Whole Foods Construction Stops

Work on the new Whole Foods has stopped, Rachana Dixit writes in today’s Daily Progress. The store wouldn’t comment on the status of the development, and the land’s owners—who have provided a 99-year ground lease to Whole Foods—have no idea why construction has halted. The national chain’s profits dropped sharply this past quarter.

11/20 Update: It’s back on. Apparently the city shut it down for a few days to work on the stormwater pipes, which is considerably less dramatic than some thought.

73 Responses to “Whole Foods Construction Stops”


  • Have you checked the price of organic Arugula or sun dried sesame seeds lately? Having two Whole Foods stores in Charlottesville is like having a Neiman Marcus store in Anchorage just for Sarah. It’s overkill, and that’s why it stalled.

  • The new Whole Foods is intended to replace the old one; in the end, Charlottesville is (ur…was?) to have a single, larger Whole Foods.

  • The story in the Progress contains several inaccuracies not the least of which is that the entire premise of the article is false. Or so I hear.

  • I wonder if this isn’t just a routine “winter shutdown”? Many construction projects undergo these….

  • Thanks Jeff. Didn’t know that. There I go…shooting off my mouth again. Now that you mention it, the current one is rather small with a parking lot that reminds me of a Demolition Derby.

  • Could this be the start of a deflationary Spiral? If so, then welcome to the beginning of the next Depression. We should come up with a catchy name for this one since “Great” is already taken.

    Speaking of Great, I’ve got great sympathy for Obama. He’s got only four years to fix a mess it took eight years to make. It’s got to be like getting your first assignment as Captain of a ship only to realize it’s already sinking. That said, if he can dig us out of this one, then he’ll go down as one of the best presidents ever. If not, then he may only get four years.

  • The contortions obamophiles will engage it to heap praise on the Messiah never to cease to amuse me.

  • Will
    Nov 18th, 2008 at 11:29 am
    “The contortions obamophiles will engage it to heap praise on the Messiah never to cease to amuse me.”

    The only contortions I am reading are yours, as Loonie did not “heap any praise”, but simply stated our President-Elect’s task is immense. No doubt what you didn’t like was the statement of mess-making during the last 8 years. Sorry, Bushophile, but your hero is going down as one of the worst leaders America has ever enabled.

  • Will,

    Assuming that your comment is directed towards Lonnie, you might want to re-read his post. I don’t see any praise for President-elect Obama, but, rather an acknowledgement of the tremendous challenges he faces. Surely, you don’t disagree?

  • “My president is better than yours…”

    Back to Wholefoods – Weren’t there still issues with the intersections at Hydraulic? And maybe this has something to do with it: http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2008/09/whole_foods.html

  • Lonnie- I don’t think that any can argue the fact that the mortgage standards which in part led to the current mortgage crisis found their roots during the Clinton Admin.; to his credit, he acknowledged this in public and encouraged changes to be made. The committee members declined- I forget which members and which party affiliations they had. I think one was named Frank.
    My thanks go out to both the Republican AD Democratic idiots for allowing our economy to fall into such a state. For those who think it is a one party- or person- problem, you need to get some counseling for your denial issues!

    Doesn’t change the Whole Foods question- I doubt they would be cutting back on construction if their sales had increased.

  • Obama has tremendous challenges as President, and as an individual who did not vote for him for a number of reasons (along with about 46% of the Country), I truly do wish him luck. I would rather see, and our Country needs, a successful Obama presidency, more then for me to be proven right that he was the wrong person for the job.

    Having said that, the constant dumping on Bush is an absolute sham and disgrace. Yes he and his administration made mistakes, but this Country is using him as a scapegoat to mask our own shortcomings. Bush did not cause people to lever up and buy big and overvalued homes, to cause individuals to load up on credit card debt, to cause this country to have one of the worst savings rates despite generous savings incentives.

    I saw in another post where someone was complaining about jobs lost because the Washington Post was using DP carriers to deliver their newspapers. This is a classic example of a business finding a way to become more efficient, not to mention save gallons and gallons of fuel, but the protect my turf syndrome kicks in and self interests takes precedence over cutting down on waste. Unfortunately, this is a small example of how millions of people act and think.

    No President will ever succeed, until the day comes when people accept responsibility for their own actions, and assume responsibility for their own future. Sadly, I am not optimistic this will be a platform of this Administration and Congress.

  • I think we all need to recognize that the mess extends further back than Bush. Among other woes, extreme executive salaries, a lack of movement on the environment, a sub-par health care system, a lack of a renewable energy plan, and inadequate mileage standards all predate Bush. I am not defending Bush, who I think is a criminal, but instead saying that Obama’s burden is even bigger than Bush.

  • I wish Obamaa luck as well. He’s my President, too.

    I was merely pointing out that it’s a stretch to say in a post that purports to involve a Whole Foods in C’ville that “…then he’ll go down as one of the best presidents ever.”

    In addition, the whole notion that “He’s got only four years to fix a mess it took eight years to make” is absurd as others have already pointed out.

