Provo’s Subsidies to Local Businesses

Provo’s mayor and city council have together articulated a statist vision for our city’s future since 2011 through both Vision 2030 and Vision 2050—and, despite changes in our city’s officers over these last 7 years, our current ones are still seeking to transform this same statist vision into reality.

This vision includes subsidizing politically-favored business activity, including local relocations, startups, and/or expansions (see Vision 2030 5.4.2, 9.1.2, 9.3.2; Vision 2050 6.2.4, 6.3.2, 6.8.4).  Mayor Kaufusi polled some residents during her campaign last year about what sorts of businesses they want to open franchises within our city, and she presumably considered this input to compose a “shopping list” of business chains to target.  And, at Provo’s recent city-sponsored Tech Summit, its city-employed moderator, while soliciting ideas about what Provo could do to help startups, was even bold enough to ask local entrepreneurs, “Do you want us to give out free money?” (see the city’s official YouTube recording of this event from 13:02 to 13:32).  Thankfully, none of those attendees dared to say “yes” in response to this offer, but this incident illustrates how interested our current city officers are in redistributing our hard-earned money as they please—if only they can only identify willing recipients.

Providing financial assistance to businesses should not be mandatory but voluntary.  If an economic cause is truly worth funding, then it shouldn’t be hard to persuade enough people to freely choose to finance it.  Such generosity (whether for business causes or for personal ones) is generally laudable and strengthens our charity, whereas theft may allow our charity to atrophy, even if such theft is perpetrated in the false guise of “compassion.”

And I don’t use the word theft figuratively but quite literally.  It’s important for us to understand the innate difference between forcibly taking and freely giving.  If I go to a park where I see a homeless man and feel compassion for him and give him $20 and maybe a job offer, then that’s a virtuous act of charity.  If I go to a park where a homeless man sees me and puts a gun to my head and demands that I give him $20, then that’s a corrupt act known as theft.  Some people may struggle to see much difference between these two incidents, since the same amount of money is transferred from the same person to the same person in each case, but those similarities are only superficial, whereas the underlying differences involved are profound, as are the long-term effects on both parties.  The latter is not only a genuine sin but also a genuine crime—it’s an act of aggression, against which we’re justified in defending ourselves.  And, in defending ourselves, we’re also justified in calling upon other people to help us with that task, from bystanders to hired bodyguards to taxpayer-funded police officers.  Assisting us with our self-defense is the ONLY proper role of any political system, and politicians violate that role whenever they side with aggressors instead.  And aggression doesn’t change its fundamental nature simply by becoming both popular and legal.   Robbery remains robbery, whether a lone gunman helps himself to what’s in our wallet, or whether he lobbies a politician to legally do the same thing legally on his behalf.  And  also whether the armed robber is an unemployed homeless man who wants some spare change or an otherwise-respectable local businessperson who wants some extra dollars in his coffers whether people want to donate those funds or not.

Since such legalized plunder is being actively promoted and/or solicited by our current array of city officers, we would do well to retire them all as quickly as possible, and to uphold successors who will not only respect our rightful liberty but also expertly help us to defend it.  This isn’t a task that we can each do alone, so please go try to persuade your neighbors to both cherish and understand freedom, while preparing them to vote better both this year and beyond.  And, if your find our Free Provo website helpful in this regard, then please make the most of it.


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