Setting Barnie Straight…

I’m afraid I must take exception with our friend Barnie Day regarding a recent column of his in the Agusta Free Press. He says:

Members of the flat-earth wing of the party – those on the far right, those who insist that you can build roads without money, who profess disdain for big government but grow it every chance they get, those who want government off our backs but want the government peeping into our bedroom windows and looking over our shoulders whenever we’re in our libraries, those who don’t mind mixing government and religion, so long as it is the right religion, those who prefer borrow and spend to tax and spend –

Hold on, Barnie–that’s an awfully broad brush you’re using to paint your analogy. I never thought of myself as a member of the flat-earth wing of the party, but that surely beats being a bleeding-heart liberal…

There is a major disconnect in what Barnie says, so let me set the record straight:

  1. I don’t want to build roads without money. Rather I want them to stop raiding the transportation fund and allocate the existing money where the roads are needed. Remember the Coalfield Expressway Barnie? And while we’re at it, stealing a bit less from NOVA would be nice too–instead of only returning less than half-a-dollar we send to Richmond, how about giving us back let’s say 75 cents? That could build an awful lot of roads up here.
  2. I truly disdain big government and I’ve repeatedly chastised members of the VRP who advocate big government. Unfortunately, there are a bunch of RINOs in the General Assembly, a number of which are former Democrats who switched parties just to stay in office.
  3. I don’t want government peeping into my bedroom and those who do are RINOs (see point No. 2 above).
  4. I don’t want government looking over my shoulder in the library, either. (Tell me Barnie do you still have use for public libraries? I haven’t set foot in one since the 1970s, although I admit that I use their free online services offerings.)
  5. I don’t want to mix government and religion, but I also know that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and I’m not about to start dismantling every display of the 10 Commandments or erase the “In God We Trust” tag on every dollar bill.

Barnie, you really need to stop believing the liberal propaganda you keep on reading. It’s your wing of the political spectrum that keeps on telling us that we should be more understanding and more tolerant of other people. So how about having a cool one and become a bit more tolerant and understanding of conservatives?

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


  1. John K. Avatar

    Phil, I’ll drink to that!

  2. republitarian Avatar

    The biggest problem I have with liberals is they think the constitution was and is to protect a certain type of freedoms. They include the right to rip an unborn child from the womb, the right to go to the state run liquor store, buy a state run lottery ticket, and to sleep with whoever you want.(usually then when something goes wrong the Gov’t is responsible to clean up the mess, literally.) Our gov’t promotes murder, gambling, alcohol, and indoctrination in our socialistic public schools. As a very conservative person I’m tired of cleaning up after other people’s irresponsibility

  3. Phil: Hmmm – I’d have to disagree that the bedroom peeping crew are the “RINOs” in the GOP.

    Bedroom peeping seems to be a core conservative principle these days. If there’s a crack in a window, there’s a conservative peeping in. I was just invited by my conservative friends to go out bedroom peeping tonight – but I think I’m going to hit up a some karaoke instead.

    Republitarian: “the right to sleep with whoever you want”? That’s an interesting thing to complain about…perhaps we need a government commission to decide who we can sleep with. I’ve got just the man to head that commission: self-declared porn expert, Dick Black.

  4. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Paul: I don’t disagree that some conservatives may say things or take actions in the legislative assembly that may leave some liberals thinking that they want to peep into their bedrooms. However, most conservative Republicans I know of and socialize with, don’t want to know what goes on in any given bedroom between consenting adults.

  5. Phil:

    I’m sure 99% of people don’t support bedroom peeping – but our politicians seem to love it.

  6. I say it’s political theater. Both parties love to play with social engineering legislation to some degree — left and right. It’s the legacy of our country’s baby boomers combined with the unrestrained behaviors of the 1960s and 1970s.

    America, do you smell the coffee yet? It’s been brewing for a long time.

    Furthermore, it’s time to bring to a close to the endless discussions and paralyzed thinking relating to ‘Victimology & Multi-culturism’ in our country — and begin attending ‘Reality 101.’

    Accountability and personal responsibility would be a good starting point.

    Oh, I better save that for another day …

    But it’s nice to see the valley Republitarian has moved up to the big leagues.

    Next batter?

  7. republitarian Avatar

    hey paul.. Maybe you misunderstood me. I don’t like the gov’t sticking a gun in my ribs forcing me to PAY to clean up someone else’s consequencial behavior. Our gov’t promotes bad behavior and forces me to clean it up. I thought I was very clear. Right on Phil… two consenting adults….just don’t make me pay for it.

  8. Republitarian:

    Fair enough, I see what you mean – I don’t agree with you though.

    I assume you’re talking about our welfare system for single parents. I think people who have unplanned pregnancies pay quite a bit and face the responsibility of their actions. It costs them their social lives, their freedom, and their ability to work full time.

    The government comes in and helps them out a bit because it’s not the baby’s fault that they were born into poverty. We have to balance between providing disincentives for bad behavior and the needs of the child.