  • tomr
    Nov 18th, 2008 at 12:43 pm
    “I don’t think that any can argue the fact that the mortgage standards which in part led to the current mortgage crisis found their roots during the Clinton Admin.”

    No, of course not, as long as you are a addict of the Fox News propaganda machine…. I’m not going to get into never-ending back-and-forths with all the right-wingers out there, but I would like to remind of a little history (this one being truly objective):

    Excerpt from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Congress:
    “The Republicans won a majority position in both houses of Congress in the elections of 1994. The Republicans controlled both houses until 2006, except the Senate for most of 2001 and 2002”

    If you don’t understand the implications of the above, please go back to school…

  • While some of these economic conditions did exist prior to Bush, for eight years he called for more deregulation. At the same time, he created a massive debt. (In fact, If spending makes one a liberal, then he’s the biggest liberal our nation has ever seen…)

    So, what is the relationship between that and the current economic crisis? Here’s how it works… Through a trade imbalance china has a large surplus. They use that surplus to buy up U.S. debt. Americans then use that loaned money (though institutions like Fannie Mae) to buy more chinese goods (thus continuing the cycle.)

    So, the unsustainable consumer debt is merely a microcosm of the unsustainable federal debt. Now we’re caught in a catch 22 of having to increase our debt for bailout programs, due to a crisis caused by our debt in the first place.

    All the while this was happening, Bush did everything possible to lower fuel efficiency and environmental standards in the U.S., increasing the demand for oil. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as “domestic oil”, there is only global oil. Exxon or BP are completely free to extract oil from public land at next to nothing, then turn around and sell it to China. Likewise, just because we gave it to them for nothing, doesn’t obligate them to sell it back at a reasonable price. So, in global terms, the additional drilling in the U.S. only succeeded in increasing our own addiction to global oil without have much impact on price whatsoever.

    In fact, a demand and prices increased, it led to a “perfect storm”, when combined with the housing market that brought our economy to it’s knees.

    So, do I blame Bush for this entire mess? Yup, and history will too.

    As for Obama, the election is over now. We can all judge him by what he does now, for better or worse. If he succeeds in pulling us out, then he’ll be remembered as a great leader, and if he doesn’t…

  • FWIW – I’ve found this to be a timely and interesting read…http://www.howtomovetocanada.net

  • We’ve had plenty of political discussions here without it going awry, but we don’t often talk presidential politics. So let me just offer this one general suggestion:

    If your goal in expressing your viewpoint is to persuade somebody to see your perspective (and it’s not, I suggest you rethinking commenting here—period), then be persuasive, not condescending or insulting.

    Lonnie’s last post, for instance, states his opinion as such (“I blame Bush for this entire mess”), but only after explaining in considerable detail why he believes that. Had he simply limited his comment to “I blame Bush,” it would have been useless. But, instead, he’s educated people as to where he’s coming from and, agree or disagree, you’ve got to recognize that he’s thought the matter through, and he provides some data points with which one could disagree. That’s far better than “It’s Bush’s fault.” “No it’s not.” “Yes it is.” Etc. :)

  • Majunga- Thanks for doing the research and making my point. I hope that with the election of Obama, the hating of one party or another will die down a bit and objectivity can return to politics. If you do a bit more reading of my comment and you’ll see that I lay the blame at the feet of both parties (and that passes Waldo’s litmus test, above!). By the way, Clinton was questioned about this during Bush’s second term; Barney Frank was involved on that committee, and he didn’t acknowledge any problems with the system.
    I wonder if people will ever realize that these problems are endemic in our politics and are not the cause of one party alone. I don’t have to defend that opinion, as no President since 1977,78 has truly been able to have his way without interference/help of members of the opposite party.

  • I would be curious as to the demographic political leanings of those being foreclosed on these days. It would be curious to see if its democrats or republicans being tossed from their homes and in what proportions.

    Also, anyone around here remember the great S & L disaster. If memory serves, attempts to get inflation down (do you remember what interest rates were in early 80s- INSANE) led to some deregulation related to mortages and a resulting meltdown that was going to take “generations” to pay off.

    Seems like way to many people have short memories and slow learning curves. Because the “generations” of payments are barely a blip in memory for most, unless of course, you wished to buy a house with an interest rate of under 15%.

    The blame game is simple, and anyone can find something to pin on someone else in our political system. Who knows how history will view Bush? It will take some time and distance before his legacy will be determined.

    Who knows? But blaming and finger pointing only gets people into…

  • I recently visited relatives who watch only FOX and I must say that fox does seem to be in an alternative universe.
    Concerning this thread- perhaps policies from several eras have collided in a disastrous way to create an unprecedented mess. Perhaps simple dichotomies won’t be very useful in figuring out how to move forward.

  • I guess what really frightens me here is that there seems to be such a lack of consensus on what the cause of this mess is from the political leadership.

    It’s kind of like watching a patient go into cardiac arrest while the doctors can’t decide amongst themselves neither what caused it, nor how to treat it.

