By Leslee Kulba-As of the publication deadline, the dust had not settled in the Buncombe County Commissioners’ District 2 race. Mike Fryar, the only candidate that took bold stances on issues, was before and after the canvass the top vote-getter. Incumbent Carol Weir Peterson came in fourth in both counts, but Ellen Frost and Christina Kelly G. Merrill traded places after the canvass. With thirteen votes more than Merrill, Frost would have clinched the second seat, had Merrill and Peterson not requested a recount. Peterson had only twenty-one fewer votes than Merrill. The recount, which should take a few days, will not start until the week after Thanksgiving.
Perhaps the big question is: Will the recount make a difference? The line between Democrats and Republicans has been blurred in recent years. Candidates from both camps want to make people feel good by paying no attention to those who must expend extra effort and money to fulfill redistributionary promises. Regardless of which party is in charge, government raises taxes and expands its powers.
Would any of the candidates surviving the recount have the guts to make and try to pass a motion to unzone the county? This is likely a non-issue, as the boiling frogs have survived thus far. In a 1999 referendum, fifty-six percent of voters said they did not want zoning. Zoning flies in the face of the founding principles of this country; namely, that the individual, with skin in his own game, collecting ears-to-the-ground, real-time data for his own goals; will fare better than he would fitting into the broad brushstrokes of less-informed central planners. Besides, zoning is for poor people. Wealthy interests can hire lawyers to change zonings as needed.
It would have been a stretch for the Founders to imagine liberty without property rights. The Ancient Israelites , in order to survive a sore famine, sold all they owned to get grain from Egypt. When they sold their land, what did they become? The plight was no different than that of the serfs in Europe, or Africans hauled to America; except some may have had kinder masters.
And yet, conservation easements are all the rage with commissioners. Chair David Gantt has said keeping the mountains green for posterity is one of the most important things the commissioners do. They celebrate the forfeiture of development rights on natural areas. If land is deeded as a conservation easement, it joins all the hospitals, government buildings, and other public lands in becoming tax-exempt. The trend concentrates the tax burden on those who still pay. Would a Republican majority support more greenways, mass transit, Smart Growth, and other fads Glenn Beck claims are progressing by design, in accordance with the UN’s Agenda 21 plans for global human herding?
A game Republicans love as much as Democrats is doling out corporate welfare. John Szoka, a former cost analysis specialist for the Army who was just elected to the statehouse, calculated North Carolina spends about as much on economic development incentive grants as it collects in corporate income taxes. A 2009 UNC study indicated businesses find lower tax rates more enticing. Nonetheless, county commissioners love to feel the love of giving, even when part of the grant is paid with contributions from entrepreneurs who will be competing with the recipient for marketshare.
Besides, as former Soviet Ayn Rand tried to warn Americans, CEO’s dependent on grants, lobbing, lawsuits, debt and other nonproductive means of showing a profit; tend not to know how to tighten their belts and bend with ill winds. Worse, prosperity results not from passing paper, but from converting raw materials into things of value for trade. The American desert was made to blossom not by pioneers heading west, purchasing insurance, generating tax codes, retaining accountants, filing lawsuits, establishing interest rates, hiring administrators and organizers, and holding leadership development retreats. First, they had to conquer the elements and tend to their needs. In more familiar terms, government helps markets most by getting out of the way.
A lot of candidates said they wanted to create jobs. Again, jobs must be meaningful if the economy is to grow. With lower taxes and more business-friendly ordinances, the private sector would fare better at job creation. Government, of course, keeps growing capacity for public-sector jobs. The more prosperous route would be to privatize government undertakings so employees could be paid off profits rather than taxes. That way, if nobody likes a service, it will go out of business.
Perhaps hardest of all will be challenging social programs. Usually, the commissioners ooh and aah over a flashy slide presentation with hard-driving obtuse music and words twirling, growing, sliding, and flashing on top of photos of ethnically-diversified children. Would a Republican decline free state and federal money? Would they advocate new up-and-out strategies? Would they say yes to recurring allocations for birth control and abortion?