Wednesday, November 15, 2017

#TXLEGE: Straus' loathsome "economic competitiveness" dog and pony show: Lawlessness, Crony Capitalism, and Spending....

"Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."
1 Corinthians 15:34

[Note: You can view the hearing yourself here.]

Team Straus' disgraceful effort to grandstand over "economic competitiveness" held it's first (of two) hearings today.  It began with a textbook example of the lawlessness that has plagued the House the past couple sessions.  Check out what happened to Matt Rinaldi:
The House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness, chaired by retiring State Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), told State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) that he was not allowed to ask any questions or testify during today’s committee hearing.

“Clearly they aren’t confident in their ability to defend their position,” Rinaldi said in response.
“Being told by a committee that my district would not be extended the basic courtesy of a voice in this process is disappointing, but not unexpected, given the past practices of House leadership. I tried to give this committee the benefit of the doubt, but it is clear that they already know what their findings will be, and there is no intention of deliberation or a pursuit of the facts.

“I wish we had a real opportunity to discuss all perspectives on important economic drivers for our state, but this committee has made it clear that a diversity of views is not welcome. They have the result planned, now it’s just a matter of putting on a show to publish those results.”

As to the hearing itself, it was a mix of the usual cliches and rent-seeking that you hear at these types of events.  Lots of talk about crony capitalism ("incentives!") and spending ("education!").  And, of course, plenty of fraudulent fear mongering over the Texas privacy act.

The most astounding aspect of the whole thing was the number of representatives they had bragging about the alleged economic benefit of professional sports.  This in spite of the fact that the national NFL protests have re-ignited a national discussion of the various subsidies the industry receives.  This seems slightly...tone deaf at best.

Dallas ?!? owner Mark Cuban proclaimed the need to spend prodigious sums on the education status quo.  Cuban would include pre-K "without question."  Cuban also spouted the usual cliches about economic doom and gloom from the Texas Privacy act.

The CEO of the Dallas Stars, a lifelong sports executive, tried to claim that "over 500 million" people have attended events at arenas he has managed without a bathroom assault. In the next sentence, he admitted that major public events at large arenas have above average security on hand. He also claimed "sports plays an oversized role" in how a community is percieved for economic purposes. Actually, it doesn't, but that was still a very revealing statement about ego.  At this point, we simply need to ask: how's pushing left-wing social policies working out for the NFL?!?

The mayor of Frisco bragged about having 6 sports team having office or practice space in the city.  He explained "you can't put a dollar figure" on having the Dallas Cowboys practice facility.  Actually, you can:
The site features a unique partnership among the Cowboys, the city of Frisco and Frisco ISD. They are sharing the costs on 20 acres for The Ford Center at The Star. The 12,000-seat indoor stadium will hold team practices as well as high school football games and other city and school events.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that the city and the school district "bought into our vision of joining at the hip."

The stadium -- along with two outdoor practice fields for the Cowboys and an underground parking garage -- make up the city-owned portion of the development. And while the city retains ownership, the Cowboys will handle all the maintenance and operations at the site.

On Tuesday, the price tag for that city-owned portion climbed to $261.6 million with approval by the Frisco City Council. The city's contribution in The Star is capped at $60 million while the school district put in $30 million.
Beyond the fixation on the exaggerated economic impact of professional sports, the most notable discussion surrounded incentives.  Committee chairman Byron Cook, the soon-to-be-former state representative [Note: Doesn't that feel good to type.], seemed determined to prove that "incentive" packages aren't corporate welfare.  Several witnesses claimed incentives would be unnecessary in a perfect world, but "in the real world" we've got to have them or else other states will take away all of Texas' rent-seeking crony capitalists.

That being said, Ross Perot Jr. (who is apparently a big deal in Dallas crony capitalist circles) unintentionally made a strong case against the policy.  Perot spoke of the need for "flexibility" in incentive packages because "these industries are changing so fast."  That's actually a fantastic reason for the government not engage this activity in the first place.

A few more observations:
  • Apparently, the Republican Governor's Association is meeting in town today. Obviously, that means today's hearing was deliberately timed to embarrass Governor Abbott while the Vice President is in town.  This website's issues with Governor Abbott aren't a secret, but we appreciate his response:

  • Lots of cliches about "education" and "workforce development" which is code for dramatic increases in spending.
Bottom Line: Barf bag.

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