Saturday, February 28, 2009

Peter Zhao's Surprising Observation

Faith Values Spur America's Economic Vitality

This Article in the Wall Street Journal [click to read] needs to be shared. Peter Zhao is a member of the Chinese Communist Party who sees the results of faith in the building of a nation.

Zhao has three profound observations:

1. Innovation is spurred in a worldview of faith.

2. A climate of trust is created where people can flourish.

3. The sucessful see a mandate from G-d to care for the disadvantaged.

ht: Moneylife

Tinkling Springs Church
Tinkling Springs Church in Augusta County.

Banned in Britian

Geert Wilders and the Price of Resisting Radical Islam

He was prohibited from going to London to present his work to Parliament. He lives with constant threats to his life. The reason is Geert Wilders' Honest Assessment of Radical Islam [click to read]. He says: "Will we leave our children, will we leave Europe's children, the values of Rome, Athens and Jerusalem?" Or the values of Mecca, Gaza and Tehran?"

Here's More on Geert Wilders from Diana West [click to read].

Friday, February 27, 2009

March 11 is Global Food Crisis Day

Fight Hunger with Compassion

Wes Stafford's Organization is Stepping Up to the Fight [click to read] against World hunger. Food shortages affect much of the World now. As fuel prices rise and war and drought take their toll on food production it is important to meet the challenge with real compassion.


Deliverance from Destruction is Worth Remembering

Homemade hamentaschen. Photo by Yoninah.

For a gentile, I'm told, I make a pretty good Hamantaschen! A while ago I had the assignment to teach the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther in our church in an adult sunday school. The class began in Winter and was to end in early March. Of course we would have to celebrate Purim! Just as Passover has food traditions that are an integral part of telling the story, Purim does as well.

So here I was baking cookies for my class. My lovely wife banned all jokes about Mrs. Clinton as I searched websites for a recipie. I chose the one that included this descriptive from the woman who posted it: My kids love them so much they don't want to share them! This kid tested and Mother approved treat was well received by the adult sunday school.

The class was instructed as to how Esther would be read. The mention of Haman was to be greeted with boos, cat calls and all manner of impolite noise in keeping with the best tradition of Purim celebration. We had a great time!

More important, we impressed the history of this reading into our memories.

So when I read This Piece by Richard Z. Chesnoff about Jews in Iran today [click to read] and how New York Times columnist Roger Cohen makes it sound like this persecuted minority lives happily in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's neighborhood, I was incredulous. I've always thought of Ahmadinejad as a modern day Haman [he did say he wanted to destroy Israel, didn't he]?

Modern day Agagites have continued to threaten the existence of the Jewish people. There are other 'Purims' celebrated to remember deliverance from other would-be destroyers. The Purim Vintz is observed in Frankfurt am Main to remember the Fettmilch uprising in 1616 when Vincenz Fettmilch attempted to destroy the Jewish community there.

This year Purim begins at sunset on March 9.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blasphemy Law Targets Christians in Pakistan

False Charges Lead to Imprisonment for Many

Here's the Story from CBN News [click to read].

Supervisors Meeting March 11

7:00pm at the Augusta Government Center

Peasants Revolt
In the days of Richard II the issue was taxation.

The Augusta County Tax Revolt will soon come to a climax when Francis Chester's petitions will actually be presented. Tracy Pyles will make a motion to roll back the assessment values to 2005 numbers and the citizens will be heard. In the days ahead I'll be putting up more information about the mass protest of the mass assessment. There should be plenty of parking and I understand there will be volunteers to help get everyone safely parked.

So plan on coming. Lynn at SWAC Girl [click to read] will have information for attendees posted. I plan to follow her lead with the same.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More Photos from 'Imagio Deo'

Finding the Creator's Hand in Our Fellow Man

The original Hebrew בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים is found in Genesis 1:26,27 and refers to G-d making man in his own image. Thus it is exciting to look for that divine hand as one looks for the style of a master artist in one's dealings with humanity.

Bush Pilot, Ketchikan Alaska

Wrecker Operator, Grottoes Virginia

כו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ; וְיִרְדּוּ בִדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּבַבְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל-הָאָרֶץ, וּבְכָל-הָרֶמֶשׂ, הָרֹמֵשׂ עַל-הָאָרֶץ.
כז וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ, בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתוֹ: זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה, בָּרָא אֹתָם.

