Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Editorial: Selling buildings is a terrible idea

I agree with the unnamed Courier editor today, this part of the budget plan is dead stupid for a number of reasons. But he clearly doesn't understand them.

As I pointed out in July, where the budget seems to authorize selling the buildings, what the state would really be doing is pawning them. It would retain control of the properties in what would amount to secured loans with open repayment. (Notice that Treasurer Martin called it a "mortgage." That's more accurate, but still a bit misleading.) Eventually we would buy them back, paying substantial interest, and the "buyers" (lenders) would make a bundle on essentially no risk. I haven't been able to determine what would happen if a building is damaged in the meantime, say by fire. Presumably the specific contract would take care that, but I'll bet a buck the taxpayers wind up holding that bag as well.

So any deal like this would result long-term in a large net loss of state funds into the pockets of the bankers. Anyone with a lick of street smarts knows that once you're at the pawn counter, you're on the ragged edge of impoverishment, and those three balls mean it's two-to-one you'll never get your stuff back at all.

So what sort of dummy would write such a no-win provision into law? This came to the legislature from extreme-right elements in the bureaucracy, supported in the legislature by bottom-feeders who are working every angle they can to kill off government. They're also insisting on major business tax cuts, so it has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility.

Presumably the editor has more and better information resources than I do, and this isn't hard to figure out. Reading past someone else's headlines would be very helpful in putting together an editorial position that properly informs the voters.

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