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Friday, November 15, 2013

Walker's Concern For Casino Communities Losing Jobs Rings Hollow

Just expanding on a story I saw posted at the Democurmudgeon about Gov. Scott Walker's apparent concern for job losses in Wisconsin communities if another casino is added to the state's gaming inventory.

Remember that earlier in the Kenosha casino debacle, John Torinus, "a respected expert in economic development," recommended that Walker tread carefully because building a new casino in Kenosha will not help fulfill his political aspirations to create 250,000 jobs. In what appears to be a concession to that failure, Walker now seems to focus on providing possible restitution for communities that suffer adverse effects from the development. That's odd.

Thing is, Walker's concern about the loss of casino jobs in other parts of the state if another casino is built would have some merit, but only IF he had the same level of concern for Wisconsin communities that had their businesses and jobs shifted away not from free market pressures – but through government action.

Not to stray too far away here, but whether from tax credit zones pushed by local business lobbies, WEDC hand-outs or local governments offering TIF cash and forgivable loans, many Wisconsin businesses are displaced from one Wisconsin community to the next by the strong hand of government, and often with zero net new jobs. On top of that, these government prompted "incentive" packages come without any remedial adjustment to the community that lost jobs. With the end result usually being employees that must now travel greater distances to their new location, while the business owner/political donor pocketing the capital incentives comes out smelling like roses. How's that for the free markets?

But talk about casino communities losing jobs to another casino community through openly competitive growth, and the mighty hand of centralized state government has to intervene once again.

I find Walker’s position to be the exact opposite of what should be. In my view, state government should be working to prevent local communities from using their modest tax treasuries to cannibalize each other's existing businesses. Collective power and the revenue caches it builds are not a free market commodity.

Yet outside of charter agreements, revenue compacts, local zoning and ordinances, government should have no hand in internal decisions regarding the competitive free will of private and independent entities such as casino tribes, labor unions or major league sports. The free markets they’re operating in are their own and should only come to an end if and when they price themselves out of the market. That's how I see it.

Just for the record, I'm not a fan of casinos, but nor the use of government power to effect their existence. But I am a big fan of good government promoting free market solutions. I know. Idealist me.

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