Now that protecting liberties is so passe, government is in the real estate business. But, being almighty, it can’t just buy and sell like ordinary people. No, it must “acquire, improve and exchange Facility ‘B’ for Facility, ‘A’” as was specified for Project X, and close the deal, public hearing and all, before members of the public know what is going on. Requests for transparency are met with assurances that the multimillion dollar entity begging funds threatened to back out of the deal if its identity were revealed. Then, come the lectures about how the company is not getting a check. It is just getting a tax break. And, since it will be paying more in taxes than the owners of a derelict lot, it can afford not to pay those taxes for ten years.

So, in the latest Buncombe County saga, we learn of the dispensation of the “spec building.” At their last meeting, the commissioners approved the sale of the spec building for $1.3 million to a private company in order to make a charitable contribution of that amount to the newly-forming Enka Youth Sports Organization. I don’t recall how the county came to own a spec building, but I don’t believe it was the builder.

Two weeks later, the public is learning who is buying the spec building. It is Wicked Weed. The brewer will rent the building from the county for three years before buying it. Rent will be $1 for the first six months, then $5000/mo until 2017 when it goes up to $5833/mo. The purchase price will be below the tax value, which is $1,519,400.

Wicked Weed claims it would not enter an ambitious expansion phase but for the $74,925 lump sum the county will award up-front. Now, if some religious nut were to stand up for his right not to subsidize firewater, he would be making himself uncool. This is, after all, not bad beer of which we speak, but hip beer, like they drink in Munich. If some tight-wad were to ask what was so horrible about the brewer’s plans that they couldn’t get assistance from conventional lenders, he would be reminded that banks are so evil and greedy, only government can properly dish out corporate loans.