January 10, 2007
Gov. Tim Kaine gave his first State of the State this evening, live from Jamestown, marking the beginning of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first colony in Virginia in 1607. It was almost one year ago that he was inaugurated in nearby Williamsburg. In tonight's speech he tried hard to maintain a positive attitude, and he mostly succeeded. I was pleased that he acknowledged that there is a link between the transportation problem and local land use policies. The Republicans apparently convinced him on that count, at least. Unfortunately, he kept talking in terms of meeting "needs," claiming that solving the problem means finding sufficient revenues. No, Governor Kaine. It is a matter of reforming structural incentives so that localities no longer can count on getting bailed out by the government in Richmond for the traffic consequences of the sprawling development for which they themselves are responsible. No more blank checks!
For much of the rest of his speech Kaine cited a laundry list of liberal do-gooder projects, such as his beloved pre-school care proposal. His statement that the "success of our children" is a "bipartisan value" we can all agree on was, to be perfectly blunt, pure malarkey. Early childhood development is not a matter of "success" and "failure" like high school and college are. It is, rather, a matter of building social skills and imbuing youngsters with a sense of identity and self-worth. It is a task best handled at the household and neighborhood level. Are we going to subject toddlers to the same kind of regimented standardized-test criteria that older children are already forced to endure? Then there was expanded medical insurance, and of course he glossed over the fact that such entitlements do not apply to illegal immigrant workers. (In contrast, Gov. Schwarzenegger just came out with a proposal to make such benefits apply to everyone, regardless of legal status!) Immigration is one of our biggest problems, but Gov. Kaine barely touched on it, which is a gross dereliction of duty. Finally, I could not believe he actually implied that a person earning the minimum wage ought to be able to afford to purchase a home. The only place where that is possible is in Utopia -- which means "nowhere."
All in all, Kaine's speech gave little or no indication that he is familiar with the conservative critique of social engineering, or even aware of the fact that most Virginians -- and their legislators in Richmond -- subscribe to conservative principles. It would seem that his big grin is emblematic of a truly deluded view of reality. I do have to give the Governor credit, however, for emphasizing the need to provide incentives to preserve our precious heritage of natural beauty and rural tranquility. Family farms should get sufficient tax consideration so they do not have to sell off their land to make room for more subdivisions full of McMansions. On that, I think, a large majority of liberals and conservatives can at least agree.