Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bebee Wants Kitty to Lure in Industry

Arkansas Attorney General Candidate Mike Bebee wants $50 million of the state's Improvement Fund money (mostly pork barrel local projects) to be turned over to the Governor for the purpose of bringing jobs to Arkansas. The idea is that they may be negotiating with a business, and the business wants us to build a road or something to close the deal. Bebee wants the money available to close that deal. But the truth is that he has the potential for that now. The Governor already controls half the improvement fund money, and could spend it for that anyway if he wanted. Given that, his proposal sounds like a gimmick, or a way to get $50 million more of his own pork.

The money would come from the legislature's share of the fund. Taking money from working Arkansans for local pork was bad enough, taking their money to provide goodies to a big business is worse. Such funds are invitations for insider deals and corruption. AG Bebee has not exactly inspired trust lately on that score. Is he the man we want to give sole discretion on how to spend $50 million more dollars? MAYBE HE WILL USE IT TO BUILD HIMSELF A NEW CAMPAIGN HQ! But why, when he already has such a nice office?

On the other hand, we were disturbed to hear that Asa wants to blow not just $50 million, but the whole wad of improvement fund money, on something called Workforce Education (Editor's note: later reports are that Asa is now talking about spending only $50 million a year, to start. The money would also fund research at four year colleges).

Although it was couched in terms of community colleges and trade schools, in Workforce Educatuion these institutions are to eventually absorb much of our public schools. For an 11 minute audio file that explains why this socialist concept is a bad idea, squeeze here.

If you don't have audio, I will give you the short version- having the government train workers shifts costs and distorts the free market. The free market allocates resouces, including worker training, much more efficiently than a government program. Each generation of big-government statists always think that they are the ones smart enough to do better than the free market, and each generation is invariably proven wrong. It won't work for us any better than it did for the Soviet Union. If an industry wants more people trained for a given field it should raise wages, not lobby the government to dig into your pockets in order to subsidize their training costs.

I have my own ideas for what to do with the general improvement fund money. Let's spend half on roads and education, and use the other half for a T-A-X-C-U-T. That way we don't have to worry about it being blown on insider corruption or squandered growing a huge new government program with future claims on our income.

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