDOT's forecasting model is the best yet devised, but it's still grievously flawed. Virginia does not face $108 billion in unmet transportation needs over the next 20 years.


August 8: The Shucet Effect. If the rest of state government had kept pace with VDOT over the past three years, Virginia could have cut spending by nearly $900 million. Don't tell me there's no waste left in government!


July 25: Rush Hour Will Never Be the Same. Technology is liberating workers from the tyranny of the central workplace, scrambling commuting patterns in the process. Our transportation policies are still catching up.


July 11: The Maintenance Mantra. The Road Gang wants you to believe that the surging maintenance budget for Virginia's roads justifies another tax increase. Take a closer look at the numbers before you buy their story.


June 20: The Incredible Expanding Budget Surplus. I hate to say, "I told you so," but... I told you so. Virginia is awash in black ink. The new budget numbers should energize the low-tax movement.


June 6: Why June 14 Matters. The politicians are poised to raise your taxes again. By voting for anti-tax candidates in the GOP primary, you can send a message: We insist that state government do better.


May 23: Fright of the Creative Class. Richard Florida is back. He says there's a global competition for creative talent, and the U.S. may be squandering its edge. But don't panic: Much of his analysis doesn't hold up.


May 9: Sim City. Suffolk is emerging as a leading center of Modeling & Simulation expertise. The Warner administration wants to leverage the military and university assets there into a world-class technology cluster.


April 25: Tuition Trauma. Are college tuitions escalating out of control? Yes, they are -- but mostly for reasons that we don't want to change.


April 11: Where's the Tech Lobby? You'd think that the technology sector would be pushing for creative ways to address Virginia's transportation "crisis". Despite having much to gain, the techies have contributed little to the debate.


April 11: The Tide Turns. After decades of sprawling growth, the Richmond region has embraced mixed-use development. New Urbanism-inspired projects are transforming the city center and aging suburbs.


March 28: Currency Quake. The declining value of the dollar will directly impact interest rates, property values and corporate competitiveness in Virginia. That means bad news for some, potentially good for others.


March 14: Pavlov's Pols. Politicians act as if the only solution to traffic congestion were building more roads and rail lines. Perhaps they should stop salivating over higher taxes long enough to read the VTrans2025 report.


February 28: Pitching a Fitch. Warrenton Mayor George Fitch wants to be your next governor. Outraged by waste in government, he's the one candidate totally committed to cutting taxes and reining in state spending.


February 14: One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State. As Americans sort themselves out geographically by lifestyle affinity, the culture wars can only get worse.

January 31: The Rebellion Will Be Blogged. Bacon's Rebellion is extending its digital reach to the blogosphere. May heresies prosper and dangerous ideas proliferate.


January 31: Spontaneous Combustion . Richmond's creative class is hot, hot, hot. Pioneering new ways to collaborate and inspire one another, commercial artists are becoming a driving economic force in the region.


January 17: A Curious Lapse of Memory. Lawmakers never mention it when talking about traffic congestion, but VDOT spending has more than doubled the rate of population growth over the past 10 years.


January 4: The Road to Righteousness.  Here's a package of four fundamental reforms based on fiscally conservative, free-market principles that would ameliorate Virginia's transportation crisis.


- 2004 -


December 13: Driving Around in Circles. Virginia's transportation system is bad and getting worse. Clueless on how to fix it, Virginia's political leaderships is like the guy who's totally lost and refuses to ask for directions.


November 29: Triumph of the Political Class. Despite gushing state revenues from economic growth and tax hikes, the special interests still want more. Don't believe their spin on the budget. Here's the straight story.


November 15: Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks. Mark Warner isn't just shoveling money into Virginia's public schools -- he's raising standards and holding administrators accountable for results.


November 1: Saving the Mill Town. Globalization is undermining the economies of small factory towns across the South. Some say they’re doomed. If so, Danville hasn’t gotten the message.  


November 1: Not Your Father’s Old Home Town . The Richmond region has seen a sweeping turnover in its business and civic leadership. Far from being a haven of bluebloods, the city is wide open to newcomers.


October 18: The Small Aircraft Revolution. Fasten your seatbelts, folks, the commercial aviation system built around big planes and big airports is in for a bumpy ride. When it comes to air service, small is beautiful.


October 4: Das Humankapital . Karl Marx would never recognize the 21st century world in which human capital trumps financial capital. This historic shift changes all the rules – including those of economic development.


September 20: Silicon for Asphalt. It's no surprise that the state highway commissioner thinks Virginia needs more money to build more roads. But Philip Shucet also entertains heretical thoughts on how the state can use technology to improve mobility.


