The Buncombe County Commissioners presumably won’t be ironing out their subsidies to welfare organizations until March, but the list of requests was posted with the retreat agenda. Were I in a position of having to vote on who gets cash, I would, in a perfect world, leave charity to personal prerogative and decline every single application. But it is not a perfect world, so I will play along and remark on which ones are not as ugly as the others.

My first question would be how many people are the programs making poor in order to help those who are supposedly already poor. “Why, zero!” I would be told. But seriously, each will be the straw that breaks some camels’ backs.* Secondly, I would ask that we value the programs in terms of the number of their graduates, who as a consequence, are now able to provide for themselves and their family and not go around hurting others. I don’t count growing capacity a virtue.

Now, granted, there are those among us with severe deformities or cognitive disabilities, which no reasonable family is going to have the means to support. Again, if we have to fund programs, I would want to fund those that help these people. It is, however, my impression that government is sucking people more intelligent, more presentable, more able-bodied, more conscientious, and saner than me into the system for coddling, to grow capacity.

One criterion I get the impression from Commissioner Joe Belcher that the county already uses is favoring programs that cure problems more efficiently than government. (To illustrate, SpaceX isn’t a local charity, but I hold my nose and go easy on it for accepting corporate welfare because it is making so much better progress than NASA.) As a corollary, I would call attention to the two agencies who are requesting funding for community navigators. I dare say, if our community is so murky and tangled that we need navigators, maybe we should work on simplifying our community.

There were some surprises with those applicants whose requests were outright denied. One would be the Asheville Lyric Opera. Two reasons might be they’re a bunch of conservatives and opera conjures images of obesity more than wellness. I’m assuming some of the other projects, like the Asheville Museum of (Global Warming) Science, are not getting funding because they received public funds in a more roundabout way. Projects with worthy titles like “Case Management for at-Risk Elders,” “Underserved Populations Outreach and Counseling for the Foster Care System,” “End Chronic Homelessness,” and “Cancer Patient Advocacy, &c” are getting zip. Perhaps they submitted incomplete applications or missed filing deadlines. That sends a great message, doesn’t it? One would think the $350,000 going toward Pack Square Cultural Partnership Maintenance and Operations Support and the $225,000 going to the Asheville Art Museum Preservation, Renovation, and Expansion Project could set about twenty people up quite comfortably for a year with rent, food, and transpo while they get well and look for employment.
*I need to qualify that the statement by saying it applies to Buncombe County, where substantial subsidized poverty already exists; a middle class is still intact, a portion of which subsists right above the poverty line; and nobody is going to levy a ridiculously small tax like 0.00000034 cents.