This year’s election for mayor and city council was one of the stealthiest campaigns that I have ever witnessed. Unless one was an ever vigilant follower or watch dog of the local political scene, all one saw one day were a handful of yard signs and an eerie silence in the press and media. As if the fact that the political arena here as much as elsewhere has become a medley of circus freaks and reality tv-like “celebrities” was not enough, the campaign itself had devolved into a he said she said argumentation about why there is so much debt still in the air when all we have tried to do is to make this place more tourist friendly and more developer happy, a tried and true formula for making money. But is that really so? If anything, recent history has always shown that late capitalism is a process by which individuals are compelled to take as much advantage of a given situation and run as soon as the money is made. Was this not the case with most of the “development” in Asheville? Not to mention that anytime a big corporate franchise opens its doors anywhere, the money made there invariably goes elsewhere? There is a term for this late capitalist phenomenon in Eastern Europe, where the ravages of Communism were followed by further ravages of Capitalism. The term is “tunneling”. When a company is established, or bought, a series of “tunnels”, virtual lines by which money is channeled outward into other corporations or tax havens, is built to suck the body dry of all its fluids and to enrich those who run it. When there is nothing left, the company is either dissolved or sold to the lowest bidder. Tunneling is one way by which debt is incurred by those directly involved with these bodies, because through hikes in prices, fees and service charges, the burden is transferred to the lower strata, while at the same time money flows directly to the top and outwardly, with nothing left for the community.
Now that the election results are in, I have to be honest in saying that I have never seen a more dreary set of gray people with no ideas and no life essence in them running for office. What this year’s election was about were power and name recognition, nothing more, nothing less, because what each and every single candidate stood for is a preference for running things along the same tired train tracks into oblivion, some with a ridiculous sloganist campaign of “change”, the same type of change that will keep everything the same, because it is working out for the corporate structure so that it can keep sucking the life out of the poor and middle class, develop more plots of beautiful countryside into abominable tracts of monocultured wasteland, and above all, feed us all staggering amounts of beer.
Should any of the candidates or for that matter anyone living in this here town take notice, I have developed a set of ideas that could be evolved further through conversation and debate.
-Raise the minimum wage in all of Buncombe county to $15/hr
-Institute a basic income to all Buncombe citizens at $999/month
-Place a ban on all public advertising and take down all billboards within county line (it will be great for our psyche and fun to watch them come down like the Hussein statue)
-Place a cap on the number of new buildings in Asheville to 5 (all buildings will have to be integrated into the community)
-Tear up Tunnel and Hendersonville roads and rebuild using a grid system and interconnections
-Free busses running up Merrimon and Patton, electric rail would be preferred however
-Make golf carts street legal
-Divert money going to utilities companies to create small privately owned startup power stations
-Give money to leftist think tanks
-Create a mobile application and computer program by which every citizen can cast votes on every single issue before the council
I absolutely understand that most of these ideas are going to be derided as unworkable, idiotic, or insane, maybe utopian, but if we do not start talking about even the possibility that something like this can work or take place, we will never get out of the hole we have dug for ourselves. If the city of Asheville had gotten into so much debt as is claimed by the media, through the methods that even today most candidates are espousing, that have been mythologized by the establishment and that clearly do not work for the people, then maybe it doesn’t matter that we will get into more debt as a result of these policies, but at the same time help those that are in most need and make this place into a truly unique place, instead of the Disney version that has been created over the past five years.