Letter writer: Asheville and Buncombe County should work to reduce poverty

Graphic by Lori Deaton

As we welcome the new year here in Asheville and Buncombe County, many of us are enjoying significant good luck, good health and prosperity.

But good health and prosperity have not reached everyone:

In a recent study, Buncombe County ranked among the worst places in the U.S. — 92nd out of more than 2,400 counties nationwide — when it came to the inability of children to move out of poverty. Children of color, the fastest-growing segment of Buncombe County’s child population, are two to three times as likely to live in poverty as their non-Hispanic white peers.

Each and every year, poverty costs Asheville and Buncombe County millions in health care, social services, and lost prosperity and opportunity. Poverty hurts all of us — no matter our personal wealth. Just as our individual freedom is bound in the freedom of all people, our health and prosperity are bound up with the health and prosperity of others, “regardless of what they look like, or where they come from, or what their last name is or what faith they practice.”

Poverty is a crisis in our community that we can no longer afford. We can no longer hold the view that poverty is too big or too complex to address. While city and county governments have limited resources, and the poverty rate is shaped considerably by national economic trends and federal policies, there are critically important steps the city and county can take.

Other city governments have undertaken similar efforts. In Richmond, Va., the Office of Community Wealth Building was established to increase wealth and reduce poverty for all citizens. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, launched End Poverty Edmonton to advance a vision of shared prosperity for all. In Charlotte, the Renaissance West Community Initiative is deploying the Purpose Built Communities model focused on mixed-income housing, education, youth and adult development programs, health and wellness services, and commercial investment.

These strategies build a strong case for ending poverty on three fronts: the economic argument, the human rights case and the public opinion approach.

Fortunately for Asheville, this new year, there is funding available for our city to join the prosperity movement.

Invest Health is a grant opportunity that will support new partnerships in up to 50 midsized cities across the nation. Midsized cities are where the majority of Americans live and where many experience some of nation’s deepest challenges with entrenched poverty, poor health and lack of investment.

The time has come for Asheville and Buncombe County to take advantage of the Invest Health opportunity, take charge and assess the extent of poverty, examine the history behind the concentration of poverty and, most important, to identify and plan for what needs to be done and how to do it.

This new year, let’s open the door to opportunity for all by putting in place a prosperity agenda that will help create a city where every child and every citizen has an equal opportunity to live, work, participate and thrive.

Asheville City Council meets Jan. 12 and Jan. 29 at 5 p.m. in the Council Chamber located on the second floor of City Hall to vote on a resolution to have the mayor sign a letter of intent to apply for the Invest Health grant.

Let City Council know you support accelerating action that will fundamentally change the way our city improves opportunities for all citizens to live more prosperous and healthy lives.

— Pat Kelly
Asheville

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97 thoughts on “Letter writer: Asheville and Buncombe County should work to reduce poverty

  1. James

    If you cut business taxes, you will encourage business growth (i.e. they’ll be able to start businesses, grow businesses and hire people). Same for cutting un-necessary regulations that make it difficult or impossible for businesses to start-up, grow or stay for that matter in the area. Businesses have to exist to make a profit – that is not a bad thing. Profitable businesses are able to hire people and the more people that are working, the less poverty. The city/county does not need to be using precious funds on studies – poverty data is available via the census and existing databases already.

      • James

        Nope. I’m not going to waste my time reading a propaganda report from the uber-liberal Economic Policy Institute. That group’s board of directors is packed with big labor goons and blowhard liberal college professors who’ve never had a real job in their entire life and don’t know excrement about economics. Find a business out there who gleefully looks forward to paying higher business taxes, can’t expand due to regulations but is ready to hire lots of workers. Good luck.

        • bsummers

          “If you cut business taxes, you will encourage business growth”

          You’ve got facts to back that up, and proof that the unintended consequences of defunding government don’t outweigh whatever supposed benefit is created?

          • mynameis

            Yes, I have it here… Somewhere… Which pocket is it? Oh here it is… “Taxes are slavery!”

            What other proof do you need? :-)

          • James

            Yes I do. Look at poverty rate, job growth and economic prosperity in Detroit. Then look at Dallas. Look at the decline in the taxpayer base of California and the rise of the taxpayer base in adjacent Nevada and Arizona.

