by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
I only mention this here because . . . Once upon a time, I was pressured to read Atlas Shrugged. I’d read all Ayn Rand’s nonfiction books – backward by chapter to make sure I wasn’t getting set up to fall for her lines. Although we did not necessarily agree on everything – she was a smoking atheist – I could find no flaw in her reasoning or observations. I avoided her fiction because I am a very slow reader, and there is way too much nonfiction that I want to read in the world for me to ever feel justified reading for fun.
I much appreciated Rand’s foresight on cronyism and all the ways politics corrupts economies by involving itself. I don’t smoke, but I understood the symbolism of man controlling fire. I don’t fool around, but I could appreciate the passion one would feel for a great brain. I believe in God, but I can appreciate a lot of religion has been co-opted by manipulative power mongers. The one thing I was left believing she may have contrived as a foregone conclusion was her correlation between alcohol and a failing economy.
Sure, we’re told the economy is growing. That is in spite of everybody I know continuing to feel worse off than they were c. 2008, and in spite of cries to help government grow capacity to help the populace consume services. And while the economy has been on the skids from my vantage, nary a day goes by that the newspapers don’t boast some new brewery or some old brewery expanding or introducing a new product. The correlation is here.
In today’s news, we read that the Phil Mechanic Building, a landmark in the River Arts District, is changing hands. It was sold to a Texas firm. Now, Asheville prides itself on its creativity, and so it’s no surprise that part of the building will probably house another brewery. It could merely be because that is one of the few things that can make it through the city’s design review process anymore.
Which brings us to something else in today’s news: A public hearing that would have been the last hurdle to clear for a 272-unit apartment complex has been pulled from tonight’s city council’s agenda. 10 percent of the units were to be Affordable, as defined by HUD, with a ten-year rent control. Well, Asheville has a housing crisis, and everybody’s talking about how there are no apartments and nobody can afford to live there. So, city council, in its vast wisdom, says, “We want more housing, but you have to do it this way and that way and this way and that way until you can’t afford to build. Oh, and by the way, we just got John McKibbon to give us $250,000 for our Affordable Housing Trust Fund, new sidewalks, living wages for all his employees, jobs for local artists, and then some. That’s the new Golden McKibbon Standard, which we expect you to meet or exceed.”
Back to Rand, I think the City of Asheville needs to look seriously into using its iron claw of force to enter into contracts with local developers to prevent them from building in Greenville or somewhere else where they can make more money with less headache. Wouldn’t you?