Asheville: Where government pork is green

The Asheville Citizen-Times, part of the notoriously inept Gannett newspaper chain, has an article about city restaurants. However, there is no mention of food, service or “atmosphere,” you know, some of the typical things that can make or break a dining establishment.

No, this piece highlights the fact that, according to the Citizen-Times, “Asheville could become a dining destination not just for taste but for energy-efficiency by year’s end.”

Through the Asheville Independent Restaurants Association, 17 local eateries are using a state grant to retrofit their hot-water systems with solar panels, upgrade their lighting and take other measures to meet the standards for Certified Green Restaurant status.

Partnering with the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute, the Asheville Independent Restaurants Association received a $285,000 grant through the N.C. Green Business Fund.

The restaurants had to put up an additional $100,000 for the upgrades.

Count the blog Kids Prefer Cheese among those less than impressed:

Apparently they think that many people will make their dining choices based on how many wasteful public subsidies for inefficient alternative energy technologies the owners have sucked down.

“Oooooh, look, honey, solar panels on the roof! I can see them by the moonlight! Let’s stop and have a romantic candlelight dinner, since there is no electricity.”

“I don’t know; what kind of food do they have?”

“Who cares? All that matters is that we are seen entering such a politically correct establishment. Make sure you leave the lights on from the car. No one will recognize me in those 1.5 watt LEDs.”

“Becoming a green dining destination will only increase Asheville’s status as a green community,” John Stevens, the institute’s executive director, told the publication.

However, the paper’s readers weren’t quite as charmed with the idea, as evidenced by the story’s comments’ section.

“Stay tuned for another gigantic green boondoggle!” writes one. “If I find out which restaurants are signing on to this, I’ll be sure not to patronize them.”

“So, driving 20 miles to get to a ‘green’ restaurant is better for the earth than staying home and cooking your own dinner?” adds another.

“Keep in mind that State Troopers are concerned about staffing levels and we keep hearing about budget cuts that will impact education but the state can afford more “green” handouts!” writes a third. “We’ve also seen numerous restaurants close in the last few months… so if the restaurant goes under we’re still on the hood for footing the bill?”

One writer said the decision to “go green” should be made solely by businesses.

“If the apparatus saves the restaurant money by reducing overhead costs and also shows a realistic ROI and time frame then the restaurant should do it. If the apparatus generates more revenue for a restaurant because it makes “greenies” flock there then the restaurant should do if it makes business sense and a reasonable ROI and time frame exists. In all cases it is the restaurant/business that should make this decision and take the risk not the taxpayers. This deal already smells and before it is done I’m convinced it will stink to high heaven.”

Another asked a very good question: “Why do the words ‘government grant’ always show up in ‘green’ stories?”

There were a couple of notes from green boosters, supported, as is often the case, with a flourish of logic that would have made Socrates proud. One, who went by the name “dpewen,” wrote: “This is great news! I am happy to be a resident of this progressive city! All you unhappy and mean spirited people should just leave … immediately.”

That’s the kind of brainpower that enables government to hand out $285,000 in grants to private businesses so the businesses can, potentially, save money. If those businesses save money, they get to keep it. If they fail, the money is lost. Either way, the taxpayer loses.

(Above: It’s unclear if this old-time hobo would have been considered “green” enough by today’s “standards.”)

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