Math — arithmetic we called it back then — always made my head hurt, so I try to stay away from the stuff. But my eighth-grade math teacher, Mrs. Sears, always told us, “If you can’t figure something out, round off the numbers.”
And that’s what I did when I read about how [Buncombe County Commissioners] approved a $99.74 million loan to the Ingles grocery chain to build a new warehouse and distribution center, which would create a whopping 190 local jobs [“It’s the Economy Stupid,” Dec. 15 Xpress].
Well, those are numbers I don’t divide well. But, recalling Mrs. Sears’ dictum, I just rounded it off: $99.74 is almost $100 million; 190 might turn out to be 200. Even I can see that each job will cost [roughly] $500,000. Where I come from, half a million dollars is a lot of money. I figure each job will make about $30,000 a year — normal for this area. It will take 16.3 years to pay off each created job, not accounting for interest fees, etc.
I modestly propose the following money-saving modification: The federal government, the source of the loan, should simply give a $250,000 check to the first 200 applicants (I intend to apply). This money can be spent anywhere, in any way, as an economic stimulus package. Pay off the house, go to Vegas, buy a Mercedes — the list is endless.
I doubt that the [commissioners] would do this. Like me, I am sure they aren’t rocket scientists, either, speaking mathematically. And, well, the story did have “stupid” in the title and … oh dear. I’m getting confused again. Head is starting to hurt …
— John Nation