          • Peter Robbins

            Just what we need — another precious study.

          • Lulz

            LOL, how many people are on food stamps these days lulz? LOL, your precious government wasted how much money on a healthcare website that wasn’t even ready LOL? Problem with people like you is you think government is manageable except for the fact that many in it are unelected. And they ain’t voting themselves out of jobs lulz.

          • bsummers

            Really? Those are your “facts” and your “proof”? Compare Detroit and it’s collapsed automobile industry to, well, any other city, and then claim it’s because of lower taxes that that city is better off than Detroit? Might as well claim that Dallas is better off than Pompei, because of lower taxes.

          • Peter Robbins

            Your study is never going to get published if it can’t withstand peer review, James. Start by scrubbing for confirmation bias.

        • Pat Kelly

          1) Corporate and political leaders keep telling us that cutting corporate tax rates will create jobs but an examination of the evidence shows no relationship between cutting tax rates on corporate profits and job growth. Corporate profits are currently at a 50-year high and taxes on these profits are near a 50-year low..

          Paying a fair share of corporate tax (35%) did not hurt Lowe’s – the nation’s second-largest home improvement store, which paid over 36 percent in taxes on reported profits of $9 billion between 2008 and 2010, and hired an additional 28,820 employees between 2008 and 2012.

          On the other hand, Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless provider, reported $32 billion in U.S. profits between 2008 and 2010, yet received tax refunds totaling $951 million and reduced the number of employees by almost 56,000 between 2008 and 2012.

          2) The Invest Health opportunity is not funded by city or county – the funding is provided from the philanthropic resources of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Reinvestment Fund. The funding will not be used to duplicate data or to undertake a research study – the funds will be used to transform the way local leaders work together to create solution-driven and diverse partnerships – including with the local business sector. These partnerships will emphasize making changes in low-income neighborhoods to improve resident health and well-being. These changes can focus on increasing access to quality jobs, affordable housing, and nutritious food, and reducing crime rates and environmental hazards.

          • James

            Lowes has benefitted by a decrease in competition: less independent hardware stores, customer dis-satisfaction with rival Home Depot. Verizon has suffered from increased competition: too many companies offering the same type of services and all of those companies continually innovating. Next.

          • Peter Robbins

            I believe you’ve proven her point. There are more important factors at work than tax rates. Next.

        • c

          @LULZ That’s right. Our biggest Govt. spending and waste ( lost dollars), and by far our biggest socialist entity : the military. Got any problems with that?

          • boatrocker

            Yes LULZ, care to dicsuss the Military Industrial Complpex’s sucking off the teat of the Murican taxpayer?

            I didn’t think so either.

            Specially since the Murican militray has not won a war since 1945. Murica also had the help of the Allies, therefore every Murican since 1945 died in vain.

  2. Yep

    hmm, seems like everyone is pretty fat an happy to me these days with the lowest unemployment in the state and lots of local
    handouts available for the grabbing.

    just depends on your ability to ‘manifest’ your dreams into a paycheck like all the creative people do …right ?

  3. FIRST, local government should stop actively causing poverty as they do now with regressive sales taxes, fees and fines for petty crimes like Ferguson, as well as excessive police spending that keeps the poor from helping themselves to wealth. Plus zoning that keeps the poor from building houses for themselves individually and cooperatively as many poor work in residential construction, an industry in which local government is actively interfering.

  4. The poor do not need to be studied or “assessed.” they need to be liberated from active abuse by local government. The letter sounds like we need a grant to study the poor when the problems are known and obvious. studying the problem diverts funds and time away from solving it.

    • Yep

      very true…they want to CONTROL all the poor people ALL the time…CONTROL is their progressive method.

        • Peter Robbins

          I thought tax slavery was our method. Do these guys even talk to eachother?

          • They tax the poor extensively with local sales tax including food, alcohol and cigarette tax, petty fines like Ferguson for jaywalking and panhandling, and per unit building permit and utility fees that drive up rents.

        • Yep

          ‘educating the progressive mindset with logical conservative solutions’ , thanks.

  5. Grant Milin

    All the Asheville people, jobs or no jobs, who are housing cost impacted are the ones living under or hovering near the hopelessly outdated Federal poverty metric.

