Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Implications of Selling the Summit

In an effort to reduce the city's budget deficit, Mayor Ma Parker wants to sell the facility formerly known as the Summit to Lakewood Church for $7.5 million. The Chronicle has endorsed the deal, and for that reason alone I am opposed.

I am not going to bother to examine the facts of the situation. That would require some research, as well as an identification of the principles involved. And frankly, I really don't have time for that. Since I often disagree with the Chronicle's position on an issue, I will conclude that that is also the case here. Not only does this save me time to do today's crossword puzzle, it shows that I am very consistent.

Rather than sell the property, I think that the city should milk it for more revenues. Lakewood is the nation's largest church, and it seems to me that there are untapped revenue sources here. Abandoning any pretense at having given this much thought, I would suggest that the city send squads of police officers to the area each Sunday. I suspect that they would find expired automobile registrations, people who aren't wearing their seat belts, and other excuses for writing tickets. Not only would these scofflaws get their just due, the city could raise oodles of money. Praise Jesus!

The city could also send hordes of the homeless to the area and equip them with signs reading things like "Homeless, but concerned about the city's budget deficit" and "I don't want to work, but I will beg to help the city's budget deficit". The city could split any donations received with the beggars (after deducting the cost of the signs, of course). This is a complete win-win-win. The homeless get some easy beer money; the city gets some badly needed revenue; and Lakewood's parishioners get an opportunity to donate to a worthy cause. Do I hear an amen?

Some may argue that the city could sell the property and still follow my suggestions. That may be true, but so what? As I said previously, I haven't given this much thought, and I'm not about to start now.

The Chronicle argues that the city should sell the property now, rather than waiting for the current lease to expire in 23 years. This, the paper claims, is financially prudent. While I would agree, I fail to see why the city should start being concerned about sound financial decisions. To do so would require city officials to reconsider programs such as Houston Hope and improving the energy efficiency of private homes, not to mention getting out of the water and sanitation businesses. (Oops, I mentioned it.) Why bust up a streak of imprudent decisions that goes back for decades?

Selling properties that have nothing to do with the city government's only legitimate purpose--protecting individual rights--might set a dangerous precedent. If city officials began to think in principles, they might realize that the city should also sell libraries and parks, divest itself of its interest in sports stadiums, and get rid of most of the property it owns. Sure, this would raise scads of cash and allow the city to slash its budget (and therefore taxes), but that would also give Houstonians more control over their own money, and therefore their own lives. And I have reason to believe that ceding such power would be more than most city officials could bear.

And, if city officials really thought about it further and decided to be really, really principled, they would then start repealing ordinances that violate individual rights, like business regulations and controls on land-use. How could we possibly function, let alone prosper, if the city left us alone to act according to our own judgment (so long as we respect the mutual rights of others)?

Selling the facility formerly known as the Summit is a bad idea. It might lead to some crazy consequences, like individual freedom.

P.S.: This post was written on Wednesday morning, before the city agreed to sell the facility formerly known as the Summit. Hopefully, they will reconsider in light of the points made in this post.

P.S.S.: This April Fool's Day post is satirical. Selling the facility formerly known as the Summit is a good idea, and so is selling most of the city's other properties.


Rational Education said...

Happy April Fool's day! Fantastic satire...made my day! Thanks.

Brian Phillips said...

Thanks Jasmine. I even made myself laugh writing the post.