By Bradley Harrington
NOTE: This column contains severe errors, which I was not made aware of until after its publication — errors which stemmed from my failure to adequately research the nature of the Wyoming “WIN” program. I am including this column here because (1) The points it makes in regard to taxpayer-funded “economic development” programs remain as valid as ever, despite the fact that Wyoming “WIN,” as it turns out, does NOT fall into that category; (2) The correction column, the next one in these blog posts that I ran in the WTE the following week, wouldn’t make any sense without reference to this piece first; and (3) Contrary to popular “journalistic” opinion, I believe that errors should be noted and retracted in just as prominent a fashion as they were originally ran. Therefore, Dear Reader, should you read this piece, I would ask you to also read the correction column next! — BTH
“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.” — Henry Hazlitt, “Economics in One Lesson,” 1946 —
Governments throughout history have always made attempts to violate the Laws of the Universe, for a variety of reasons — and, one and all, they have always failed.
They keep trying, however — and, for the latest local bureaucratic attempt to do just that , we need look no further than right here:
“A Casper company became the first example of how a new program could help small and medium-sized Wyoming businesses access capital and grow. Wyoming Invests Now – or WIN – is a crowdfunding investment opportunity exclusively for Wyoming residents and businesses … Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, whose office administers the WIN program, said it’s a historic step and an important piece of Wyoming’s economic diversification strategy.” (“Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan kicks off WIN program,” WTE, April 11.)
I have just one question, which will immediately take us to the core of the issue: “To paid for by WHOM?”
And the answer, as it always is with government “economic development” schemes, since government only has what it takes from us first, is: YOU, the taxpayer, who else?
And, if that’s the case, then we have a problem — for what we’re really doing here, through the force of the state, is SHIFTING resources not actually CREATING them — which adds absolutely nothing to our economy.
Bureaucrats keep trying to square the circle, however, and they’ve become expert at pointing to the so-called “gains” — like this attempt, for instance:
“Folks that believe in a company or idea or new technology,” Buchanan said, “are now able to fund startup businesses and allow them to raise capital in a way that’s much more accessible, but also, importantly, allows them to realize at some point in time, hopefully, a return on their investment.”
The extent to which such “investment” opportunities are funded by government, however, is the extent to which the money to pay for them has to be extracted from the taxpayers first, and here’s where all the “economic development” bureaucrats in the world always trip up when questioned on it: “What would the taxpayers have done with that money if they’d been permitted to keep it?”
And the answer? Spent it on other things, or course, such as a new washing machine, or some more groceries for the dinner table, or possibly vehicle repairs, or maybe some new shoes for the kids, or possibly savings in the bank.
In all of these cases, economic expenditures which would have been made by the taxpayers got short-circuited instead by bureaucratic theft, and none of those transactions ever materialized.
Which means: That all those sectors of the economy, which WOULD have been invested into by the taxpayers had they been allowed to keep their money, experienced downturns in their productivity as a result instead. Sorry, folks, the money’s got to come from somewhere.
So, while the bureaucrats have become quite adept at pointing to the short-term gains in ONE sector of the economy that happened to have benefited by their interventionism — McGinley Orthopedics, in this case — they fall flat on their faces when it comes to explaining the losses such policies create in the REST of the economy over longer-term periods of time. Losses which, arithmetically speaking, must at least equal the “gains” of the so-called “beneficiaries.”
In truth, however, there’s a net loss there as well — for plundered dollars never produce as well as free-floating dollars seeking their greatest rates of return. And that’s a surprise?
So, while the bureaucrats can talk a great game about their “investment” opportunities, Henry Hazlitt’s lesson kicks in and gives us the truth of the matter: Those are actually long-term losses, for the best the bureaucrats could ever hope to do, with their taxpayer funds, is fill the hole they created by the original confiscation.
And one more thing, Mr. Buchanan: “Investments” are what PRIVATE capitalists do with their surplus wealth. Government “economic diversity” operations, based in financial thuggery, do not qualify, any more than a bank robber’s vacation to Tahiti could ever be considered as an “investment” into that local community.
So, in the final analysis, what does all of this say about Wyoming “WIN”? That it’s little more than old, economically fascist wine in new interventionist bottles, meriting nothing better than to be poured down the nearest drain.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on April 15, 2018. FURTHER NOTE: There is no link here because this column was removed from the WTE’s website due to its errors, errors already noted above. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.