    In terms of a systems approach I have been suggesting that reviving GroWNC is important. I suggested reviewing and updating the GroWNC work using the lens of poverty and that’s hopefully applicable to Invest Health applications. I also recommend city hall develop an anti-poverty strategy as poverty has major health and other civic outcomes.

    Thanks for writing this, Pat. Here’s more detail on the Invest Health program:

    http://www.investhealth.org/#learn

  6. “Asheville and Buncombe County should work to reduce poverty”

    Yes! They should take a page from the success of the state legislature.

    As you may have heard by now, Governor Pat McCrory announced this morning that North Carolina will see a $400 million budget surplus this year…
    bit.ly/1UOJ1v7

    Flag of the State of North CarolinaOver the next 12 months, expect to hear a great deal about the “Carolina Comeback.” It will be the reelection theme for Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican leaders. And it will be the subject of a withering assault by McCrory’s likely Democratic opponent, Roy Cooper, aided by a host of liberal activists and media outlets. The latter group has a big problem, however: North Carolina has outperformed most states on most measures of economic growth ever since the passage of McCrory’s first budget, tax cuts, regulatory reforms, and other conservative policies in 2013. These measures come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. They are not Republican concoctions. They are products of the Obama administration. And they are highly inconvenient for North Carolina Democrats and liberals…
    bit.ly/1ZkvPPP

      • That doesn’t excuse the NC Democratic Party, which made poverty high to begin with. The NCGOP may not have ended NC poverty, but it is the NCDems who created it in the first place. Both major parties are murderous, at least in NC, though perhaps not in every state. I expect to vote Libertarian at the state level, or write myself in or just leave the state slots blank. We need recall elections to turn out cynical voters who would never vote in any other kind of election because they would never vote for any politician, only against all of them, and I get more like them all the time except when I can vote for myself.

    • Pat Kelly

      According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, of the 15 metro areas in the US where poverty is expanding at the greatest rates, nine are located in the South, with four in North Carolina. The decision by the NC legislature not to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income residents, the decision to cut unemployment benefits to a 14-week maximum, which is the shortest amount in the U.S, (according to The Wall Street Journal), the decision to become the only state in 30 years to eliminate a state Earned Income Tax Credit, which reduced taxes for low- and moderate-income people, the decision not to raise minimum wage, will be highly inconvenient for Governor Pat McCrory to reconcile as the price NC has paid for the “comeback”

      • “of the 15 metro areas in the US where poverty is expanding at the greatest rates”

        I dislike Obama’s policies as much as you do, but the economic comeback experienced in NC in recent years has been quite remarkable. And the good news just keeps on coming. I think Asheville should take note.

        “Gov. McCrory will be able to campaign on the economic success the state has had during his first term, and how it is attributable in part to the tax changes he enacted that allow individuals, families, and employers across North Carolina to keep more of their income. Speaking at a December luncheon, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) reiterated that the ultimate goal is to eventually eliminate the state’s income tax. North Carolina looks to remain a leader in tax reform in the coming years.”
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickgleason/2015/12/31/state-tax-changes/

        The Tax-Cut Payoff in Carolina
        Even with lower rates, tax revenues have increased 6% this year, and the state has a $400 million budget surplus.
        http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-tax-cut-payoff-in-carolina-1433373095

        • Pat Kelly

          NC has created a favorable tax climate for businesses by paying low wages to teachers, refusing to expand health services and shifting the tax burden thru sales tax hikes and fee increases – new businesses have been lured to the state but have not (yet) created more jobs or greater prosperity.

          http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm – NC ranks near the bottom of the nation in unemployment –

          its not a comeback with so many left behind.

          • “Mr. Peck didn’t address a single point Pat Kelly made”

            Is that my job now? — to answer every spurious claim thrown out by duplicitous leftists?

            But I will continue with my original point. You all continue with your off-topic citations. If Asheville wants to reduce poverty and increase economic vitality, I think it should look to the success at the state level and conform policy to their standard, rather than the abysmal national progressive policies that have hurt not only North Carolina, but the rest of the nation.

