Thursday, June 20, 2013

The problem with hostage deals: they take the money and shoot the prisoners anyway

So the Bond Bill Committee has voted unanimously to spend $8 million in taxpayer dollars to bail out our casinos.

One must assume that their reasoning (if, indeed, reason was involved in the process at all) was to (A) avoid lay-offs in a bad economy, and/or (B) to secure the flow of tax revenue from the casinos for as long as possible.

Neither option plays well, however, as literally the first thing the casinos did was say that $8 million probably wouldn't be sufficient to avoid lay-offs:
However, Dover Downs CEO Ed Sutor indicated Monday that the $8 million, which will be spread out among the three casinos, may not be enough to hold back job cuts.
 If that's the case, then we're down to reason number two, which Wade Malcolm shot in the ass this morning:
And darker days could lie ahead for the state’s three casinos in 2014 and beyond as competition from other states intensifies, and some degree of layoffs could be inevitable in the near term – no matter what action legislators decide to take.
There's more to Wade's story, including the numbers, but you can get that yourself.

You can also read this story, which explains that lawmakers like Senator Robert Venables knew when they decided to donate $8 million in taxpayer dollars to keep private businesses afloat that it probably wouldn't work:
Sen. Robert Venables, who chairs the committee, said the $8 million is “better than nothing” for the casino industry, which has pleaded with lawmakers and the governor in recent weeks forhelp to reduce its tax burden.
There are two realities here.

1.  The General Assembly is just as willing to send $8 million down the tubes as corporate welfare on the off chance the gaming industry will recover as the Markell administration was to bet the farm on Fisker or Bloom Energy.  So now we know just why our legislators don't do any better at counter-balancing the Governor's bad decisions:  given the choice they do just as badly.

2.  That $8 million would not have prevented all teacher lay-offs across the state, but it sure would have been "better than nothing."  As it is, the Bond Bill Committee has just voted to spend money to prevent lay-offs that they already know won't prevent lay-offs.

Apparently neither math nor logic is necessary to make multi-million-dollar decisions with your tax money.


kavips said...

Or put differently, all members of government can not say no to their friends and close associates, but they can say no to arbitrary outside entities, of whom in a million years, they will never cross their path to be held accountable.

Sounds like me with my kids.

tom said...

@kavips, that is why libertarians believe in pushing all government functions down to the most local level at which they can be performed.

It is much easier to hold legislators & bureaucrats accountable if they are your neighbors than if they are some distant person in Dover or Washington that won't even answer your emails or calls.

Centralization is bad.