    I’m confused: I thought Welfare reform in 96 pretty much took care of these concerns. People are required to work now, and they aren’t rewarded for bad choices.

  9. It seems that Virginia Democrats are slowly waking from their Mark Warner induced stupor and realizing that we don’t have a chance at winning statewide elections in this state.

    In 2001, the stars, moon, and sun all aligned. We had an unpopular Governor (Gilmore), a lousy candidate (Early), and a strong and wealthy Democrat (Warner). And we managed to win by, what, 4 points?

    Now we have a decent candidate (Kaine) who will get wedged with the death penalty and has a reputation (deserved or not) as a liberal.

    Howard Dean, a raving liberal, has just been annointed as DNC chair. One wonders if many moderates in VA (crucial for a Kaine election) are scratching their head and thinking, “Well, Mark Warner’s a good guy. But I just don’t think the Democratic Party is for me…”

    Meanwhile you have a decent candidate (Kilgore) who has played both sides of the tax debate competently and not alienated anyone. He’s raising plenty of money.

    Furthermore, you have a moderate candidate (Potts) who eating up Kaine’s desperately needed moderate votes.

    Like I said, the stars need to align for the Dems to win in VA – and those of us who are looking up into the sky for a string of stars are seeing thunder clouds.

  10. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Paul said: “Meanwhile you have a decent candidate (Kilgore) who has played both sides of the tax debate competently and not alienated anyone.”

    When you say that Kilgore has not alienated anyone, are you fogetting his base? Most anti-tax conservatives are fed up with Kilgore, as we’ve covered time and time again in this blog.

    Maybe Kilgore is figuring that he’s got their vote locked–if so, he’s making a big mistake. Pres. Bush also assumed that he had the vote of Christian conservatives locked in 2002 and we all know what happened with that election…

  11. republitarian Avatar

    Paul, OUR state promotes things they can tax, like alcohol. They used tobacco money to balance the budget then they tell us not to smoke. They have instituted the unforced “poor-stupid tax”( the lottery) If they get desperate enough for funds they’ll legalize weed. Then I’ll get to pay for someone who has is “disabled” (fried brain) and can’t hold a job. My dad always told me “my rights end where someone else’s begin.” If someone wants be an alkie, waste money on lottery tickets, smoke dope, fine let them pay for it( maybe death at forty) but some elected liberal shouldn’t use the I.R.S.(S.) to rob me and my family.

  12. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Back to the original thrust of the post ….

    Phil, I’d like to join your sentiments, but you yourself are pretty harsh in characterizing those who don’t share some of your philosophy. To me, describing Warner as “Gov. Pinnochio” is not a whole lot different than some of Barnie’s more flamboyant descriptions of Kool-Aide sipping Flat-Earthers.

    I wish we’d all give and show more respect to those who have a different point of view from our own, but it’s well known that the hotter the rhetoric, the bigger the splash.

  13. Phil: Ha – I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have my finger on the pulse of the GOP base.

    Did Kilgore come out hard against the tax increase and seek to have those who supported it kicked out of the GOP? Nope. But was he on the record against it, with Allen? Yep. I don’t see him raising taxes in the next 4 years – I see him attacking the car tax, in fact.

    republitarian: I’m not sure what you’re saying. Are saying that poor people take their government checks and spend them on alcohol and lottery tickets, and we shouldn’t tax those things? Or are you arguing against “sin taxes”?

    If it’s the latter, you’ll be displeased to know that the GOP House candidates plan a coordinated issue campaign this year. One of their key issues: The Albo/Rust Abuser Fee tax on bad drivers.

    Using state troopers to raise government revenue sounds like the sort of thing that you’re carping against.

  14. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Will: When I call Mark Warner, Gov. Pinocchio, it isn’t because I disagree with his policies–it’s because he is a liar. I’m sure you don’t need me to point out his many lies and broken campaign promises.

    And it’s not just political ideology that’s motivating me to call Warner names. I do the same with the RINOs who campaign like conservatives and vote like liberals.

    Some in politics like to sugar-coat things. So instead of calling a lying politician a liar, we use euphemisms, like “his position has changed” or “his statement is misleading” when in fact we should be saying “it’s an outright lie” and “he is a liar.” Using euphimisms simply enables them to continue getting away with their lie(s)–ergo, Warner’s popularity ratings.

    How did we get to the point when stating the truth–i.e., Warner lied–is considered disrespectful, hot rhetoric or splash? Do you really believe that it is disrespectful to point out that a politician lied or broke a campaign promise?

  15. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Paul said: “I don’t see him [Kilgore] raising taxes in the next 4 years – I see him attacking the car tax, in fact.”

    Perhaps that’s what he might do. But from my perspective Kilgore is talking from both sides of his mouth on the tax issue. He refuses to sign the tax pledge, while saying he’s philosophically opposed to taxes.

    That’s not good enough for most of us who believe in lower taxes and smaller government. We heard the same rhetoric from our Republican Senate Commissars (guys like Chichester, Norment and Potts) two years ago and we all know what they did once they got re-elected.

