Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Horizon: Howie Fischer on Mayor Gordon's downtown expansion: "At some point this is becoming socialism"

Last Friday night's Journalists' Roundtable on Horizon was actually worth watching (should appear here soon). Since one of the journalists was Amanda Crawford from the Republic, who is so far to the left she looks like she's falling off the side of the table, Howie Fischer had to go out of his way more than usual to throw in conservative arguments so there would be some debate.

One of the discussion topics was Mayor Phil Gordon's never ending plans to have government build things downtown. Mike Sunnucks noted that the government has already paid for hotels, stadiums, the convention center, and the AZ Center downtown, now he wants to pay to have all of ASU move downtown. A cynical friend of mine observed why doesn't the government just start paying for bars too? (like the book 1984) Fischer said there is a slippery slope between cities giving businesses incentives to build and the government managing the economy like a government-run Eastern European country and we know how well that works. Sunnucks pointed out that subsidies to sports teams and developers are hurting small businesses which are the engine of our economy; why are we favoring one type of business over another. Most of the subsidies given away by government in Arizona are to big developers and biotech. Crawford responded with a classic far left line: "We need to give artists subsidies to move here." Huh? And how is that supposed to help the economy?

There was a discussion of the latest security breach at the Palo Verde nuclear station run by APS. A guy brought a pipe bomb into the plant in the back of his truck. APS has already been disciplined several times for security breaches, how long is this inept government-subsidized company going to continue to jeopardize the safety of Arizonans as it gouges us for costs? The Nuclear Regulatory Commission rated this a low-level security threat, but it's just one more incident in a long list of many. We need to get some new members elected to the Corporation Commission who don't just slap APS on the wrist.

The panel discussed the $600 million shortfall in the state budget, and how the governor and legislature will end up resolving it. The consensus seemed to be taking half of it from the Rainy Day fund, and using economic gimmicks to come up with the rest. Sunnucks suggested some should be cut from the $400 million mandated to K-12 education. Fischer said it's untouchable because of the way the initiative was passed in 2000, and Crawford said we shouldn't cut education since Arizona is consistently ranked the lowest performing schools in the nation. Apparently she hasn't read any of the Goldwater Institute's studies, which have refuted this myth. The highest performing schools in the state are charter schools and private schools, which run on less money than the bloated public schools. She then noted that the numbers of people on AHCCCS (welfare) are continuing to increase; the federal poverty level is now $20,600/yr. I have a friend who recently graduated from college who is making $9.50 /hr. He is looking for a real job while he kills time between now and when he goes to grad school. Why should he bother finding a job that will just bump him over the poverty level where he'd actually have to pay for his own health insurance? Plus he gets all the goodies like the earned income tax credit. The number of people on AHCCCS is something that needs to be reduced, not accommodated as it grows.

The last topic was the new Arizona Civil Rights Initiative, which will ban preferences by the government based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Fischer said the opposition (which is being labeled "Protect Arizona's Freedom to Discriminate in Government") held a press conference earlier that day, claiming they don't want preferences, yet they're against eliminating them, which is what this initiative would do. He said the initiative will pass, because people will get their ballots and see that it's about ending illegal discrimination.

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