September 7: The Shucet Shake Up. Highway commissioner Philip Shucet has transformed VDOT with his financial and managerial reforms -- but there's still a lot of road work ahead.


August 23: Shockoe Jocks. Baseball players in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom? A proposed downtown stadium is the right project in the right place -- if developers can pull it off without putting taxpayers at risk.


August 9: Just The Tip of the Dipstick. Higher gasoline prices hurt, but the big problem isn't OPEC -- it's the total cost of car ownership, made onerous by the fact that Virginians drive 40 percent more than they did a generation ago.


July 26: Alms for the Arts. Brad Armstrong wants to raise $163 million in public and private funds to support Richmond's performing arts and downtown revitalization. The causes are worthy. But is he asking too much?


July 26: From Competence to Creativity . Leading Richmond companies need a lot more than technical competence these days. They’re looking for employees who can thrive in high-performance, high-creativity work environments.  


July 12: The Network of Space . Technology is transforming the relationship between people and where they work. To fulfill the promise of telework, the Commonwealth needs to invest less in asphalt, more in bandwidth.


June 21: One More Time, Now... Free trade, even out-sourcing, is good for Virginia's economy. The losers from open markets may be highly visible but the winners are far more numerous.


June 7: The Death of "Live and Let Live". The Affirmation of Marriage Act shattered a workable philosophy in Virginia that left gays in peace but deferred to mainstream values. The legislation will hurt our economy and do nothing to strengthen marriage.


May 24:  We Are What We Build. The United States is the richest country in the world. Why aren't we enjoying our wealth more? Because, says new urbanist guru Andres Duany, we've made such a hash of our made-made environment.


May 10: Step up to Flex. One "flex" car takes a half dozen other autos off the roads. That's why Arlington County supports car sharing as part of its strategy for dealing with traffic congestion.


April 26: The Vision Thing. Gov. Warner and his pro-tax allies are winning the tax debate because they’ve stayed on message with a coherent set of principles. Their foes in the House have never proffered an alternative vision.


April 12: Straws in the Wind . Does Virginia face untold billions of dollars in "unmet transportation needs"? Only if you ignore innovative experiments in traffic demand management bubbling out of Northern Virginia.


April 12: The Numbers Are In! Here are the official statistics -- straight from the Warner administration -- documenting how the state budget has increased in the face of a "$6 billion budget shortfall."


March 29: What’s a “Budget Shortfall? Gov. Warner has cited the existence of a “$6 Billion Budget Shortfall” as justification for higher taxes. Just what is a “budget shortfall"? Your intrepid correspondent digs for answers.


March 29: A Secret $11 Billion Surplus? Stories are circulating of a massive stash of surplus state funds in Virginia. Trust me on this one: If it sounds too good to be true, it's too good to be true. 


March 29: One Year Later... One year ago, I wrote a column defending the U.S. invasion of Iraq. We still haven't found any weapons of mass destruction. How do I squirm out of this one?


March 15: Free the Virginia Three. A tight-fisted General Assembly is crushing Virginia's university system. The answer isn't higher taxes and state support -- it's more freedom.


March 15: Bacon Chided but Unrepentant


March 1: Paper Cuts. The politicians in Richmond still cite the "$6 billion shortfall" in the last budget to justify raising taxes for the next. But their spending "cuts" barely went skin deep.


March 16: Questions for the Governor. Gov. Warner knows how to please a crowd when talking tax reform, but he still hasn't made the case for a $1.2 billion tax hike. Here are five questions he still needs to answer.


February 2: The Horror! The Horror! The Commonwealth is slipping into a budgetary heart of darkness. To save Virginians from themselves, Sen. John Chichester is willing to enchain them with massive tax increases.


February 2: Move Over, Boomers. The U.S. economy will face widespread labor shortages as Baby Boomers retire -- forcing communities to re-write the rules of economic development.


January 19: Inflection Point. The mega trends are turning in favor of central cities like Richmond and against the aging inner suburbs. Virginia may be entering an age of urban renaissance and suburban decay.


January 19: Dueling Gurus. Jeremy Siegel recommends investing in stocks for the long run. Robert Shiller warns of major risks in the economy. Who to believe? It largely depends on your investment time horizon.


January 5: It’s a Start . Mark Warner has set a worthy goal of generating $1 billion in university R&D by 2010. But his proposed budget makes only a down payment on what Virginia's research institutions need to achieve it.  


- 2003 -


December 15: The 65 Percent Solution. Gov. Warner claims that 65 percent of Virginia taxpayers will benefit from his tax plan. It all depends on how you count the numbers.