    What’s more worrisome this time around is that you already have Chichester calling for a tax increase in 2006. If Chichester repeats his triangulation strategy (Senate vs. House vs. the Governor) a weak Gov. Kilgore who hadn’t signed the tax pledge could be pushed into a position of signing onto a tax increase, only because “he cannot afford to shut down government” (or some other similar nonsense).

    If Kilgore doesn’t stop paying lip service to the anti-tax contingent of the VRP, he may discover on Election Day that part of his base decided to stay home. Is that cutting of one’s nose to spite one’s face? Perhaps. On the other hand, it’s the only way for the base to hold its elected officials accountable, even if it means losing a race every now and then.

  16. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    No, Phil, there’s nothing wrong with pointing out the truth and calling it as you see it.

    I guess I shouldn’t have waded into this thicket without the original target, Barnie, responding. It just seemed to me that you were calling for tolerant discourse across the spectrum and I see both sides of the spectrum being prone to excess, not just partisan Democrats.

    Barnie might spit and sputter out a believeable rationale that everything he said about conservatives was as true as you calling Warner a liar. Then again, he’s not here.

    I must say that I find your opinion of Kilgore exactly the type of thinking that lets Democrats paint Republicans with the broad brush you decry.

    Unfortunately, there aren’t enough Republicans who truly believe in the things that you do. You let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You’d rather lose an election than vote for the candidate who’s closer to you ideologically. Your candidate must be pure and must turn the back of his hand the “impure.” I’m sorry, to me that’s a type of politics that just isn’t practical.

  17. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    To me, describing Warner as “Gov. Pinnochio” is not a whole lot different than some of Barnie’s more flamboyant descriptions of Kool-Aide sipping Flat-Earthers.

    Quite right, Will. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I’m of the mind that top elected officials (governors, senators, the president and the vice president) are to be addressed with respect. I might be a progressive Democrat who disagrees with nearly everything that President Bush stands for, but he’s “President Bush,” not “pResident Bush,” “Dubyannocio,” “Preznit Bush,” or “Bushit.” He deserves that, because he is the President of the United States, whether or not I like it. I think Sen. George Allen is (quite literally) all hat and no cattle, and not particularly bright. But he’s “Senator Allen.”

    Likewise, Governor Warner is “Governor Warner.” Not “Governor Mollycoddle” or “Gov. Pinnochio,” but “Governor Warner.”

    Obviously, anybody is free to assign any nickname that they like to any elected official, but doing so only worsens the state of political discourse, and causes me to cease reading whatever it is that they have to say.

  18. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Will said: “You let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You’d rather lose an election than vote for the candidate who’s closer to you ideologically.”

    Please explain to me, how are the likes of Chichester, Norment, Potts et al closer to me ideologically?

    Will also said: “there aren’t enough Republicans who truly believe in the things that you do”

    I don’t know what percentage we represent, but I personally know a lot of Republicans who believe in these things. Perhaps, I’m hanging with the wrong crowd…

  19. Phil: There are plenty of die hard GOP loyalists who adore Senator Chichester. I know about a dozen. They worked on George W. Bush’s reelection campaign, go door to door for local Republican races, but happen to love Chichester and other moderates like him.

    I must admit that one of the things that I was most surprised about when I first started reading this blog was Chichester’s lack of popularity on here. I’d been living in a bubble where everyone loved Chichester, and thought he was a statesman – pretty much everyone I know from both parties.

    Once again, I clearly don’t have my finger on the pulse of the GOP base. And most of my GOP friends are younger, a bit more moderate, and a bit less partisan than most.

    But these are Republicans – good Republicans.

  20. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Paul, there are plenty of Democrats who feel the same about the good Senator Chichester. I certainly count myself among. I hold him in the very highest personal and professional regard. Don’t be disheartened by the general view reflected here.

  21. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Waldo: If “Gov. Pinocchio” is off the top, then how about “Gov. Mark Warner, The Liar?”

    I’ve always thought that respect must be earned and can’t be taken for granted. How can I respect someone who has made it plain for more than for years now that he has no respect for the voters that elected him to office?

    To simply respect an elected official because of the office they hold while that same office holder denigrates the office by lying to the electorate makes little sense to me. It gives them a pass and doesn’t hold them accountable for their actions.

  22. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Barnie: Commissar Chichester was a Democrat before he came out of the closet wearing Republican elephant coveralls. So I can understand why you’re philosophically attuned with Sir John of Taximum.

    On the other hand, I’d have a lot more respect for him if he had stayed a Democrat, instead of masquerading as a Republican just because he saw the writing on the wall, in that he could no longer stay in office unless he switched parties.

    Being a Republican presupposes that you believe in the Republican principles of smaller government and lower taxes. When someone calls himself a Republican while acts like a Democrat, he is nothing but a fraud.

  23. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Phil, my friend, by your definition there are only eight Republicans in the House of Delegates. 92 of the 100 members of the House voted for tax increases of one sort or another last year.

