So many blogs, so little time…

My recent absence from this blog was due to my increasing commitments on a number of fronts: Family, business, and other political activities as they relate through my involvement with the Virginia Club for Growth.

Although blogging is a lot of fun, it also requires a lot of time. Faced with a limited number of hours that can be devoted to this activity, it becomes necessary to take some extended breaks from time to time.

I also can’t help but wonder whether blogging can have a serious positive impact on changing the course of Virginia politics. The number of regular bloggers is rather limited and those that participate are already committed to a particular political philosophy.

In other words, the likelihood of changing any minds through extensive blog discourse is rather unlikely. So given my increasingly diminishing availability—after all there are only 24 hours available in a day—I have to consider whether blogging is an effective medium for reaching out to the greatest number of activists and voters in general, with the goal of convincing them that we must bring back some sanity to our state government—a government heading to fiscal ruin, given the unprecedented growth in government spending programs over the last decade.

As my friend John Taylor of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy likes to say: It took Virginia 386 years to reach a $30 billion bi-annual budget, yet it took only one decade to double it to $60 billion! Folks we simply cannot afford such an out-of-control, burgeoning government. We need to instill some discipline in government spending and control the size and growth of government—otherwise, we’ll simply end up as another economic basket case, like California.

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  1. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Phil, You may not change the minds of the bloggers who are motivated enough to write comments for Bacon’s Rebellion (or any other blog), but you can help shape the terms of debate. By participating in a blog for a few minutes a day, you can elevate your No. 1 issue — Virginia’s soaring out-of-control state spending — to the issue. You help keep the forces of the status quo on the defensive. The regular commentators on this and other blogs are not the only people who read blogs. There is a large silent element out there that you can reach.

  2. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “It took Virginia 386 years to reach a $30 billion bi-annual budget, yet it took only one decade to double it to $60 billion!”

    I don’t understand the excalmation mark. Considering the entire history of the human race, more than half the people who ever lived are alive today. As our population and population density increases our problems become exponentially more complex, and complexity is the single largest cost driver in any enterprise.

    The idea that our government expenditures are somehow related to population instead of GDP is just foolishness, in my opinion.

    We are going to need a lot more money to solve our problems. I don’t like this any more than the next guy, but we are going to have to get used to it.

  3. The Jaded JD Avatar
    The Jaded JD

    386 years to get to $30B + 10 years to get to $60B = 396 years. 2005-396=1609. What’s so special about 1609? A lot of notable things happened in 1609, including the sealing of the Second Charter on May 23, but that’s a silly year to begin the reckoning of Virginia budgetary history. I mean, the First Colony Council was sworn on May 14, 1607. The first governor (so titled), Sir Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, was appointed February 23, 1610. The First Charter was sealed on April 10, 1606. The only thing special about the Second (1609) Charter, in addition to the expansion of the land granted, was the incorporation of what we commonly (and inaccurately) call the Virginia Company of London. Which raises a serious problem about this “386 years” issue: until the Company was dissolved by writ of quo warranto in the King’s Bench on May 24, 1624, “Virginia” was a private corporation.

    As far as public entities go, you can’t really ascribe to Virginia any such status until 1624–and that’s a bit of a stretch, because it ignores so much that came later–and 386 years haven’t elapsed from 1624, let alone 396 years. Simply out of curiosity, I wonder when the clock began ticking for Mr. Taylor, and why he starts it then.

  4. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Thank you, JD.

    This is another example of how numbers used to support a position should be critically exmined as to source, suppositions, suitability, and purpose.

  5. Keeping your focus sharp and centered on important local issues is my formula for attempting to make positive changes. I have seen some small results from articles that I have posted, and I have hopes that some of the issues that I consider important will begin to have a local impact. Time will tell. But you will never know if you can make an impact if you give up. My blog is centered on Lynchburg Virginia and if nothing else, I hope it causes some to think about our local issues. Don’t give up.

  6. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Did it take 386 or did it take 371 year for Virginia’s budget to go to $30 billion? Do 15 years really make a big difference in this analogy? Aren’t you guys missing the forrest from the trees with your critical–not!–comments?

    I’ll ask Mr. Taylor to comment if he gets a chance. But I really think that you guys miss the entire point or you’re simply being contrarians for the sake of being contrarian…

  7. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Ray, reference the exclamation mark. Don’t you think there is something wrong with the budget doubling in about 10 years when population growth plus inflation didn’t come close to doubling?

    Before you accept the premise that VA is going to need a lot more money, please consider that VA is running a $60 billion enterprise that is totally unchecked and unaudited by independent third parties. Even members of the Legislature have no idea where all the money is going.

    If a corporation was being run like that, its CEO would be following the likes of Enron, Tyco and other CEOs that have ended up in jail. Instead, Gov. “I will not raise your taxes” Warner is enjoying high approval ratings–instead of being called on the carpet for misleading and falsifying the facts to the public.