December 1: Volatile States, Volatile Budgets. Yes, Virginia, the Commonwealth can grow its way out of its budget straightjacket. What the state needs, says GMU prof Mark Crain, is not more revenue but more predictable revenue.


November 17: The Housing Bubble. If you thought the dot.com bust was bad, wait until the housing market crashes. According to John Rubino, the next downturn could bring the nasty recession we should have gotten in 2000. 


November 4: Why Not the Best? Lawmakers are ignoring the accelerating health care crisis. With a little imagination, Virginians could create the premier, market-driven health care system in the world.


October 20: Demand-Side Economics. The government remedy for traffic congestion is to increase supply by building more roads. Craig Franklin's solution is to use real-time traffic data to manage demand.


October 20: Readers Respond. Point-Counterpoint on the Appalachian School of Law.


October 6: Law Schools and Baseball Stadiums. Virginians still don't get it: To compete in a globally integrated economy, they must channel scarce resources into institutions that promote regional productivity and innovation.


September 25: Ill Wind . Virginians acquitted themselves well after surviving the worst storm in a generation. But the question lingers: Was some of the damage and disruption preventable?  


September 8: The Silent Migration. Taxpayers have been leaving the inner cities for decades. Now they're leaving the inner suburbs. The trend bodes ill for the localities where a majority of Virginians live.


September 8: The Rest of the Story. Contrary to the possible impression created by my last column, the Warner administration is re-evaluating the way it manages the state's real estate assets.  


September 8: Readers Respond


August 25: Anybody Want a Used Prison? Before raising taxes, could we please implement the recommendations of the Wilder Commission -- like rationalizing the state's far-flung real estate portfolio? 


August 11: Voting with their Feet. Judging by recently published "domestic migration" numbers, Virginia's ability to attract human capital deserves a polite but restrained round of applause.


August 11: Readers Respond. 


July 28: Blundering in the Dark. How competitive is Virginia at attracting the innovators and wealth creators who drive the economy forward? We don't know. And we don't even know how to find out.


July 14: The Uglification of Virginia. Sprawl is eroding the Commonwealth's exceptional rural landscapes. Anyone concerned about Virginia's quality of life and economic competitiveness should be worried.


June 30: Lean Manufacturing. As Virginia manufacturers confront the challenge of overseas outsourcing, they aren't pleading for subsidies or protection -- they're striving for world-class productivity.


June 30: Readers Respond.


June 16: Never Give Up. The $66 million Broad Street project is crucial to downtown Richmond's redevelopment. Raising the funds from private investors took guts, perseverance and blind obstinacy.  


June 9: Thrill Ride. Driving along I-81 can give you an adrenaline rush. So can the cool, creative proposals for addressing traffic congestion on Virginia's longest Interstate highway.  


June 9: Bacon Bytes: Virginia Is Slipping in Broadband Deployment.


June 2: What’s It all About, Alfie? There's more to life -- even political life -- than low taxes. People want prosperity, which includes higher incomes and a lower cost of living.  


June 2: Readers Respond


May 26: The Third Crossing. A third bridge-tunnel in Hampton Roads is the most important transportation project in Virginia. Tolls may make it financially feasible.


May 19: Taxula Rasa. Virginia's gasoline and real estate taxes don't just pinch our pocketbooks -- they drive up the cost of government. It's time to wipe the slate clean and start over. 


May 12: Growing the Pie. The way to solve Virginia's structural budget deficit is not to raise taxes -- it's to expand the economic base. That means taxing consumption instead of wealth creation.


May 5: A 19th Century Tax Code for a 21st Century Economy . Virginia's tax structure combines the inertia of century-old institutions with the favoritism of special-interest politics. We need to tear it down and start over.


April 28: The Five Instabilities. Companies outsourcing manufacturing to China may be in for a nasty surprise. Disorder in the People's Republic soon could disrupt supply chains originating there.


April 21: Too Small to Govern? Highland County, population 2,500, tests the limits of Virginia's system of local government, which presupposes a tax base large enough to support mandated services.


April 14: Creative Writing. The James River Writers Festival is more than a celebration of Richmond's literary heritage. It's cutting-edge economic development in the era of the Creative Class.


April 7: Nurturing Networks. Marianne Vermeer is trying to figure out how to create entrepreneurial networks -- the crucial, though hidden, girders of the Knowledge Economy.


March 31: Doing More with Less. Despite budget cuts, the Warner team has an ambitious plan to promote Virginia R&D. The key: snagging more federal funds for Virginia's research universities.


