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Free Market Friday: How do we limit cronyism?  

Oklahoma’s wind subsidies have moved from scandal to farce. First, we saw some 40 lobbyists swarm the state Capitol to try to preserve one of the most generous systems of tax credits granted to any industry in any state. Then, we learned that shadowy characters associated with the industry seem to have been stalking legislators, even placing a tracking device on the truck of a legislator who opposes the handouts.

Credit:  By Jonathan Small | The Journal Record | July 12, 2018 | journalrecord.com ~~

Oklahoma has an agency to discourage people from smoking while also subsidizing tribal smoke shops.

We have desperately needed and vital laws against rape and sexual harassment but give cash to filmmakers accused of those same offenses.

We hand out such hefty subsidies to wind energy producers but shortchange our teachers.

Politicians love their power. Why? Because they’re people. That’s why government tends to grow, along with cronyism and dependency. In the end, taxpayers always get the bill.

Tobacco is a classic example. Tribal smoke shops pretend to pay state taxes, but tribal governments get half the money back. They often pass the money right back to the smoke shops themselves, allowing them to lower prices and encouraging customers to smoke more. At the same time, several state agencies produce commercials urging people to quit smoking.

Another example is the Oklahoma Film and Music Office, which gave Harvey Weinstein $4 million. That was money collected from Oklahoma taxpayers and then handed over to the Hollywood producer. A one-off mistake? It turns out the same state agency gave more than $140,000 to former University of Oklahoma professor John Scamehorn for a couple of low-budget hobby films. Scamehorn has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior by young women, including on the set of one of the subsidized productions.

Oklahoma’s wind subsidies have moved from scandal to farce. First, we saw some 40 lobbyists swarm the state Capitol to try to preserve one of the most generous systems of tax credits granted to any industry in any state. Then, we learned that shadowy characters associated with the industry seem to have been stalking legislators, even placing a tracking device on the truck of a legislator who opposes the handouts.

Cronyism is inherently unfair because it transfers power to politicians, who will use it to benefit themselves even as they justify their decisions as being in the public interest.

How do we limit cronyism? We limit government power. Less power for politicians means less potential for cronyism. No film subsidy means your money goes to Harvey Weinstein only if you choose to see his movies. No welfare for wind energy means they flourish only by providing electricity at a competitive price.

Oklahoma needs state government to do a few essential things well and to stop doing everything else.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (www.ocpathink.org).

Source:  By Jonathan Small | The Journal Record | July 12, 2018 | journalrecord.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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