Monday, October 31, 2005

State Issue1: The Enemy of My Enemy Is Not My Friend

I’ve spent loads of time talking about the RON issues, but plenty of others crowd the ballot.

Today the BJ endorsed Issue 1, Third Frontier redux. The BJ editorial outlines the three-way split for the money.

It’s hard to oppose this, mostly because of the company I find myself keeping. Issue 1 is heavily opposed, not only by pro-life dogmatists, but also by absolutist free-marketeers, and in the case of Ohio Roundtable, weird hybrids of the two.

One problem I have with the scheme is the same as those free-marketeers. I’m no fan of government money being used to enrich private businesses. The BJ notes that critics of Issue 1 “overlook the indispensable role the government has long played in the marketplace. The housing sector, for instance, benefits from the support of federal lending agencies and the mortgage-interest deduction available to homeowners in calculating their income taxes.”

And such facile statements ignore the difference between regulations and targeted incentives versus pure speculation. If the government is to enter a market, it should be with a specific goal in mind and with a specific plan. The state should not be a venture capitalist.

My second objection in the fact that once again, the question presented is raising the debt ceiling as opposed to raising actual revenue. In the current political and budget climate, this looks like a one-to-one trade-off with money for healthcare, education and public safety when the debt comes due. Advocates will point to the alleged revenues to be collected when tech booms in Ohio. Crap. Even if Third Frontier ushers in a tech renaissance, the extra revenue will be given back in tax cuts and rebates. That’s how it’s going.

Finally, it just pisses me off. If we are to be the radical free market state then we are the radical free market state. If the government is going to intervene in the economy, I want it to be in the form of something that will yield real benefits to real people. Instead we have only the bad half of the bargain. Social services are being cut to the bone, supposedly so business will stay here, but now it’s not enough. We actually have to spend some of my money to keep them here.

Count me as unimpressed. Ultimately, my vote against Issue 1 will be peevish, but in this climate, I embrace my peevishness.