LETTERS / We See Growth at Any Cost Without Regard to What We Call Infrastructure

Published Friday, October 11, 2019 at 9:25 am

Dear Editor,

“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.” ― H.L. Mencken

In the opinions I’ve sent to the local ‘news’ outlets over the years, I’ve avoided speaking of ‘local’ politics having learned in West Virginia how convoluted that topic can be, but some things are so obvious that even Ray Charles could see them.

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, is how the song goes, and when you look around Boone, you can see the song’s message clearly displayed in the last twenty years. Frequently Boone is a parking lot, and occasionally a flood zone, all of which has been shaped by those who tell us they work for us. Every day you see more large building projects with no place to put the rising numbers of vehicles. Your daily pursuit of happiness is markedly slowed for the profit of a few, enabled by ‘our’ government.

Democracy is only allowed when the outcome is what those in charge want. There are no coincidences in politics. Put away silly ideas like ‘we have a representative government’ and that elections matter. They don’t. You’re presented with Hobson’s Choices. From local to national they decide and dictate as they present illusions intended to give you the impression we’re involved in choosing the outcome, but look closely: every carrot at the end of the stick from Boone to the district of corruption remains a mirage. You see ‘representatives’ who had an average income until they gained political office, and suddenly became unexplainably wealthy.

Filthy lucre is the focus of most of our surrounding society, including those who pretend to work in our favor. McMansions, sports cars and speed boats are their goals so as to be impressive to themselves and their associates: they need to get their mitts on some cash: how do they do that?

We might suspect that those in charge might have some interest in real estate and/or building supplies which could influence how they choose to operate our political subdivision. I hear a surprising variety of people speaking about their vanished trust in government, and media everywhere I go. This won’t end well.

It’s not unusual for roads in Boone to be a parking lot. It’s taken me ten minutes a mile to go from the Peddlin’ Pig to the King street/105 intersection on what seemed an average weekday at two in the afternoon. It’s not unusual to see both lanes frozen from Cracker Barrel, or Lowes to Wendy’s any time after noon. On home football game days everyone I know advises anyone they know to stay away from Boone. I know of one business that closes on those days, knowing it would be a fool’s errand to even try to get there.

We see growth at any cost without regard to what we call infrastructure. ‘Our leaders’ continue to pack twenty pounds into a five pound bag. The roads can’t be expanded without removing more businesses than vanished the last time roads expanded. Frequently our roads are parking lots instead of transportation systems. The storm drain system has obviously been ignored as seen at the mall parking lot and sometimes just about everywhere else that ‘system’ exists on blowing rock road. ‘Our’ government keeps adding new sources of traffic, and ignores storm water solutions.

You might wonder why this is the case? It appears doubling the size of the university in the last twenty years could be at the base of it. Seems they need to grow so they can be financially solvent or so we’re told. I suspect it’s so they can become a famous football entity, and pay some of the outrageous salaries I’ve seen for upper level university employees of which there seems to a large supply: a boatload of administrators and an astonishing supply of ‘assistants’. I’ve heard tales of university money going for private concerns.

We’re told there will be a new school built, in a flood prone historic district in which the land will be paid for, by our taxes, at a significantly larger than ‘market’ price, against the expressed will of those living in the area. This is an obvious display of arrogant disregard for the citizens. We’ve been down this road before with many of the same players and lots of tax dollars squandered in the high school process. Local government presents the illusion of a hearing which will proceed as all the rest; theater, while they do as they’re already decided, the public be dammed.

The list of ‘projects’ and their attendant exploding costs over the last twenty years is public; schools, water project, asphalt plant, ‘rec’ center, and there are ‘secrets’ spoken of beyond these ‘sore thumbs’. These tales are repeated by those in the know and spread thru the community of those who believe ‘our’ representatives, from town, to county and on up the bribery chain, aren’t. These officials are spending like the fabled drunken sailors with no end in sight. While proof is elusive you might remember that where smoke is found it’s likely that fire is the cause. I know of one individual who discovered his never ending legal trouble originated with a clerk who had it in for him. Another tale concerns a ‘Potemkin’ house on the ‘new’ high school property bought as scrap and sold as a Mercedes after some ‘makeup’ was applied. The tales are almost endless.

Its predictable to watch one affected area only dealt with by its neighbors who have no allies from other ‘project’ affected citizens. As Ben Franklin said, we all stand together or we hang separately; Silence is acceptance, ‘Can’t see it from my house’. When you allow your fellow citizens to be effectively attacked, without joining in defending them and/or their tax money’s, you have forfeited your standing in the community. When you see our money being squandered for pride and profit but remain silent, you’re an accomplice.

Niemoeller said, “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Watch “it’s a wonderful life”. You’ll be reminded what it looks like when the bankers win. In Watauga County, we’re living in that world, only here it includes a university and layers of government.

Elections are humiliating fictions in which politicians hide their agendas, and appeal to people they despise, to ‘win’, taking power further out of your hands, concentrating them with the ‘right’ sorts of people, casting aside the remnants of democracy. The denial of reality can only be tolerated for so long. It’s not merely that power corrupts but that some people are compelled to corrupt democratically distributed power. 

‘Our’ schools teach one version of what they call ‘our’ democracy, which isn’t. The United States are a republic in which we hope those in charge will heed our wishes. Those who pretend to be our ‘leaders’ display what really happens, and recent years in Watauga county seems to be run as Boss Tweed would have untaken. Some residents notice the looting is done with clumsy abandon.

We have no agency I can see that’s tasked with looking for, and into corruption, obvious conflicts of interests, wasting taxpayer monies and raising taxes, doubling on average in the last ten years, to fund narrow interests. The actions taken beginning with the high school, and now a new school in which the price for the flood zone land is obviously extremely inflated, make it long past due for a real investigation into things even Stevie Wonder could see are quite questionable.

Craig Dudley

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