March 31: Readers Respond


March 24: Why War, Why Now? How can Virginians justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Try terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, human rights and preservation of an open global trading system.


March24: What Would Mr. Jefferson Do? Virginia's favorite president did not shy from the use of force. His campaign against the Barbary pirates freed a young nation from paying tribute to the pasha of Tripoli.


March 17: Car Tax Lotto. Car tax relief returned $819 million to Virginia taxpayers last year. But the payoff was arbitrary, depending on where you live and how expensive a car you drive.


March 17: Who Loves Ya, Baby? Hey, Bloomberg, tax this! Kudos to the Warner administration for bringing Philip Morris USA to Richmond .


March 10: Do the Math . Defenders of Virginia ’s death tax say repeal would cost the state tens of millions of dollars. But their revenue analysis ignores the real-world behavior of rich people.  


March 3: Safer Cigarettes . "Safe cigarettes" sounds like an oxymoron but it reflects a worthy goal. And it could provide the rallying cry for building a world-class tobacco cluster in Virginia .


March 3: Readers Respond  


February 24: Crank up the Nukes.  Nuclear energy and electric vehicles are a one-two combination for energy independence, a cleaner environment and a stronger economy.


February 17: Environmental Colonialism. "Smart Growth" restrictions on development make housing unaffordable to thousands of minority families and perpetuates residential segregation.


February 10: Building a Better Place. 2900 Clarendon in Arlington County is a model for tax-efficient, environmentally friendly development that contributes to neighborhood vitality.  


February 3: Florida Hurricane. Richard Florida, the boldest thinker in economic development today, blew through Richmond last week. The Holy City may never be the same.


January 27: Bury the Death Tax. Virginia needs to repeal its inheritance tax. Otherwise, the Commonwealth risks driving off the entrepreneurs who build businesses, create jobs and generate lots of taxes.


January 20: Rethinking Richmond. Greg Wingfield wants to shift Richmond ’s economic development focus from corporate investment to human capital. The strategy will require a drastic shift in regional priorities.


January 13: Save the Wahoos! Erratic state funding is hindering the University of Virginia from building a world-class institution. It may be time to privatize Mr. Jefferson's creation.


January 6: Shake 'em Up! Investing in K-12 may be the state's No. 1 priority, but that shouldn't exempt public schools from budget cuts and structural reform.


- 2002 -


December 23: The Next Big Thing . It may be too late for Virginia to become a world leader in biotech -- but leadership in the delivery of medical services is still within our grasp.


December 16: Look, Ma, No Taxes . Rebounding quickly from its November election disaster, the Warner administration has crafted a credible transportation strategy that doesn’t stiff the taxpayers.


December 9: Sinking Expectations. Mark Warner may still have the vision thing. But shorn of resources, his new strategic plan for economic development sets modest goals.


December 2: Only One Way Out. Patrick County is in a world of hurt. Jerry Baliles is betting that boosting educational achievement across the board, from students to adults, can attract investment.


November 25: No More Nerdistans! To prosper in the global economy, Virginia must adopt patterns of development that create wealth, not destroy it, and facilitate the virtual economy, not inhibit it.


November 18: The Great Equalizer. The biggest story of Election '02 wasn't the defeat of the tax referenda. It was how a band of upstarts used the Internet to thwart the designs of Virginia's power brokers.


November 11: Down But Not Out. Mark Warner may have taken a pounding at the polls last week for championing the sales-tax referenda, but Virginians still want solutions for congested roads.


November 4: Car(pool) Crash . State transportation policy has run off the road. Proposed remedies for congestion are not only expensive but rendered obsolete by changes in the way we live and work.


October 28: Handicapping the Referendum. Assuming residents vote their narrow self interests, approval of the sales tax referendum in Northern Virginia looks like a better bet than the one in Hampton Roads.


October 21: The Anti-dot.com. As a start-up company in the old-economy aluminum industry, Service Center Metals hopes to build its competitive advantage through quality, service and lean operations.


October 14: Broadband Everywhere. Virginia localities gotta have it. But telcom companies give up crucial mapping data only when someone pries it out of their cold, dead fibers.


October 7: Innovation Factories. Should Virginia back its traditional R&D powerhouses or fund universities in its major metro areas? Bob Sharak asks the tough questions.


September 30: Cyber House Rules.The Potter's School has demonstrated that a "virtual" high school can work in a home-school environment. The question: Can the model be applied elsewhere?


September 23: A State of Mind. A "yes" vote for the statewide, education-and-parks bond referenda this fall would speed Virginia's transition to the Knowledge Economy.