    One side says it is was the result of too much regulation, the other side says that it was because there wasn’t enough. Some are saying “let the market correct itself”, and others that radical intervention is necessary. That’s really not the kind of talk you want to hear from the guys hanging over you with a scapel.

    It’s pretty clear that projects stopping in their tracks locally, like Whole Foods, are tracable to this mess. We indeed be way beyond blame here, and I’m sure members of both parties played some kind of role (although I might strongly disagree on the percentages). Nonetheless, we’ve got to start figuring out what the real problem is, and there have to be some serious changes from the status quo.

    I’m kinda surprised no one took me up on my name challenge… Come on, we could name this thing right here while everyone else is still afraid to say the D word. People would look back and say “It was named on Cville News first!”

  • How about Default Credit Fault Swap Smackdown?

  • I like it! Fun, and quite descriptive. Of course it kind of lacks the simplicity and usability of a phrase like “Great Depression”. I could see maybe “The Great Credit Smackdown”. (Of course great is kind of overused – maybe we need another word more indicative of our generation).

    We need to give this all serious consideration. After all, generations of children will be forced to hear us talk about it for the next 50 years.

  • Great Collapse. Look, you can name any number of problems in the economy, but the proximate cause of the crisis is the deregulation of the financial markets. Fox News and its listeners may think Washington encouraged too many mortgages, but nobody told New York to package them up into fraudulent time bombs. The financial markets are the beginning and end of this crisis, and it is still not clear we as a political entity will put the brakes on. Wall Street gives a lot of money to D.C., and is a large part of our de-industrialized economy. Regulatory legislation will not even start until next year.

    Trying to blame people who borrowed too much money to buy a house is ridiculous.

  • colfer
    Nov 18th, 2008 at 5:31 pm
    “Trying to blame people who borrowed too much money to buy a house is ridiculous.”

    I’m sorry, I have a bleeding liberal heart too, but I just can’t swallow that pill. What is true is they may have been misled, but I will not excuse the “Folie des Grandeurs” so many folks have allowed themselves to feel.

  • Um…obviously its the fault of Democrats. As is global warming, drug use, Americans usurping the name Football, Chinese long march and at least 2 other things I cannot thing about currently, including snow being cold.

    Carry on.

  • Majunga well how in h.h. does an analysis like that help solve the problem? The issue is structural, and I don’t mean 2×4’s. Individualizing everything is just pointless. This a Wall Street problem, and we as the gov’t give them certain license to operate. Let’s make that license explicit. In other words, I am afraid reasonable regulation will be held up in Congress.

  • All of this really does precede Bush, though he was certainly the icing on the cake.

    These crises (mortgage, employment, auto industry, peak oil) are a condemnation of unfettered capitalism in all its glories. Regulation has always been required to deal with an animal that seeks out (and always has sought out) sweat shops and child labor. So how smart was it to deregulate?

    Americans have long looked to capitalism as the mechanism by which they can raise themselves up to the top of the ladder. In this sense, it was sold as some sort of panacea by which the ills of society could be remedied. The sad truth, however, is that there is no profit in things like providing health care to the poor and immunizing children in developing countries. Where there was short-term profit, on the other hand, our capitalists ventured forth, producing gas-guzzling SUVs on the eve of peak oil, offering credit to people who could never afford to make the payments on their debt, and shipping jobs overseas. What was supposed to happen when all the jobs left? What was supposed to happen when the mortgage payments were due? What is supposed to happen when oil runs out?

    These are questions that capitalists don’t want to answer.

    If you are going to name this time in history, give it a big name, because it could very well be the death knell of capitalism as we know it. It’s bigger than dumb-ass George Bush and it is bigger than Republicans and Democrats.

  • Um, I clicked on this post to read about Whole Foods. :) Having said that, I work at Whole Foods, and the regional VP came to town a week ago to attend a store meeting. We were told that as a company, WF was going to focus more on what they already have instead of building more, and more quickly. Also, we were also told that they are still looking very seriously at building on Hydraulic, and they were just going to meet again with developers on building a smaller and more effective store. (It was going to be one of, if not the largest and “greenest” store on the east coast. I hope they keep the “green idea”) As a cool side note, Whole Foods as a company is hoping to be trash free as of 2013, meaning the stores will completely be able to compost and recycle all of their waste products. They have been talking to the venders and suppliers to try and have them put all of their products in recyclable packaging asap. I thought that was pretty cool. Ambitious, but cool.

  • alimonkee – I don’t work at Whole Foods, but I do know what was said at the regional meeting last week. I do not know if this was privileged info so I wasn’t going to post it on an internet forum. I am surprised you are not just a bit upset that they built Richmond whilst their top performer per $ spent stays in a decrepit strip-mall location.

