What the people really need

I’m listening to much more media these days, trying make more informed decisions. This led me recently to listen to WCQS’s interview of the two candidates vying for chair of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.

Given the financial crisis, budgets were discussed, as was the recent local gas crisis. Two things made me recoil: During discussion about the gas situation, both candidates responded that next time we ought to see if we can get some gas from those places that still have some, and they repeatedly [used] the phrase “people need to.”

The knockout punch for me came during discussion of the county budget, when the question was asked, “Would plans for two new parking garages continue?” We’ve just seen how vulnerable our petroleum-based life is, and the discussion is about how we can we park more cars?

While the cost of massive concrete-and-steel structures is apparently to be recouped by parking charges, it was just too stark. Hundreds of thousands of people are watching their life savings seemingly disappear, most with incomes under the much-discussed quarter-million a year level; others are losing their homes, their jobs, and [cannot] afford basic health care. The discussion of multi-million-dollar parking-deck projects just seemed obscene.

Barack Obama recently suggested the United States should strive to be free of Mideastern oil dependence in 10 years (I believe that represents only 25 percent of our total foreign petroleum “habit”). Right away, that goal was called noble but unachievable. In July of 1969, at age 14, I was riveted to the television one night as I watched Americans walk on the moon. The moon! I don’t know how many said the same thing about that lofty goal. Perhaps this new challenge from another young, charismatic politician is not realistic either. But if we do not set high goals, how are we to achieve great things?

I want to invest my votes, nationally and locally, on candidates who can have a vision more inspiring than “people need to” do something. The day may well come in my lifetime and in my hometown when the oil crisis will not last a couple of weeks, but will be permanent—a way of life.

Can we have mass transit in 10 years? Maybe, maybe not. But if we took our best efforts [away from] solving effects such as parking problems, and redirected them intelligently and humanely toward addressing causes, maybe one day our children would be marveling at the amazing things that we accomplished.

— David M. Sluder
Black Mountain

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