            “Although federal spending peaked in 2011 at 23.4 percent of the gross domestic product and has declined a bit since then — thanks in part to the expiration of stimulus programs and in part to Republican gains in Congress — it remains elevated. In the 10 years before the Great Recession, federal spending averaged 18.6 percent. During the current 2015-16 fiscal year, the Obama administration estimates it will be 21.5 percent. Here in North Carolina, the Republican takeover of the state legislature in 2010 and the election of Gov. Pat McCrory in 2012 have led to a different result. The state’s General Fund expenditures — the portion of the state budget funded through generally applied taxes and fees, rather than from federal funds or highway taxes — have risen 10 percent since 2010. But the state’s economy has grown at a faster rate.”
            bit.ly/1Q0jMVl

          • mynameis

            Tim Peck, proving that the opposite of duplicitous is”simplicitous”.

          • Peter Robbins

            No, that’s not your job to address the points raised. But it was a conspicuously missed opportunity. I’m sure a like-minded commenter will fill in the void. Carry on.

          • “Carry on.”

            Indeed. I most certainly will. With or without your blessing.

            If Asheville wants to reduce poverty it should abandon progressive policies and take a page from the overwhelming success at the state level. Unless that’s not their goal.

          • bsummers

            “Mr. Peck didn’t address a single point Pat Kelly made”

            It’s what he does. If someone makes a good point, simply pretend that it wasn’t said, and then claim victory. Pretty sad, actually.

          • NC State Economist Mike Walden says North Carolina’s job growth numbers out-paced the nation. And the labor force grew dramatically.

            “We grew six times faster in terms of our labor force, which means people coming in looking for work. People moving from other states here. That is one of the reasons our unemployment rate actually went up for a while in summer and fall. But overall we moved ahead,” said Walden.

            Walden says he sees “no” recession for 2016, better jobs, and continued economic growth.
            bit.ly/1WeJBn9

          • Peter Robbins

            If Mr. Peck would read to the article I cited above (for which James had such knee-jerk disrespect), he would see a disconnect between state tax policy and economic developments (even more so for local tax policy). If Mr. Peck would read the journalistic article I cited (for he personally expressed such cleverly original disdain), he would see a disconnect between the state’s economy recovery and the reduction of poverty. If knowledge were what he was interested in, that’s is.

          • Peter Robbins

            Dang. That should be “that is” at the end. And there is an extra “to” in the first sentence. I’m in for a fearsome joshing now.

          • “Mr. Peck didn’t address a single point Pat Kelly made”

            While we’re on about unanswered questions, I find that you have not addressed mine from another thread from which you have lately been absent. My question to you was actually pertinent to the discussion. Instead of sticking around to throw barbs along with the progressive peanut gallery, you chose to abruptly “take your leave.” Not very polite, I should think. How unlike a man after an honest discussion. To wit:

            “teachers already know that when they look at their paychecks” I wonder how these phantom rights to education, housing and healthcare would be secured without “looking at paychecks.” What then? Should we institute labor camps for teachers, carpenters and doctors? Or, would those so-called rights simply vanish into air along with the weightless arguments supporting them? I wonder. bit.ly/1SUjQc1

          • And so we come full circle, joining the beginning of the point I made so many days ago.

            —–
            “Asheville and Buncombe County should work to reduce poverty” Yes! They should take a page from the success of the state legislature.
            bit.ly/236xwVW
            —–

            Not to worry: I’ll do your research for you. No need to read any studies. The solution is really quite simple: dump progressive policy and you can see the result in the real world. But nay, not in these pages.

            “Still economists say 2015 was a banner year for the state and they expect even better economic results in 2016. NC State Economist Mike Walden says North Carolina’s job growth numbers out-paced the nation.” bit.ly/1npK4Hu

          • We need not stop at the local or even state level to see how progressive policies create and sustain poverty.

            It’s been 50 years since the Democrat War on Poverty was launched and after all that time and trillions of dollars spent about one of every seven people in the country is still living below the poverty line. Everyone on the right and the left seems to agree: in the war on poverty, poverty is clearly winning. The public policies that are most harmful to those at the bottom of the income ladder are policies that Democrats everywhere seem to favor.

          • Peter Robbins

            Nix on the labor camps. Nix on the abolition of existing statutory entitlements to public education and health care. I mistook those for rhetorical questions.

