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Not Wanting to Write about Concrete


Fortunately, his promoters were getting better coverage of events in the Middle East than the network news was providing to Americans, and the whole thing was called off. That was before the Day of Rage made Jerusalem look like a scene from Baltimore. There were days of uncertainty and sunk costs in money and goodwill everywhere, but such is life in the Middle East.

In the midst of the troubles, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference, woefully abbreviated by the networks, in which he made some remarks that were music to the ears of a 21st-century American. Among them were, “Nothing justifies the systematic and deliberate slaughter of the innocent. The attempt to menace or maim or murder innocent people – nothing justifies it. . . . Stop justifying murder. . . . You can’t give them a pass. And when you give somebody a pass when they’re inciting violence, they continue to incite violence. And guess what? That violence is picked up. . . . Nothing justifies terrorism, nothing exonerates it. And stop trying to explain it away. This is terrorism, murder pure and simple.” He went on to say the justifications and rationales put out by the press “give the terrorists an explanation, a justification that they don’t even use.” He then added, “They might now.”

Netanyahu appealed to the public to “look at the facts.” He made a couple references to things any “fair-minded observer” would see. Most importantly, he said, “The first order of the day in fighting terrorism is moral clarity.”

And we’re obsessing over sidewalks.

Back home, sidewalks seem such a small thing. The national debt is over $18 trillion. Evenly distributed, this would be $56,453.34 for each man, woman, and child legally in the United States. This number does not include unfunded liabilities like Social Security and Medicare. Amounts to be owed can only be estimated, but popular guesstimates run between $123 trillion and $205 trillion; Dr. Ben Carson was recently made into hay for putting the total at $211 trillion. Who cares? Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders want to expand government welfare. Republicans who want to talk intelligently about addressing the national debt get shut out in the debates. Greece can’t happen here. We’re magic.

As for Republican candidates, the leader continues to be show-stopper, media-monger Donald Trump. Not far behind is Carly Fiorina. She’s viewed as having what it takes to lead this country through crisis because she lost a Senate campaign, ran two Fortune-ranked companies into the ground, and lost a child to drugs. Most importantly, she told all women that they have a face. Awareness that one has a face is empowering. Who cares that Christians are being beheaded and crucified in the Middle East – and shot in the United States.

We’re told all politics is local, but local is Mickey-Mouse. Six candidates just survived the Asheville City Council primary. They are, to borrow from ousted candidate Dr. Carl Mumpower, six shades of green. Ideally, city council would discuss policy to keep the tone of the city calm. Commendable role-of-government programming council has funded in the last couple of decades include intensive eradication of drug-related crime in public housing, detectives to rescue children used in porn, and programs to reduce domestic violence. The city has also made efforts to abate nuisances and prioritize infrastructure needs.

By contrast, candidate statements from a recent speed-dating candidate forum hosted by the Asheville Downtown Association brought to mind of old-fashioned warnings against urban settings. Candidate Brian Haynes mentioned a study that correlated a high percentage of independent businesses with higher incomes and less poverty. One could only think of bucolic mill towns where everybody knows everybody’s name, and people have a strong work ethic because they work the land in some capacity or another. In cities, people lose their relationship with the land and each other, they’re less dependent on hard physical labor and more dependent on strangers. People can start outnumbering jobs, . . .

Planning was a given among candidates. Lindsey Simerly referred to the South Slope as, “the only place we can still really design.” Keith Young wouldn’t trust the private sector with deciding how much park space should go across from the Basilica St. Lawrence. Rich Lee and Julie Mayfield would make sure undesirable businesses, like big boxes, would steer clear of Asheville, even though they’re legal, by drafting ordinances that outlaw certain things said undesirables would need to locate or operate in the city. The candidates don’t want chain stores, they don’t want fracking, they don’t want anything that will create a lot of jobs – unless the business comes begging for taxpayer subsidies.

There was an emphasis on partnerships. That’s a newish euphemism for sources of revenue sought by a city that has outgrown its budget. Marc Hunt acknowledged the city had to triage its master plans that were “overloaded” with wishes. Yet, with all the shortages, nobody spoke against using taxpayer dollars to subsidize one form of business or another. Haynes would use his powers on council to support local businesses that are locally-sourced. Young would welcome large corporations, depending on what they would “do for Asheville.”

The moral of the story is, in Netanyahu’s worldview, fair-minded people with moral clarity know there is no justification for menacing, maiming, or murdering innocent people. In America, those who would menace, maim, or murder are viewed as oppressed minorities in search of identity and in need of understanding and tolerance. The real villains here are businesses that are so successful in improving the human condition that they grow to the point of realizing economies of scale and undertake expansion to efficiently meet demand in multiple markets. It is the city council who must fight with ever-changing, indirect ordinances lest we experience prosperity, and government ruses in the name of economic justice pales in comparison to real productivity and trade.

Ironically, before going to press, an AP article came out saying, “Israel has . . . erected concrete barriers outside some Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, where most of the attackers came from.”

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