  24. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Barnie: I’m not sure what tax increases you’re referring to. Do you mean the Hamilton compromise? That was a stupid attempt at being smart by half.

    On the other hand, I’m the first one to realize that Republicans simply don’t know how to handle their majority status. They think that by spending ever increasing dollars on pork-barrel projects will somehow get them to be liked. They fail to understand that no matter how much more they spend on wasteful projects, they’re always going to be portrayed by the other side as stingy budget cutters who want old folks to eat canned dog food.

  25. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Phil, just in case you’re wondering who the eight were, this from a Letter to the Speaker column of mine published by the inimitable Jim Bacon as the time:

    Speaking of celibacy, Mr. Speaker, I bring to your attention The Celibate Eight — Clay Athey, Rob Bell, Dick Black, Ben Cline, Jeff Frederick, Tim Hugo, Bob Marshall and Bob McDonnell. (By the way, Mr. Speaker, this characterization comes from a mutual friend of ours.)

    These good Republicans, members of your own caucus, Mr. Speaker, are the only Republican members of the House of Delegates who voted against every tax increase that went up on the board during the last session. And that includes you, Mr. Speaker, and your two independent pals, Lacey Putney and Watkins Abbitt. Del. Mark Cole would have made the ‘Eight’ list but, alas, he abstained on the sales tax votes.

  26. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Phil, this from a column I put up at the time:

    Speaking of celibacy, Mr. Speaker, I bring to your attention The Celibate Eight — Clay Athey, Rob Bell, Dick Black, Ben Cline, Jeff Frederick, Tim Hugo, Bob Marshall and Bob McDonnell. (By the way, Mr. Speaker, this characterization comes from a mutual friend of ours.)

    These good Republicans, members of your own caucus, Mr. Speaker, are the only Republican members of the House of Delegates who voted against every tax increase that went up on the board during the last session. And that includes you, Mr. Speaker, and your two independent pals, Lacey Putney and Watkins Abbitt. Del. Mark Cole would have made the ‘Eight’ list but, alas, he abstained on the sales tax votes.

  27. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    If “Gov. Pinocchio” is off the top, then how about “Gov. Mark Warner, The Liar?”

    My test for that is simple: What do I think of “President George Bush, The Liar”? And, in fact, I don’t like it one bit, despite my deep loathing of President Bush. What I don’t mind is “President George Bush lied when he said X.” The “The Liar”? It sticks in my craw. The implication is that he always lies, because he has ostensibly told one or more lies.

    Now, I hold truth as perhaps the highest of ideals — if a man lies, it’s hard to ever know when he’s telling the truth in the future. I appreciate the importance of truth-telling, and of calling attention to those elected officials who do not tell the truth. But I prefer to point to individual lies and label them as such, rather than label the individual a liar. It’s quite a serious label to slap on somebody.

    If President Bush doesn’t deserve to be “President Bush, The Liar,” I can’t imagine that Governor Warner would.

  28. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Barnie: As to your celibate eight, I don’t think that even those eight are as pure as you made them sound. I recall at least one of the eight voting for a tax increase last year, pertaining to the hotel occupancy tax in Fairfax County.

    One of my Greek ancestors, Diogenes, was said to be walking the street of Athens holding a lantern in broad daylight, looking for an honest man. Maybe I need to take up walking in the halls of the General Assembly holding a flashlight looking for anti-tax Republicans. Fortunately, such a task won’t be as daunting as Diogenes’ quest, as I can think of a couple true anti-tax Republicans right of the top of my head.

  29. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Waldo, for your analogy to President Bush to hold true, you’re going to have to show in black and white that the President lied. And I don’t mean just a disagreement in ideology.

    In Warner’s case, ideology not withstanding, there should be little doubt in anyone’s mind that Warner lied. He campaigned on a promise of not raising taxes, whereas as Governor he has gone out of his way time and time again to do what he promised us he wouldn’t do.

  30. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    Yeah, and Bush campaigned on a promise to engage in multilaterialism, to stop being the world’s police, and to end messing around with other nations. But he changed his mind. I guess I could call him a liar, but what with September 11th, it seems like a pretty good idea.

    Likewise, when Mark Warner was running for office, the economy was rockin’. Then he was elected, and the economy sucked, so he had to do what he had to do. I don’t blame Warner any more than I blame Bush for doing what is best, campaign assurances be damned.

    What would be really stupid would be, say, President Bush declaring, after September 11th: “Well, I promised that we’d stop being the world’s police, so, despite the whole shit-blowing-up thing, I guess we just need to curl up into a collective fetal position and accept our beatings. After all, I promised…”

  31. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Waldo: Bush didn’t campaign on a promise to stop being the world’s policeman as you say.

    As to Warner, the recession notwithstanding, we now have irrefutable proof that there was no need for last year’s tax increase. Warner pushed for a tax increase knowing full and well that the money was flowing into the coffers of the Treasury faster than it was going out–ergo, the $1.2 billion and growing surplus.

