And the Trumpets Did Sound

And the clarions called forth, and the Bacon’s Rebellion e-zine did respond to the call, bringing truth and understanding to a benighted land.

You can read the May 19, 2008, edition in all its glory, including a list of hottest blog postings over the past two weeks, by clicking here. Or you can just scroll down an inch or two and just read the latest columns. Unless you read this blog every day, make sure to sign up for a free subscription so you never miss an issue of the e-zine.

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.
by James A. Bacon

Three Little Words
The phrase “no cheap energy” embodies an economic reality that is shaking the foundation of First World Civilization. But citizens and politicians still act as if they can ignore it.
by EM Risse

A Simple Solution
Here is an easy way to resolve Virginia’s political stand-off over transportation funding: Empower local governments to enact the same taxes that the Supreme Court invalidated regionally.
by Michael Thompson

So Much for Transparency
Throwing a bunch of budget numbers onto a website does little to improve local government transparency. The adage “Garbage In, Garbage Out” applies in spades.
by Norman Leahy

The Weird World of Massey Energy
Controversial, Richmond-based coal firm enjoys energy boom times while wielding political clout and beating back critics with an in-your-face style.
by Peter Galuszka

Nice & Curious Questions
And What Happened Here? Historical Markers of Virginia
by Edwin S. Clay III and Patricia Bangs

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  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “A Simple Solution”

    I wondered about that also but why not offer any regional area in Virginia the same “local option” per a referenda?

    More than NoVa and HR/TW have regional needs and who is to say for the other regional areas in Va that increased investments in their transportation networks might not just transform them into economic contributors to the State also?

    Further, I’d also give local voters to “recall” local option taxes with a simple majority vote.

    The problem that we have is – trust in government… and yet I’ve not seen such an offer from our GA guys.

    Let citizens have the final say and let citizens say “no” if they feel their tax dollars are not being spent wisely.

    or for those that think that elected leaders know best – which I disagree with – put sunset clauses in these taxes and make the GA re-certify them every two years.

    We need for citizens to have a way to hold the government accountable.

    Elections don’t accomplish this because industry owns many of the GA and getting rid of one or two here and there…has no effect… it’s like an octopus that loses one or two suckers.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Put a rough outline of the budget on the back of the tax forms, and let taxpayers say where they want “their” money allocated.

    Publish the results.

    If the legislators want to spend on something else, let them justify it as compared to the “tax referendum.”


  3. “Elections don’t accomplish this because industry owns many of the GA and getting rid of one or two here and there…has no effect…”

    A bigger problem is that 2/3rds of the assembly runs unopposed.

    “Put a rough outline of the budget on the back of the tax forms, and let taxpayers say where they want “their” money allocated.”

    And this will say:

    Budget allocations as percentage of total revenue
    Schools: 50%
    Roads: 40%
    Cops: 10%
    Parks: 10%
    Parades: 10%
    Bread: 5%
    Circus: 5%
    Total: 130%.

    Plus a 30% tax reduction.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Good one, Bob.

    But, even if you are right, at least it will be out in the open. no one advocating a special interest will be able to say “What the people really want is….” and get away with it.


  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    yup.. he forgot free beer ….

  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Ray – you need to come off of this.

    We’re talking about some folks who don’t know who their elected are, much less do they vote and if the first question on that form was “do you want to pay taxes”.. the answer would be “no” and the rest of form – ignored.

    In order for your plan to work – you’d have to have people who vote and who are informed about what the money is actually spent for.

    I think you confuse government waste and mis-prioritization of the budget with ..what some folks.. who don’t have a clue and see no need to have a clue – … want.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    It doesn’t make any difference. The problem with voters is that there are too few of them, and they basically have two choices, which are actually chosen for them by others.

    The point of this is that you would have a link to what ALL the TAXPAYERS think instead of what the voter’s managers claim they think.

    You think people are a lot more stupid than I do, when it comes to their money. In any case it is THEIR money. this geves them a chance to say what they think, at will, as opposed to giving them a predetermined multiple choice of two (if they are lucky, a lot of seats are unopposed).

    Sure some people would put down 100% for schools, some would put down 100% for law enforcement, some would put down 100% for conservation. But, averaged over 7 million people, you will still get a pretty good answer. In decision making, it is called the Delphi process.

    I once had a college course which had a quiz every day, based onthe previous lecture. The quiz was graded right or wrong. No partial credit. At the end of the semester the grade was the average of all the 100’s and zeros.

    No one could complain that it wasn’t the right average.

    The referendum doesn’t even have to be binding, just published. Then the politicians can make their case for why they ignore the referendum, or, they can learn from it. And it is Dirt Cheap, you already send out the forms, and you already collect them. All you need to do is print the other side, and move the signature block.

    I think you confuse those who want some things other than what you want with people who don’t have a clue.

    This is pretty common.

    How many times have you heard the losing party claim that the voters “didn’t understand” what they were voting for? Even after they have lost on the same issue three times in a row?

    Get the data and put it out there. it is almost free to do it. And then argue about the validity of the data. There is only one way to average a string of ones and zeros.

    But, I’d wager that you would find those in high crime areas wanting more safety funding, Those with poor transportation wanting more transportation funding. Those about to retire from state government wanting more pension plan protection, etc.

    Now you have two competing issues: which group has the higher number, and which group pays the greater amount of taxes.

    You don’t leven put the whole budget on the form, just a simplifed version for gross buckets of money.

    It’s true that some people wouldn’t have a clue, so the way you get around that is to randomize the order in which the “buckets” are printed on the form. Then it is pretty simple to sort out which buckets are specifically serached for, and which are filled at random.

    The only reason NOT to do this, is if you are afraid you won’t like the answer.


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