Friday, May 12, 2006

James Simpson Retires

For those of you who still get your fingers dirty reading the news, James Simpson announced his retirement today (Friday).

James is a long-time opinion columnist whose writings appeared in the Potomac News mostly on Fridays.

James wrote like the libertarian I always wanted to be except that I couldn't get past the morals stuff.

He went out with a bang -- one of his better columns, had a lot of inches he filled blasting politicians and the voters who support them, making the argument that much of what our government does is unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, the Potomac News is not at this time posting opinion columns. But I urge you to go out, find the Friday Potomac News, and read James' last hurrah.

I know how he feels about time pressures. I've only been writing for a year and a half, and already I'm wondering how long it will be before I'm really tired of it. When I read that Simpson was quitting, I yelled to my wife that I had to keep writing because Simpson beat me to the quitting.

I'll never forget the time James referred to one of my columns and said that I made at least a little sense.

James was always just a little to limited government for me. But I admired the clarity of his thoughts, and his hardnose approach to defending his principles. In his last column, he had a list of specific things government money should not be funding. I'll type in his paragraph (James Simpson, Striking at the root of the country's problems, Potomac News, Friday, May 12, 2006, page A6):

Unfortunately, this corruption exists all the way down to local government. It is immoral to force taxpayers to fund things like local bus transportation, the Marine Corp Museum, golf courses, pools and fitness centers. These compete with private enterprise. But what is really heinous is that in funding these things money that should be spent to prevent and solve crimes (such as burglaries, rapes, murders, and child molestation) is diluted.

I disagree only with his inclusion of the Marine Corp Museum. I doubt there is private enterprise to compete, and even if there was, honoring those who served our country is to me not only a legitimate government function, but is not something I'd like to see someone making a profit on.

As I said, I'll never be a good libertarian. Because I can't for the life of me figure out what constitutional provision grants government the right to spend tax dollars on a museum, but I still think they should do it.

I always read James Simpson's columns, and many times he made me feel just a little bit cheap and dirty -- he made me think, and that is the highest praise I can think of for a long-time columnist to receive.


Craig said...

I am torn on this one. Personally I think that Mr. Simpson's ideas are so out of whack with reality as to be almost laughable (if the paper didn't give him so much space to spout off every Friday). I admit however that his column had me turning straight to the OpEd page though in eager anticipation...

I actually started posting blog entries in response to his pieces like The rantings of a lazy conservative and tried to lure Mr. Simpson into a two way dialog. Unfortunately, although he started a blog, Mr. Simpson never appeared to be interested in creating a dialog.

I don't think that the majority of the paper's readers will miss Mr. Simpson.

Charles said...

I don't know if anybody else will miss him. But bringing people to the paper is what pays the bills, and in that regard it seems he had you (That principle works for blogs as well, the blogs that seem like written versions of Jerry Springer get the most traffic).

I read your entry on the "lazy conservative", and would only point out that, contrary to your assertions, the PWC BoCs has complete control over the property tax rate. Because, by Virginia Law, the county MUST set the rate each year based on the new assessments, such as to keep the total taxes collected equal to within 1% of the previous year's total for existing homes.

Any number above that is a tax increase and must be publicised and have a public hearing. And this year, like every year, the county did just that -- publicised a TAX INCREASE and held public hearings.

This is not to say that some increase wasn't necessary, or desirable, just to say that the board CHOSES to raise property taxes.

Craig said...

Charles, you are right that property taxes went up. The BOCS did lower the rate though. Net result is higher taxes but not as high as they could have been thankfully. PWC's tax rate is no one of the lowest in the region which is a good thing.