    Warner also lied about cutting $6 billion from the budget, whereas spending has gone up every year, with the exception of FY2003 when it went down by a miniscule 0.6%.

    There was no need for last year’s tax increase. Warner pushed for it because he always intended to enact a tax increase. Hence his broken campaign promise–I will not raise taxes–was a big bold lie. There were no outside economic factors that forced him to change policies. He raised taxes, simply because he could…

  32. Phil – you can’t possibly crawl inside of this man’s brain and know why he did what he did.

    You clearly think he’s a sleezebag, so you assume the worst motives.

    Most Virginians just assume that he made overly cautious revenue estimates and screwed up by raising taxes a bit too much. And those who felt the pinch when SOME services were cut during the last few years (yes, funding to public universities was cut), didn’t mind the tax cuts for that reason. I, for one, wish GA had returned more money to the taxpayer this year.

    It was foolish of Mr. Warner to state (not “promise” – he didn’t put his hand on the bible or anything) on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t raise taxes.

    Nevertheless, we have at least 2 more decades of Republican dominated rule ahead of us. Don’t worry, the tax cuts will come, sooner or later, and they will be plentiful. And on the 7th day, they will rest, and the treasury will be bankrupt and mental patients will roam the streets because the government could not provide them with beds.

    Ok so mental patients already roam the streets…but there will be more…

    On the subject of Bush: Phil, if you don’t believe that Bush ran as an isolationist in 2000, then I don’t know what to say. There are dozens of quotes from debates, from the campaign trail, etc, where he promised to stay out of world affairs.

  33. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith


    Phil, I’m not looking to discuss semantics of a promise vs. an assurance vs. a thing a guy once said. Suffice it to say, substituting the proper title or name for an elected official with something mocking is a rather severe thing to do. I find it rude, and strive to avoid doing so. I encourage others to do the same. It more often serves to make the speaker look bad, rather than the intended target.

  34. Anonymous Avatar

    I notice that after my last posts, the invitation to comment was removed from the Bacon’s Rebellion Website, accordingly I assume I am no longer welcome and I will add only to threads already established. I attach to this thread based on the opening comments about roads, but directed at Land Speculators 2, Citizens 0, by EMR.

    Ed Risse is correct when he says the news of late has not been good for those who believe in growth management, smart growth, and land use controls in general. His view is shared by Roger Lewis who laments that “In municipalities across the country, growing numbers of citizens and businesses want government to get out of the way of landowners who want to build houses on the land they own.”

    Both apparently believe that in the words of Lewis “Our nation’s physical landscape…is at risk as long as those dominating and shaping the political landscape narrowly define ownership. Yet even Lewis disagrees with Ed Risse who believes we need a more tamper proof basis for land management than the democratic system provides. “More than ever we need balanced, comprehensive policies, laws and plans for growth that are fair, sensible, effective and, most important, capable of responding to evolving circumstances.” Amen.

    Both the Oregon and Loudoun situation are the result of evolving circumstances and democracy (such as it is) in action. Let’s look at the Oregon situation first. When Tom McCall first promoted the Oregon land use controls, legislation was passed with the explicit understanding that the state would come up with a plan to compensate landowners who were harmed by the rules, and a legislative committee was set up for that purpose. However, land use proponents knew that when the bills came in their future plans would be bogged down in their own cost, so they defeated every attempt to create the promised compensation the law was based on.

    As Lewis says ” Compensation is normally paid to owners of property only when a government actually condemns and takes title under eminent domain.” But land use advocates developed the “bundle of sticks” concept of property rights as a means of promoting the use of police power to enforce their agenda. Specifically it was used to promote the purchase of development rights, which has been used to good effect in land preservation.

    The unfortunate corollary, from EMR’s point of view, is that if you take one of my sticks, well, that is property, and you owe me for it. That is the entire precept of Measure 37. EMR correctly argues that, if this is so, then an accounting must be made for the contribution to the parcel’s value that is the result of public actions which were not directly and proportionately contributed by the owner. The problem is that this argument must have a starting point from which to measure.

    Measure 37 recognizes this and sets the starting point approximately 75 years ago (three generations in the text). In other words, if your grandfather was prescient enough to foresee that land outside the city would one day be valuable, and if he and your father scrabbled in the dirt to keep the land in the family, then it is wrong to take your grandfather’s vision from you based on the “beliefs” of those who favor Smart Growth.

    Here we have two examples of Smart Growth advocates wanting it both ways: 1.) Property is a bundle of sticks except for the one I stole, and 2.) Rules should adapt to changing circumstances until we get what we want and then they should be “tamper proof” or even perpetual.

    It is not true that supporters and detractors alike claim the Oregon land use system is being dismantled by measure 37. Supporters of Measure 37 are claiming no such thing, only that you cannot change property status retroactively with out compensation. Under Measure 37 a property owner has only two years to file a claim, subsequently any new land use laws take effect without recourse. Neither are the claims transferable, new landowners have no right to complain, since they presumably knew about the restrictions in advance and were able to negotiate the appropriate values in the price.

