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Archive for April, 2010

If You’ve Got the Money, We’ve Got the Protection

I thought government derived its powers from the consent of the governed. I am aware of no power exerted by an individual of going around protecting people when he gets short of funds. The state, however, presumes the authority to make up rigmarole for water treatment plants. For the second time in my life, I am agreeing with the League of Municipalities that this is not a good idea.

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Those Who Vote for a Welfare State

An editorial in UNCA’s Blue Banner described Generation Y as wanting a lifestyle of the rich and famous, but not being interested in work. You may find some of the statistics fascinating.

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More Biting of the Hand That Feeds

The Haywood County Commissioners do not want to perform a reval this year. They are not alone. No self-respecting government-grower is going to want to reassess properties when values are down. That government agents don’t say so forthrightly betrays a guilty conscience.

This year was to be a scheduled revaluation year, but commissioners postponed it to allow the market to level off after the real estate boom virtually dried up. Because property sales have been sparse in the past year, there is a lack of recent data to use in computing actual market prices, said David Francis, the county tax collector. He is recommending postponing the process for yet another year.

In addition, the article in the Mountaineer illustrates a lack of thought processes common in modern American governments.

  • Economic activities are seen as “tax base” first and foremost. An increase in tax revenues is now a commonplace selling point to get government to allow one to exercise his property rights.
  • Government feels entitled to pursue its profit motives, while on the flip-side, private sector entities trying to do the same expect to be confronted with new taxes that will turn any increase over to the government.
  • Government doesn’t think it has to trade value for value; it just wants to exercise its ever-growing powers to take. In doing so, it ignores the concept of depletion. The Tea Party movement is a good indication that government donors are now “giving until it hurts.”
  • Governments denied the recession for a couple years, and after admitting its existence for a couple months, they’re claiming everything is on the rebound. Tuesday, Asheville City Council budgeted two items with anticipated available funds.
  • Like an addict who uses every event, fair or foul, as an excuse to binge, the government is using illusions of economic recovery to justify pirating everybody else’s net increase. A generation ago, people thought diverting money from productive activities (manufacturing, distributing, etc.) into non-productive ones (legislating, fee collecting, etc.) was bad for the economy.
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Do You Like Your News This Way?

The Mountain Xpress tweeted a city council report.

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Funny Ha Ha

The Asheville Disclaimer, which goes out of its way to explain it is a satirical publication, commented on news that the unemployment rate in Asheville is down with the following:

Biz Briefs

    Top WNC industries begin hiring new workers
    Who’s hiring?

  • WNC Foreclosure Services, Inc.
  • Human-Resources Security Consultants
  • Pink Slip Paper International
  • Furniture Factory Dismantlers, LLC
  • Sammy Jack’s Bil Bonds & Credit Counseling Corp.
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Got Containment?

Is this power plant really leaking radiation, or is government just needing another excuse to spend money? If I believed the pills were necessary, I would expect the headline to read, “Nuclear Regulatory Commission Winks at Noncompliant Facility.”

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Trying to Make Government Accountable

The president left Asheville Sunday, and he still has four headlines on the local daily’s web page. One pertains to an attempt by veteran reporter John Boyle to figure out how much the president’s visit cost. To date, Boyle has only been able to identify $10,000 in expenses. That’s because only two of a dozen or so agencies has responded numerically to inquiries.

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Five Fiscally Responsible Action Items You Can’t Do at Home

The effect is wearing off, and only nine of fifteen headlines in the local daily pertain to the president’s visit to Asheville.

And so I turn to another topic: The Asheville City Council agenda, wherein every third sentence embraces and celebrates the welfare state wherein all facets of the economy are dependent on government, and money springs forth from the cornucopia of hope with no deflationary consequences. A sampling follows.

1. The city is trying to close its budget gap, and so it will award Mountain Housing Opportunities $400,000 from the municipal Housing Trust Fund, which only has $282,909.24. In this rebounding market, the city is banking on loaners repaying. MHO has a way of garnering more than the lion’s share of HTF loans, anyway.

In another staff report, we learn MHO will be getting $237,757 $392,757 and $182,356 $357,367 from the federal government in CDBG and HOME grants, respectively, and an additional $175,000 in HOME grants for the project mentioned above. Moog Music, Inc. is also receiving moneys from the federal government. The City of Asheville is giving MHO a run for the money with receipt of $270,129 and $211,229 from CDBG and HOME. (updated 28 April 2010)

One of the staff reports addressing the CDBG and HOME grants states:

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Department of Transportation (DOT) signed a memorandum of understanding in May of 2009 to establish the Sustainable Communities Partnership. Through the programmatic agreement, these three federal agencies agreed on six Livability Principles. These principals are . . . (3) Enhance economic competitiveness. Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by workers as well as expanded business access to markets.

In other words, you get to pay higher taxes to pay to incubate your own competition and subsidize it when its bad management, bad products, or bad customer service make people prefer to buy things from you.

