The law of intended consequences

You have to hand it to Rep. Tim Moffitt and other Republicans who recently passed N.C. House Bill 488. By commandeering Asheville’s water system, and forcing its merger with the Metropolitan Sewerage District, our state reps are giving us a textbook example of poor government.

There may be legitimate reasons to regionalize Asheville’s water system. But forcing such a move from the top down — without support from Asheville residents — and failing to adequately assess the ramifications or allow for an adequate period of transition [means] the passage of HB 488 will likely prove to be of grave disservice to the very constituents the legislators are supposed to represent.

Moreover, such rash action is at odds with core conservative principles calling for limited and smart government.

Conservatives often discuss the law of unintended consequences, wherein the actions of a large government and passage of overbearing laws often lead to unanticipated consequences, sometimes even the opposite of what was intended.

Thus, it is ironic that Moffitt, who in the past has blasted city leaders for poor leadership, now seems hell-bent on showing them exactly how it’s done.

Recently, in Moffitt’s home district, the Asheville City Council voted unanimously to sue North Carolina to block the forced merger. Indeed, the city has no choice, because some years ago it issued bonds to improve the infrastructure of its water system. The city still holds a debt on those bonds.

The commandeering or seizure of locally controlled entities is completely unprecedented in the state of North Carolina. The architects of HB 488 must have known there would be many complications and legal issues. But, throwing caution to the wind, they went ahead and passed HB 488 anyway.

How Moffitt et al rationalize such strong-armed tactics (or how they sell it to the voters) cannot disguise the petty politics and arrogance at play.

I’m confident, however, that the latest actions taken by our legislators will have repercussions in the next election. Mark this on your calendars, folks — November 2014. That’s when Moffitt’s term is up. Hopefully we can find someone who will actually represent the constituents of House District 116.

— George Hulseman

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