    Look at it this way, when the County records a deed of sale, they implicitly enter a contract with the landowner to enforce the laws in place at the time. What has transpired is that land use advocates have conspired to breach that contract without compensation.

    If anyone gets screwed here it will be those who sold their land and dreams in disgust after the land use laws were enacted but before Measure 37. Instead, look who is complaining: people who bought property after land use laws went into effect, and then discovered that they weren’t getting what they thought because the pristine land next door “may” suddenly have a house on it. Previous landowners are not required to apply for waivers and many may not.

    Prior to measure 37, land use advocates claimed that the new land use laws could be enforced because a landowner had no right to expect that the government would not change the rules. Now that the rules are changing back, they call foul. Again, you can’t have it both ways. It is exactly for this reason that Measure 37 set a reasonable starting date. Land use advocates are still free to pass land use laws, only now they have to consider the cost. The mere fact that they are lamenting the lack of funds to pay Measure 37 claims is evidence that the public benefit test was not met when the land use laws were passed.

    Even EMR suggested that “Oregonians could not …prove the public health, safety, and general welfare argument…..” The reason that “1000 Friends of Oregon” started a market-based approach to the problem and abandoned it was they knew they couldn’t raise the money.

    Neither is it true that speculative landowners and timber interests paid for the Measure 37 campaign. According to state records, the campaign in favor of Measure 37 was funded to the tune of around $650,000, mostly by small contributions. The largest contribution ($65,000) came from a family owned timber company with 27 employees. The owner of that company started as a lumberjack, graduated to a sawyer, started his own mill, and became successful in the trade. Eventually he realized that logging on public lands would some day end, and his firm now manages several hundred thousand acres of leased and owned property, for the purpose of ensuring a supply of lumber to his mill. He is a prime example of one who is engaged in what EMR calls extensive use of the land and he is certainly not a land speculator. He is one who probably understands the value of enlightened self-interest. Only 35 contributions in support of measure 37 were greater than $50.

    “1000 Friends of Oregon” combined with other special interests groups raised $1.2 million by late September, but there was a huge last minute media campaign to thwart Measure 37. I don’t have the final figures but I recall reading that it was several million dollars in the end, and more than 635 contributions were more than $50. In addition, virtually every newspaper in the state editorialized against Measure 37. Several large donations of over $100,000 came from wealthy individuals with Portland addresses.

    Oregon was the epicenter of “Smart Growth” and they blew it. After 30 years of creeping conservationism, ever-increasing land use regulations, and story after story of insensitive and patently stupid state administration, the citizenry had enough. The voters passed Measure 37 with a margin of almost 61%.

    If you have not been following the stories out there, some are hard to believe. One new homeowner found her back yard was filled with debris, old tires, and appliances and such, which she cleaned up and removed. For her trouble she was fined $15,000 for habitat destruction because the debris was covered with blackberry bushes. In King County, Washington, it is not enough that you own and operate farmland, 65% of
    it has to be left in its natural (unproductive) state. Citizens in Washington are now circulating petitions patterned after Oregon’s successful Measure 37. Governor Schwarzenegger is also pushing to build more homes and help quench the fierce demand that’s sending prices higher. EMR’s score shold be more like land speculators 20, citizens 20, after all land speculators are citizens, too.

    Since the passage of Measure 37 the majority of claims have been small. A few houses here and there, family subdivisions and the like. To my knowledge, two large claims for more than a hundred houses have been filed and one of those owners has stated that he would not build if he had a choice, but farming profitably was simply no longer economically possible – his claim was mainly to ensure his future options. His farm stands on some of the best land in the area and it is still not profitable.

    In his comments Roger Lewis fails to make the distinction between the physical landscape and the people. There is little point in saving prime farmland if we don’t save the farmers too. The evidence suggests that we have enough food and not enough homes.

    So far, the sky is falling prophesies of the anti Measure 37 doomsayers have not come true, but the jury is still out. Many claims may still be waiting for the dust to settle. Another reason the jury is still out is that “1000 Friends of Oregon” and others are going all out to see if they can generate legislative or legal action that will nullify Measure 37. Four years ago the Oregon Supreme court nullified the predecessor to Measure 37 on a technicality. This is the second time voters have supported a similar initiative, yet EMR still thinks the people are clueless.

    Overturning the predecessor to Measure 37 was hailed as a great victory in Oregon, yet EMR pooh-poohs a similar action in the opposite direction by the Virginia Supreme court. EMR apparently thinks the Supreme Court is clueless also. It may well be that we ARE clueless, EMR himself says that “…there has been no comprehensive allocation of the public vs. private contributions to non-urban land value” yet he claims in the same breath that the “total location variable costs for same sized urban dwellings in dysfunctional locations are in the range of ten times as high as the costs in functional balanced communities” How would he know?

    I submit that we just don’t know, and we aren’t close to finding out. In the interest of a level playing field I submit that we would have to conduct the same analysis for urban land value, and the results won’t be pretty. It is his own argument that we should make a full accounting for the value of a parcel made by public actions that were not proportionally contributed by the property owner.

