Letter: Fix city’s economy or say goodbye to Asheville’s ‘character’

Graphic by Lori Deaton

After reading this article [“From AVL Watchdog: A Post-pandemic Asheville Faces a Daunting Return,” April 20, Xpress], I felt that I had to respond because, even though I have grown cynical about city politics, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Also shame on Brian Turner for using the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to scold county residents for being rightfully angry about the impacts of overtourism.

There’s a famous saying that’s attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” And I kept thinking that as I read this article. COVID-19 has made the argument of service workers and city residents clear. Basing a significant portion of a city’s economy on tourism alone makes Asheville unnecessarily vulnerable to economic downturns. Simply returning to the way things were before will only cause us to repeat our mistakes. It’s hard to adapt to catastrophe when your city’s income inequality is so bad it resembles a Charles Dickens novel, and narcissistic politicians perpetuate it in order to further their careers.

At the end of this article, I was struck by what Byron Greiner said about Asheville. “We’ve always been a tourism-driven town from the turn-of-the-century on and we’ve always been a playground for the wealthy.” And he’s right: We are a playground for the wealthy. But that playground is built on the exploitation of our marginalized populations. And the virus has put this fact into stark relief.

We either move to a more diversified economic base and true workplace democracy or Asheville’s “character” will be no more. Can this city really call itself “progressive” when hotels aren’t used to house the homeless, or the TDA won’t pay unemployed service workers? I don’t think so, and history won’t be kind to Asheville if the powerful continue to make the choices they’re making.

— Justin Reid


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5 thoughts on “Letter: Fix city’s economy or say goodbye to Asheville’s ‘character’

  1. Lulz

    Transplants who claim the area was always a tourism based economy are full of it. The town had plenty of manufacturing such as Gerber, Ball, Square D, Vanderbilt, plus businesses that supported the workers. These of course were driven out by cheap foreign labor or such bright stars as Gordon Smith who led a campaign to cut off reduced water rates to Gerber. I’m sure he cried when they left. His garbage rag the Scrutiny Hooligans was a major opponent of Gerber. And this guy was elected to office only to show how out of touch he was with a photo op in Greenlife under the auspices of food poverty for low income people.

    You forget to say mainly home property owners are exploited to pay for the scam via their taxes.

    Stop electing dimwits, phonies, fakes, and bureaucratic leeches to office. Otherwise continue to be amazed at the stupidity of such examples as the price shock of the RAD. Where those least capable of running a hot dog stand are put in charge of multi million dollar projects. And neither have any experience in such matters, or ability to comprehend that it someone else has to work and pay for it.

    • Dopamina

      Normally your replies are borderline looney tunes, this is probably the closest I have ever come to agreeing with you. Your points will be a lot more impactful if you stop using all those stupid slurs for people you don’t agree with :D

    • James

      So many examples of ignorance. Asheville, like most places in the United States has two sources of revenue – property taxes and sales taxes. If you wish to change this put on your big girl panties and run for the state legislature and organize enough people in all the other districts to have the votes. And then tell us HOW you will change that? An income tax on locals to pay for local roads? Tourists who come here pay sales taxes that pay for lots of local services. Yes, there is a trade off. Let’s see how well Asheville does in this experiment where there won’t be many.

      Ignorant cowards like you rant but don’t do anything mostly because you don’t actually know how the system works. That matters because you can’t change it until you know what can and can’t be done. Manufacturing isn’t coming back. Or do you want to bring back companies that cause environmental damage? You want other kinds of companies you say? Tell us what job skills or education you think you and the other whiners offer that will entice a company that pays good wages to relocate here. What have YOU done to upgrade your education and job skills to show people that Asheville is ready to do what it takes to attract these companies? (I put the same challenge to the idiots currently running for city council who ALSO lack any specifics like this.)

      In short, for the sake of the rest of us tired of your whining. Put up or shut up.

    • luther blissett

      “You forget to say mainly home property owners are exploited to pay for the scam via their taxes.”

      They retain the option to sell up, take a nice profit, and buy 100 acres in Graham County. Or maybe one of the sad subdivisions outside of Hickory. Nobody’s forced to live here, and anyone whining about property tax bills is probably telling you that their real estate is worth a huge amount more than they paid for it. (The people who aren’t saying that are the ones who live around Mills Gap Road where the remnants of that manufacturing site continues to poison its residents.)

      Maybe there’s an actual constituency that wishes Asheville was more like Gastonia. I’d guess it’s not a big one.

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