“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

I was talking with one of the managers from Colonial Honda the other day and being in the automotive business, she mentioned the condition of Virginia roads. We compared the condition of Interstate 81 south of Petersburg with what Route 288 was before the state began work on it.

Not too long ago, both highways were an alignment waiting to happen. The conversation’s natural progression led to how other states maintain their roads. I compared our state roads to North Carolina and the immediate change once you cross the border. Not only the pavement, but many of the interchanges are landscaped and welcome visitors to various communities.
Honda girl said she thought the roads in West Virginia were much the same, at least in the pavement department. And, I know from traveling this past summer that even the roads in Kentucky are pretty nice as you cross the bluegrass state.

It’s all about decisions and priorities. Governor McDonnell’s new budget puts some money into roads but balances it by diverting $110 million from education and health care. The discussion, which argues to raise gas taxes to pay for transportation or get the funds from education and health, could heat up before it’s decided.

It’s an age-old political battle; juggle what is already in the kitty or raise taxes. What brings the best for the state community? How can one bring equality for both sides of the aisle? Is there ever parity or balance when it comes to what one person wants over another’s wishes?

I’ve heard the word parity used a number of times recently by at least one local elected official. The first time was back in late July at a benefits committee meeting at the county complex. The committee comes together, once a year, to discuss health benefits or other benefits provided to county employees. I found out that the county administration has a different set of benefits than the schools division. But I digress. Dan Gecker, who was Midlothian’s supervisor, said he would like to see parity between the administration’s benefits and the school division’s benefits.

Equality. Nothing wrong with that. Parity could be argued for many things in this world. Why do some starve and others thrive? It’s not because they don’t want to thrive, but consider those in third world countries who have no other choice. Why are some races thought better of than others? Why are thin people, beautiful people or those with family ties, apt to be more successful than others? Why are men typically paid better than women in the same job?

Parity came up another time more recently, and mentioned by the same supervisor. This time related to how the CIP (Capital Improvement Program or funding for public facilities) and how it is divided among the five districts in the county.

The Bermuda district contains a lot of industry. Think about Honeywell, Dupont, Dominion Power, Park 500, The Sustainability Park, Alstrom, Hill Phoenix, among others. How about the plethora of trucking companies in Chester or the businesses in the Walthal Industrial Park or the Rivers Bend Business Park or Meadowville Technology Park? Heck, we also have more hotels.

No argument that the Bermuda district has almost all of the industrial property in the county. From the Chesterfield website: “Industrial uses had an assessed value of nearly $1.2 billion in 2010. Since 2003, industrial uses have increased an average of over $52 million each year. Industrial uses account for 26 percent of the county’s total commercial and industrial assessments.”

There has to be more tax dollars coming from industry out of Bermuda district than any other. I saw a breakdown one time which indicated that Bermuda generates almost twice as much in business taxes, industrial property and sales taxes as any other district. County officials were reluctant to provide that information to me, but isn’t it obvious? Yet what district has the best schools? Families clamor to have their children at James River or Cosby High schools. Walk into Cosby and it’s like entering a four-star-hotel lobby. I think the students eat caviar for lunch.

Bermuda had an upper end household income up into the 1970s – that is until Brandermill came along. Then, those who worked at Bermuda factories went north across the mountains to Midlothian, which is now the most affluent district in the county.

While Bermuda supplies the jobs, other districts supply the housing, get better public facilities and do not suffer the condescending  attitudes from “some” other districts. How do we in Bermuda, Dale and southeast Matoaca change our lot in life – or maybe it’s fine just the way it is?

George Orwell wrote in his famous novel Animal Farm “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”


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