I was listening to NPR on the way to work this morning. The topic of discussion was a massive resort complex, with casinoes, being pitched for the Miami/Dade area and the political repurcussions. The typical detailed and even-handed coverage of an NPR show, which I do NOT mean facetiously. I find NPR prettty "Fair and Balanced" if not in tone, at least in presentation of all the facts.
The developers were touting the 100k jobs that would be created and 250 million per year in new taxes would be added to the coffers.
The detractors, other hotels and an Indian Casino, were talking about how it would damage their businesses, and they were all seeking for the local and State Government to enable or disable the project.
In other words, one of any of hundreds of plans of various scales being discussed and moderated by governments around the country at any one time.
The problem with our country hit me square in the head as I was processing this information.
This project is being undertaken by private investors on private property. What they choose to build there is no ones business but their own, and subject to, supposedly, already well-defined local restrictions on the property use.
The state of Florida restricts the number of casino licenses allowed, apparently. These folks are lobbying for less restrictions.
Issue number one is the arbitrary restrictions of business licenses. This amounts to government controlled monopolies. Why should politically connected billionaires have the right to build Casinos but normal Joe Blow cannot?
Issue number two is that, given the financing in place and the private ownership of the property, why should other hotels and casinos have ANY say in restricing a bigger and better property from entering the market? What business is it of government to PROTECT someone's property from competition? Protect it from vandalism or unlawful damage? Sure. From competition? That is an inappropriate use of governmental power. The main problem with business and politics is that businesses seek to improperly use the power of government to close the door behind them to keep better solutions from the marketplace. Period. End of Paragraph.
Issue number three is why in the world should it be necessary to allow any government to give you permission to do something that is not explicitly forbidden? Why try to bribe them with the jobs and taxes? I guess it this part that drives me the most crazy. I have been involved peripherally in a few normal business ventures in the past few years and have been astounded at the number and extent of "soft" laws and regulations that give zoning and planning commissions and city councils extraordinary control over virtually everything.
Issue number four is the increasing use of intentionally vague and/or poorly written regulations to give arbitrary authority to elected or bureaucratic officials. This is the death knell of everything, really. Laws that mean nothing, but just empower the rule of committee. These rule enforcers love these because it gives them capricious power... NOT rule of law. This is what draws money into politics. If laws had to be specific, and not a munged up set of conflicting codes that no one understands and granted only by the beneficence of an official, which does not automatically confer the same right to the next guy that wants the same thing, you now have little kings and queens... not the rule of law.
Governments LOVE these kinds of things. It draws money and grants capricious power. THIS is what is wrong with America. Want to tame the beast of Big Business? Make the rules crystal clear and the enforcement of them logical and applicable to all. Don't let Big Business MAKE the rules, which they will make in the name of "consumer safety" that will impose huge barriers of entry.
It is the last of these that is the most important to understand. Venezuela is a despotic dictatorship today with a quickly squandered national hydrocarbon treasure because Humble Oil, the predecessor to today's ExxonMobil, talked the Venezuelan Congress into nationalizing heretofore private ownership of minerals so that they could more easily contract with corruptible politicians rather than the tens of thousands to millions of individal mineral owners that they had to deal with in the US. Wide ownership and property rights are the last defenses of our freedom from government AND big Business...