    Although I agree with Cynic this is much bigger than Bush, I don’t think we should underestimate how detrimental he and his associates have and are still to the world at large. Also, the world is a very imperfect place, and until you can provide firm footing for something more productive than capitalism, I think I’ll take a pass. I do not subscribe to the style of capitalism that has been propaganized since Reagan, which is nothing more than a return to a Robber Baron era. For instance, I just cannot believe the droidal stupidity of people when they consider our medical system. To me, it makes no sense to allow the middle-men insurers inside the loop: their entire existence is predicated on making sure it’s a profitable for them as it can possibly be. How can individuals even think they have a chance against these well-organized, well-funded, professional swindlers? McCain’s “Plan” was a nonsensical brain-fart, unless the real goal was to empower even more the insurers! The worst part of it all: average to low-income Americans – the vast majority of us – are indentured servants in large part because we cannot leave dead-end jobs lest we lose our “insurance”. It’s pathetic!

  • Just to clarify, we were not lead to believe the WF new store info was privileged info. We were informed that people would be asking (as everyone including employees do every day) and that the status of the new store was as such. I can’t wait for a new store and I hope we can get one soon!

  • Trying to blame people who borrowed too much money to buy a house is ridiculous.

  • Danpri: “It would be curious to see if its democrats or republicans being tossed from their homes and in what proportions.”

    In what sense are they “their” homes. If you sell me a car in exchange for 12 monthly payments and I default after making the first two, are you taking “my” car away from me?

  • People borrowing too much is their own problem. Adults take responsibility for problems of their own making. Those responsible enough to live within their means shouldn’t bail out those who weren’t.

    Likewise banks that were stupid enough to loan money to those who couldn’t repay need to deal with it on their own as well.

  • I confess I’m a bit concerned here about alimonkee’s news from the higher ups.

    While I’m sure the City is excited about the new revenue from Whole Foods moving, I can’t help but wonder if it is really in the public interest if the project is downsized or degreened (browned?)

    After all, it may not be great for Whole Foods to be where it is now, but it does serve to use and revitalize a shopping center that would otherwise might get little traffic.

    I’ve got this feeling that when the planning commission and everyone else approved a new grocery in the greenbelt, right next to a preexisting grocery, they were probably sold on the green credentials. Without that, it’s just removing a chunk of greenspace and damaging the viability of an existing shopping center. Sounds a bit like a bait and switch.

  • Regarding the loans and banks, I’ve got to agree with jmcnamera to some degree. People that bought half a million dollar homes and couldn’t afford it shouldn’t be bailed out and allowed to keep thier ill-conceived rewards. It effectively punishes all the rest of us who read theri contracts, bought what they could afford, and paid their mortgages on time. The current market is encouraging people to sell their oversized homes and SUVs, and switch to things they can afford (and that’s a good thing).

    Now that said, there are circumstances where banks committed what I consider serious fraud, and where consumers were duped into interest only loans that blew up in their face. In these situations, we should require that the banks refinance the loans at reasonable fixed rates.

    Alhough painful, this is also the best way to help the banks. No one wins if it goes into foreclosure, and this will stabilize otheriwse risky loans. Now if the banks refinance, and the consumer still can’t pay… That’s a tough situation and it’s hard to say who should pay the cost of that, especially when doing nothing could bring the entire financial system crashing down.

  • In response to Majunga who attempted to discredit Tomr about the mortgage crisis situation starting in the Clinton Administration, I would like to link you to the following from the NY Times, September 30, 1999:

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0DE7DB153EF933A0575AC0A96F958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1

    An excerpt:
    …Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

    In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates — anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

    ”Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990’s by reducing down payment requirements,” said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. ”Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.”…..

    Now, lets be clear, the objective of allowing low income people access to credit to buy a home is admirable. However, we have to remember that this whole financial crisis started with subprime lending out of control, and it had its beginnings a long time ago. This article clearly fingers just about everyone. And that is the point, for individuals to point solely at Republicans, and Bush, is pure partisan politics.

    As for a last thought, for those of you who felt Obama was going to bring CHANGE, he is surrounding himself with the same old tired politicians from yesterday. Round and round we go. So sad….sigh!

  • While I’m on my soapbox, and since it is related to the fine food sold at a store like Whole Foods, what the hell sort of financial system continues to produce, sell, and market junk food for obese children? Who is going to have to pay for health care of these obese children? We might as well be poking ourselves in the eye with a stick.

    Incidentally, and not that it matters, but this will be my last comment as Cynic. In considering the general bent of my comments over these past months (e.g., childhood obesity will eventually bite us on (or eat) our collective butt, if we don’t take care of third world disease it will eventually infect our collective butt, no more oil may cause some problems for our society, etc…), and in an effort to hasten a new spirit of accountability and transparency, I have decided to become “Voice of Doom.”

    I strongly suggest that the rest of you do the same. One frequent contributor, for example, might wish to become “Crotchety Know-it-all.”

  • Oh, and we can also thank our financial system for cigarettes.

  • Today’s Daily Progress reports “The developer behind the future Whole Foods grocery on Hydraulic Road says construction is progressing again after having been idled by stormwater issues.

