up your gas tank lately? I pumped 15 gallons into
my Jeep Cherokee a couple of days ago. With
“regular” running nearly $2 per gallon, it cost me
nearly $30. Fortunately, I drive less than 10,000 miles
a year, so a tank lasts me longer than it does most
told, Virginians consumed about 4.9 billion gallons of
gasoline in 2002, the most recent year for which
Department of Motor Vehicles has compiled figures.
Consumption, which has increased relentlessly every year
since 1982, is undoubtedly higher this year. That means,
at $2 per gallon, Virginians now are spending about $10
billion annually on gasoline. If crude petroleum prices
move higher, as they very well might, Virginians could
be looking at $2.50-per-gallon fuel in the
not-too-distant future. Such a price hike would take
another $2.5 billion in spending power out of our
been a lot of loose talk among politicians about how to
counter this threat to our standard of living. Get tough
with the Saudis. Drill oil in the
the strategic oil reserve. Research hybrid fuels.
there’s one thing that no one ever discusses, and
it’s the root of the problem. No one has the guts to
tell the American people, “Stop driving so damn
this: In 1973,
motorists drove 12,231 miles on average. After eight
years of conservation brought on by high oil prices,
coinciding with a recession, Virginians managed to
shrink their driving to 10,146 miles on average – a
reduction of 17 percent. But then we threw our travel
habits into reverse gear. By 2001, according to DMV figures, vehicle miles
traveled per motorist had surged to a record 17,050 –
an increase of nearly 40 percent!
guesses why we’re driving so much more? Try this:
Three decades of suburban sprawl have forced
Virginians into automobiles for every trip they take and
separated their scattered destinations by ever increasing
in Nano Tech
be where the metal rubber meets the polymer road?
latest economic news has been very good from the
Commonwealth’s technology center in
Northern Virginia. After shrinking more slowly than other sectors
from 2001 to 2003, tech employment growth again is
driving job creation up (2 out of every 3 new jobs
are being created in Northern Virginia) and unemployment down (to 2 percent in
Northern Virginia). Economist Christine Chmura sees
technology-related wages and salaries in
rising over nine percent in 2004 and another nine
percent in 2005 to total about $5.5 billion.
technology-driven future for Virginia, then, appears to be bright. And since the future
is where we are going to spend most of our time
from now on, that is a good thing. But what about
sectors other than software and information
technology that anchor
Northern Virginia’s tech economy? What about other regions? Will
a new age dawn, as Don Henley sings, on fewer than
expected? And what is the public sector’s role
in all this?
remember some of the differences between the old
economy and the so-called new economy, now that
the new economy is back. In the old economy, Virginia’s economic development strategy was to attract
companies from other states by selling itself as a
cheap place to do business. Low taxes, low wages
and geography were advantages for manufacturing
and transportation. Investing in a high-quality
environment -- education, health care, water
resources, etc. -- was optional, because doing so
might require taxes or regulations on businesses
that more than anything were cost-conscious.
the new economy, however, flexibility,
adaptability and a willingness to embrace change
began to define successful regions. Service companies and jobs exploded in places rich in ideas and talent
and companies moved into regions with amenities
and large pools of educated people. Information
and communications became drivers. Return on
investment, not the costs of inputs, drove new
investments. Governments, businesses, universities
and non-profits partnered in those regions to
build new, diverse communities.
VEA Shows its Hand
teachers union wants it all: $1.5 million per
biennium from tax hikes plus the $1 billion a
year Gov. Warner claims he can save through greater
The Virginia Education Association was
obviously animated by my commentary last month
criticizing two members of the Virginia House of
Delegates for supporting a huge state tax increase
this year. The
teachers’ union circulated talking points to
encourage and guide responses to my column.
Had an elementary school student written
these talking points, he or she would have been
admonished for being non-responsive, but the VEA
doesn’t operate under the usual standard.
Its talking points made no effort to address
the central point of my criticism.
The point of my column was that a tax
increase this year could not be justified if the $1
billion in spending reductions Gov. Mark R. Warner
has repeatedly claimed can be implemented are real.
The two delegates, Chris Jones, R-
and Preston Bryant, R-Lynchburg, never bothered to
verify Warner’s claims.
It’s time someone did.
As members of the House Appropriations
Committee, Jones and Bryant were well aware of these
voted for a House resolution asking the Governor to
provide information about the spending cuts he had
been claiming for more than a year to have
Warner failed to respond after two months, these two
delegates decided to organize a coalition of
delegates to push a tax increase that will cost
Virginians more than $1.5 billion over the next two
Shape of the Future
and editorials in Virginia's newspapers
consistently obscure the origins of traffic
congestion and legitimize the special interests
that benefit from raising taxes/building more
The public responsibility to provide mobility and access is
on the road to chaos. The question is: Who is
leading the charge to inform citizens so a new,
more intelligent strategy can be adopted? We
have seen that it is not governance
practitioners, either elected or appointed.
