• Status Symbols?

Guy W. Midkiff

Infrastructure is the underlying foundation or basic framework of a system of public works.

Prioritization is the listing or rating of projects or goals in order of priority.

Cities set budgets because it is a method of setting spending limits on limited resources. Cities prioritize these expenditures so that the limited taxpayer funds are spent intelligently and in a way that serves the greater good of the community.

Washington, Missouri’s infrastructure is not so highly evolved that public works can be ignored in lieu of vanity expenditures. When I see $36,000 in taxpayer money being thrown away on vanity light poles, it worries me that we may have lost focus of our priorities and adherence to fiscal discipline.

A community airport at Washington Regional Airport makes perfect sense. But we are told that $650,000 spent on our airport is smart because the government (a euphemism for you and me – other peoples money) is kicking in $6.5 million dollars. Does anyone ask “Why?”

Who is now or will in the future, be using an airport that can justify a price tag that is about to go past $14 million? The airport has no flight school, no aircraft rentals, no glider club, no sport diving club, no flying club, and no maintenance facility – just hangars with airplanes parked in them. All the while, we are spending $48,000 annually to “manage” the aerodrome?

And what about the carrying costs? That price tag is somewhere north of $160,000 annually. This does not even take into account what that price would jump to if the airport, heaven forbid, had to actually pay interest and principal on $6.5 million. That payment would add another $600,000 per year to the cost of operations.

carrotstickjpg.jpgAnd the big orange carrot on the end of the stickstatus symbol and the “hope” that some large corporation will pick us for a dance at prom night. The latter of which is popularly known as “Corporate Welfare.”

The federal government has a poor record of picking industrial winners and losers, so the economic benefits that these programs are purported to create inevitably fail to materialize. Furthermore, corporate welfare programs create an uneven playing field; foster an incestuous relationship between business and government; are anti-consumer, and anti-capitalist; and create a huge drain on the federal budget.

The most efficient way to promote economic growth in America is to reduce the overall cost and regulatory burden of government. Ending corporate welfare as we know it would be a significant first step toward that goal of reducing the cost of government.


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