If the recession that supposedly ended four years ago has proved anything, it’s that government still has no shortage of money to waste.
The Las Vegas City Council voted 5-2 Wednesday to accept a $1 million grant from the federal government to use as prize money for a competition that solicits “a comprehensive economic vision” for the city, as reported by the Review-Journal’s Benjamin Spillman. The city will contribute $250,000 toward implementing ideas generated by contest entrants. Las Vegas is one of three lucky cities to accept the funds, along with Hartford, Conn., and Greensboro, N.C.
The competition is part of a federal program called Strong Cities, Strong Communities. It should come as no surprise that this initiative is the idea of President Barack Obama’s administration, the same administration that has plundered billions of dollars on stimulus spending and green jobs, with lousy results, and is spending lavishly on the impending economic land mine that is ObamaCare.
So $1 million in borrowed federal taxpayer money will go to this contest, which would solicit ideas on how to improve Las Vegas in four areas: Cashman Field, the medical district, business parks and redevelopment projects. Then $250,000 of Las Vegas taxpayer money will be spent on the winning ideas? “Winning”? Cue the clip of Charlie Sheen now.
The grand prize winner will receive a whopping $800,000. Councilman Stavros Anthony and Councilman Bob Beers had the good sense to vote against the idea, with Mr. Anthony stating of the top winner: “They can go down to San Diego and buy a beach house with it. This is the kind of stuff that tells me how the federal government is so messed up.”
Indeed. If governments really want to find out how to create jobs and enhance urban areas, there are plenty of strapped business owners who would be more than happy to tell them how. And they wouldn’t start with blowing more than $1.2 million on a contest that will reward a few, make a bunch of government officials get the warm fuzzies, and almost surely provide little or no tangible return to the taxpayers affected by the chosen projects.
How about this: Scale back business taxes and get rid of unnecessary red tape and make-work regulations, so job creators have the opportunity to hire more employees or, God forbid, give their current employees an overdue pay raise. If elected officials can’t bring themselves to do that, keep in mind that Southern Nevada is home to many brilliant business minds who could bring dozens of great ideas to the table for free.
On Sunday, local tech experts wrapped up their sixth Startup Weekend, where ideas for Web-based businesses were pitched. The winning team was Plus1Analytics, a service that provides real-time table game analysis for high-end gaming. This competition didn’t require a $1.2 million taxpayer handout.
Stop plowing public money into feel-good boondoggles. Stop treating federal grant dollars, which we all pay for, as “free” money to be blown. To grow our economy, get our growing governments out of the way.