It turns out that it is not the media
This is the transportation story so far:
and access are essential if citizens are to
be prosperous, safe and happy. The current
strategies to provide mobility and access
are tragically flaws. These strategies are
perpetuated by myth and fraud. ("Self
Delusion and Fraud," June 7, 2004.)
mobility strategies kill 10,000s every year
and are the major cause of dependency on
foreign oil and balance-of-payments
deficits, as well as air and water
and Taxes," June 21, 2004).
citizens hear from the public officials
responsible for mobility and access is that
they need money. When voters say,
"no," to tax increases, governance
practitioners turn to private
Perfect Storm," July 12, 2004.)
different tactics will ease gridlock
temporarily, but only Fundamental Change in
human settlement patterns and a balance
between transport system capacity and travel
demand will put Virginians on the path to
sustainable mobility and access. ("Out
of Chaos," July 26, 2004).
All this makes for an easy to tell, straight-forward story.
Why have the media been so dead set
Good Deed Goes Unpunished
We're Up Against
faces a $100 billion - with a "b" -
shortfall in transportation funding over the next 20
years. What do our presumptive gubernatorial
candidates have to offer?
is education. Transportation
is health care. It’s
how you get there and how they get to you.
Transportation is access to recreation.
It’s what brings everything we ate for
breakfast, what we put on today.”
Virginia Transportation Commissioner Philip
Shucet, The Free Lance-Star.
round a number off so that it is nice and tidy.
One hundred billion dollars. It looks like this: $100,000,000,000.
That’s over $13,000 for every man, woman,
and child who calls Virginia
the size of the transportation funding shortage
we’re facing in Virginia
over the next 20 years.
one is not going to go away.
The needs have been studied and documented to
facts are pretty stark.
There is very little disagreement across the
political spectrum on what these needs, these facts,
the next six years, we have identified construction
needs of approximately $600 million dollars —
projects already in the state’s Six-Year Plan —
and $22 million that we can spend.
And what is the general reaction to that
fact? The Virginia
legislature stripped funding OUT of the plan this
voters in Hampton Roads and
roared ‘NO!’ to regional transportation tax
increases last year.
Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Democrats unveiled a new African-American superstar,
Barack Obama, at the national convention. A Virginia
Republican, Paul Harris, could be his match.
George Bush, Karl Rove & Company are smart —
and some days there is evidence that they are —
they will put Virginian Paul Harris front at center
at the National Republican Convention.
The former member of the House of Delegates
from Charlottesville is the only — the only —
black Republican in America who can hold his own
with Barack Obama, the U.S. Senate candidate from
Illinois who stunned a national audience at the
Democratic National Convention.
ideology that drives him aside, Harris is just as
dynamic, just as skilled a public speaker, as Obama.
And his story is just as compelling.
If the Republicans are serious about holding
onto the three or four black votes that they have
nationally now, they’ll be getting Harris limbered
will take someone of his ilk and abilities to go
toe-to-toe with these sentiments from Obama:
parents shared not only an improbable love; they
shard an abiding faith in the possibilities of this
would give me the African name, Barack, or
“blessed,” believing that in a tolerant America,
your name is no barrier to success.”
wants to stimulate investment in
telecommunications technology and broadband
infrastructure. Free markets will do it best.
is a leading force in technology and
telecommunications in our country and throughout
the world. Most email traffic passes through Northern
Our state government technology efforts are
recognized as among the best.
should lead the way in bringing the wonders of the
Internet to all our citizens as quickly as
possible. Success in this endeavor will add
significantly to the growth of our economy in the
immediate years ahead.
development of free markets around the world has
shown that keeping government controls and
regulations at a minimum spurs tremendous economic
growth. This limited role of government put
American business at the top of the world market.
We must continue to keep the role of
government regulation in check.
Nowhere is this truer than in telecommunications.
telecommunications sector is
the key to bringing communities across Virginia
into active participation with the changing world
economy. As telecommunications changes, grows and
morphs in ways that we could hardly have imagined
a few years ago, government is trying to figure
out how and whether it should intervene.
Columnist Becky Dale
state and local governments copyright their own public records? The
idea may sound crazy, but a General Assembly
committee is studying that very issue.
truths we hold self-evident…" Thomas
Jefferson in writing the words of the Declaration of
Independence down on paper created an "original
work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of
expression." Could he have claimed copyright
Continental Congress made a few amendments to
Jefferson's draft. In making amendments and thus
creating a derivative work, would the Congress have
infringed on his copyright? Could Jefferson or the
Congress have demanded royalties from the newspapers
and broadside publishers printing the Declaration?
absurd," you may say. "The Declaration of
Independence is a public record. Public records
can't be copyrighted." Governmental bodies,
however, are claiming copyright in public records.
Columnist Donn Dears
the Facts, Ma'am
wonder about the claims made by environmental
groups? TSAugust, staffed by volunteers, sets the
issues affect e
veryone and have a significant effect on Virginia’s economy, but environmental news is often
inaccurate or misleading. Peddled by extremists and
organizations with an axe to grind, much of the news
about the environment is merely regurgitated by
reporters who are short on time and in need of an
is more frustrating than reading an article yet
knowing that the contents are factually inaccurate.
frustration led to the establishment of a nonprofit,
TSAugust, whose sole mission is to bring factual
information about the environment and economic
growth to Americans using the Internet. The quirky
name was selected to make it easy for people to
remember the web address, www.tsaugust.org.
The name itself is derived from “The Second of
August” which is when most delegates signed the
Declaration of Independence.