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Archive for July, 2010


Maybe you would like to vote in the Mountain Xpress‘ latest “Best of WNC” poll. Most questions assume you are an alcohol-consuming carnivore with have lots of time and money to survey the area’s jewelry stores, yoga parlors, and head shops. There are a few political questions at the end.

This cannot be construed to be ballot box stuffing, because most people who tell me they read this blog are of a progressive persuasion.

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Blackbeard Meets Redbeard?

Smiley’s Flea Market was raided last Friday. An estimated $253,645 in pirated CD’s, DVD’s, and sportswear was confiscated.

North Carolina Secretary of State trademark enforcement agents conducted the raid with members of the North Carolina Anti-Counterfeit Trademark Task Force, the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office and private investigators from the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America.

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I Think We Should Go

What message would be given if the word was spread that Americans fed up with taxes and government power grabs were going to convene a rally at the nation’s capital, and only 500 people showed up? I’d much rather see one big traffic jam from Trenton to Harrisburg to Richmond. Of course, the big people will say they can’t see us, but they’ll know they’re lying. Please consider joining one of the last and greatest peaceful demonstrations on the mall. Rumors are circulating that the well-behaved masses who showed up for the last Tea Party, though invisible, caused such a stir, legislation is in the pipeline to outlaw future gatherings at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This is a tad hard to believe, since the president’s inauguration was such a splash.

Anyway, Americans for Prosperity is offering several packages, running around a couple hundred dollars per person, for transportation, overnight accommodations, and lots of opportunities to network, including a free-market job fair. You stand a good chance to actually get to the mall with one of these packages. Glenn Beck, who booked the mall for the event, is offering ride coordination through his site. He’ll help people with buses navigate the bureaucracy, help people hire a bus, or help individuals find a seat.

Today, We the People and Freedom Works announced a bare bones package that leaves from Asheville in the wee hours and returns the same day. This bus may only make it to the traffic jam, but it will be worth it. The cost is $65 per person, no meals, no frills. That’s half what it would cost to make it in my chariot. Now, if you’re an entrepreneur, you could sell three sets in your sedan for $50 and make the trip for a profit of $30 to cover the oil change.

Maybe you would like to decorate your sedan so people know you’re part of the program. “Liberty or Bust,” would be too trite. Before the $65 deal came along, I was considering decorating my car to look like a big handbasket so people would know where I was going. I fantasized about a handbasket convoy . . . .

AFP is also hosting its November is Coming Rally in Asheville July 30, from 5:30-7:00 at the Biltmore Doubletree Hotel.

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Profitable? Pay Incompetents to Undercut You

The underlying assumption here would be that people cannot engage in business activities without some form of agency oversight, nurturing, and financial support.

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Entrepreneur (n.) One Who Leverages Public Dollars

The room taxes collected in Buncombe County will be used to fund (1) $2 million in upgrades for the Asheville Civic Center, (2) $150,000 for the second phase of the Asheville Area Wayfinding Program, and (3) $100,000 for outdoor sports amenities at the Smoky Mountain Center.

John Ellis, one of the committee members making decisions about disbursements, remarked:

These projects represent the unique entrepreneurial spirit of our community.

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You’d Laugh If It Didn’t Hurt So Much

Here’s how Robert J. Smith viewed land use planning:

One of the few states that has really done a careful job has been the State of Arizona, and Arizona has been noted for having some of the most free market, pro-private property rights state legislators. They demanded that the General Lands Office do a thorough study right down to getting the tax records from every municipality, every county, and so on. To everybody’s surprise, it turned out that 87.5 percent of all the land in Arizona is owned by the government. Only 12.5 percent of Arizona is in private hands. One of the ironies there is that is one of the states where there is such a big push for smart growth and stopping urban sprawl. They’ve already got the whole state; 87.5 percent of the land is desert and cactus. They can own all the land they want, but the problem is that too many fat cat Republicans have retired down in Scottsdale, bought a piece of land, put up their $3 million house and have a beautiful view of the mountains with some cactus across the street. They forget to buy the lot across the street and the next wealthy Republican retires down there, buys that lot, puts his house up, and destroys the view of the guy who was there the year before. Suddenly everybody says that there ought to be a law against this…There is too much growth in this state…We need “smart growth.” And wealthy retired Republicans end up working with the Sierra Club out there to promote smart growth.

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Only the Names Have Been Changed

It has been difficult working in Madison County in the Internet era. First, we only had dial-up, which was very, very slow. Then, we got satellite, which was a little faster, and worked as long as the sky wasn’t overcast. Now, we have a T1 line that blinks on and off. We came to expect it to be out one day a week, and knew business calls could fall off at any moment.

Now, the federal government will help matters by giving $1.8 million to the French Broad EMC for Internet provision. The moral of the story is, if you’ve been struggling to provide Internet to customers in a difficult and sparsely-populated terrain, give it up. Government will handle things from now on.

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You Go, Robert!

Asheville’s part-own Cato scholar, Robert A. Levy will be giving a lecture, “Constitutional Relevance in the Age of Obama,” 7:00pm, July 30 at the Simpson Auditorium of the main campus of AB Tech. “Good,” you say. ‘Tis laudable a college would allow such a diverse speaker. Admittance is free and non-compulsory. Yet, get a load of the responses to the announcement, if you don’t mind rotting your brain.

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Indivisible, with Tax Bondage for Some and Bennies for the Rest

The final gripe of the evening takes the form of a request for an economic development incentive for Montford Commons. The project got sorta stranded when financial institutions stopped lending for urban villages. So, the developers did what every New American does these days, and turned to government for assistance. If city taxpayers don’t contribute to the project, then it will lose the $3 million it will receive from HUD for allegedly rent-fixed, but not LEED-certified, comrade housing. All the developer is asking is relief from Phase I’s property taxes for ten years ($1,500,000), permitting fees ($87,500), and water tap fees ($103,012).

City staff, however, is not entirely seduced by the ploy presented only nine days before city council was supposed to review it. As if mocking an absence of logic, their report relates:

They state that the proposal should cause little or no burden on existing city and county budgets as the assistance will be based on the revenues generated from the project when completed.

Fortunately, city staff recognizes other taxpayers will be shouldering the burden for providing services for this project during its relief stages. Unfortunately, they are also of the opinion that the project could be made more tolerable with enhanced public purposes, such as more affordable housing, LEED certification, delayed construction of a parking garage, and construction of commercial buildings (because they say that will create permanent jobs).

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Thank You, Thing

I apologize. My summer vacation is over, and now I have to read Asheville City Council staff reports again, almost all of which I find ridiculous. If one wants to blow taxpayer money out their ears these days, all they need say is “community outreach,” “climate awareness,” and all the other nice buzz words jumbled into this consent agenda item. The bottom line is, the city wants to accept $12,000 from the state for “interactive recycling bins.”

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