          • We can also look at the real world consequences of progressive policy by looking at today’s headlines:

            Gov. Hogan announces $700M plan to target urban decay in Baltimore

            “Under the new plan, called Project C.O.R.E, the Maryland Stadium Authority will oversee the demolition of vacant structures jointly approved by city and state leaders. About $75 million in state dollars will go to demolition over four years with another $19 million coming from the city.”
            bsun.md/1mFrmuO

          • “I mistook those for rhetorical questions.”

            Yes, dear boy. You seem to mistake every question for an empty academic rhetorical exercise. Perhaps this is a kind of projection on your part. Since you are not serious, you presume everyone else is not serious also. Let’s take a recent example:

            “Nix on the labor camps.”

            The question remains unanswered. How DO you do it? You talk and nothing comes of it. Do carry on.

          • Peter Robbins

            You fund the entitlements that have been created.

            But you do not ask questions in a good-faith attempt to get information, do you? It’s obvious that you are trying to make some kind of argument by asking leading questions. Enough already. I have created a special place down below on this thread just for you where you can say whatever it is you have been trying to say all this time about taxpayer slavery. Go ahead and do it. I’m not entertaining any more “questions.”

            And, no, I do not take your position seriously. But I’m giving you the chance to convince others. With no peanut gallery holding you back. Have at it.

          • bsummers

            For the results of conservative policies gone crazy (truth is these people are not genuine conservatives anymore), look at the results of forced austerity and removal of local control by the State of Michigan. Thousands in Flint poisoned by lead in their water due to the decisions of their GOP ideologue Governor. They’re now having to be bailed out by the dreaded President Obama and emergency federal aide. It might cost $1.5 billion to replace Flint’s water system – but hey, Mitch Snyder cut taxes on upper income earners and businesses!

          • Peter Robbins

            Hold on, now. Has Mr. Peck approved unpoisoned water as a “human right”? I’d make discreet inquiry, but he’s the only one with the list and I’m kinda on the outs with him right now.

          • “I’m kinda on the outs with him right now.”

            How quaint.

            Actually, I find the familiar method of argumentation and endless commentary from you and your comrades mildly amusing. Signifying nothing, yet amusing. I await your next syllable with great eagerness.

        • Peter Robbins

          You should. You invented it. But I notice you didn’t answer the question. Is unpoisoned drinking water a human right or something for which people should fend themselves?

          • If Asheville wants to see a reduction in poverty and an increase in prosperity, it should jettison progressive policies and take a page from the ever so successful state legislature.

            NC General Fund revenue up 6.1 percent in first half of fiscal year
            bit.ly/1N9MzSO

      • Peter Robbins

        Mr. Peck didn’t address a single point Pat Kelly made. He should start with Medicaid, as I understand he has a problem with statutory entitlements.

      • The EIC was mostly for parents. As a low income nonparent I saved more with the new, expanded NC standard deduction, which also saved my a stamp and a lot of time and bureaucratic headaches because I no longer have to file, saving my days if not weeks of paperwork, and a bottle of aspirin.

      • James

        1. The decision not to expand Medicaid was a wise one by the NC Legislature. The federal government spends money irresponsibly and our ever-growing national debt is proof of that. A time is coming – probably this year – when serious cuts are going to happen at the Federal level so the costs to fulfill the promise of Medicaid expansion at the state level will be fulfilled by, you guessed, it, the states who agreed to Medicaid expansion.

        2. Bravo again to the NC Legislature for cutting unemployment down to 14 weeks. It is no coincidence that employment levels went up after this. There are a lot of lazy people on unemployment who do not want to work. This is the motivation they need to quit being lazy and seek employment. Harsh? Oh hell no.

        3. No increase in the minimum wage – kudos again to the NC Legislature and the governor. The more expensive you make it for businesses to hire people, the more they’ll not hire or be forced to hire part-timers. Businesses in the private sector (public too) HAVE TO MAKE A PROFIT. If the cash you take in only matches or comes in under what you’re having to spend for your business, you have no choice but go out of business. Money does not grow on trees.

        • Peter Robbins

          Should we end Medicaid entirely on the ground that such a statutory entitlement enslaves unwilling taxpayers?