September 23: The Intangible Economy. Virginia ranks well in the Milken Institute’s comparison of states’ potential for technology-led growth. But the Old Dominion still has weaknesses to overcome.


September 16: Tunnel Vision. The remedies for addressing traffic congestion in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads are one-dimensional and self defeating. Their authors need to start over.


September 16: Lessons from Ireland. The Irish economic development miracle makes a tempting model for rural Virginia. But Ireland in 1990s is not comparable to Virginia in 2002.


September 9: We are the World. After pontificating about overseas outsourcing, Bacon’s Rebellion is giving it a try. Already, I’m getting sentimental. Global trade is beautiful, man, it’s really beautiful!


September 9: Letters. Readers to Bacon: Your Drought Column was All Wet!


September 2: Dearth of Water -- Or Ideas? Water may be the most common molecule on earth, but it's still subject to supply and demand. When there's not enough, local governments should raise the price.


August 26: "Putting People First". It made a great campaign slogan. Now Governor Warner should make it the centerpiece of an economic development policy based on human capital.


August 26: Bacon Bytes. A new CIT mission emerges; If you snooze, you lose.


August 19: Two Commissions in One. To guide the state through its fiscal crisis, Virginia CEO Mark Warner needs to find quick, short-term savings and carry out long-term reforms.


August 19: Bacon Bytes. Reason #1 to lose sleep at night; Reason #2 to lose sleep at night.


August 12: Cow College Transformed. Virginia Tech's proposed Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health could be rural Virginia's best bet for economic revitalization.

August 5: Strong-arming Armstrong. Scrambling to save the Center for Innovative Technology from budget cutters, George Newstrom muscled CIT President Anne Armstrong out the door.

July 29: Where's the Beef? Virginia doesn’t have much to show for its massive investment in agricultural productivity. It’s time to change priorities.


July 22: Nowhere to Run... Nowhere to Hide. Virginia's "New South" economic development strategy is floundering in the globally integrated economy. We need to rethink everything.


July 22: Invest in Education.... says Stanley Furniture's Albert Prillaman. It's the only way to save Southside from a Third World future.


July 22: Never Look Behind You. Triathlete Keith Simmons is always running scared. The CEO of Ironman Wetsuits strives for continual innovation.


July 22: Income Growth. Northern Virginia leads the way with a little help from the exurbs.


July 22: Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida.





Public Appearance Guidelines

The Original Bacon's Rebellion

Contact Information

Curriculum Vitae

Personal Information

Guiding Principles


Public Appearance Guidelines

Personal Appearances: Mr. Bacon is available to give speeches and participate in panel discussions. As a rule, he is free to attend events in the Richmond area. He will be delighted to take part in events outside Richmond if his schedule permits.

Interviews: Mr. Bacon is generally available for telephone interviews.

Contact Information

Phone: (804)  873-1543

Email: jabacon@bacons-


Personal Information

Name: James A. Bacon Jr.

Wife: Laura

Children: Sara, Ginny and Jamie

Cats: Saidie and Mollie

Golf handicap: None. I don't play golf. But I did get a hole-in-one once at the Jungle Putt-Putt in Virginia Beach.

Sporting activities: Real men don't mind getting a few bruises. I don't play rugby, but I am a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. ... Too bad my bad back doesn't let me practice anymore. I'm still a black belt in my mind.

Mindless escapes: Computer games – Civilization III and Starcraft.

Favorite TV program: None. Television is a wasteland.

Favorite recent movie: 300. Forget historical accuracy -- this movie is based on a graphic novel about the battle of Thermopylae. But the images are stupendous, and the themes -- fighting for liberty in the face of overwhelming odds -- is stirring.

Favorite recent book: "The Singularity Is Near" by Ray Kurzweil. According to Kurzweil blazing-fast development in the areas of information technology, artificial intelligence, robotics, nano-technology and genomics will bring an era of unprecedented prosperity in which human life expectancy is increased immeasurably and robots are smarter than people. While Kurzweil may be excessively optimistic, he raises questions worth pondering.

Favorite recent CD: Citation by Scott Miller. Once again, Virginia-raised  (now living in Tennessee) shows he can compose and sing an incredible range of rock and roll. His lyrics, which are rooted in Southern culture, are a pleasure, too.

Secrets to longevity: Don't smoke and stay out of the sun. Practice Tae Kwon Do, drink red wine copiously, do everything else in moderation. Oh, and after reading "The Singularity is Near," I would add... inject nanobots into your bloodstream.