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Friday, March 09, 2012

"I beg your indulgence, my liege."

The subjects line up, waiting their chance at a meeting with the king. Each has a desire. Each hopes the king will be moved by his presentation and deign to grant his wish. No one can be sure what moves the king. Oftentimes  he seems moved by mere whim. But the subjects know if they do not ask, they have no chance. So they line up, they bow and scrape, and they beg.

It is a good thing such foolishness is a thing of the past.

What? It isn't? You mean this still goes on?

It is true.

It happened yesterday, in Denver. Six applicants begged the state for millions of dollars. The role of king is now played by the Colorado Economic Development Commission, a political board filled with political appointees by politicians. This board has the power to dole out millions of dollars. This largesse is ostensibly for local governments, but the money will end up with private contractors and other private companies.

For example, the city of Aurora seeks a state indulgence worth $123.8 million. The city is asking on behalf of Gaylord Entertainment Company, a private company with a market capitalization of $1.4 billion. Gaylord wants to build a huge, fancy hotel in Aurora, but will not do it without the government gift.

The theory behind this "Economic Development" is that tax breaks encourage business growth. Of course, that is absolutely true. But why do only those with the means and desire to scrape and bow and beg before the state board qualify? Why do politically connected applicants have to justify their business plan to a political board of political appointees? Why does Gaylord have the backing of the Aurora City Council for its massive project, but the mom and pop dry cleaner gets no support for any "economic development" of its business?

Because mom and pop do not have a "government relations" department. Because mom and pop do not have and can not afford a lobbyist. Because mom and pop do not have the time to put together a fancy power-point presentation for a group of politically connected appointees. Because mom and pop are too busy working. Because mom and pop are busting their butts earning money and not standing in line for a government gift.

Statists like to justify state action like this in the name of "fairness" and "equity." There is nothing fair or equitable about the king's whims.

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