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Not as Good as Not at All

Somebody is referring to the City of Asheville’s Christmas decorations as “malnourished.” What do you expect? Do you think somebody is actually going to cut a tree, thereby reducing CO2 absorption?

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Dufus Goes to . . . the BLS Site

Still failing to see economic recovery among friends and acquaintances, or just driving down the road, I, Dufus, went to the BLS web site to see what I could find. As you might expect, it was nothing. Actually, I am on a quest to discredit IMPLAN numbers with real-world stats.

I started by going to the at-a-glance page for Asheville. It says the number of people employed here is about 183,000. Surely, they refer to the MSA, as our population is about a million less than that number. Attempting to find out if the number of employed was a sloppy term for the number of jobs, or if one guy working eight jobs only counted once, or working eight jobs, three hours each, I found nothing.

Nothing is said about changes to definitions of fulltime employment, nor is any distinction made for FTE vs. one-hour-a-week employment. At first, the page had the heading, “Employment, Hours, and Earnings” with no trap door into data for hours and earnings. Having clicked around and returned to the page, the bit about “Hours and Earnings” was no longer there.

A popup window appeared asking if I wanted to take a survey about the web site. And how! But the window for requesting to take the survey later was inoperable, and so I x-ed it out. Oh, well.

The page is somewhat deceptive in that it lists percent changes over the last year by month. Therefore, a quick glance might lead somebody to believe that side-by-side monthly percent changes of 1.1, 1.1, 3.1, -0.4, and 4.0 for “Leisure and Hospitality” is cumulative when consecutive 1.1’s, for example, indicate there has been no change.

After taking the dog to the vet, I, Dufus, returned to the computer and found this page. Variables are defined a little better, but they are still wanting. That is, “employment” is explicitly defined as “jobs,” but who the blank knows what a job is? Whatever they are, be it one or 67 hours a week, the Asheville MSA gained 5200 from October 2013 – October 2014.

The chart showing the number of employees shows a one-to-one correspondence for jobs and employees – except that the definition of “employees” is the same as “jobs.” So, if you work three jobs, you are considered three employees.

Now, for the most amazing part of the story, we can attribute all these jobs to the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Commission. As you may recall, they developed a “5×5 Plan” with the intent of creating 5000 jobs in Buncombe County over a five year period. Why, GE Aviation alone promised the county 2700 jobs during its recruitment and expansion phase, which would result in 750 permanent jobs in the Asheville area. Keeping my brain on the shelf to swallow the jargon, I may deduce this leads to 3450 jobs, but it is probably more, right? As of an undated glossy, the “5×5 Plan” had already taken credit for 3739 jobs.

And you thought the hobbling mom and pop shops could engage in job creation. Ha-rumph!

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Get Rich Quick, Again

IMPLAN is at it again. This time, Tom Tveidt, now working for SYNEVA, is using it to justify a performing arts center for Asheville. The idea has been in the works for a long time, and a nonprofit known as the Asheville Area Center for the Performing Arts, has been working as its pursuit group.

Over the last ten years, the AACPA managed to raise $4 million, but feels it must raise the remainder for the $55 million facility through the public sector. Its director, who once commanded a salary of $200,000, is now volunteering his time, and Mayor Esther Manheimer has indicated the city doesn’t have enough dough. Once again, my argument is that Dallas has a lot of world-class performing arts centers because it is home to oil tycoons. Here in Asheville, we want the same kind of stuff, but we want to pay for it with taxes on head shops and tattoo parlors.

Tveidt, claiming a conservative estimate, argues the center will bring $19.5 million a year into the economy and create 351 direct, 91 indirect, and 57 induced jobs. It is not expected that the new venue will change the tourism industry, nor is it expected that tourists will spend any less at other local venues. If we were wiring a circuit with those two statements, we’d hear a zap and see smoke. Regardless, it is hoped the venue will pull people out of South Carolina and maybe Durham.

Now, in case you doubt Tveidt’s projections, the local daily has provided an analysis of his methods:

Tom Tveidt, research economist with SYNEVA, which produced a three-month study to determine the best performance center design, estimated it would generate $19.5 million in new visitor spending. That estimate is based on visitor numbers at the U.S. Cellular Center and data from Durham Performing Arts Center.

Tveidt uses IMPLAN to produce economic impact estimates. The 35-year-old IMPLAN is software that produces data for more than 2,000 public and private institutions, including the Asheville Chamber of Commerce.

This program defines economic impact in several ways: Direct impact, meaning income associated with new jobs and new spending; indirect, meaning supplier purchases, goods and services; induced, meaning household spending and purchases. It also accounts for tax revenue.


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I’d Prefer a McDonald’s in Ethiopia

Asheville is getting its first Ethiopian restaurant. On days when we’re not fasting, for just under $15, people can eat moldy bread without utensils. I’m sure it’s good, but I have these stereotypes of starving children in Africa to overcome.


Where It’s at

Here is a nice, happy story about Columbus cop Chris Ruff responding to an emergency and acting with amazing speed and discretion to save a life.

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All Wound up Like a Clock

The US DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing wants people to consume coffee with cops. Asheville citizens will have a chance Saturday, January 24, at the Bojangles on Merrimon. Coffee with a Cop seeks to nurture touchy-feely relationships and partnerships among law enforcement officers and those who can (1) bury the hatchet over a cup of coffee and (2) don’t have to work Saturdays and yet have enough left for transpo and restaurant coffee – or is the DOJ picking up the tab?

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I recommend this brilliant commentary with lots of references on why government anti-poverty programs aren’t working.


What’s Yours Is Mine

With overwhelming citizen support, the Watauga County Board of commissioners passed a moratorium on building any new:

asphalt plants, electricity generating facilities, propane or gasoline bulk storage facilities, chip mills, explosives manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, chemical storage facilities, fuel oil bulk storage facilities, electric substations, cement mixing facilities, and commercial and industrial development with an aggregate building footprint of 50,000 square feet

in Boone’s recently obliterated ETJ. Those who spoke were described in the Watauga Democrat as “vexed” and “anxious about what will come in place of the ETJ.”

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Goode Citizen

James A. Goode of Henderson County objected to a plan to put about 13 acres of his land into unusable watershed management for the Mills River, which is a source of drinking water. Goode argued his property drained into the French Broad River, and he hired an engineering firm to verify it. Consequently, official maps were redrawn, and 20 landowners will regain the right* to use their property.

*This Newspeak is killing me.

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Creepy: On Chain Displacement

I love private charity more than I despise sanitized redistribution through government welfare that goes beyond safety nets and corporate gifting. I’d prefer lower taxes and prices.

And so, it warms the heart to hear of cops reaching into their wallets to help kids who exceeded their $100 limit in Jackson County’s Shop with a Cop program. My complaints are that kids are buying toys when they supposedly have no food in the home. Second of all, sworn law enforcement officers are replacing moms as the nurturers of society because moms have to be the breadwinners, but they can’t do that because their income is used to buy health insurance instead of food. Dad of course, has flown the coop because there are too many hot poor chicks dressed to kill to settle down with just one. On the bright side, if cops keep shopping and playing dolls with poor children, they won’t be on the street putting men in jail, the surplus driving the cost of marriage down . . . . . . .

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