Letter: Starvation wages, urban renewal and gerrymandering

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Graphic by Lori Deaton

It would seem to be the height of foolishness to go into a voting booth every couple of years and make your mark against the name of the candidate whose party has, for decades, promised to take away the few nice things you might have — like health care, retirement savings and highways that don’t collapse — to fund Christmas in April for their friends in the 0.1 percent. Such a vote is nothing more or less than self-harm.

But if that is the height of foolishness, how to characterize our daily actions when we support businesses that only pay starvation wages — by walking through their doors and giving them our money? Those businesses are depressing the local economy — their workers have no cash to spend on anything other than the bare essentials — and imposing a tax on us all by forcing their workers to seek out subsidized or free food, housing, transportation and so on.

On the other side of the counter, the manager who responds to pressure from head office for more profits by cutting smaller and smaller paychecks is behaving just as stupidly. Pay your workers less and they have less to spend ― depressing local economic activity and raising the tax levied on the community. That, of course, leads to lower sales and lower profits ― and more pressure to raise profits, starting a downward spiral toward ruin for all of us.

And, of course, a worker living with food stress, housing stress and transportation stress is unlikely to be a happy or productive worker.

By enabling these things we are — daily — committing acts of self-harm that could well be interpreted as symptoms of madness. Where can this madness have come from? Future historians will argue about it forever — after all, like internet trolls, they get paid to argue — but at this point, it seems clear that the relentless assault on Christ’s teachings and civilization itself has been a major influence.

Two thousand years ago, he had to repeatedly explain his teachings ― that we should not fear and hate those people, but instead treat them as we would wish to be treated ourselves. Over the millennia since, very few seem to have been able to live to that standard. Instead we prefer logic-chopping ― Who is not my neighbor ? What if they don’t deserve nice things? ― when his words are quite clear: no limits, no exceptions.

Locally, of course, this failure reached some kind of peak in the city’s racist assault by bulldozer and fire on the East End under the banner of urban renewal. As an investment, it was a total failure — money went into the destruction of a living neighborhood, and in return we got nine lanes of tarmac slicing through people’s homes and livelihoods.

And since then, nothing — shame perhaps? A hope that if we don’t talk about the great sin that was committed, it will somehow be forgiven? Whatever fine words might have come from the Council dais over the years, their staff has actually implemented precious little to repair the damage.

Indeed, policies are still in place actively working against the formation of new communities — zoning rules that forbid local shops that could serve as neighborhood hubs, lot size restrictions that might work for the suburbs, but which result in a farcically low population density in a city; a lack of sidewalks that means you may have to take your life in your hands just to go check up on a neighbor.

If the current Council, with minority representation, has failed to move their staff on this, what hope is there that one elected from gerrymandered districts would even try? After half a century, all we have got to the point where all a council needs to do is sit on its hands and wait for time and gentrification to push the remaining survivors out — then their pet property speculators will have something to drool over.

— Geoff Kemmish
Asheville

 

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13 thoughts on “Letter: Starvation wages, urban renewal and gerrymandering

    • Lulz

      LOL, he’s attacking your friends in council for their cronyism to the developers. And he’s correct. All council has to do is continue the same things they’ve been doing. Raise taxes to the point that they force those that can’t pay out for those that can. And I don’t know about you but if you think that people having their homes sold on the court house steps for tourism and big developers is sustainable or even smart because someday someone is going to bite back.

  1. Lulz

    Council is squarely in the pockets of the tourist industry and the big developers. Yeah Bothwell comes on here and claims things but in essence and during his tenure, gentrification, low wages, the rich coming in and getting even richer, a lower quality of life for many, out of control spending, and higher taxes are the norm.

    It’s foolish to believe the because one claims the title of democrat that they are somehow looking out for the common man. And the irony is that as more people running as democrats are only elected in this area that have been part of the government machine, more corruption, cronyism, and tax theft is happening.

  2. The writer is partially correct. Progressive policies HAVE made Asheville unaffordable and the poor people living there miserable. But the solution is not to ask profitable business-people to sacrifice themselves and their businesses to support these harmful policies. The solution is to get rid of the harm the people here keep voting for. You could even call it insane. I would.

    • bsummers

      You seriously misrepresent the writer’s point. None of the woes he lists are the result of “progressive policies”.

      • Lulz

        LOL quote:

        “Indeed, policies are still in place actively working against the formation of new communities — zoning rules that forbid local shops that could serve as neighborhood hubs, lot size restrictions that might work for the suburbs, but which result in a farcically low population density in a city; a lack of sidewalks that means you may have to take your life in your hands just to go check up on a neighbor”.

        Who’s is this person talking about? Who’s been in charge in the city and county for the last 30 years? It ain’t been conservatives.

      • Lulz

        Oh and more:

        “If the current Council, with minority representation, has failed to move their staff on this, what hope is there that one elected from gerrymandered districts would even try? After half a century, all we have got to the point where all a council needs to do is sit on its hands and wait for time and gentrification to push the remaining survivors out — then their pet property speculators will have something to drool over”.

        Yeah, progressives have ruined the area. But you of course don’t see it because you are wealthy and thus unaffected by it. In fact I go so far as to say your ilk wants to drive out those you deem beneath you.

        • luther blissett

          “But you of course don’t see it because you are wealthy and thus unaffected by it.”

          Someone whose property has doubled in value over the past four years is wealthy, even if someone is unwilling to admit it because it undermines someone’s schtick.

          • Lulz

            LOL, only if my wages kept up. They haven’t and thus I’m getting poorer monetarily even though my property is supposedly “rising” in tax value.

        • bsummers

          None of the policies that you or the writer refer to are “progressive” policies per se. But that won’t stop you from clanging on your favorite pot and/or pan for political gain.

          But you of course don’t see it because you are wealthy and thus unaffected by it.

          Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!! You don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • Lulz

            LOL, yes I do.

            See the little article over at the ACT. 2 billion bucks of tourist money spent. How much of that goes to lower the taxes of those that live here? None, nada, zero. And yet those people spending the billions put extra strain on the roads, the landfills, the water, everything. Your friend Newman, the millionaire who became one WHILE IN OFFICE, wants me to pay for his crony capitalism brewery fiasco. But only because while he can afford rising taxes and thinks we are all rich like him. But we’re not.

          • Lulz

            So tell me again how “progressive” it is to have a huge tourist industry here and yet put the burden of it squarely on the residents? And not care because you simply force others out who can’t afford it. Yeah, the policies of the local democrat government of the past 30 years has literally sold us out to big corporate and make the little guy responsible to pay for it.

  3. Deplorable Infidel

    I hear city zoning rules are changing to ease and allow less required minimum lot square footage , which will increase density and values immensely. I like it.

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