  8. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Jim and BOB: If I blogging was my sole political involvement what you say would make sense. But like I said, I have to balance what I do with the many other grassroots and political activities I get involved in.

    Nonetheless, I will continue participating on this blog, but please understand that at times I may have to take some extended absences.

  9. Anonymous Avatar


    Your comments seem rather self-rightous. You take the time to come on here to post– simply to say you won’t have much time to come on here and post anymore… well, which is it? If you don’t have time to post– then don’t post. But don’t inflate your ego by egging people on to tell you how much they want you to post on this blog. Trust me, you won’t be missed.

  10. The Jaded JD Avatar
    The Jaded JD

    Well, far be it from me to be picky about numbers, but surely concerning a paragraph that concludes on a note dealing solely with numbers, a little accuracy is in order. After all, the toss-away 15 years is 150% of the length of time it the Virginia budget took to grow from $30B to $60B–using your figures.

    And I did only raise the point as one of curiosity. Mr. Kenney the Elder once used a 410-year period of time, rather than a 396-year, and I had even more difficulty coming up with a justification for that one. As long as the anti-tax group comes up with a reasonable factual foundation for its rhetoric, I don’t really care what the number ultimately arrived upon is. But there are some of us keenly aware of those annoying factual trivia about the history of the Commonwealth–in part, I suppose, because our forebears helped shape it–so, while I care relatively little about the budget, I’m afraid I am rather sensitively attuned to Virginia history.

    I appreciate that this is a seemingly little point, but since the numbers involved are not only years (which I care about) but numbers (which everyone else seems to care about), some accuracy on the point may be useful in maintaining a semblance of credibility in this little anecdote that anti-taxers seem to enjoy using.

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Commenting on the recent Congressional spending bills, a liberal commentator said: To be fair, Congress shares responsibility for the heaps of pork spending contained in the highway and energy bills. But while that branch of government can point fingers at each other, President Bush alone chose not to exercise his veto. * * * Unfortunately, even during the August recess taxpayers’ money isn’t safe. Lawmakers don’t return to sit out the heat on the porch with a glass of cold lemonade. They’re listening to constituents’ demands for new projects, which they’ll insert into the first appropriations bill that looks like it could use a few hundred more pages. And President Bush will likely sign it, all smiles and everyone patting everyone else on the back.” Oh, wait, excuse me. That was written by
    David Holman of the The American Spectator, one of the conservative bibles. Now, I’m really confused. Is the Spectator saying “W” is a bad guy, who had the power with the stroke of a pen to derail billions in wasteful spending? You guys love Grover Norquist, but he’s called John McCain a “tax-raising Bolshevik.” (Nice work, Grover, and what army did you serve in? Oh, the College Young Republicans Regiment, I see.) But who did the Citizens Against Government Waste give their Grace Award to, for fiscal responsibility? John McCain. And who voted against this latest round of waste? Ditto. Now, I’m confused. Can y’all Virginia conservatives explain this to me? Who is going to cut my taxes? Bush? Norquist?

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Phil very vocally supports Bolling and McDonnell, two men who voted for all the increased spending that has occurred over the past 10 years that he know complains of. Am I missing something?

  13. theShadow Avatar

    Blogs have an effect, believe me. Sometimes the effect is localized to the group you’re talking about, but the effect is there. I blog in secret and see my co-workers and supervisors talking about the blog. Some may call it rabble-rousing, but if it calls attention to a problem, it’s worth doing. Sometimes someone has to point out that the emperor indeed has no clothes.

  14. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Phil, I don’t know what the status of audits and oversight is in VA, but if what you say is true that is a serious indictment of government processes. You won’t get any argument from me that more sunshine in govt is always a good thing.

    But, I can’t buy the idea that govt should be limited to population growth plus inflation. Government has to govern not only people, but business, education, traffic, and other items that may increase faster than inflation. It seems to me that the GDP is a better measure of both state spending requirements and its ability to collect revenue without inducing undue hardship. The state’s gross domestic product has just about doubled in the last ten years, so the fact that its budget has doubled is not surprising to me.

    Then there are other factors like deferred maintenance that eventually catch up with you. Every state structure from roads to edifices to statues require increasing upkeep with age. As we add new structures the eventual and cumulative maintenance bill goes up faster than the rate of inflation.

    Unfortunately, the same is true for state programs.

    I don’t know about you, but over the last ten years my personal budget has increased more than population plus inflation. I know for certain that if I had tried to maintain my 110 year old home on that kind of budget, it would have fallen down around me by now. When I build a fence, I have to consider carefullythe idea that installing the fence is a fraction of its cost in perpetual maintenance.

    Population plus inflation is not a budget that can maintain the system, let alone improve it. It is a recipe for creeping decrepitude.

    I don’t want to see the state waste a penny of my money, but I’m not willing to let an idea with no intellectual weight behind it interfere with my ability to look around and see the truth: we are going to need a lot more money. The good news is that because of the increase in the economy, it doesn’t mean it has to hurt as much as we might first suppose.

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