17 September 2014

No more give-aways #nlpoli

Danny Williams is one of the richest people in Newfoundland and Labrador.  He is a multi-millionaire who owns a successful hockey franchise in St. John’s.

Danny Williams makes a lot of money from the St. John’s IceCaps,  If he didn’t,  Danny wouldn’t be in the hockey game.

Good for Danny Williams. If his business is profitable,  then Williams’ business is good for the city and good for the province.  That’s the way free enterprise works. 

But make no mistake: we should let free enterprise work. Let Williams deal with his costs in the marketplace.  Williams can cut the costs of his team in whatever ways he can, if he needs to.  He can take less profit for himself.  Williams can increase the price of his tickets so that his customers can make an informed decision to support him using their own money, by their own choice.

Under no circumstances should Williams and his cronies on city council do as they have done and  taken public money to help their buddy, in secret, only disclosing the deal after it is done. The subsidy is bad enough.  The secrecy makes the deal infinitely worse.

Had they done the deal openly, then Williams and whomever backed it on the city side could stand up and make an honest argument why they believe it should go ahead.  Others could make the argument against.  While city council should have flatly refused to subsidise a private business,  an open and free debate in advance of a decision would have at least given the decision some legitimacy.  They chose to hide it.

The people behind the deal have thus made it dishonest by their own actions.  Williams only made it worse with his news release that plays with words to pretend that the subsidy is not a subsidy at all.  Just as a rose by any name may smell as sweet, crap stinks.  The problem here is that we don;t know what type of shit Williams’ release and deal really are:  chicken or puffin.

The folks at city hall may have thought they were smart.  Williams has been trying to frame them for the almost inevitable loss of hockey in St. John’s by claiming the costs are too high.  The real reasons why the Jets are leaving isn’t about rentals and advertising costs. The councillors and staff who orchestrated this secret deal might have thought they’d dodged a bullet. Instead, they’ve been too cute by half.   When the Jets leave a year later than originally planned,  Williams will try to find another team.  If he does, then bet that Williams will be back bullying them and pushing them for whatever public money  he can wrangle so that taxpayers cover his costs and he pockets the increased profits.

The only answer for businessmen like Williams when they come to call is the one Williams the politician used to talk about even if he failed to deliver on it:  no give-aways.  Such a policy is fair to taxpayers and fair to businesses.  Let the market decide. If the business succeeds, then everyone wins.  If it fails,  it fails.  Someone else can  come along who can run the business profitably. If it works, then everyone wins.  And if the idea isn’t viable, then that’s the end of things at the lowest cost to everyone.

Everything else protects the people with money,  disadvantages those who can least afford it and, as in this case,  happens in a fundamentally dishonest way. 

What could possibly be worse than that?