Thursday, March 30, 2017

“Time Is Running Out” -- Courant

Milton Friedman once said, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.” If you put socialists in charge of countries, you soon will create shortages of toilet paper, which is the case in Venezuela, reduced to rubble by Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolás Maduro. No one was surprised last week when Bloomberg announced that rich Venezuelans are fleeing the country – now an economic desert – for more profitable ventures elsewhere: “Wealthy Venezuelans Are Seeking Haven in Madrid."

Something similar is happening in Connecticut. Tax money “invested” by Governor Dannel Malloy in Connecticut businesses is not working to create a welcoming business environment. “Once again, a Connecticut company making a major investment in its digital business has been lured by another state offering tax breaks and the chance to succeed in a big city,” the Hartford Courant tells us. This time it’s United Technologies (UTC), which recently “spun off” Sikorsky, an iconic Connecticut company sold a few months back to Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland – which is more remote than Hartford, Connecticut, for the time being the headquarters of UTC. “United Technologies Corporation is looking to expand into New York City,” according to the Courant story, “UTC Picks New York City For $300 Million Expansion.”

Pouring over Malloy’s past campaign memorabilia, one finds Malloy inveighing against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican infested with noxious conservative notions. But the Governor of New York, a state now pirating Connecticut jobs, is Andrew Cuomo – progressive Democrat. Job pilfering is not hampered by political predispositions. Connecticut’s income tax, Malloy’s two massive tax increases, the state’s regulatory miasma, a predisposition to settle any state debt through revenue increases, increased borrowing or – a default position for the Big Spenders in the General Assembly – transferring debt to municipalities, all this has leveled the economic playing field between Connecticut and competing, contiguous states. Put it this way: Connecticut government is not UConn women’s basketball team. The state’s government, never willing to bite the spending bullet, has become, to employ a phrase made memorable by former President Barack Obama, a JV team, unable to compete with other states that know – Connecticut has a spending problem.    

“Antsy” might be a suitable word to describe the Courant’s present unsettled state. Mention the paper in the local bar or diner and the response is instantaneous: The state is what it is because the Courant is what it is. From 1991, the year that Governor Lowell Weicker draped an income tax about the necks of Connecticut citizens, abolishing a competitive no-income tax edge that had attracted businesses from contiguous states, until very recently, the paper’s prescription for deepening debt was to raise taxes, a solution that satisfied both state public employee union representatives and politicians who did not want to alienate their deep pocket political contributors. The political slogan – Connecticut doesn’t have a spending problem; it has a revenue problem – was hammered out in the paper’s editorial smithy and soon found its way into the Democratic Party’s arsenal of campaign weaponry. Result: increased spending, increased taxes, increased debt and increased business and entrepreneurial flight.

Following a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, the Courant discovered that Connecticut is losing population: “The Census Bureau previously reported that nearly 30,000 more people moved out of Connecticut than moved in from July 2015 to July 2016. The most recent data show that the Hartford and Bridgeport metro areas together lost a net total of about 20,000 residents to other metros. The New Haven-Milford metro area lost about 6,800.”

Things are getting serious, and the state’s serious problems demand a serious response: “It’s up to the state’s civic leaders to halt the exodus and make Connecticut a place [where] people want to live. Loss of population means loss of jobs, loss of tax revenue, less money for schools and social services, depressed real estate prices, more pressure on government to raise taxes — and potentially fewer representatives in Congress, all of which would provide even more encouragement for people to leave the state.”

The Courant’s editorial ends on a note of cautionary doom: “Time is running out.”

Indeed, unmentioned by the Courant as possible contributory  causes to this the winter of our discontent are excessive borrowing to pay down debt, the raiding of so called lock-boxes and dedicated funds to balance perpetually out of balance state budgets, costly “remedies” imposed by courts on legislators to achieve racial balance – defined as classes that are 25 percent white – in Hartford schools, the constant and unremitting appeasement of state employee unions by dominant Democrats in the General Assembly, the reflexive resort to tax and fee increases to balance budgets, inflated revenue projections to liquidate budget deficits on paper,  and – most especially – the absence of serious attempts to cut spending permanently.     

Cut spending, cut regulations. Time is running out.

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