2. The last time council met, Brownie Newman asked staff to look into taxing big box stores. After all, the paeons can’t afford to shop at the malls or boutique food markets. We can fight the obesity crisis by letting their dollar go only 2/3 of the way.

Staff is currently reviewing the business privilege license fee structure and will be bringing forward for Council’s review changes that will likely include the implementation of a tiered fee structure that will impose a progressive fee on those retail, service, and wholesale businesses in Asheville that have high levels of sales.

This will work in that ideal world where people aspire to nothing, and so there’s no point in exerting oneself to be profitable. Only wretched capitalists imagine the concept of “earning.” Politicians strive to earn votes, but they’re only demi-human. The new economy does not legitimize staples as commodities. It is supposed to subsist on nonprofits, lawyers, accountants, politicians, and dependents.

3. The federal government is also helping with transit.

One of the most important elements to enhance the Asheville Transit System, as expressed in the Transit Master Plan, is to develop a marketing strategy that focuses on the creation of a new image for the system and promotion of route changes including system “branding” (logo), color schemes for the buses, signs, and new maps. The City would hire a consultant to support and assist in the implementation of the marketing strategy. Marketing is an eligible expense under the annual Federal allocation, with an 80%/20% ratio (Federal/Local). The total cost to implement the subject marketing strategy is a maximum of $150,000, with $120,000 being paid by Federal Funds.

One member of council asked why the city had to have a contract with a transit management company. The answer was that in the 1950s, urban transit was viewed as essential to the national welfare and therefore in need of federal subsidy. Transit workers were afraid the federal government would realize efficiencies, and they’d be automated out of a job. They also feared they would lose the ability to collectively bargain since states like North Carolina prohibited public servants from doing so. Both goverments were appeased with the Memphis formula.

The Memphis formula is an arrangement whereby a publicly owned transit system which is legally prohibited from engaging in collective bargaining by state law, establishes a private managerial commission to operate the transit system. The private commission, under contract with the public entity, employs the transit workers, handles labor relations and is permitted to enter into collective bargaining agreements with the employees.

In other words, 1 government plus 1 government equals 3 governments.

To qualify for state transit subsidies, the city must comply with the following:

1. Conduct marketing efforts/activities identified in a marketing plan.
2. Coordinate with local transportation and land use planning efforts.
3. Facilitate ridematching services through the ShareTheRideNC website.
4. Promote the Best Workplaces for CommutersSM Program.
5. Collect and calculate data on VMT and NOx reductions through TDM activities.
6. Operate in a manner consistent with the NCDOT goals regarding making our transportation network safer, move people and goods more efficiently, and making our infrastructure last longer.

4. Asheville continues to receive ARRA funds. The following objective is clearly assigned to the federal government by the general welfare and commerce clauses:

As part of the EECBG program staff is implementing an environmental education program for the community. The focus areas of this program include: recycling, stormwater, energy and climate. The first phase of this educational program focuses on recycling by partnering with the 21st Century Program to work with youth at the Burton Street Community Center. Students developed the community center’s recycling station and designed the recycling posters to educate center visitors about the do’s and don’t of recycling. In addition the students wrote, choreographed and stared in an educational music video about recycling. This video will be shown during the April 27, 2010, Council meeting.

5. To help balance the budget, the city will get a loan.

The City will secure approximately $1.07 million to finance approximately half of the construction costs associated with the Livingston Street Community Center. The remaining construction costs will be financed primarily with grants and donations. The projected annual debt service costs associated with the $1.07 million in debt proceeds ranges from $120,000 to $95,000. Funds are already included in the City’s proposed debt service budget to cover this cost.

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Keeping Us Fat & Happy

The presidential popularity is slipping. He now only owns ten of fourteen headlines in the online version of Asheville’s local daily. The Mountain Xpress is tweeting on POTUS‘ every move. He ate mahi and spent $284.35 on a meal for six – creating jobs and boosting the economy, yes. “The president is a very generous man,” remarked one supporter.

Nothing hit the newspapers about the loud stream of air traffic in the wee hours this morning except this. I think SOP is to ignore, deny, admit, and dismiss as practice anything that might scare somebody.

There were a lot of police sirens, too. Whatever it was couldn’t have been as important as trying to guess where the president would dine.

I passed a big hazmat vehicle on the road. It wasn’t in a hurry. Maybe it was just being shown off before the president.

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Freedom in Polk

Twelve of fifteen headlines on the local daily’s web site pertain to the presidential visitation. There is, however, news. What’s more, there’s more for Ashevillians to do this weekend than hunker down with all the road closings. You can get out of town and go to the Polk County Tea Party, where the Carolina Journal‘s Rick Henderson (who dat?) will be speaking and handing out JLF teabags. They will be a real treat, as long as the stuffers leave out all the CJ‘s with the sick, twisted photoshop of John Edwards.

Festivities will be from 12:00-3:00 this Saturday at Sterns School, 125 East Mills Street, Columbus. If anybody knows this information to be in error, please correct it now rather than after-the-fact.

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