26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. -- Genesis 1:26,27

Science Teacher, Charlottesville Virginia

Jerry from Luzon
Cruise Ship Crewman, Luzon, Philippines

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

About the Photos

An Ongoing Tribute to A. Aubry Bodine

Parkway Icicles
Blue Ridge Parkway in Winter.

There was a time when the Baltimore Sun Sunday Magazine was a thing of beauty. Pictoralist Photographer A. Aubrey Bodine [click to see more of his work] contributed to this beautiful publication for fifty years. It was known simply as 'the brown section.' Printed in sepia ink the magazine brought stunning images of Baltimore's marble stepped rowhouses, Chesapeake bay sunrises, and such events as stone masons building the Baltimore Cathedral.

Thus my work attempts to capture the same feeling as I observe the beautiful Valley of Virginia. I really miss the Brown Section. Today's Sunday magazines rarely transcend the reporting of popular diet fads and celebreties. It's a shame. Thus it is by design that some photography is included here. If you are interested, I plan to sell some prints at in the near future.

Fire Fighter
Firefighter, Charlottesville Virginia.

Cement Finisher
Cement Finisher, Ivy Virginia. -- from a series: "Imagio Deo."

'Fairness' or Censorship?

The First Amendment and its Dismantlers

Rush Limbaugh Writes in the Wall Street Journal [click to read] about new efforts to silence differing opinions on the government licensed media. I Have Written Before About Why the 'Fairness' Doctrine Isnt! [click to read].

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." -- Amendment I, US Constitution

It's clear that the founders of our Nation felt it necessary to explicitly protect public dialogue. It is also clear that certain public officials feel it necessary to squelch such dialogue. That is a dangerous precident. Here's a Petition Being Circulated by World Net Daily [click to sign] that addresses the 'Fairness' Doctrine. It's time to exercise this right or lose it for a long time...


Arts Building
Arts Building at Miller School of Albemarle.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Being Christian in Iraq

Many Dangers Beset Believers

But There is One Safe Haven in a Corner of the Country [click to read].

Craigsville is Booming!

At Least According to Blue Ridge Mass Appraisals

The News Virginian is Going District by District [click to read] and finding some interesting surges in real estate values. This morning's News Leader has a story where the assessor is caught on surveilance video visiting the property for "less than two minutes."

So far Tracy Pyles is the only supervisor who seems the least bit curious....

...this is getting interesting.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bridge to Nowhere?

It's Really a $790 Billion Tunnel to France!

Tunnel to France...

Here's how to think of the stimulus money. If it were truly just wasted spending like the famous 'bridge to nowhere' it would be bad enough, but this project has a definite destination in mind. Consider the healthcare bureaucracy that was inserted in the bill no one had time to actually read. The foundations for nationalized healthcare and rationing were in the bill.

Or consider the money for new cars for bureaucrats and new buildings for bureaucrats. Money for ACORN is included to make sure everyone is looking to the government.

But here's where it might get interesting. A lot of France's really good infrastructure is actually built and managed by private companies. True the government acts as a giant procurement agency but it has come to the top that government does a pretty lousy job of actually running these things. We're actually following a European model in how the Dulles Toll Road is run. A private contractor operates the collection of tolls.

Oh, by the way, they did elect Nicolas Sarkozy!

So here we are beginning our trip through the tunnel to France. It's a long journey from here, which is good. The scenery never changes as we press on deeper and deeper. There is plenty of time for American ingenuity to kick in and decide the trip isn't all its cracked up to be. In other words we may be able to abandon this project before the whole sum is spent!

We Might Even Have a Revolution! Didn't we sever our ties with Britian over less?

It's a nice thought. Personally I like riding in a 747 a whole lot better.

The scenery never changes...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Round Three

Frrancis Chester Springs into Action as Hearings Go On

The Big News is the Writs Filed by Attorney Francis Chester [click to read] as reported in the News Virginian.

My own hearing was yesterday. It was an interesting little chess game but it was clear who was allowed to say "mate." Again I asked for the assessor's worksheet. At least it was admitted this time that there was one. Still all I was offered was the data sheet. The News Virginian article says that Mr. Chester is seeking the actual paperwork.

