Letter: Commissioners should have refused devil’s bargain

Graphic by Lori Deaton

At the recent Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting, Chairman Brownie Newman gave two reasons for overriding his conscience about giving tax incentives to war profiteer Pratt & Whitney.

First, he said that decisions about foreign policy are made at the national government level and so localities have no say in things like wars waged in our names.

Second, he said that location doesn’t matter for defense contractors — if they don’t come here, they’ll just go somewhere else. So why not have them come here so we can get the jobs?

In response:

First, to abdicate personal and local responsibility for U.S. imperial terrorism is complicity. We always stand morally somewhere in this life, whether we acknowledge it or not. To say we have no decision-making role in foreign policy is a dodge from our moral responsibility. It’s not, “I was only following orders,” but, “It isn’t my area of responsibility.”

Second, if Raytheon were to take its ball and go elsewhere, that would be a victory for peace and climate justice, and maybe we’d have tax incentives for local businesses and social services instead. To say that we may as well take the deal because if we don’t, someone else will — this is quite the immoral stance. It’s like saying, “I may as well throw my lot in with the criminals, because if I don’t do it, someone else will.”

“Economic development” is a proven strategy of neoliberalism, getting people to feel grateful for a small payoff in jobs after their wealth and prosperity have been stolen by austerity policies. It is the phrase used by oil companies to justify their continued ecocidal drilling, by logging companies for the destruction of our forests, by Congress for its bogus tax breaks for the rich. The phrase is corporate propaganda.

We don’t need local acquiescence to corporate bribery. That has always meant the extraction of wealth from local communities and workers. How ironic that we are in Appalachia, where this has been happening for so many years with coal companies. With this present proposal for Asheville, what will be extracted is cheaper labor (thanks to the North Carolina “right to work” law) and “public-private” dollars (the land, the bridge, the no-taxes). It is a devil’s bargain. And this particular devil has a direct link to the horrific genocide and mayhem being perpetrated in Yemen and elsewhere.

Shame on the Buncombe County Commission.

— Ken Jones


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13 thoughts on “Letter: Commissioners should have refused devil’s bargain

  1. Dopamina

    This is a classic example of amoral neoliberalism. There is no right (moral) or wrong (immoral) when there is money to be made!

    Neoliberal morality tends to be quite flexible when it comes to turning profits and sucking at the teat of the corporate and donor classes.

  2. Bright

    Buncombe County Commis., many of are ashamed of you! Adults succumbing to peer pressure…one wonders if they let their kids fall victim to peers, too?

  3. Local Grandad

    How privileged we must be to deny this kind of economic opportunity to mountain families when it is needed the most. Lets put those folks first.

    • Caring citizen

      Amen to that! Finally a decision by the Commissioners which will benefit the area.
      To all the peace mongers whining about warfare— can you not realize P& W manufactures civilian plane engines? No, you will allow protesters and destruction of 120 year old obelisks but wow unto those who try to bring decent paying jobs to the area!

  4. G Man

    Whether any of you SJWs out there like it or not, the world doesn’t hand out trophies to losers for participation. National defense is a real thing and without it, we will all be speaking Mandarin inside of 10 years.

    What I really don’t understand is how the same group of people can be so anti-defense, yet keep voting for politicians who perpetuate our military presence in locations where we have long overstayed our usefulness. We don’t need to be in many of the places we are, but we do need a viable defense force and we could definitely use more decent paying jobs in the area.

  5. Enlightened Enigma

    There’s other reasons to shame Brownie Newman and the Commission WAY more important than this! This was a win for the financial health of the county.

    Who thinks that Commissioner Al Whitesides wife should on the deciding committee about the Vance monument? THIS is a travesty. THE WHOLE THING.

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