          • Peter Robbins

            James, you’re back! And with that Pecksniffian swagger undiminished. Yet you skipped right by my question and went straight to mynameis. What a surprise. Still, it’s a shame that the Governor did not have a single cheerleader on this thread who was willing to stand up for Medicaid as a valuable, legitimate and lawful entitlement program. Indeed, a life-saving program. I think he deserved better.

            Okay, go on with the discussion about the minimum wage. I’m undecided about that one myself.

          • Yes, transfer all medicaid funds to title ten contraception so there will be nobody to need help and plenty of land, oil and houses for all.

          • Peter Robbins

            Thank you, Alan. I don’t agree, but I respect your candor.

          • hauntedheadnc

            Alan Ditmore — There are a couple of flaws in your brilliant plan. Namely, what do you do with people who go to the doctor expecting actual medical care and not merely a box of rubbers? Second, what do you do if the poor, disabled, and elderly get the crazy notion that they have a right to exist into their heads?

            Although, I do have to hand it to you: Tens of thousands of people dying horribly and prematurely would indeed do wonders for the problem of overpopulation.

        • mynameis

          ” Businesses in the private sector (public too) HAVE TO MAKE A PROFIT. ”

          So, it would only be truly fair if there’s no minimum wage at all. Let people fend for themselves. If they don’t like making 50 cents an hour, they can go find a job that pays more. Anything that restricts a business’s profits is clearly not in the best interest of the people.

          Yes, kudos, NC legislature!

          • Peter Robbins

            Hold on just a sec, Mynameis. Don’t let the fish off the hook.

          • James

            Let’s say you have a widget business and on average sell $10,000/month of these fairly-priced widgets. Your monthly rent is $1,000, your utilities are $500, your supply chain costs are $1,000. You have two cash register employees with a high school diploma education who are paid $10/hour and work 40 hours a week. That’s $3,200. That’s $4,300 left over for your modest salary, taxes and a very small amount left over in profit that you can invest and pay your employee a year-end bonus based on performance or put into some type of capital improvement for your businesses that you hope to grow.

            Then one day the city of Asheville mandates a living wage bill of $30/hour. A new administration in Raleigh does not get in the way and the courts are packed with socialist-minded judges appointed by the likes of Obama and former governor Bev Purdue, so that bill becomes the law of doing business in Asheville. Your cost of rent, utilities and supply chain don’t go down – they likely increase – but I’ll keep costs flat. Now your monthly employee costs are $9,600/month!!! So now you’re -$2,100 in the hole each month and you no longer can afford to pay yourself a salary at all. Nor can you afford taxes. What is left to do? How are you going to make up that -$2,100 shortfall each month and stay in business?

            As for paying employees 50 cents an hour,, that’s a ridiculous analogy. No one – not even an illegal alien from the world’s poorest country – is going to take a job in America where they can’t make a living. Anyone going into business knows that you have to pay what you can afford and what is fair to attract the right talent.

            The ignorance of basic economics by progressives in Asheville is astonishing.

          • mynameis

            Let’s say you have a widget business and on average sell $100,000/month of these fairly-priced widgets. Your monthly rent is $500, your utilities are $500, your supply chain costs are $500. You have two cash register employees with a high school diploma education who are paid $10/hour and work 40 hours a week. That’s $3,200. That’s $95,300 left over for your modest salary, taxes and a very small amount left over in profit that you can invest and pay your employee a year-end bonus based on performance or put into some type of capital improvement for your businesses that you hope to grow.

            Then one day the city of Asheville mandates a living wage bill of $30/hour. Blah blah blah liberals are facists blah blah… Your cost of rent, utilities and supply chain don’t go down – they likely increase – but I’ll keep costs flat. Now your monthly employee costs are $9,600/month!!! So now you make 88900 each month.

            Wow, look I just came up with an imaginary scenario based on similarly ridiculous numbers that makes a completely different case. I wonder how that’s possible?

            “As for paying employees 50 cents an hour,, that’s a ridiculous analogy. No one – not even an illegal alien from the world’s poorest country – is going to take a job in America where they can’t make a living. Anyone going into business knows that you have to pay what you can afford and what is fair to attract the right talent.”

            Those minimum wage jobs that people have to take 2 or 3 of, because THEY CAN’T MAKE A LIVING WITH ONE, are fiction. No one would actually take those jobs.