There is a house in our neighborhood for sale at an asking price about what the assessor says it's worth. It has sat for -- I think -- two years on the market. I think it will go for at least $60,000 less than the asking price based on a December sale in a similar neighborhood. Still, it is obvious that sales that don't happen don't get to be comparables.

How did I do? I'll know in two weeks like the rest of you!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

21st Century Oil Boom

And It is Right in Our Own Back Yard

21st Century Oil Shiek?

No kidding! This USGS Report Makes it Clear [click to read].

That's right! We're talking about 3 to 4.3 Billion Barrels of Technically Recoverable Oil Assessed in North Dakota and Montana. Let's start drilling!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stimulus Money to Rebuild Babylon

The US Commits $700,000 to Saddam's Dream

Joel Rosenberg Writes [click to read] that our tax dollars will indeed go to rebuilding the replica of historic Babylon started by Saddam Hussein! What more can I say?

Model of Babylon.

Religion of Piece[s]

So What Are We to Believe About the 'Religion of Peace?'

This Story from the Buffalo News [click to read] was so unbelievable that I had to check it out for myself. Muzzammil Hassan started Bridges TV, concerned that Americans were seeing only violent images of Muslims. The idea was to counter that perception but now it seems that Mr. Hassan dealt with a domestic dispute just like the folks do back home. He beheaded his wife!

Granted, all of us fall short of being the best we can as representatives of our faith, but think of the matter this way; it's what life is really like in the Muslim world for millions of people. What Mr. Hassan did has happened countless times in a society that accepts it. We are shocked because of our Jewish and Christian worldview foundations that resonate with our fundamental sense that this is wrong. I would guess that this fundamental sense would be present in the family of Mrs. Hassan, even in a culture that supports her killing.

It seems to me that the best way to change people's perception would be to simply show respect for women and religious minorities such as the Christians and Jews in these countries. Palestinian TV could do more to inform rather than incite as well. Recognizing Israel wouldn't hurt either. Then real peace would be more than a distant dream.

ht: Rush Limbaugh


The Western World and Sharia Law [click to read].
It's not only an assault on personal liberties but on Christian minorities as well.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Representative Who Represents

Tracy Pyles Shows the Way

A recent News Virginian article spells it out: Maverick on the Board of Supervisors. My question is "Why is this man standing alone?" Isnt this the kind of gumption our forfathers showed in giving us representative government in the first place?

Meanwhile Lynn Had Petitions Going at Tractor Supply yesterday. People are wanting to be heard.

On March 11 I suspect they will be.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Farenheit 451 For Real!

New Lead Law Leads to Book Burnings!

Darn! I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried! City Journal Reports on the Fallout of a New Law Designed to Protect Children from Chinese Toys! [click to read]. This is really sad. Looks like good childrens' literature will become scarce as the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute. I think of all those wonderful old book stores and finding those old biographies we used to love.

I'm hiding all those wonderful old books with Garth Williams' illustrations in them. Grandchildren will need to know what good kiddie literature is supposed to look like.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An Open Letter to Our Leaders

American Public Opinion Matters

Rally at the State Capitol 02/10/09

"When the day comes that anyone can bend our country’s laws and lawmakers to serve selfish, competitive ends, that day democratic government dies. And we’re just optimistic enough to believe that once the facts are on the table, American public opinion will walk in with a big stick." --Preston Tucker, From a Letter Published June 15, 1948 [click to read]

(Preston Tucker was an innovative pioneer in the automobile industry. US Attorney Otto Kerner was instrumental in destroying the Tucker Company before it could go into full-scale production. Kerner was later jailed for stock fraud and Tucker was eventually acquitted, but the company was no more.)

We are right to be suspicious of government overreach. There is plenty of evidence to tell us that public business must be conducted in the open. It was wrong to rush a big spending bill to passage without due diligence. Money for ACORN and new healthcare bureaucracy deserves the light of public scrutiny.

Mister President, Congressmen, Senators, County Supervisors:

Please listen to the people you serve. When you tell us that we must not listen to Rush Limbaugh in order to get along with you and he's laid the facts we need to know on the table, it is clear that you desire a chilling effect when it comes to public discourse. Likewise it is childish to shun the one County supervisor who dares to speak for the people of his district -- thank you Mr. Pyles!

History tells us that clumsy govenment intervention has actually prolonged economic distress and has Dulled Creative Renewal of the industries it purports to save.