    “We haven’t shut down construction,” said Alan Taylor, vice president of development at Red Light Management Co. “

  • Voice of Doom reminds me of those nifty things at the front of Sam’s (and other places) that you drop your money in and it spirals faster and faster. Those devices have just 2 slots so one can “race” their coins. It seems as though our economy is increasingly similar, without the 2 coin limitation, of course.

  • Wouldn’t that be something? The brass at Whole Foods want to stop yet they may already be committed contractually… Wouldn’t surprise me… Never seen brass worth their pay…

  • I nominate “the So-So Depression”. It can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be Great or not.

    Cynic/Voice of DOOM, saying that regulation is good and deregulation is bad is like saying rain is good and sunshine is bad (or vice versa). You point out valid problems with laissez-faire, but there’s a flip side too: excessive and unnecessary regulation chokes the economy. It’s all very nice to say you want to mandate health care for the poor, but if the anemic economy can’t produce the wealth to pay for it it’s just so much empty talk – you end up like Cuba, where everyone is destitute but at least they’re equal.

    Majunga, it’s easy to demonize “middle-men” (and to call people who disagree with you stupid, but ’nuff said on that), but dangerous to try to cut them out when you have no idea what they do or why their role is necessary or beneficial to the system. In this instance insurers do two things: exert much-needed downward pressure on costs and ration care. Without them health care would be limited to what any individual could pay for out-of-pocket at the moment he actually needed to consume it. You and Obama may think the government would be better at fulfilling those functions, but I disagree – controlling costs is what the government is WORST at, just look at the Pentagon, and between soulless bureaucrats who ultimately answer to customers and soulless bureaucrats who ultimately answer to no one (because civil service employees easily outlast any administration or political trend), I’ll grudgingly choose the former.

    If you think justice requires that you and I be taxed to pay for health care for the poor, so be it, but don’t try to sell a welfare measure as an efficiency one, because it isn’t. McCain understood that and acted accordingly. I applaud him for not trying to con the gullible into thinking welfare will somehow lead to greater efficiency. Too many politicians (and especially Bush) have told us that if we just elect them they’ll fix it so we CAN have our cake and eat it too, indeed, we’ll have MORE cake and eat it too and not get fat either!

    Speaking of which, the sort of financial system that continues to produce, sell, and market junk food for obese children is the exact kind we want; that is, the kind that sells people what they ask for and not what their supposed betters think is better for them. Absent fraud, ther responsibility for consumers’ health rests with the consumer, or in this case the consumers’ parents, not with the grocery store, the restaurant, or government regulators. It astonishes and dismays me to see how many people believe that we all have a sacred and unassailable right to abortion, sodomy, and porn but must not be allowed to eat fattening foods or smoke tobacco.

  • Randy, wasn’t Franklin Reines, the guy you quoted, also fired for helping coverup accounting fraud while he was the head of Fannie Mae?

    There are many many reasons the economy is bad, one that is ignored is that WE all kept goosing the economy to avoid mild recessions so now we’ve got a big one. There is plenty of blame for both the Clinton and Bush administrations and probably even more for Congress as well as the greedy folks all over America, not just bankers but flippers etc.

  • Bruce – The FACTS are what they are: the US has the absolute most expensive Healthcare system in the whole wide world, yet we are at the very bottom in actual care for everyone but the wealthy.

    I witness you haven’t addressed a gravest problem: most Americans are indentured to their employers through the employer health insurance system.

    Your other comments just reflect your ignorance and prejudice:

    “[…]dangerous to try to cut them out when you have no idea what they do or why their role is necessary or beneficial to the system.”

    “Without them health care would be limited to what any individual could pay for out-of-pocket at the moment he actually needed to consume it.”

    [McCain understood that and acted accordingly.]

    Lastly, the problem with the Fast Food industry is not that they should not be allowed to offer junk food, but that they are in fact the only economical option for a large amount of families because they are so cheap comparative to healthier choices.

    I sure hope you’re a young person, Bruce, because if not, wow!… you could make a claim for some kind of SUPER-DROID handicap!

  • It astonishes and dismays me to see how many people believe that we all have a sacred and unassailable right to abortion, sodomy, and porn but must not be allowed to eat fattening foods or smoke tobacco.

    Bruce, can you name, say, ten of these people? Because I don’t know any of them, and I can’t even guess who they might be. Since you’ve witnessed an astonishing and dismaying number of them, I figure that’ll be easy for you to do.

  • Waldo – Offhand, Michael Bloomberg, Henry Waxman, and Ted Kennedy come to mind – is it really necessary to go to ten? All three of them are staunch supporters of abortion rights and at least two were vocal proponents of decriminalizing consensual sodomy, and all three have championed prohibitive taxes and regulations on tobacco and/or fattening foods.

    (I stick to politicians because I could easily name plenty of people I know personally who take such positions, but you probably wouldn’t know most of them.)

    Porn may be the one ringer in there; the ACLU defends it, but some otherwise party-line lefties disdain porn on feminist grounds.