          • Peter Robbins

            Here’s a discussion of living-wage studies that weren’t done on the back of an envelope: http://www.epi.org/publication/bp170/. I know James disapproves of these eggheads and their high-tone analytical methods, but the studies involve the real-world experiences of real cities — something he might appreciate. In any case, I feel that at this point his credibility is such that I can stiff-arm him out of the way if necessary and appeal directly to thoughtful readers who care about Asheville. Enjoy.

        • boatrocker

          I agree with you James, the federal gob’mt spends money like it’s going out of style. It’s called the Military Industrial Complex. It’s where most of every tax dollar goes. #$%^& takers.

  7. The moral duty of any employer is to employ as many people as possible. At any given employer budget, it is more ethical to employ more people at less pay each than to employ fewer people at more pay each.

  8. Peter Robbins

    Mr. Peck! You’re back and obviously raring to go! I’ve started a new thread here just for you.

    You have previously opined that rights to public education and health care cannot lawfully exist because they violate the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition against involuntary servitude (specifically teacher-, doctor- and taxpayer-slavery). But you’ve never applied that theory to statutory entitlements that impact poverty – like Medicare and Medicaid. (Well, I guess public education does that, but put it aside). Now here’s your chance to elaborate in a totally relevant setting.

    I promise not to comment. Or even laugh. You have the classroom all to yourself. Since on another part of this website you are currently chiding Gordon Smith for ignoring questions, I know that you (as a former City Council candidate and public intellectual) will not disappoint. Go, man, go.

    • Peter Robbins

      What? I give you a free shot to finish me off and you just keel over dead? You’re no daisy. You’re no daisy at all.

      • bsummers

        He may be trying to respond, but as he’s probably still on moderation, his obscenities or insults, or whatever he does to get moderated in the first place, is preventing his comment from going through.

        I once posted a comment on a thread here, and got notifications from XPress that he had tried to post a response 11 times – once an hour on the hour… that never got published. Poor little monkey…

        I like that Rand Paul story. Glad that he’s currently being shoved out the door of the clown car. He’s nuts.

  9. Craig Randolph

    tit for tat, liberal/conservative, this study/that study…sure, poverty amongst the working class is a problem with no easy solution…but…did anyone stop and think about what percentage of ‘the poor'(myself included, even while working two jobs and a less than extravagant lifestyle) are those who just won’t work? Granted, the current minimum wage wouldn’t rent you a broom closet, but, I’ve started out on minimum wage before, worked hard and, as they say, pulled myself up by my bootstraps . A city like Asheville, which is a tourist destination/popular retiree haven does provide many jobs…but…most are relatively low wage/no benefit, service-type jobs that you can’t raise a family on. Tourism #1…yes, understand that. But, when something happens, such as the massive rock slides on I-40 in the Pigeon River gorge that effectively shut down tourists approaching Asheville from the west, along with dropping visitation to the Biltmore by several percentage points , and all of the ancillary businesses that depend on tourism–again, those low-pay/no benefits jobs. In times like this (and, it’s all but guaranteed to happen again) wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit more industry here to fall back on? Anyone familiar with a little of Asheville’s history can relate to you what happened here back in the stock market crash of 1929. All but wiped Asheville out. Indirectly related to tourism.

    • Peter Robbins

      Oh, yes. Let’s dismiss “study for study” with a false equivalence. Much better to rely on personal anecdote. Heaven forbid we should use careful analysis and deliberate strategies to chart an economic course that advances the general good of the entire community.

      • Craig Randolph

        just pointing out some of the ‘real world experiences’ , to quote from your post of 1 day ago, about a great city, Asheville..DID NOT even remotely come out against studies being done, crunching the numbers, careful planning, ect…no idea how you distilled that out of my post in here…everything I said about Asheville was true. In order to make the most out of studies , planning commissions,et al, , do we not take a look back through history to see what all has worked, as well as what didn’t work? The only ‘false’ thing here is you’re unwarranted attack on me. Basically, I’d say we are both after the same thing…

        • Peter Robbins

          Please accept my apology. Force of habit. And I changed coffee brands.

    • Industry is fine in Biltmore Forest, Canton, Fletcher, and Old Fort, but more industry such as breweries in Asheville would cause 10 lanes of commutters, thus aggravating the transport problems. Asheville needs housing, it is Biltmore Forest that needs new brewery jobs.