President Obama, the majority of the people who elected you are not of the same mind as your leftist underwriters. Many of them see government as an agent that may provide relief for their situation but I don't think they want bureacrats deciding who gets medical treatment either. Most of them do not support unlimited abortion and would welcome 'choice' if it meant where they were able to send their children to school.

We want to see American ingenuity applied to our energy problems and do not want to see government policies such as ethanol credits force us into the weaker solution. We are an odd people, desiring the government to save us while legitimately suspicious of the agencies of government we already deal with. If government solutions had the track record to suggest we could blindly trust them we'd all be looking forward to a fine retirement drawing from the Social Security Trust Fund (where is it again)? and regulators would have let us have Preston Tucker's marvelous automobile in its day.

Regular elections are a necessary check on the abuse of power. That includes primary elections where fresh ideas may be tested. Sometimes it is necessary to challenge entrenched officials as was done in Gloucester recently. Citizens should not be punished for such challenges. Delegate Harvey Morgan is to be commended for introducing legislation to protect citizens in such cases from outrageous judgements such as the $80,000 fine ordered in the Gloucester case.

Please remember the principle "consent of the governed." Those who forget or ignore this basic principle need to remember that the alternative for them is rightly that of "early retirement."

Rally at the State Capitol 02/10/09

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rally in Richmond

Rally at Capitol Against the Stimulus Bill

Tim Phillips, President of Americans for Prosperity speaks to the crowd.

It was an amazing rally, considering most of us there only learned about it in an email yesterday. Three renegade Republicans voted for the bill, passing it before the rally began. On the way there, Rush Limbaugh provided this bit of information:

"There is a new bureaucracy created, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, which will monitor treatments to make sure that your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective regarding your treatment. It's going to be just like the UK! When you go to the doctor, your doctor is going to have to consult either a book, a computer program, or maybe even make a phone call to find out what kind of treatment you can get and how much to charge for it based on how much the government's going to reimburse him for it. As such... "

Welcome to Nationalized Healthcare!

And I was just upset about the wasted money...

Even though the Senate had already passed the bill,
the crowd was enthusiastic.

'Blue Dogs' and 'Rinos'

A Field Guide of Political Species

Lynn at SWAC Girl [click to read] gives us the gory details of how some Republicans are all too willing to ignore the needs of the people and sign on to the very expensive 'stimulus' package.

But I've Said it Before, Public Servants Need to Remember Who They Serve [click to read]. Those who forget this basic principle need to remember that they may face early retirement. Read Lynn's piece for contact information and remember that thing about "consent of the governed" when you call!

Monday, February 9, 2009

No Stimulus Ralley in Richmond 02/10/09

Take a Ride to Turn the Tide

We’re coming down to the wire on this Pelosi/Reid/Obama trillion dollar spending bill and I'm asking you to join me at a rally in Richmond This Afternoon to put pressure on our two Virginia senators -- Mark Warner and Jim Webb.

And beyond just putting pressure on these two senators to vote NO, by attending the rally you'll send a message to the media in attendance that there is a strong, energized grassroots movement rallying against the big government, pork barrel politics in Washington, DC.

State Capital Building
No Stimulus Rally at the Capitol

Here are the details on the NoStimulus event:

When: This Afternoon, Tuesday February 10, 2:00pm EST
Where: Richmond, Virginia on the grounds of the historic State Capitol (next to belltower, to be exact)
Address: 9th St and Grace St, Richmond, VA
Parking: Plenty of parking is available within a block of the State Capitol grounds

For more info: Call our national Americans for Prosperity offices
at 202-349-5880 or reply back to this email.

Please email to let him know you can attend.

As you’ve probably seen, President Obama has hit the road with a series of campaign-style events to push the Pelosi-Reid-Obama debt and spending bill. Taxpayers like you and me need to fire back not just in Washington, DC, but all over the nation with big crowds who will stand up and say NO to this trillion-dollar scam!

So many folks on the Big Government side have claimed victory in this battle after last Friday’s wheeling and dealing in the Senate. They claim their so-called “compromise” will bring real savings -- but the Senate version cost $827 billion -- a full $8 billion higher than Nancy Pelosi’s bill passed by the House. The only thing they’ve compromised is your family’s economic wellbeing.

