The Folly Of Government Dabbling In Big Business

By April 27, 2013Gerda Peachey, Issues

By Gerda Peachey. In Michael Smyth’s article in the Province on Thursday [Dix’s garage-sale gambit looks like grand diversion tactic] he shows two examples of the folly in allowing government involvement is mega projects. In his aluminum catamaran example, they were built for $454 million and sold for $19 million. The government got back 4%. The loss was an astonishing 96%.

Smyth says the Toronto SkyDome was built for $580 million and sold for $25 million.  The government got back 4% here as well. This also represents a 96% loss of money extracted from taxpayers

If the provincial government sells B.C. Place Stadium and the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre, we can, as Smyth points out expect huge
differences between what it cost to build these, versus what government will sell them for.

(Is a 96% loss the acceptable norm to government incompetents?)
Abbotsford council pushed through with an arena – which as we predicted went way over budget, and needed massive alterations and additions before the cement had barely dried.

skydomeThis Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre does not bring money into our community, though the mayor and council loudly promised us great benefits.  Not so,  rather the AESC is bleeding money.

People here think it will always cost us too much money, between paying Global Spectrum to run the place, and the expense of upkeep and repairs.

As we see from Smyth’s examples, governments give up on their white elephants.  They’ve enjoyed the fleeting glitz and glamour but costly ageing structures cease to be fun.

Our best solution is to sell the AESC even though the expectation is that we’ll be doing well if we get dimes to the dollar from the highest bidder. (The dismal examples above give back .04 cents on every dollar spent.)  The place is costing us millions now, so may as well do it sooner rather than later.

Aerial of downtown Vancouver, British Columbia CanadaSo then WHY?  Why do we tolerate incompetent politicians who dabble in huge expensive projects for which they rarely have the necessary business sense or expertise? And most importantly there is no risk to their personal bank balance.

Why do we stand by while incompetents siphon off our hard-earned money for ‘glamour’ projects?  Sure, all these mega-million dollar ventures allow civil servants to expand their empires and play with the big boys.

There is no real risk to politicians or bureaucrats if projects run over budget.  No sweat if the venture loses money, or a complete flop.  Big deal.  Just increase fines, fees, taxes, – whatever.  The hapless public cannot stop you.  You are government.

There is a solution of course.  Regardless of party name, the answer to careless misuse of public money lies is electing men and women who have integrity.  It is something they all claim to have when they want our votes, but some people really do want to serve.  We need to look for quality folk who believe it is a high honour be be entrusted with the task of using tax dollars for the common good.  To keep government focused on those things they must do, like health, safety, transportation, foreign policy,…but leave business and entertainment to the private sector who will either succeed or fail, –  risking only their own investment.

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