Friday, October 9, 2009

Gene Locke and Legalized Plunder

Mayoral candidate Gene Locke currently finds himself accused of a conflict of interest. He has served as counsel for the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority (HCHSA), which is currently attempting to get a taxpayer funded stadium for the Dynamos. (HT: blogHouston) Locke will get to appoint six members to the sports authority, and his law firm would benefit from any legal work it does for the HCHSA.

Some have questioned whether Locke has been using his position to lobby for campaign donations, which would be illegal. Locke denies this, claiming that he has done no legal work for HCHSA since he started his campaign. Musings however, posts a time line that shows differently. And Slampo's Place posts:

For what it's worth, Locke's latest campaign finance disclosure lists a $3,000 donation from California billionaire Phillip F. Anschutz of Anschutz Entertainment Group, 50-percent owner of the Dynamo and would-be promoter of the now-canceled but once-upcoming Michael Jackson tour. Locke reported receiving another $2,500 from Dynamo co-owner Brener Sports & Entertainment of Beverly Hills (the corporate PAC, we assume, although it's not listed as such) and $2,000 more from Brener-associated Oscar De La Hoya, a "self-employed boxer" from Los Angeles (and one of our favorite fighters of the past couple of decades) who has been reported to have some ownership interest in the local major-league soccer franchise. We know these are wholly meaningless and random acts of generosity and that all of these California-based parties are simply interested in enabling GOOD GOVERNMENT in Houston, Texas.
I am personally not concerned about who donates to Locke's campaign. The wealthy have every right to spend their money as they choose, and that includes financing political campaigns. What concerns me is that government is even involved in the "sports authority" business.

If government were limited to its proper function--protecting individual rights--this would not be an issue. (Nor would a myriad other issues that has everyone all hot and bothered, like light rail and the Ashby High Rise). But when government extends beyond this function, all sorts of looters start lining up to feed at the public trough. This is the story that everyone is missing.

When government involves itself in things like sports stadiums, those who have a vested interest seek to curry political favor. And those with the ability to dispense political favors will naturally scratch the back of those who are scratching theirs.

The solution isn't more transparency. We already know that PACs and other pressure groups spend enormous sums of money to influence legislation. The solution isn't campaign finance reform. Individuals and businesses have a moral right to support the candidates of their choice with whatever sums of money they choose. The solution is to restrict the reach of government.

Locke is claiming that any decisions he makes as mayor will be in the best interest of "the public". But "the public" does not speak with one voice on the Dynamo's stadium, light rail, or any other issue. Which means, Locke (or whomever is elected) will decide what is best for everyone, and then impose that view on all Houstonians.

Politicians who invoke the "public welfare" believe that they know what is best for you, me, and every other Houstonian. We are simply too ignorant to know it. This is precisely the attitude that underlies government support for sports stadiums--we are too "selfish" to voluntarily support such an endeavor, so they will force us to do so.

I have nothing against billionaires. But I horribly resent anyone who thinks he has a right to take my money for his benefit. The size of his bank account, nor the number of political supporters he can gather, does not change the fact that he is a thief. And I harbor even greater resentment at the politicians who enable this legalized plunder.

Any politician who must justify any proposal or policy on the basis of the "public welfare" or the "common good" or anything similar is simply seeking to rationalize legalized robbery of the citizenry. Where I come from, taking money from someone without his consent is theft, and that is precisely what Locke and his ilk propose to do.


Rational Education said...

Another extraordinary post!
Reading this post would greatly help the thinking of a great many of those who think corruption is the problem and never seek the cause -abrogation of individual rights. That type of thinking in turn brings in campaign finance reform laws like the McCain-Feingold, in hopes that that will solve our problems in the political arena!


Brian Phillips said...

Thanks Jasmine--
When government starts violating individual rights, we get all of these seemingly irreconcilable conflicts. And, as you note, that leads to more violations of rights.