    For the record: I’m generally in favor of abortion rights and gay civil rights (although I disagree with some of the theory offered by many of their proponents); I just can’t see anything but hypocrisy in saying that sex and abortion are protected by a general “right to privacy” or “right to control one’s body” but food and drugs aren’t. If the government can forbid McDonalds to sell me a Big Mac or Philip Morris a pack of Marlboros because the government thinks they’re bad for me and I’m not competent to make that decision myself, why can’t it do the same for Jane Roe and her doctor WRT abortion?

  • Majunga, when you talk about the government “forbidding” McDonalds to sell someone a Big Mac, aren’t you still straw-manning? None of the politicians you named have proposed forbidding McD’s or PM from selling their products. They have proposed higher taxes and regulations on those products, and one rationale for that might be to recoup the health costs associated with consumption of those products (tobacco is the easier case to make). People want to smoke–okay, fine, but what’s hypocritical about the government saying that your desire to smoke costs the nation a lot of $$ when you get cancer from it and have no health insurance?

  • What Cecil said, only w/r/t to Bruce (which I assume is what Cecil meant). None of these people hold the views that you claim that they do. Nobody believes those things.

  • Bruce,

    I don’t find the Cuba argument compelling. I actually think they’ve done quite well for themselves considering a decades-long embargo by the world’s financial superpower. One indicator is Cuba’s infant mortality rate, which is lower than the ours.

    In regards to the rest of your comments, I’m not saying that people oughtn’t to be able to smoke, drink, and be merry, if that’s their choice. I am saying that we need to better control our economy, given its proven track record of engaging in behavior that is contrary to our long-term national interest. We need to recognize that we own a dangerous animal and therefore put a collar on it.

    This collar might be in the form of a tax on gasoline. We pay next to nothing for gas
    (http://www.schneiderism.com/tag/global-gas-price-comparison/) and where has it gotten us? We are not in a happy place, energy-wise.

    This collar might be in the form of education, so that our citizens at least know what behaviors are detrimental to our long-term health.

    This collar could also be in the form of tax incentives from our government, rewarding behavior that is in our long-term interest and penalizing behavior that is not.

  • oops, yeah — sorry Majunga. I meant Bruce.

  • fdr

    If you google Franklin D. Raines accounting fraud, there is is a number of articles on him and accounting fraud that was asserted under his watch.

  • Cecil and Waldo, in case you didn’t notice, NYC has banned restaurants from serving any food containing trans fats. Sounds like a ban to me. And the lack of much broader bans is only due to political opposition – believe me, Waxman would put tobacco on the same schedule as pot (or more likely, the same as meth) tomorrow if he could get the votes.

    “People want to smoke–okay, fine, but what’s hypocritical about the government saying that your desire to smoke costs the nation a lot of $$ when you get cancer from it and have no health insurance?”

    The hypocrisy is in not levying similar taxes on anything else that costs society money, from snowboarding to extramarital sex.

    Anyway, smoking actually saves society a good deal of money. You always see the health care *costs* cited, but not the associated savings, which, if anyone adds them up, are much greater. Every dollar spent on a smoker’s lung cancer is a dollar not spent on his liver cancer or Alzheimer’s or whatever long, lingering, and frightfully expensive illness kills people who don’t smoke (that is, those who aren’t hit by buses at 35, but they’ll have the same costs whether they smoke or not).

    That’s not quite a wash because smokers tend to have more problems before they become terminally ill, but the big savings come with the untold hundreds of billions in Social Security, pensions, and services other than critical care not paid to smokers because they die before or shortly after retiring, which far outweighs the productivity losses due to smoking. Everyone dies, and the process of dying is usually extremely expensive, but the closer to retirement age a person dies the more money society saves, and smokers tend to die much closer to retirement age than nonsmokers.

    It is incredibly rare to see this analysis performed or discussed anywhere in the media, because it’s hard to imagine anything less politically correct than smoking, but it’s true nonetheless: see, for example, http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/337/15/1052

    This is, of course, not to say the government should promote smoking (although it promotes other social ills like gambling…) but claiming that smoking costs the public money is untrue.

    Anyway, that’s a bullshit argument to begin with. I never asked for the state to take over responsibility for my health care. If it insists on doing so, fine, but don’t think that offering me charity gives it the right to run every aspect of my life in order to maximize its savings. That’s treating the citizenry like children incapable of making their own decisions, and it is EXACTLY why the mention of “socialized medicine” provokes so much fear and outrage in so many people. If the price of “free” medical care is micromanagement of every aspect of my life that might affect health care expenses – which is to say, every aspect of my life – then thanks, but no thanks.

    When I see the benevolent totalitarian world people like you and Waldo would build for us, I am truly terrified. I’d rather die for lack of medical care than live in such a terrible place.

  • I’ve got to agree with Bruce on the smoking issue, there. I bet it does indeed cost society less that smokers die quicker. Regardless, I too find it abusive government can say they’re going to tax enormously cigarettes but not, say, gasoline, which costs more in every way to society than cigarettes do (accidents, roads, population,…)

  • Bruce,
    I think you have it wrong about Waxman and most other Dems (like my broad brush?) – doesn’t he want to legalize pot, not ban it?

