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Archive for October 19th, 2011

It Might Be Progress

Monday, the Jackson County Commissioners rescinded their vote cast two weeks earlier that doubled occupancy taxes. Unfortunately, the action was only taken to put the public hearing before the vote and not after. Since the vote, innkeepers like Henry Hoche have been explaining Laffer’s curve to the commissioners.

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Maybe We Could All Get a Gummint Job So We Can Afford Taxes

The Mountain Xpress provided excellent coverage of the proposed referendum to raise sales taxes for capital improvement projects at AB Tech. As usual, the political defensive is resorting to mild distortions. One fair statement was made by Robert Malt, who organized a PAC, the Sales Tax Opposition Partnership, to oppose the tax.

“I think raising taxes in the middle of the second Great Depression is not a swift idea,” he explains. “Right now, the last thing we need to do is take money out of the local economy. Retailers, who are most affected by a sales tax, are struggling. We see restaurants and other businesses in Buncombe County struggling and closing.”

I used to work for AB Tech, many moons ago. I loved it, and so did the students. I have seen a sagging in morale in recent years, but what irks me most is some of the homework questions kids I’ve tutored have to answer. They are worded poorly, ambiguously, and sometimes hint that the instructor doesn’t understand the concept he is purportedly testing.

What brought that up? I think it was a feeble attempt to indicate that schools are not focused on education anymore, and nice buildings do not a well-trained brainiac make.

If you found that digression useless, hopefully you will think the same of the local daily’s coverage of television programming highlighting a big show that filmed a feature on the college. Doesn’t it just make you want to vote?

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Name De-Recognition

Early voting is now underway. In case you’ve forgotten who was on the ballot for Asheville City Council, the Mountain Xpress’ website has the following headline on its home page:

Hunt, Pelly, Gray Lead City Council Primary; Peck, Thomasson Out.

Three other guys are on the ballot, but have a kinda moderate bent. They’re probably rich enough to pay for their own ads.

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Because Some Have More Rights than Others

The Mountaineer report of the president’s visit to WNC added an angle:

Clean-cut young men wearing dark suits and tell-tale ear pieces roamed among the tightly corralled crowd. Atop a hangar behind the podium, two sharpshooters kept their eyes glued to binoculars. The drone of helicopters drowned out conversation as they swooped and swagged just above the treetops.

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Rant

I, too, have a great plan to make the whole economy prosperous. It is based on the assumption that my mind is better than everybody else’s combined. I will listen to everybody, if for only an hour in a controlled yet highly-publicized setting. Then, I will surround myself with experts to come up with a plan. The plan will consist of strategic actions: like identifying the problems, assigning categories, identifying resources, appointing friends, visioning, educating and outreaching, listing goals, submitting progress reports – and failing anyway because economies don’t thrive under centralized control. It’s sort of like the brain saying he has no need of the nerves and dreaming of a brilliant future for everyone while the hand rests on the hot stove. Why, the hand didn’t say anything at last month’s public input session.

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Favorite Sonning

Waynesville’s mayor Gavin Brown wants to standardize the way his city awards economic development incentives.

“The rules favor incentives,” Brown said. “If you don’t have incentives, you can’t get in the game.”

Although the mayor clearly speaks in hyperbole, his statement is as applicable to businesses as local governments.

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Give Me a Sign

What is a certified entrepreneurial community? In the old days, the word “entrepreneur” conjured images of a rugged individualist burning the candle at both ends. “Certification” has a ring of hollow bureaucracy to it. The contradiction inherent in oxymoron is resoluble by identifying which word is the lie, so we’ll only give polite chuckles to the “entrepreneur” label.

The certification is described as “an assessment of the county’s resources, or a blueprint for how the county will seek economic development in the coming years.” It indicates a community has “the resources, leadership and strategic plan in place to truly say we are entrepreneurial-ready.”

Certification for Polk County took three years, and was pursued by a team of titled economic leaders.

Being certified as an entrepreneurial community means that Polk gets the permanent highways signage and will be included in a new CEC website. The county will be included in a co-op marketing campaign through Advantage West to attract new businesses. Polk will also be eligible for funding through grants.

What’s really warped here is that the “reality” is a logically-flawed abstraction, and what with nuts and bolts could be a pro-social economic engine is treated only as a polysyllabic catch phrase.

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