    Does that mean that all the Virginia landowners that contributed 25% of the cost of Metro can get their money back? Does that mean that those who choose not to have children should not contribute to schools cost? Does that mean that farmers who are now paying $3 in taxes for every $1 in services will get credit if and when they ever decide to capitulate to market forces and subdivide? Does that mean that residential landowners like EMR will accept a 20% tax increase to make up for the difference?

    If I were trying to support your position, I wouldn’t make that argument.

    I have said that the “public good” turns out to be the sum of all the “individual goods”, but EMR refutes that based on the Fallacy of Composition, which he states as – ”what is good for one is not good for all.”

    That is not what the Fallacy of Composition says. The Fallacy of composition is based on the notion that if individual members of a class have a characteristic that all members of the class have that characteristic. The Fallacy is not always false. A rich person has more money than a poor person, most rich people have more money than most poor persons. It may even be true that the rich as a class have more money than the poor as a class.

    My argument is that you have to add up all of the individual “goods” including those shared by all as public goods, and subtract out all of the individual “bads”. Only if the sum is positive does a public benefit result. This argument is not subject to the Fallacy of Composition because if there is justification from the parts to the whole, the argument is not fallacious.

    We aren’t anywhere near making such a calculation, therefore his argument may or may not be true, whereas my argument holds true regardless of the result of the computation. On the other hand if someone complains about being robbed blind, there is probably an element of truth to his claim and we should take it into consideration in our equation. It is a lot harder to accept some unquantified general good as a reason to rob an individual, and our laws and Measure 37 support that position.

    EMR argues that the full capital costs of public support should be considered, primarily for areas outside to those presently supported. Experience shows that even in areas where support exists, it is frequently outdated or insufficient. If A pays the full cost up-front a mile out, what happens when B comes in a half-mile out? Generally the costs are covered over time, if A pays the full cost up-front should he get a share of the amortized value back later?

    EMR makes the argument that no one is asking to be compensated for a sale of land to carry out agricultural or forestall land uses. That is a laughable as his contention that congestion interferes with farm to market traffic: for all intents and purposes there is no such thing. Those people who sold under land use laws that were repealed my yet rise up from the dead and dispute him on this. Today, I got a survey from the extension service asking how much I rented my land to farmers for. I sent it back with a note to the agent saying that if I could find a farmer who would pay me rent, I sure would not be farming it at a loss under orders from the local police power.

    For a more complete understanding of this issue of public good, I suggest a paper from the Boston School of Law by Michael Meurier entitled “Fair Division”. It will positively twist your brain about what is fair.

    Even though we aren’t anywhere near making a fair allocation of costs, we have substantial evidence that is contrary to EMR’s position. The Road from Inequity:
    Fairer Ways of Paying the True Costs of Road Transport by Peter Mumford lists a number of methods of resolving road transport problems. Although it is based on British statistics, most of them seem to ring true here: and none of them mention rebuilding our entire civilization to do so.

    He points out that although roads are critical to the economy their benefits come at a cost of congestion, travel time, health, and environment. Central to his aim is the proposal for road user charging, set and controlled by local authorities on the condition they reinvest the revenue in improving the local transport environment and the quality, availability and reliability of public transport services. In Britain as in Virginia, road user fees have been diverted to the general fund.

    He goes on to say that, to be credible, point of use charging needs a realistic assessment of costs, including social costs. He goes on to say ‘There are no up-to-date official estimates of the relationship between the price(including tax) and the marginal social cost of urban, inter-urban and rural road use.” Then he proceeds to provide one, which he notes is only a starting point in the discussion.

    “In 1999 road users paid around £32 billion in total road taxation, which
    includes fuel duty, vehicle excise duty and VAT. In the same year total road
    expenditure was close to £6 billion, representing an apparent surplus of over
    £26 billion that would seem to be siphoned off into general Government
    revenues.” And “While motoring groups complain abo
    ut this as ‘highway robbery’ or ‘milking the motorist’, this revenue surplus can equally well be viewed as
    compensation paid to society for the damage caused through noise, air
    pollution, congestion and road accidents.”

    That struck me as a novel view of the situation.

    Based on a literature survey and other data he comes to the conclusion that 72% of the social costs of auto transport is due to costs associated with congestion, 16% is due to air and noise pollution, 12% due to accidents. ” The estimated aggregate social cost of road transport in 1999 was £25 billion. At the 1999 level of road usage this was equivalent to 5.4 pence per vehicle kilometer.” It turns out this figure is reasonably close to the surplus noted above.

    Here is where it gets interesting. “Blockages in the flow of traffic are largely confined to urban areas and thus urban road users are likely to be responsible for most of road transport social costs.” And he goes on to break out the costs by type of vehicle and fuel and by the type of driving in six urban and rural categories. The non-urban categories account for 01.5% of the social costs.