  10. Pat Kelly

    Very encouraging to read thru the many ideas expressed about now to improve the relationship between the health and resilience of Asheville’s economy, and the health and resilience of our people.

    Poverty reduction has no silver bullet. Nor should we expect one. The exhausting and overwhelming work of reducing poverty must take a comprehensive, long-term approach that is led by the communities in need.

    These communities, who struggle against poverty and social exclusion every day, have repeatedly said this work requires more than a simple transfer of money.

    We seem to agree that what works is to promote small businesses and increase access to living wage jobs and giving kids a fair chance to have a good start – no matter where they are born.

    Quality early childhood development investments are fundamental to the health of individuals, communities and the economy. It is far more effective and financially wise to invest in quality early childhood development resources than invest in efforts that try to remediate the effects of poor early childhood development, such as crime, low workforce productivity, teenage pregnancy and unhealthy behaviors.

    • Peter Robbins

      Thanks for writing the letter, Pat. (Sorry if the discussion got a little rowdy.) One last question: Do you know of any reason to think that local business taxes are retarding small businesses and inhibiting poverty reduction efforts? All of the research that I can find suggests not, but this is an empirical, not an ideological, question.

      • Pat Kelly

        Peter, I can’t comment on the impact of local business taxes on Asheville small businesses, but I think the vote by City Council to approve the rezoning request from McGibbon Hotels to give the BBT Building a facelift, offers an important lesson.

        In this case, the lesson is how the City of Asheville and the downtown business community have worked with a developer to set a new benchmark for doing business in Asheville.

        John McKibbon pledged $250,000 to the city’s affordable housing trust fund and said he’d help drive a return of the $14 million in hotel tax money back from the state to city services. He made a promise to pay living wage (estimated locally at $11.85 an hour with benefits, $12.50 without), to use sustainable procurement practices, to hire local artists and businesses and employees, and to continue to invest in scholarships for hospitality students at AB Tech In addition, the redevelopment project will spend $750,000 to improve public infrastructure around the building.

        McKibbon Hotels made commitments that will raise the bar for other corporate actors that benefit from operating in Asheville, and will help pay for the public systems that enable local success.

        McGibbon Hotels is pproviding strategic direction to other corporate sector partners on how to invest in healthy communities and how to measure and communicate the value of these investments to stakeholders.

        In this case, the City of Asheville and the community worked with McGibbon to set the new McGibbon standard.

        • the standard made housing far less affordable in Asheville by inhibiting future builders of housing that could one day become affordable. Nothing new is ever affordable because new things are still shiny and shine is a luxury item. Thus affordable building is an oxymoron. The Pledges are just words and the $250,ooo taken from housing for housing is just sending money in circles.

  11. Peter Robbins

    David Brooks in today’s New York Times:

    “Years ago, reform conservatives were proposing a Sam’s Club Republicanism, which would actually provide concrete policy ideas to help the working class, like wage subsidies, a higher earned-Income tax credit, increased child tax credits, subsidies for people who wanted to move in search of work and exemption of the first $20,000 in earnings from the Medicaid payroll tax. This would be a conservatism that emphasized social mobility at the bottom, not cutting taxes at the top.”

    Don’t you miss the days when conservatives could speak American?

    • If liberals had excepted those ideas, except for the environmentally damaging child tax credit, the liberalize and conservativize languages would not have diverged. For example liberals would not have started calling zoning “NIMBYism”. BTW, the language is English, not “American” unless you are one of those antiroyal revolutionaries.

      • Peter Robbins

        The language is Mountain, bless your heart, but might could be you don’t speak it.

  12. tsalagi sister

    Millions of dollars of studies and no one has the common sense to ask the poor, or disabled what we need to rise.study last year proved academics have no common sense.npr..self determination and empowerment.at 59 I don’t need an academic to tell me what I need stop patronizing the poor

  13. Pat Kelly

    Quick Update – After review of a competitive pool of 182 letters of intent, the Asheville team, led by Stacey Millet, ED of the North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness at UNCA has been selected as a finalist for the Invest Health program and is advancing to the next stage of the selection process. Congratulations!

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