Here is the likely schedule of events for this week in Washington. Starting at noon today the Senate began debating the so-called Nelson-Collins amendment. At 5:30 P.M. today, a vote on whether or not to allow a final vote on this legislation is scheduled and we need 40 senators to vote NO.

If we lose this vote, then a final Senate vote on Nelson-Collins is expected for noon on Tuesday. Once again, we will need 40 senators to vote NO. If we lose this vote, then the battle is still not over because the Senate and House bills will have to go to conference to work out differences in the two bills. We will have a chance to defeat the legislation at this point--more on that later this week if we lose the Senate votes.

But first things first. Please try to join us in Richmond tomorrow. Ask your friends and family to attend -- even if you cannot!

They think we're going to give up and stop fighting back. But you and I know better.

Main Street Station
Richmond's Main Street Station.

Stella's Streetcar

The Perley A. Thomas Story

Perley Thomas Survived Two Depressions and Created an Icon of American Literature.

Thomas 900
A Thomas 900 Series Streetcar in New Orleans. I photoshopped the line placard.

Perley A. Thomas was born in 1874. He was trained as a millsmith and his specialty was woodworking. He found employment with a streetcar manufacturer in Cleveland Ohio. Wanting to improve his situation, he studied engineering at Case Institute of Technology's night school. This background helped him as the industry moved from wood bodies to steel.

In 1910 he went to work for the Southern Car Company in High Point North Carolina. The company went out of business in 1916 but Thomas was able to get a contract on his own to renovate streetcars for the Charlotte North Carolina transit company. He used Southern Car Company's old plant and many of his former coworkers. A year later he founded Perley A. Thomas Car Works. The company sold its product to many American cities, among them was New Orleans. This company built the streetcars that were in use when Williams wrote his famous play.

As streetcars faded into history in the 1930's, Thomas transitioned his company into the manufacture of buses. In 1936 the company was actively manufacturing buses.

The depression cut demand and when orders were few Thomas survived by returning to his woodworking skills. If you visit some of the finer homes in High Point North Carolina you may find some particularly fine hand-carved mantle pieces that are the work of Perley A.Thomas.

The company was reorganized as the Thomas Built Buses Incorporated during this period. As orders increased the company grew to be one of the largest of its kind in the world. Today it is part of the Freightliner Group of Daimler/Chrysler.

Thomas continued to work for the company and was design advisor well into his eighties while his children actually ran the company. He died in 1958.

Thomas 900
Thomas 900 Series Streetcar.

Past Milestone Monday Features:

Dr. June McCarroll and the White Line
Henry "Box" Brown Ships Himself to Freedom
Richard Ankrom's 'Guerrilla Signage'
Preston Tucker and John DeLorean
General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. [1], [2], [3]
Meta Warwick Fuller
Franklin Graham [Son of Billy]
Francis Collins and Jedadiah Hotchkiss
Motherhood and Invention
Eric Liddell
Bob Childress
William H. Howland [Mayor Who Made a Difference]
Tolbert S. Dalton
Davy Crockett and Mark Warner
Noam Bedein
The Nehemiah Project
Perley A. Thomas

Warning: The above articles might prove inspirational to "Dangerous" Home Schoolers, as described in my piece: Public Servants Should Remember Who They Serve.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Scenes of Shenandoah Park

Drawing My Favorite Place

Gift Shop
The gift shop at Big Meadows. Marcellus Wright designed this lodge.

I've been creating drawings of some of my favorite places in Shenandoah National Park and am making prints of some of them.

Here are More Scenes of Shenandoah [click to view].

The Augusta Tax Revolt (Continued)

Learning from Gloucester and Bath

Here is More Good Information from SWAC Girl, especially concerning the situation in Gloucester County.

Friday, February 6, 2009

London Snow

Their Biggest Snowfall in Eighteen Years

London Snow
The February Second Snow. Creative Commons License

Schools were closed. Heathrow Airport shut down and much of Western Europe was blanketed by ten inches of snow.

Round Two

The Clock is Ticking...

Today is the last day to make an appointment for assessment appeals. The County Assessor's Office Number: 245-5628

I am now told that Blue Ridge Mass Appraisals has the worksheets. I was given this number for Blue Ridge Mass Appraisals: 1-800-248-7100 but no one answers the phone there today.