    Based on the level of payments he concludes that a heavy truck in urban traffic has a social cost of 87 pence per kilometer and a rural auto has a social cost of 0.8 pence per kilometer. In terms of tax payments it works out that rural and freeway drivers overpay by 4.75 pence per kilometer and urban uses underpay by between 6 and 37 pence per kilometer depending on conditions.

    Based on these figures I may have to revise my thinking about Northern Virginia vs. the rest of the state.

    His conclusion is that “rural road users currently pay nearly seven times too
    much in terms of excess taxation when compared with the social costs they
    create.” And he lists a number of other urban social costs not quantified in his analysis. He goes on to detail the Fundamental Changes in taxation and road support policies necessary to correct these problems based on congestion based user fees.

    Enough of that particular topic, lets look at cities in general and urbanization in general. A UN on the links between cities and economic change report supports EMR’s contention that cities are high value places by noting “In general, the more urbanized a nation, the stronger and more productive its economy.” At the same time the report says that cities are parasitic because “they may concentrate a disproportionate share of public investment in infrastructure and services” and “they can impose high environmental costs on their surrounds, drawing resources and dumping wastes.” And a point I have previously made that “There are many positive links between rural and urban areas, especially between urban demand and the prosperity of farmers”

    That covers cities in general. Looking at urbanization I again turn to British statistics. If you draw a graph from 1900 to 2000 and place a few lines on it a remarkable story unfolds.

    If you plot the increase in urbanization, and the government expenditures as a % of GDP you find that the lines are parallel: they increase at the same rate. This makes sense because you can only squeeze so much blood out of a stone, or as EMR says, income, sales, and property taxes are spoken for.

    If, however, you plot the increase in prison population or crime, they increase faster than the rate of urbanization. But the GDP per capita increases slower than urbanization and therefore the tax burden as a percent of income increases faster than urbanization. This is in a country that has had urban growth boundaries in place since the war, which, like Oregon, are now in disrepute. These are very crude measures, but they do not support EMR’s contention that urbanized places are better, more efficient, or less costly.

    EMR contends that the conclusions regarding the cost of housing in Oregon are based on faulty research and conclusions, yet they are echoed in Britain, with a similar land use and urban growth boundary history. The National Home Builders Association points out that housing affordability has dropped in Oregon since land use controls were established. These calculations have been attacked as self-serving, and inscrutable. Actually they relate the median income to the monthly payment cost on the median home. Oregon has had a prolonged period of hard times and so the income is not there to support home buying. The combined result of recession and lack of profits due to land use controls is that lenders are more wary and homes are less affordable. That is in addition to the well-documented increased building costs associated with land use controls. In the rest of the country the effects of home construction helped ameliorate the recession.

    Whew, all that just to further define the Oregon situation and social cost arguments. I apologize for “filibustering” but it takes a lot more words to fill in the full story than to spew half-truths. I won’t belabor the Loudoun situation, other than to say that EMR was right, the judges took cover under a technicality. However, if you read the opinion you will see that they did more than find reversible error in the lack of specificity. What they found was that the Smart Growth supervisors published notices that were so vague no landowner could determine what the effects of the proposed law were. Absent a fair and level playing field, the judges not only did the right thing, they cut the Smart Growth supervisors considerable slack. On the other hand the judges didn’t have much recourse – the supervisors had already been fired.

    EMR states that “The primary strategy to guide future urban growth in … Loudoun County… was to fairly allocate the true costs of location-variable services” . That was never true and would be illegal if it was – the county does not have the authority. If he thinks that what the strategy should have been, that would be different, but still illegal.

    There is a market-based solution for this conflict. Those in favor of conservation can go raise the money and buy the land they want to preserve. The market guarantees that the amount of money they can raise is what the caring public thinks they can afford, and that the land they can buy is not valued lower than what the owner thinks he can get elsewhere. That is how you measure the public benefit. When food becomes scarce enough we will tear down housing and put up farms, but that is not the case now, and won’t be for several hundred more years.

    It is true that the government is not mortal and can afford a longer view of things. That is why the government already owns 37% of the landmass. In Fauquier County private interests have successfully preserved still more, when is it enough? Even then, situations may dictate change: governments routinely divest land that is non-productive – why shouldn’t private citizens?

    One last note. Those British statistics on the social costs of transport came from the Adam Smith Foundation website, which also proposes more rural development, not less.
    It is also interesting to note that they mention several means of alleviating the situation similar to those proposed by Jim Bacon in “Pavlov’s Pols” but unlike Jim they suggest moving more transport out of the city, which congestion pricing will encourage anyway.

    My experience with providing information to travelers is that by the time they tell me it is too late and there is no alternative anyway, so on an ROI basis we need a lot more information. In my case, I use more fuel on the farm than I do commuting, but commuting brings in a lot more money, enough to support the farm and all of its social benefits, which include dropping $25k on the local economy, pastoral vistas, clean water, and increased property value to my neighbors.

    What should I give up, and what should I be paid for? What should I be forced to give up? I have no idea, and neither does EMR.

    Ray Hyde

Leave a Reply