In response to the recent proposal to use taxpayer funds to finance a new stadium for the Atlanta Braves in Cobb County:
1. the control of a state or organization by large interest groups.
In the wake of the announcement (or leak) that Cobb County has been courting the Atlanta Braves to move to our Cumberland district, I’ve attended multiple meetings on the subject. I’ve listened as central planners, excited at the prospect of using public money to realize their latest pet development projects, eagerly discuss their plans. “We’ll widen this road… move the oil pipeline here… the stadium goes there… retail on that side of the complex… it’s going to be so much fun!”
There’s just one problem everyone seems be ignoring…
They continue… “we’ll up rental car taxes… create a hotel/motel fee… tell everyone tourists will pay for everything… gloss over the millions diverted from elsewhere… promise to pay for half of all future stadium maintenance expenses… and let the Braves keep all the profits.”
So what is everyone missing here?
Let’s see… a large corporation and some of our elected officials conspiring to forcibly take money without individual consent to and spend it on a private business venture.
Oh yea… IT’S THEFT!
Sadly, I’ve come to realize that not everyone readily makes this connection. Far too many of us have become desensitized and accustomed to, or are simply "ok" with, stealing (or having government steal on our behalf) from others as long as it’s for something “we like” or “benefits us.”
Classical political theorist and free-market economist Frederic Bastiat refers to the phenomenon as “legal plunder” – when a group of politically connected individuals use the force of government to commit theft from the masses in the name of the so-called “greater good”, or what he calls “false philanthropy.”
A great deal of time, money, and energy goes into manufacturing “economic development numbers” and developing “impact studies” to distract us and fool us into believing the myth that centrally managed, government subsidized “partnerships” can create jobs or “revitalize the economy.”
This is an illusion.
Following this self-serving, faulty logic, why not simply allow government to tax us 100%, let them “create” the jobs, and completely eradicate unemployment. Oh wait… that would be communism and it doesn’t work.
These subsidies certainly improve finances and “revitalize” the politically connected few within favored locations and industries. But, for every so-called “job created” or “dollar invested” within this economic bubble, another is (or others are) lost or sacrificed elsewhere in the greater economy.
Government subsidies create artificial demand which leads to over-investment in propped-up geographical locations and market segments. In turn, this draws capital away from locales and economic sectors where greater demand would have otherwise existed. This misdirection and misuse of capital ultimately results in an economic NET LOSS to both jobs and productivity and sows the seeds of the inevitable depression or crash that will occur once subsidies are removed and the market is allowed to correct itself.
In other words, jobs and capital are merely shuffled around for the benefit of politicians and special interests. This is redistribution of wealth from the poor and the middle class to the wealthy and politically connected.
It’s no wonder my Republican Party has been experiencing an identity crisis.
We campaign on well-founded free market principles and talking points like “government can’t create jobs”, “we shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers”, and “you know how to spend your money better than government does.”
Then, as soon as we can move our favorite sports team to town, we nearly trip over ourselves fumbling for the public checkbook as we ask big business “how much do you want?”
Sadly, this is business as usual – the brokering of private profits secured by taxpayer risk.
Politicians who participate in these schemes, as proof of their genius, will point to the easily identifiable so-called “jobs created” and erections they construct within the boundaries of the economic bubble they invent. Predictably, they’ll send out press releases and chase down cameras to claim credit for the miraculous transformations. And in time they’ll benefit from promised or implied campaign contributions. Of course, with so much at stake, “secret deals” and insider trading should come as no surprise to anyone.
Meanwhile, the opportunity costs and widely dispersed, less easily identifiable, victims will be completely ignored; unintended consequences will either be swept under the rug or blamed on lack of resources as an excuse to take more taxpayer money; and invariably, those in opposition to the public theft will be marginalized and labeled “extreme” as a political tactic by the plot’s beneficiaries to maintain control.
We see these kinds of crony capitalist schemes time and time again in the form of wall street bailouts, housing subsidies, farm subsidies, education subsidies, and epic failures like “Solyndra” and the “Cash for Clunkers” program.
The bottom line is this:
Business owners act in their own self-interest. By definition, they seek to maximize profits. If building a stadium with private money and moving operations to Cobb County will increase profits to the Braves enough to justify the up-front capital investment, Go Braves!
If private developers want to risk THEIR OWN money and resources seeking greater profits, fantastic! If individuals want to chip in VOLUNTARILY, that’s great too! Voluntary mutual consent is the foundation of a free and prosperous society.
But, if this venture won’t stand on its own in a free market, it’s immoral and a violation of the public trust and of natural law to force taxpayers to pay for it.