I've got my appointment with the assessment people. It's time to review the steps of: How to Contest an Assessment [click to read] and find some comparables.

Tree of Life
A tree along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Eternal Vigilance Department 02/06/09

Key Justice Appointees Threaten Basic Liberties

Here's a look at some important appointments along with Tom Minnerley's observations. I've called our Senators' offices to express my opinion that these appointees do not reflect the values of most Americans and are in fact a threat to the protection of our children and our way of life.

David Ogden for Deputy Attorney General
Hearing Date: Yesterday

Pornography and Obscenity: Ogden has extensively represented Playboy, Penthouse and other pornography businesses on numerous occasions and even argued to force the government to use tax dollars to publish portions of Playboy in Braille at the Library of Congress. He also served as legal counsel opposing the Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Child Protection Obscenity and Enforcement Act, which requires pornographers to verify "performers" are not children.

Anti-Life Record: Ogden has a record of supporting an almost unlimited right to abortion, providing legal counsel for groups like Planned Parenthood, National Organization for Women and People for the American Way. He argued that “abortion rarely causes or exacerbates psychological or emotional problems,” opposed parental notification for 14-year-olds, and called spousal notification a “burden” that “cannot be justified.”

Pro-homosexuality activism: Ogden served as counsel of record for a legal brief that said homosexuality “is a normal form of human sexuality” and has called traditional marriage a “social prejudice.”

Thomas Perrelli for Associate Attorney General
Hearing Date: Feb. 10

Thomas Perrelli’s nomination for the number-three post at the Department of Justice is raising concerns because he argued on behalf of Michael Schiavo’ s right to withhold food and water from his disabled wife Terri Schiavo, which resulted in her death. Perrelli was lauded by pro-euthanasia activists for his efforts.

Dawn Johnsen for Office of Legal Counsel
Hearing Date: Pending

Dawn Johnsen is former legal director for the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and an ACLU fellow. NARAL is one of the most left-wing, pro-abortion, polarizing groups in the nation. Throughout her career, Johnsen has been an open advocate of the abortion-rights lobby and is further evidence that Obama is politicizing the Justice Department.

The Threat of Imposition of International Law

Lynn at SWAC Girl Points Out an Even Graver Threat that I was not aware of. David Ogden has already invoked international law in a number of troubling instances. Ogden believes that the legal rules contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are already binding on the United States, even though this treaty has never been sent to the U.S. Senate for ratification. This is dangerous stuff.

Tree of Life
Tree at Twenty Minute Cliff on the Parkway

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Better 'Stimulus Plan'

What if Government Tightened its Belt and Citizens Kept the Difference

It worked during the Reagan years. Tax rates went down and government revenues went up. Here Larry Elder Makes the Common Sense Argument [click to read] that the Austrians are right and the Keynsian way was already given a go in the 1930's. Some would say government spending actually prolonged the depression.

His argument really boils down to this: Most of the stuff in the 'stimulus package' really doesn't help the average Joe but somewhere in the murkey future someone will have to pay the bill. If government tightens its belt now and actually focuses on its Constitutionally mandated functions, it can give meaningful tax relief to citizens. Small business really creates most of the jobs in the Country, so recognize that fact and give some tax relief. You might cut the rate but the increased productivity of an enthused enterprenual sector will pay a lot of bills in the future.

Likewise tax cuts for individuals and families will bolster confidence and lead to more productivity that does not need to be stimulated. You can take a stand for this better plan at

Buckhorn Inn
The creek across the road from Buckhorn Inn

Round One...

The Tangled Web

I went to the County Government Center today in order to get a copy of Blue Ridge Mass Appraisal's worksheet [concerning my recent nosebleed inducing reassessment]. Francis Chester had informed us that § 58.1-3331 of the Code of Virginia allowed me to do this prior to my appeal. Bureaucrat #1 dutifully printed out some paper which turned out to be merely the old assessment breakdown and the new assessment breakdown. You know, the sheet your realtor provides with a listing. No notes, no comparables, no photographs or drawings produced to create the assessment.

Bureaucrat #1 had 'removed' some paper from my printout and I did see a photograph in it but he discarded it quickly saying: "some other stuff got in there." When I pressed him for an actual worksheet I was directed to the end of the hall where Bureaucrat #2 was running assessment hearings. Bureaucrat #2 told me that what I held in my hand WAS the worksheet and proceeded to inform me that I did not know how mass appraisals were done.

