Today’s first pet peeve shall be copycats. Copycatism doesn’t work because it ain’t got no soul. On my mind is the Heritage Foundation’s following the lead of leftists in trying to win a campaign through the power of anecdote. The problem is, logical people take anecdotes for what they are; and so asking people to “tell us your stories” panders to stupid people and encourages smart people to think stupidly. Something is wrong with our education system if people are not learning to reason with principles.
My second pet peeve shall be political parties. I think they could do more by getting out and helping the poor and afflicted than by sitting around wondering how they can organize and win elections.
The third shall be the use of order. Order is great when it is used as a tool to increase functionality. It is crazy when it becomes a means to an end. I have experience working in an environment where the filing system was so complicated one could never find anything, but that was the way the boss liked it. He used the detailed maze to tell the world his business was official and important. It was a mask for a big nothing. Now, let’s apply this little concept to the way we build roads and plan for Smart Growth. If we have an idea to add order to chaos to improve mobility and access for the most of the most, then we probably have a good idea. If we want to impose our artistic stylings and justify our big department budgets with obfuscation through complication – or if we just get our jollies from making others do as we please – then, just, no.
Cliquez ici for a nice article on groupthink. Michael Lowery, anecdotally, shows how Charlotte leaders were hosed into falling for a stupendous cornucopia of ever-flowing wealth when they swallowed the pitch of a private corporation seeking public investment. Adam Levine-Weinberg recently posted a cool article on the same frailty in the private sector. Defineth he:
Groupthink causes members of the group to seek consensus rather than critically evaluating all of the available facts. Evidence that leaders’ preferred courses of action are not working (or are not likely to work) gets suppressed, either through self-censorship or due to pressure from other members of the group. Flaws in the group’s decisions go unrecognized until they are so obvious that it is too late.
The difference, of course, is private investors can bail. Taxpayers have no say until the next election, and they get stuck with the bill anyway.
The world is just so full of tourists – you know, people looking for places to blow their unemployment benefits. And so, that great Town of Sylva, the one trying to get booze revenue so hard yesterday, wants to get on the National Historic Register. What? You don’t know the great role Sylva has played in American history? Obviously, through a lack of designation, you are not alone in thinking the town is just growing old.
Now, if Sylva really had its act together, its town fathers would do what Mills River did. Mills River got local governments to contribute tax dollars to pay a brewery to come here and outcompete the locals. As a reward, the beer company is going to print “Mills River” on the label. Do not scoff. Remember with me all those nights you stared at the label of your beer bottle, before your eyes got too blurry. You looked at the city where it was bottled – don’t deny this – and said, “I’m gonna go there someday. I’m gonna rent a pricey hotel room, and I’m gonna buy lots of stuff.” Dintcha? Dintcha? Huh? Huh?
Moogfest is really cool. I won’t stop saying that.
And so I continue to grieve over its receipt of $180,000 in corporate welfare from local governments. Dufuses like me call it corporate welfare and say government is picking winners and losers.
That’s so silly. Why, today AC Entertainment announced it will put Mountain Oasis on hiatus. Mountain Oasis was a local electronic music festival that didn’t get an extra $180,000 from government.
Whereas our leaders tell us Moogfest is going to put Asheville on the map, and it is a perfect match for our creative and green energy clusters; the Mountain Oasis Team announced:
Unfortunately, the success necessary to sustain the venture has eluded us. And many of the challenges we have faced in producing the festival have increased. It feels more and more like we’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Incidentally, AC Entertainment had been co-producing Moogfest through 2012.
If I didn’t feel so guilty about all the starving children around here, I would buy myself some electronics gadgets, and then I would have been able to snap a photo for you. While walking the boss’ dog yesterday, I chanced upon a huge chuckhole. It was about the size of a house. In the middle, it looked like some civilian had attempted his own landscaping of the traffic-calming device. A pine bough had been planted with a few dusty blue fake flowers. As I continued the walk, I observed the private-sector planting looked about as bad as the city’s.
The booming metropolis of Sylva needs to plan for future growth, and so it is considering expanding its ETJ. Supposedly, the planning extravaganza that taxes without representation was spurred by interest in gerrymandering dry and wet zones, which is all too common a factor in annexation.
Oddly, Sylva is in the news for trying to get booze money another way. An ABC store will soon open in nearby Cashiers. It is expected this will siphon revenue away from Sylva. The town is therefore entering negotiations with Jackson County for a greater share of revenue from the existing store.
The TDA thinks a big concrete median running along NC 280 between I-26 and NC 191 will be really cool. Residents think it will be a stupid hassle. Which group best knows how to get in and out of the house? I’ll side with the planners. Whereas mere mortals don’t want to waste time and gas money doing nothing more relevant than polluting the atmosphere; planners see the bigger picture where abstractions and studies justify budgets.
A lot of drama is going on in Polk County government. The biggest social media event was the pastor who made a politically incorrect prayer. He used his freedom of speech and freedom of religion to not embrace and celebrate protected-class, special-interest groups.
Then, there was the recent brouhaha over Ray Gasperson feeling kicked out of a private meeting. (Now, either Ray doesn’t know that’s how us Southerners pay compliments to the well-informed and well-intending, and tell on ourselves at the same time; he is trying to make his peers look bad; or he is at least one step ahead of me on this.) Gasperson had previously alleged his peers had been conducting illegal meetings in closed session.
The icing on the cake was County Manager Ryan Whitson’s decision to step down. Whitson returned from military leave, having stated his expectation and joyful anticipation of returning to work, but while he was gone, he found the commissioners had, controversially, attempted to create an assistant county manager position. The commission’s first attempt to create that position was then postponed when the person of choice had an untimely car wreck. During the last closed session known to the public, Whitson was written off, and the corresponding budget amendment was approved during the public meeting.
David Forbes has written a short history of planning in the City of Asheville for the Mountain Xpress. He tells how sometimes people want government to be more involved in planning. Other times, protest movements arise. He mentions one particular person who opposed one plan and embraced another. I suppose all but the most libertarian among us would be the same way, liking things when they go our way. In the end, if all we’re talking about is design (and the usual feigned horrors of too many cars mowing down children as they play in the middle of a busy road), government should be silent. As long as a few folks don’t enjoy micromanagement of their law-abiding activities their right should be respected. You knew that, but the beat goes on.
Watauga County has an official poverty rate of 29%. Ten years ago, it was only 10%. The poverty rate among single mothers is 35%. In parts of the county, 70% of kids receive free or reduced lunch at school. During the summer, these children are lucky to get one full meal a day – and that’s with the Hospitality House giving out 11,000 meals per month. 45 children enrolled at Hardin Park Elementary were homeless last year.
The living wage in Watauga County for one adult with two kids is $24.05 for the one working adult. For two adults in a family of four, the living wage means that both parents must make $19.41 an hour, and, as [Todd Carter of the Boone Hospitality House] put it, there just aren’t those types of jobs in Watauga County. By definition, living wage is how much it takes to live in Watauga County once you figure in food, shelter, medical expenses and transportation. The stipend for housing, however, is $750 per month. “Where in Watauga County can you live for that where the paint isn’t peeling off the walls?” Carter asked.