“Decontrol To Promote Growth”
By Bradley Harrington
Published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on March 11, 2014
“Whether one is chained for a ‘noble’ purpose or an ignoble one, for the benefit of the poor or the rich, for the sake of somebody's ‘need’ or somebody's ‘greed’ - when one is chained, one cannot produce.” - Ayn Rand, "Let Us Alone!”, 1962 -
In a recent column (“Magpul deal bad for Wyo.,” WTE, Feb. 28) I was pretty hard on Magpul Industries for getting subsidies for its relocation efforts to Cheyenne.
And I was even harder on the so-called “economic development” entities - local, county and state - for hollering for it and funding it.
To be fair, however, it needs to be pointed out that the notion of taxpayer-funded “economic development” is not original with any of these organizations.
Indeed, this political approach is such a commonly accepted principle today that to dare to suggest that the true road to honest economic growth lies in dismantling all of it is to be met with either blank stares or hoots of derision.
But facts remain facts, whether people choose to make themselves aware of them or not.
“Growth” is what you get when you leave a free people alone to produce as they please. And the best thing government can do, aside from protecting individuals from the use of force or fraud, is to remove the impediments it has imposed on production and get out of the way.
Impediments such as:
1 - Licensing schemes. Wyoming has chosen to implement dozens - hundreds - of licensing requirements for everything from chiropractors to cosmetologists, from education to energy, allegedly to “protect” the consumer in the marketplace.
What is the actual effect of such intrusion? To drain productive assets from the private sector to public coffers; to drive the marginal producers out of the economy; and to restrict competition from what would occur naturally in a free market to a series of “good-ole-boy” networks instead.
2 - Burdensome regulatory policies. Here in Cheyenne, for instance, developers interested in developing property have the Unified Development Code as their primary hurdle to overcome - and it would be difficult indeed to create larger and more costly obstacles.
So large and costly are they, in fact, that just last month the governing body voted to repeal some of them:
“The Cheyenne City Council unanimously passed a city ordinance (Feb. 24) intended to smooth the infill and redevelopment process for the city’s developers.” (“Council votes to ease redevelopment process,” WTE, Feb. 25.)
So: What is the basis for such an action if it isn’t an acknowledgement that such policies hinder production and wealth-creation?
3 - The “economic development” bureaucracies themselves. Organizations such as the State Loan and Investment Board, the Wyoming Business Council, Cheyenne’s Downtown Development Authority and Cheyenne LEADS, for example.
These bureaucracies do little more than further drain the private sector of its economic lifeblood (profits); obliterate free competition by playing favorites; and enforce yet more taxpayer-funded, coercively mandated policies of regulation and control.
4 - Excessive taxation. Yes, I know, Wyoming leads most states in this area in terms of lesser taxes. But that is like saying we’re one of the healthier patients in the plague ward.
When one considers the millions - billions - of dollars to be saved by getting rid of these aforementioned impediments, however, it becomes instantly apparent that Wyoming’s political organizations on every level could enjoy a flood of extra dollars to be applied to legitimate government purposes while also being able to cut tax rates to a fraction of their current levels
In FY 2011-12, for instance, the budget of the Business Council was $87.1 million alone - enough to maintain half the highways in the state. Now multiply that figure by about a hundred and you get the idea.
Get rid of these impediments, folks, and you won’t have to “promote” economic development at the point of a gun; developers and producers will be pounding at our borders to come here instead.
These are real-life solutions that will absolutely work in the real world - as any comparison between the economies of North and South Korea, or between Cuba and Hong Kong, will make abundantly clear.
Free markets work. Half-socialist, half-fascist schemes fail. It’s as simple as that.
So the next time some mixed-economy bureaucrat asks you what he can do to “promote” economic growth, give him the only answer he deserves: “Decontrol!”