    It’s the irony of both parties: conservative republicans and liberal democrats. Republicans are fine with people killing themselves with cigarettes, but not with assisted euthanasia. Dems say go ahead and abort your baby, but no hand guns for you.

    Never knew people were so passionate about Wholefoods.

  • My passion for Whole Foods knows no bounds.

    Do most Democratic *politicans* support marijuana decriminalization? They seem to me mostly to be afraid of appearing “soft on crime.”

  • Bruce,

    What you (and many Americans, through pure ignorance of what life might be like elsewhere and the gentle urgings of the conservative fear machine) perceive to be totalitarian, I perceive to be…..the Netherlands (cost of a gallon of gas….around $9). If you have never been to Amsterdam, I encourage you to do so. If that’s totalitarianism, I say, in the immortal words of W, bring it on.

    And it’s the cost of socialized medicine that the conservative fear machine has perpetuated….not “fear that the state will take over their health care.” Of course, it’s not too late for you to begin perpetuating it now. Given that so many are without, I don’t think your idea will find much traction.

  • hmmm, a pleasant life in Amsterdam, or huddling in a room filled with piles and piles of guns, cheap cigarettes, Big Macs, and trans-fat loaded Twinkies, with no health insurance….any good “libertarian” would choose the latter, no doubt!

  • Yes, VD, please tell us how us Amerikuns are so ignorant because we haven’t lived in one of the most homogeneous countries in the world. Although I did spend some time in Utrecht and a small town near Amerongen a few years back, I hardly found it a panacea. My experience was that my Dutch neighbors were more conservative than my American neighbors. You can kind of get the idea by the fact that one of the largest political groups is the CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal).

    I suppose you’re one of those folks who think personal consumption or production of marijuana is legal in Holland. But if your experience of Holland was hanging out all day in the coffee shops of Amsterdam, I guess your point of view makes sense.

  • I guess in that sense the Netherlands is like the US. Here, as there, you’ll tend to find highly-educated, liberal people in the major cities and conservatives who are not as highly educated in the countryside. While I mentioned the Netherlands, where I have spent some time (some of it in the coffee shops) and have relatives, I think there are a number of countries that would just as easily fit the bill. What’s the percentage of Americans who hold a current passport? Is it still five percent, or has it risen?

  • Bruce, you’re not criticizing actual humans. You’ve assembled a collage of exaggerated stereotypes of the beliefs of Democrats, bundled them into one, and attached them to individuals quasi-arbitrarily.

  • Upon reflection, I am not thrilled by my response to jay. I know that travel is expensive and I’m pretty sure that more than five percent of Americans have passports. That’s not really the point, though. The point is that there are plenty of great places to be in this world and you don’t need $2 gas, cheap cigarettes, and, from Cecil’s excellent and riotous comment, piles and piles of guns. There are other ways to do this. We have become victims of the paradigm that this nation is the greatest on earth and that anyone who wants to do it differently is un-American or should “go live over there if you think it’s so great.” Other nations have higher standards of living, better transportation, greener economies, lower infant death rates, etc… Why shouldn’t we strive for that? It’s not a question of whether our nation has the collective wealth; it’s a question of will and of controlling our financial system so that we are not throwing away our future for short-term financial gains. Over the past eight years, the rich have gotten richer. Where has this gotten us as a nation?

  • Freedom

    The greatest gift we have. Freedom to think and to live our lives as we choose.

    On the VOD 5:59 post yesterday, he said that: “you’ll tend to find highly-educated, liberal people in the major cities and conservatives who are not as highly educated in the countryside”

    My reaction was two-fold, one something along the lines of ….You arrogant #$%@…. The other emotion was more light-hearted, along the lines of (and more in liking to the Voice of Doom) …Luke, come to the Dark Side where your education will be complete…..

    But reading his later post, I am more reflective. We are all very different people, some love sports (I leave for the football game in an hour), hunting, reading, traveling, walking the outdoors (I love to run on trails), or for some strange reason, reading and occasionally posting on blog sites where the majority of readers hold vastly different political views…sigh.

    I don’t know who to wrap this up, other than to say many on both sides of political views are looking for the same thing, freedom to do as we choose. We don’t like people who stand in the way of that freedom, and will fight to protect our rights, as well as others who think like us. But before judging those who think differently then us, maybe one needs to walk in their shoes and look through their eyes, just a little more then we do.

    May the power be with you….and go Hoos!

  • Randy,

    I knew the moment I sent that comment that I should have done it differently. I felt that jay was trying to attack me personally (“I suppose you’re one of those folks…”) rather than my ideas, so I sent him something with a dig in it. A better response to jay would have been something along the lines of: what facts do you have to show that the Netherlands is not a good place to live, especially given their ranking as the number one nation in the world for civil liberties?
    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/dem_civ_and_pol_lib-democracy-civil-and-political-liberties

    I should have heeded Waldo’s advice, suggested earlier in this post, that we try to stick to the facts.

