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Boon or Boondoggle?

First of all I’d like to wish Matt Doherty the best of luck in his upcoming mayoral campaign. I like Matt. With the exception of Merry Brennan, who regrettably stepped down a few weeks ago, Matt seems to be the only member of our governing body who actually will entertain views opposing his own when they are raised. The others seem content to simply wait out objections coming from the citizenry like a rain delay at a baseball game. When the rain ends the game resumes.

That being said, I hope Mr. Doherty can open his mind even further as it seems that his instincts contradict some basic economic principles, and, like his colleagues on Belmar’s governing body, the freedom of his constituents to be left alone, and to spend their money the way they want, is so low down the totem pole as a priority that it’s the part that’s underground.

In yesterday’s Asbury Park Press he states that he will rewrite the redevelopment plan even though the old plan was a “great” plan (but only great on paper, you see). I still remember the original plan. That one had alot of paper too. Though I’m sure it, too, was a great plan, the only development we’ve seen from that was to have an active Chevy dealership develop into two vacant lots. (Oh, but we love what they’ve done with those vacant lots. They really are beautiful vacant lots) I guess this was part of the mayor’s plan to “get us out of our cars”.

Please, all these super fantastical plans are killing us. CENTRAL PLANNING DOES NOT WORK. The evidence and history is overwhelming, but politicians from Belmar to Trenton to Washington refuse to see it. They refuse to see it because planning is so much fun. The right thing to do would be to let the people who created their wealth control their wealth. But they think that we are all too stupid to know the best way to use our wealth. They think they have been granted superior intellect by the heavens and only they know the best way to spend our money. That is why when the government dictates development it is called “smart growth”. I guess when we control our own property, well, that’s dumb growth. Well I say that whatever we may want to spend our money on, be it tires, our children’s education, a business expansion, or cigarettes and beer, it should be our decision.

Not only is planning immoral because it denies people the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, it is bad economic policy. When our politicians point to our beautiful new dock and restaurant or our fancy new streetlights they say look at all the wonderful things we have made. But what is unseen is what that money would have bought if it had not been appropriated by them. They don’t see the hairdresser doing fewer hairdos, or the tire dealer selling fewer tires, or investments that aren’t made. They only see what they have created. They do not see what they have destroyed. They think that their intellect and life experience can replace the combined intellect and life experience of millions of people. It doesn’t work. Nobody is smart enough to do that.

On a recent episode of his show, John Stossel contrasts the economic health of the freewheeling city of Houston with that of Cleveland, where the government planners run things. Houston is a healthy, vibrant city. Cleveland is a mess. The planners in Cleveland told the people that new stadiums and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would bring tourists and revitalize downtown (sound familiar?). The same things were said about Camden with it’s aquarium and battleship. In either of these planned cities you can walk a few blocks away from the politicians’ monuments to themselves and find the rest of the city in ruins. The seen and the unseen.

All of the candidates are for low taxes but you wouldn’t know it by looking at their actions. How is it possible that taxes will be reduced and Belmar made more affordable (for our children, you see) by borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for all these super fantastic projects? Remember we have to pay this money back someday, with interest.

I have news for the planners. Our children will not stay around and pay the debts we are incurring. They will leave. Maybe for Houston.

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