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Specter of liberalism haunts Pittsburgh

By J.J. Jackson
web posted August 4, 2008

Pittsburgh is being haunted by liberalism and the city is still spending money it does not have.  A little couple weeks ago Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (D), the boy wonder, was concerned and fretting because many of his hopes and dreams were pinned to revenues projected from a new casino (being built by Don Barden) on the North Shore.  This project had not only fallen behind schedule, but is now in the process of being transferred to new owners and delayed.  Seems Mr. Barden did not have all his ducks in a row and did not have enough funding for his grand plans despite a government oversight and selection process that was supposed to pick the best candidate to build this new source of tax revenues for our liberal government.  Corruption?  Quid pro quo?  Your guess at how this man got the sole gaming license for Pittsburgh is as good as any.

This entire hullabaloo however means that future budgets may not be met if this casino does not open on time.  Oh!  Whatever will we do?

But this is typical - spending money we do not have.  Is it any surprise that a series of elected Democrats from Mayor Luke to Governor Fast Eddie Rendell would put the city in such a predicament?

I know that we, in general, as consumers are used to throwing money this way and that way ringing up our credit cards.  We are too willing to take a risk that next month, and the month after that, and then the month after that that nothing will happen to prohibit us from paying for luxury we bought today and could not afford.  It is the same mentality that got us into the whole sub-prime housing mess where people took out loans they could never reasonably assume that they would be able to pay back only to moan when it came time to pay the piper.  But should not our elected official be at least a little smarter than the average Joe?

Apparently not!  Apparently making promises based on money we do not have and mortgaging our future is something they are also willing to do.  Why shouldn't they be?  Everyone else is doing it!

Now if we remember even further back in this whole fiasco of thinking a casino would be Pittsburgh's saving grace, we remember more about how this all began.  It all started with a threat by the owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux, to leave town if a new arena to replace the decrepit Civic Arena was not built.  He even had someone willing to foot the cost of a brand spanking new place for the NHL's Eastern Conference Champions to play.  All that was needed was that the state of Pennsylvania to agree to give this investor one of the coveted, government controlled casino licenses.
Nope.  Could not do that could we?  The state must have control over who can and who cannot operate a casino in the minds of liberals.  So they decided that there could only be one license for Pittsburgh and that they had to have a selection process to determine who the state would deem worthy of such an honor.

Governor Fast Eddie Rendell and the members of the state legislature had it all figured out when they passed the law permitting slot machine parlors did they not?  So instead of an arena that would not have cost the tax payers a single penny, the government decided that Mr. Barden and his plan would win out.  Although the deal included commitments that he would foot part of the bill for a new arena, the rest would be made up with tax payer dollars.

So we got hosed before on this too because of bureaucrats who are not qualified enough to be dog catcher much less controlling businesses.  Now we see that the bureaucrats who made the determination did not do their homework on Mr. Barden, or had their palms greased by him – take your pick, because he did not have the funds to complete the project he was given!  And you trust people like this with being able to provide you health insurance?  Heck they cannot even get a casino built!

Thankfully the crisis looks to be at least partially averted.  Don Barden has moved to sell his development rights and interest in the casino (pending bureaucratic approval of course) that those in Harrisburg decreed from on high that he was best qualified to build.  And Mayor Ravenstahl was seen recently breathing sighs of relief and slumping over his desk, kissing his lucky horseshoe and uttering thanks to God – quietly however so as to make sure the ACLU would not hear him and decide to sue him for evoking the Almighty.

He is relieved because he has staved off having to explain to those that supported him where the money to pay for his promises was going to come from.  Maybe he even learned a valuable lesson.  But I doubt it.  He will still be haunted by the specter of liberalism.

All this could have been avoided if only liberty had been embraced.  If only the bureaucrats had kept their distance and let anyone who wanted to invest in a casino build one what is the worst that would have happened?  That each would have either succeed or fail based on their own prowess and demand by the public for such an endeavor?  Oh, the horror of the free-markets right?

Perhaps had the mayor embraced liberty then the lemmings that clamor at his heals looking for the crumbs he is tossing to them would not have nearly had a heart attack. ESR

J.J. Jackson is a libertarian conservative author from Pittsburgh, PA who has been writing and promoting individual liberty since 1993 and is President of Land of the Free Studios, Inc. He is the lead editor contributor to American Conservative Daily and also the founder of SignalCongress.com.  He is the owner of The Right Things - Conservative T-shirts & Gifts. His weekly commentary along with exclusives not available anywhere else can be found at http://www.libertyreborn.com.





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