The June 3rd meeting of Henderson County Commission was noteworthy as Chairman Charlie Messer slipped up asking for a motion to go into closed session instead of going into a public hearing to discuss up to $1.1 million in economic incentives for Continental Automotive to “create jobs.” The slip-up only points out how conditioned supposedly conservative Republicans are to these secretive closed sessions. There’s been so many lately.
I appreciate those who came out to speak whatever their agenda was during the second public hearing, which was the Henderson County budget. But I can promise you that the real budget hearing was the first one. It’s amazing all the things that are scaled back in the budget, but big corporations who already had their big breaks get to demand their bribes in secretive closed sessions, with little dissent. Closed sessions for corporate incentives should be outlawed. We fight over proverbial pennies for actual government responsibilities, but offer little resistance to corporate welfare.
These goes on despite groups like the John Locke Foundation proving these economic incentive plans usually don’t create jobs (they shuffle them), with potential for corruption and mismanagement. I struggle to determine the fundamental difference between this plan and what then-Governor Beverly Purdue attempted with her incentive plan to bring in Continental Tire that the Republicans opposed, other than who gets “credit” for “creating jobs.”
On top of that, your Republican Senate voted 45-0 to give Charlotte a taxing authority to bail out a football billionaire, when Asheville leaders had been seeking the same mechanism for an arts center they wanted for years. People polled were strongly against it, yet it happened. People applauded my comments at the public hearing (I called for a referendum instead), yet the Commission voted for the corporate handout. The voters in Asheville strongly opposed the Republican theft of their water system, yet Republican “leaders” break God’s 10th Commandment to try to seize it. Spare me that we don’t need term limits in government.
That same football billionaire “only” got a six-year deal. He’ll shortly demand another giant handout and we still don’t have a new arts center or money to widen Interstate 26. No wonder young people are leaving this area. They’ll go to where the money is. A tax that’s good enough for Charlotte is good enough for every local government in the state. The decision to grow or not should be our decision, not up to central planners in Raleigh no matter which party runs it.
In contrast, my plan for WNC Dome (a proposed concrete dome arena that would have been built at the WNC Agricultural Center) was unique in that I insisted on being as public as possible about it. (www.wncdome.com) Taxpayers have a fundamental right to know why anyone asks for public money, with no closed sessions. Funny how the State shuts that idea down when a few local boards were very interested in the idea.
Given that the construction method is proven to resist EF-5 tornadoes and major hurricanes, this should be considered just for the purpose of being a regional disaster shelter alone. In recent weeks, 38 people were killed in tornadoes. Seven children died in a supposed “safe room” in a school. Wasn’t that safe, was it? Had they been in the concrete dome structure I proposed, they would be alive today. I personally don’t think anyone who gets any public money to build a home should build anything but a concrete dome.
We are too arrogant to think that what happened in Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, and in Bertie County (where my former mother-in-law’s aunt and cousin died in a 2011 tornado with no warning), could never happen here. Each new school should have one of these domes. They work. This is what our government should be working on, not subsidizing corporations who already got their big break. Since I’m not concerned about personal benefit (I really do believe in this), I still have one option left to promote it.
What happened to the “party of small business?” Doesn’t Rush Limbaugh repeatedly say that small business is what really creates jobs? I can go back to college and rack up another $40,000 in debt to pursue my doctorate in Sports Education, and my kids can cause taxpayers to commit far more to send them to college. But I can’t get a $40,000 loan to start a business, and the State offers next to nothing for start-ups. Your government trusts 18 year-old college students more than entrepreneurs. That’s America’s problem in a nutshell: The government would rather you be an employee than an employer.
Surrender the premise that government “creates jobs” and you surrender all of your freedoms. When Glenn Beck was on Fox News, he warned us about a video called “The Story of Stuff,” an anti-capitalism propaganda video that made its rounds in public schools nationwide. The key sentence was when the lady actually said to America’s children, “The government takes care of you. That’s their job!”
Ahem..no..it..is..not. The government’s job is infrastructure, public safety, and upholding our freedoms. That’s basically it. Industrial parks, utilities, police force, those are the things that government should focus on, not playing the corporate extortion games. Stop falling for the nonsense that government just wants you to be “comfortable.” Comfortable and free are incompatible concepts on this side of eternity. “Comfortable” is just another word for “lukewarm.”
Justice lives in Fletcher. He has a Master’s degree in Sports Management and founded Blue Ridge Bison basketball.