I muttered something like: "so this is how the shack in Gloucester County was assessed at $43,700," and Bureaucrat #2 assured me he didn't know what I was talking about. It was time to leave. I thanked him and walked out.

So now I need to go back to the Government Center, armed with a printout of the code that follows:

§ 58.1-3331. Public disclosure of certain assessment records.
A. All property appraisal cards or sheets within the custody of a county, city or town assessing officer, except those cards or sheets containing information made confidential by § 58.1-3, shall be open for inspection, after the notice of reassessment is mailed as provided in § 58.1-3330, the normal office hours of such official by any taxpayer, or his duly authorized representative, desiring to review such cards or sheets.
B. Any taxpayer, or his duly authorized representative, whose real property has been assessed for taxation shall, upon request, be allowed to examine the working papers used by any such assessing official in arriving at the appraised and assessed value of such person's land and any improvements thereon.
C. The assessing officer of the governing body may fix and promulgate a limited period within normal office hours when such records shall be available for inspection and copying, but such period of time may not be less than four hours per day on Monday through Friday, except on such days when the office is otherwise closed.
(Code 1950, § 58-792.02; 1975, c. 615; 1979, c. 577; 1980, c. 124; 1983, c. 161; 1984, c. 675.)

[bold type, emphasis mine]

When you go, print out this post and ask for the head of the department. You paid for the assessment, you can see the notes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Natural Cathedral

Sunlight on Snowy Trees

Cathedral 1
Sunrise paints the fresh snow on tree branches.

Taxation Without Representation

600 Augusta County Residents Learn How to Hold Government Accountable

The envelope from the assessor's office is never really a welcome piece of mail, but the contents this time rivaled the IRS "we have examined your return..." notice as Augusta residents looked at hefty increases in land valuation that were based on sales during the 'boom' that has since busted. Since assessments are supposed to be based on the value at the first of the year, the numbers are not valid by proper application of the law.

SWAC Girl: Augusta: 600 turn out to protest assessments [click to read]

The firm that performed the assesments, citizens learned, had recently completed a reassessment of adjoining Bath County that had been discarded after residents there brought discrepancies to light. More on Bath County Assessments from the Roanoke Times [click to read]. Attorney Francis Chester of Churchville pointed out the dangers in allowing this assessment to stand. A similar process led to the increased taxation of Long Island farmers that led to the decline of Long Island's agricultural economy.

Citizens were urged to mke a unified appeal to the supervisors, Write letters to the editor, and obtain the actual worksheets for their assesments from the county. They should obtain their own comparibles and make an appointment for review of their assessment.

They need to retain a copy of their worksheet and any other infomation in the event it is necessary to enter into a class-action lawsuit.

Mr. Cester is circulating a petition among the citizens and it is important to sign it and return before March 9.

March 11, 2009 at 7:00pm is a very important meeting of the Board of Supervisors. All Concerned Citizens Should Attend this meeting at the County Government Center in Verona. At that meeting the petitions will be presented and supervisor Tracy Piles will introduce a motion to roll back the assessments to the 2005 figures.

Here in our own community is a perfect civics lesson in keeping government accountable. May we learn it well.

Hat Tips to Lynn Mitchell

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." -- American Declaration of Independence

Of Interest:

News Virginian Article [click to read]
A storm damaged shack gets high assessment in Gloucester County, a mansion has no value...

Editorial: Put Brakes on Assessment [click to read]
"All of this demands that county officials give Augusta’s reassessment a second, more scrutinous look. So far indications are from supervisors – Pyles aside – that they will proceed as per usual, working through appeals then setting a tax rate. This is insufficient. Ample cause exists to wonder over the fairness and accuracy of the numbers. Supervisors will fail in their duty if they allow the reassessment to take effect so long as such questions linger. Taxpayers deserve better and should insist upon it. We do so on their behalf."

The Shack and the Mansion from [click to read]

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Atheist Explains Why Africa Needs G-d

This is Thought Provoking

Matthew Parris Explains Why in this Times Article [click to read] "Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted."

I have mentioned "Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization" by Alvin J. Schmidt previously. Here is an interesting testimonial to Mr. Schmidts observations from an unlikely source.

Hat tips to Randy Alcorn