As a Libertarian, I understand what it is like to be perceived as being against anything and everything. Those that try to characterize Libertarians in this manner often have a conflict of interest.
There are many conflicts of interest that we are surrounded with each and every day. The best way to address these issues is to be up front and acknowledge that “Yes, here is my conflict of interest, and this is how I will attempt to balance it with the issue”.
Instead, we see the denial of the conflict of interest through carefully worded statements. Statements that seem to give the sense that there is no conflict. But that does not eliminate the real conflict that exists.
I happen to reside in Johns Creek, Georgia. Johns Creek only recently became a city. Before that, we were just part of Fulton County. Seeking greater control over our own outcome, we became what is now the sixth largest city in Georgia.
Immediately, we created a new conflict of interest. The residents and the commercial businesses have remained more or less the same. Excellent quality of life. One of the highest per capita incomes in the state. Excellent schools.
But we now have a new entity: Johns Creek City Government. By its own rights, the City is an entity with rights, taxing authority, policing authority, and law-making authority. That gives the city responsibilities that they must now look out for legally that may or may not be in the best interests of the residents and businesses.
Instead of merely being a proponent of the quality of life of the residents, the City develops another overriding force that must drive it: Revenues.
Revenues are the life blood of any city. Without funds they can do nothing. And over time, as any entity will do, they will learn the path of least resistance when it comes to collecting more taxes with the least resistance from its constituents.
Unfortunately, that is not necessarily good for the residents and businesses that pay these taxes directly.
As a Libertarian I believe that a smaller government that sticks to what it is supposed to be doing, and does it exceedingly well is what we need. The private sector has more than enough funds to handle the rest.
Unfortunately, before most cities start doing the things that it is charged to do, and do them exceptionally well, we have what I will call “mission creep”. The City Government, with funds flowing in from many sources, and the majority of those funds arriving annually like clock-work, find themselves faced with a challenge. Do we lower taxes across the board for all of our constituencies? Or do we find someplace else to spend these dollars?
I have written before asking where the Economies of Scale could be found? Larger cities should have greater economies of scale and be cheaper to operate. Yet they never are.
So, as a Libertarian, and as many Libertarians do, we speak out on this “Mission Creep”. We build Amphitheaters. We build convention centers. We create development authorities. We fund studies after studies to see what more we might need and could use.
Speaking out against this never ending series of additional expenses can get you labeled as “anti” everything. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I am, is “anti government doing everything”.
Understand the difference.
You see, those within government have the greatest of all incentives to grow government. It’s not the majority of the residents that want to grow government. The City Charter of Johns Creek has not changed. But what we spend our dollars on has changed since year one and are changing more and more each year. What has changed is how the City Charter is interpreted. Why?
Conflicts of interest.
Is this what we desire? To “Squeeze” every last penny we can from businesses and residents, to collect every dollar we can from other sources such as the State and Federal governments, and then spend?
Is that why we became a City? Are the Arts better off funded by the City or the private sector? Would ALTA Tennis be better off funded by the City or the private sector?
Which do you think is the best return on investment for our community? Go ask Publix or Subway or Kroger the impact of ALTA on sales every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
The answer would be Tennis, of course. And yet, in many communities, there are residents who hate paying their HOA dues which are used to resurface tennis courts. Imagine if we were using public tax dollars to fund all of this tennis.
The answer as to where the funding originates should be the same. Both the Arts and Tennis will grow faster and prosper more with the private sector providing the funds.
The City can get behind the Arts. They could suggest to the residents to get out there and support the Arts. But should they also fund the Arts with tax dollars? Not unless they also want to fund my pet interests, and your pet interests, and your neighbor’s pet interests.
For the record, I am not against Art. I am against you being forced by government to fund the Arts. And a positive return on investment is not a reason to do so. Because if we want to go that route, surely we can find something that will provide a higher return on investment. I guarantee that is possible.
But the choice is ultimately yours. Would you prefer to fund everything, or the things you choose?