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On the West Coast, good news about corporate welfare

February 6, 2012 - Mike Maneval
Good news from California came last week, according to Steven Greenhut of Reason magazine: A byzantine system of corporate welfare, particularly egregious because of its history of abusing property rights through eminent domain, sustained a considerable blow and is, in Greenhut's words, "kaput."

An earlier article from Greenhut detailed how the soon-to-be-defunct redevelopment agencies of California allowed the well-connected to use state authority to harass and pressure homeowners into selling and chose specially favored economic sectors in communities - amusement park and shopping mall developers, among others - to reap the benefits of these sales. Greenhut alludes to the revenues and time the owners of small businesses diverted from expansion and growth to fighting local and state bureaucracies over their property rights. "I've seen how this redevelopment process has distorted the market and made it more difficult for people without political connections to pursue their businesses and their dreams," Greenhut writes.

Tim Cavanaugh, also writing for Reason in January, reported on the remaining legacy of the decades-long program of private-public partnership: A $30 billion debt for which the state's taxpayers ultimately will pay, in one way or another. Cavanaugh adroitly notes that as of 2010, even as California's 425 redevelopment agencies knew revenues were slipping, the bodies still increased spending by 16 percent, and that the agencies deployed euphemisms and vagaries to mask the increasing percentage of their budgets consumed by interest on debt.

Between the disservice to many constituents whose professional contributions are shunned through public aid and accomodation to a select few of their competitors, the expanding debt the agencies leave for all constituents and the disengenious image of their financial health the agencies presented, their slow abolition through completion of projects under way and retiring of debts almost certainly is good news.


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