At last night’s Asheville City Council meeting, two applications for the city’s Land Use Incentive Grants were considered. Council had been told about a year ago, when the program finally found somebody to try to humor it, that it was not feasible. Most members of council are now convinced the program is not workable, but they insisted on imposing it, letter-of-the-law and Procrustean-style on developers. Jeff Staudinger, who worked with the developers on grants, at one point explained the way one guy came up with the point totals was much the same way the other did; that is, a lot of creative stretching had to go on to make the effort worthwhile.

This proved to be more evidence of why government should not be involved in business. In the private sector, if I want to buy a car or a house, I can haggle over the price. As always in truly free markets, a fair price is whatever closes the deal. If the buyer or seller doesn’t like the offer, they may walk away. In government, one cannot do that because the developers are trying to get a good deal from the taxpayers, who have essentially no choice in tax rates or municipal budgets, except to wait until the next election cycle to throw the bums out.