Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe generated a windstorm with his comments during a speech in Atlanta Monday regarding the renewal of federal tax breaks for the windpower industry. Apparently he is not too pleased with opponents of government favoritism.
According to the Log Cabin Democrat, Beebe told conference attendees, “Anyone standing in the way of this industry, frankly, they’re un-American.”
What is the governor saying? Does he think it is ‘un-American’ to eliminate any tax breaks? Or perhaps he’s saying it is un-American to raise any taxes? Would he like to endorse extending the Bush tax cuts? Or maybe he believes that ‘wind manufacturers’ are part of a protected group, free from any scrutiny or public criticism?
This isn’t a partisan issue whatsoever. The Cabin article goes on to quote Kansas Governor Sam Brownback as a fellow staunch advocate of these subsidies. And Beebe’s comments have drawn criticism from the state’s most obnoxious liberal blogger–well, the closest thing to Beebe criticism you will probably ever see from him.
The governor has, perhaps inadvertently, raised some serious philosophical questions here. Does the government have legitimate moral authority to intervene in the free market and show favoritism to particular industries or entities? If opposition to these wonderful handouts is ‘un-American,’ surely there is some reason why this is so?
Of course the governor’s comments are offensive. But I would not necessarily call them surprising. They are simply indicative of a mindset that permeates the political class in this country–the same class that loves election-year slogans like, “The government shouldn’t pick winners and losers!,” and then supports every energy subsidy that comes down the pike. It’s the same mindset that is bankrupting our country–and may very soon be bankrupting our state.
It’s the same mindset held by the same people who opposed (at least rhetorically) government bailouts of banks and automotive companies. Yet, somehow, these same people are silent when it comes to ending ethanol, wind, and other renewable subsidies that are unproven and that we are forced to borrow money from China to finance–or, even worse, they are advocates of these handouts. And why shouldn’t they be? After all, Solyndra turned out so well.
Crony capitalism is bankrupting our country. Rather than facilitating innovation, it is stifling creativity and motivation by telling some industries and companies, “You aren’t as good as these other guys.” And even if this cronyism was ideologically or economically sound, we simply cannot afford it.
There is nothing ‘American’ about playing favorites with businesses, gambling with taxpayer dollars, and exploding the national debt in the process. Even President Obama agrees. Governor Beebe should know better.