  • Funny the Netherlands has come up in this thread. The last 5 years they’ve had an unusually high rate of emigration to other countries.

    Why the Dutch leave – http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/2044

    From http://www.amren.com/mtnews/archives/2005/04/onethird_of_dut.php, “A survey has indicated that 32 percent of Dutch people want to emigrate abroad and that just 51 percent are proud of the Netherlands.”

  • From what I can glean, it’s a small, crowded country that saw lots of immigration in the 1990s. Now, according to the sites I found, two-thirds of the emigrants are recent immigrants. I think this is happening in many EU countries.

  • Waldo, I don’t know how you can say that. I named three individuals in positions of enormous power and influence and accurately described their positions (in the second post; granted, the first was a bit of sarcastic hyperbole, but aside from the terminology it too was accurate).

    Do you dispute that any of those three men support unrestricted rights to abortion and consensual sexual behavior or that they support prohibitive laws (taxing and regulating out of existence, if not banning outright) against tobacco and certain foods? If so, I’d like to see your reason for doing so, because as far as I can tell all of their stances on those issues are well documented.

    Doom, it may amaze you to learn that not everyone who disagrees with you is an ignoramous. Or rather, it *would* amaze you if you took those blinders off for a few seconds. Yes, I’ve been to the Netherlands, and while there are plenty of nice things about it and its people, I still prefer to live here. And you must not be very observant if you didn’t notice that American cities tend to have much larger exurbs than European ones, and those exurbs are where educated conservative people generally live. You also must not see much of our cities if you think only well-educated people live in them. I suggest pulling your head out of your ass the next time you’re out making your observations.

  • Bruce, your original claim was:

    It astonishes and dismays me to see how many people believe that we all have a sacred and unassailable right to abortion, sodomy, and porn but must not be allowed to eat fattening foods or smoke tobacco.

    That claim is flat wrong. None of the people that you named, nor anybody else that you can name, believes that abortion should exist without any restrictions at all, that there should be no laws restricting sex (non-commercial or otherwise), that there should be no laws restricting pornography, that fattening foods should be prohibited, or that tobacco should be prohibited. You cannot cite any evidence that they believe that. As the person making the claim, it is your obligation to demonstrate the veracity of that claim.

    My hope is that you were knowingly exaggerating for effect, that you actually understand that virtually nobody believes these things, and that you understand that none of the politicians who you have named (Michael Bloomberg, Henry Waxman, and Ted Kennedy) hold such a collection of viewpoints.

  • Bruce,

    Do you feel the information at the following site is bogus? If so, I would love to know why.

    http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/rdrr98/rdrr98_lowres.pdf

  • Bruce? Bruce? Where are you?

    I guess Bruce didn’t like what he read. For those of you who did not access this document, it is from the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, which “analyzes the ongoing changes in rural areas and assesses Federal, State, and local strategies to enhance economic opportunity and quality of life for rural Americans. This publication provides the latest information on the education-related characteristics of rural workers (age 25 and older) and counties.”

    The document states:

    “Rural education still lags urban levels, and large regional and racial differences persist. The South, for instance, with a third of the Nation’s rural population, is home to half of all rural adults who have not completed high school.”

    The document then goes on to state:

    “The largest gap between metro and nonmetro educational attainment was in college completion—the metro share of 26.6 percent was 11 percentage points higher than the nonmetro share.”

    I could point out that the relatively less-educated South, with the exception of Virginia and North Carolina, voted for McCain and Palin, while the relatively better-educated cities voted for Obama and Biden, but I am not going to do that, as that would take us off topic and might be perceived as a poke at conservatives.

    Let’s keep this clean and about facts.

  • I recognize that I have hogged this blog, so this is the last thing I have to say. Bruce, in his finite wisdom, unwittingly brought this full circle by suggesting that my statement about education was erroneous and that I had my head up my ass. The initial post by Waldo questioned whether economics were at play. The ERS information, if you read further, suggests that economic opportunities may be limited for less-educated rural voters. What will this mean for a place like Charlottesville? We can only hope that we can weather the storm.

    There are other things I would like to say here, but I won’t….things like, “Does conservative leadership in our country really want education to work, given that their base is made up of the less educated?” and “Isn’t it conservative voters, Bruce, who really have their heads up their asses? And, if their heads are up their asses, and there are TVs up their asses as well, isn’t it highly likely that those TVs are tuned to FOX News?”

  • VOD

    There is a point where people simply move on, and I should have earlier as well. I will not debate you on your education issue as you take a complex question which I believe plenty of pundits have, or will, fully evaluate.

    I have to laugh because I made an argument (October 9 topic, were #1 on gas prices) that gas prices are higher in areas controlled by the Left, and was able to pull some Statewide documentation on that (though concede there is no such argument for Charlottesville), and boy, did I get it from Waldo and others. Either, they don’t follow the same standards in reading posts as they did back then, or perhaps, you and I are the only ones silly enough to continue reading and writing posts!

    Have a nice Thanksgiving, and give my regards to MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, and CNN

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