By Bradley Harrington
“If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” — Will Rogers, “The Manly Wisdom of Will Rogers,” 2001 —
Just when many of us have been thinking that it was well-nigh impossible for our local elected officials to slam any more doors on either fiscal integrity or common sense, up pops this story to prove us all wrong:
“The Laramie County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday [June 5] to approve an unconditional pledge of $600,000 to help subsidize a new commercial airline at Cheyenne Regional Airport … The funds will combined with another $600,000 from the Cheyenne City Council, $200,000 in federal funding and, possibly, $580,000 from the state’s Air Service Enhancement Program once a carrier contract is solidified.” (“Laramie County commissioners approve $600,000 for air service,” WTE, June 6.)
While all five commissioners approved this financial thuggery, however, two of them — Troy Thompson and Buck Holmes — were quoted in the story as having “apprehensions”:
“‘This is a lot of money,’ Thompson said. ‘It is the taxpayers’ money, and we need to take these decisions very seriously.’”
Really, Mr. Thompson? Where was your concern for “taxpayer money” two years ago, when you were busy stacking the Sixth-Penny grouping deck in favor of bloated government waste? Remember this?:
“‘When you look at a big $7 million project in there like the (Cheyenne) city (gymnasium and indoor sports facility) — when you add those big projects to a group, I think that puts them in jeopardy,’ said County Commissioner Troy Thompson. ‘But by adding public safety in those groups, it makes the groups more appealing to voters.’” (“Cheyenne, Laramie County projects packaged for sixth penny ballot,” WTE, Oct. 28, 2016.)
So, Mr. Thompson, please forgive me for viewing your “apprehensions” as little more than election-year sloganeering. It’s great to fill the room with your “conservative” hot air, but the facts tell a different story.
As for Mr. Holmes, his “apprehensions” allegedly center on his “faith in the free market”: “‘It bothers me when we have to subsidize, but I look at this as seed money,’ Holmes said. ‘If you don’t plant the seed, you won’t have any crop.’”
Really, Mr. Holmes? Speaking of “subsidizing” and “crops,” according to the Environmental Working Group’s farm subsidy database, it looks like you’ve received about $111,137 in USDA subsidies from taxpayers for your R Bar H Ranch operations (1999-2013, inclusive), (www.ewg.org). I guess “free” markets ARE good, as long as YOU aren’t the one paying for it! Or, would it be better to just say that one subsidy seems to breed another? More hot air.
Nor, Dear Readers, does it appear that we’re quite done yet with gathering up all the airline loot to be had — since Wendy Volk’s “CRAFT” (“Cheyenne Regional Air Focus Team”) has now crossed the line from begging to plundering:
“CRAFT is also requesting another $100,000 from the Cheyenne-Laramie County Economic Development Joint Powers Board.”
Shucks, folks, is there anybody else out there with some deep taxpayer pockets that we haven’t managed to raid yet? Instead of referring to this group as “CRAFT,” wouldn’t it be more appropriate to call it “Hacks Engaging In Stealing and Thieving” (“HEIST”) instead?
Volk, however, appears to have all the answers: “A lack of reliable air service has been identified as one of the top barriers to economic diversification in Wyoming,” she said. “Businesses are reluctant to relocate to a large rural state like Wyoming without passenger air service.”
Very well, Mrs. Volk, we get that. For both you and all your other fellow “HEIST”ers, however, would you mind answering a few other questions as well?
Questions like: If you think your ideas are so economically viable, why aren’t you out there working to convince banks and/or other investors of that viability? If your ideas regarding air travel in Cheyenne would actually WORK, shouldn’t somebody be stepping up to the plate to make a profit on them? Why, instead, are you all seeking to implement your ideas through force, i.e., government force?
My guess would be that, implicitly or explicitly, each and every one of you understands that there’s very real economic reasons why such an air adventure WON’T work in this marketplace — so you therefore reach for your guns because it’s the only method left for your purposes.
If you people want to make something happen, how about giving a larger amount of YOUR money to your cause? Or starting up your own airline? Or working towards getting a market-based airline in here through the old-fashioned methods of convincing and persuading?
Now THAT would be a true “free market,” and the only way any business in Cheyenne should ever get done.
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 June 17, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.