Government Vs. Private Business
I finally got to see someone come flat out and say that the best thing we could do for the local economy is to expand Humboldt State University. Pat Cleary seems to think that's the way to go in this discussion that ended up being the cover story for this week's North Coast Journal. At least that's the way I read it. I'll have to admit the discussion was a bit too convoluted for me to follow closely.
That's ok, Pat. Others around the country feel the same way. Here on the North Coast you hear it a lot from those on the Left who feel that any new development should be some government project as opposed to a privately funded and owned one. Witness the controversy over the future of the Balloon Tract.
A lot of people have done quite well on the receiving end of government largesse and, yes, some communities thrive on it. Witness the howls of protest whenever there's a threat of military base closures in California. The Education- Industrial Complex isn't any different than the Military- Industrial Complex.
Naturally I'm not too keen on the suggestion that government should be Humboldt's biggest growth industry. But some feel that more money going towards government actually increases wealth and economic opportunity in the private sector. Bill Kowinski alludes to that in his North Coast Place blog. I'm sure to some extent that is true. That can only go so far, though. Eventually someone in the private sector has to be around to pay for all the so- called infrastructure and you can't just keep beating on the private sector and hope it will just bounce back each time, especially as it gets smaller and smaller.
That entrepreneurship increases with increased government involvement and funding is a tough one for me to swallow. The graph Bill suggests showing level of government support vs. entrepreneurship would be interesting but it might not show the whole picture. What would be missing is government taxation and regulation that has greatly increased over those same years and makes it more and more difficult or even worthwhile for businesses to even get started.
I'd suggest the lower levels of entrepreneurship nowadays has more to do with, one: dependence on government- more and more people take it for granted that government should be the one providing jobs or finding them one; and two: it's become much more difficult to start and run a business now than it did twenty or thirty years ago. Heck, why bother going through all the hurdles of trying to start a business when you could get an easier and much more lucrative job working at HSU or Caltrans? That would be crazy.