POLITICAL: A useless skating rink

Received an email from a fellow Jasper. Space in the Jasper Jottings blog is limited and I wanted to expound more.

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RE: Skating rink in VC

>Do you ever take your ideological blinders off and think of the positive possibilities of government projects
> like the Van Cortlandt Park skating rink right near Manhattan College?

The problem with Socialists is they can always find the beneficiaries of their policies, but they can’t, won’t, or don’t see those that are being penalized. I can only say “Broken Glass Fallacy”.


“In short, the broken window (and the boy who broke it) did not provide any net benefit to the town, but rather made the town poorer by at least the value of one window, if not more.”

In this case, the politician Bloomberg has “decided” that a skating rink should be built. Ignoring that a private skating rink, a few blocks away, went out of business. That private one’s failure was the invisible hand of the market declaring that it was not needed. If it had been, it would have found willing buyers of its services willing to pay for it, (and, by implication), valued it higher than the alternative uses for that amount of money.

The beauty of the price mechanism is it PEACEFULLY forces people to make choices. No external force required of a “government”. No extraction of wealth by theft. Just people peacefully deciding that they want this but not that. In a world of scarce resource, no one can have it all! So, someone can go ice skating or to the movies. The movies win and the rink looses. And entrepreneurs supply more movies and less ice rinks. Doesn’t say that movies are “good” and rinks are “bad”. It’s just that people are making “choices” or “decisions”, and the free market is peacefully allocating the resources to create the maximum satisfaction.

One of the problems that the Socialists have is “the calculation problem”. That is how do you decide this and not that. Or that and not this. The free market does it with pricing. And, humans making economic decisions. It’s like a continuous voting process. And, it is done quickly efficiently and peacefully. It’s a thing of beauty.

And, remember, you just can ask people. Everyone will want a “free” skating rink. And, everyone can imagine benefits from it.

Austrian economists have said it much better than I can. I like the formulation of a basic principle from the TV show “House”: “People lie”. Ask and people can and will tell you anything. But ask them to spend their weath, there’s an absolute measurable true indication of how much they value something.

So, in the free market, we have a giant computing engine, better than the Jeopardy champion Watson, continuously calculating “maximum satisfaction”.

Because the cost of this skating rink is divided up by millions of people, we don’t see those penalized by it. 250k$/25M NY taxpayers = a few cents each. But maybe they’d rather spend their money the way they see fit. Rather than have it extracted by force by Bloomberg for a rink that has not made economic sense in the past.

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Surely there will be talented ice skaters among future students at Manhattan who would not have had the chance to develop their inherent skills if not for the nearby rink. Think of an Olympic champion from Manhattan College and not the loss of a place for another high rise or high priced restaurant or strip joint that free enterprise might have put in its place.

*** end quote ***

But maybe that potential champion has deprived a thousand families of an affordable place to live?

See the problem with political decisions is that there is no “yardstick” for measuring. That’s the problem with “rent control”, zoning, diktats, and regulations. They distort the free market. And, by building the rink, we will never know what the true cost of it was. Maybe God can tell us at the Final Judgement.

*** begin quote ***

Where I live private enterprise has built an ultra-modern gambling casino while downtown needs more development to put it mildly.

*** end quote ***

Well, it’s really NOT “private enterprise” in a truly free market sense. It’s political as well. Gambling is highly regulated. So some politician has “decided” that the casino can be built. It’s wasn’t an entrepreneur risking his capital to satisfy his Customers.

“Downtown development” — could it be that high taxes make development “uneconomical”? If, for example, Detroit zeroed out it’s taxes and relied on fees for services, I’d bet you’d see a “gold rush” there. But, Gooferment thinks it knows best. “Development” means a political feeding frenzy where politicians, bureaucrats, and their toadies make out like the bandits they really are.

*** begin quote ***

Gambling addiction has become a major problem which the government needs to address … …

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Gambling, like drug addiction, can’t be “addressed” by government. Unless you let them just kill the addicts. Didn’t China try that a few times? The death penalty for vices and those that trade off them.

As you know us little L libertarians want to legalize all drugs. Like it once was in America, before women got the vote and thought they could legislate sobriety and birthed organized crime. And, in a funny unintended consequence, expand the amount of drinking that Americans did.

I remember reading that the natural rate of addiction is 10%. No matter what you do, 10% of the population will be addicted. Look at the Gooferment’s own prisons. They can’t keep drugs out of there. It’s a MEDICAL PROBLEM. So why don’t we treat it as such. Put WalMart in charge of drug distribution. (Or, Walgreens, CVS, or such.) Estimates say that currently illegal drugs will be as cheap as aspirin. (Think about the soon to be poor Drug Kingpins and Gangs trading on human misery. What will they do when the huge flow of ill gotten gains dries up.) Look at Budwiser and Miller, no need to have turf war, with shots fired. Maybe a drug addict can even hold a job and support their habit. And, the huge expenditures on police, courts, and prisons can be put to better uses. Like research and treatment. And, since it will now be “legal”, it will be “un kool”. So the youth won’t be lure into trying it.

*** begin quote ***

while the public sector is already scraping for funds to keep the roads paved.

*** end quote ***

And, “paved roads” are a struggle because providing services to people is NOT what Gooferment wants to do; reward friends, punish enemies, and feather nests. Why doesn’t Disney World have trouble paving its roads?

The Blob (i.e., politicians, bureaucrats, and their toadies) always cut the public facing service and then wail they have no money. The FIRST thing that entrenched politicians and bureaucrats do is cut services to the people. It is a sham. A pretense. A fraud. Did they cut the internal costs? How many honchos and hangers-on did they nuke?

And, why do we let the Gooferment run the roads any way?

*** begin quote ***

Please think about the long term ramifications of your libertarian policies. I do not think you would really like the outcome.

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I’d like to try some little L libertarian policies. I think it would be great. Unfortunately, there are criminal gangs in fancy costumes with high fluting words and fancy flags occupying the ground. But, as more and more humans understand, they can identify a critical meme.

Government is the meme that enslaves and kills us.

# # # # # posted 2011-02-20 17:50

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