Politicians are fond of promising to run government “like a business,” only to toss the idea aside at the first sign of resistance from the bureaucracy. But Gov. Steve Beshear has taken the backtracking to a new level by treating a business opportunity like a government program.
Beshear has opted to scale back traditional Kentucky Derby activities rather than attempt to make lemonade out of lemons. Waddy, Kentucky businessman Brian Schenkenfelder offers this:
“The last few years my wife’s father has had a Derby Eve party in Frankfort that we attend. We have always spent the night and will get up early for the Derby Breakfast. Every year I am reminded of what a tremendous waste of $200,000 of tax payer money the event is. Even so, it garners a pretty big turnout every year as people come out of the woodworks to get their free breakfast of luke warm eggs, sausage, ham, grits, biscuit, and some juice or coffee. Even if the food is not the best, it is a fun event to attend. There is always a lot of people milling about checking out the crafts, listening to musicians perform, and watching different dancing groups put on exhibitions.”
“In good times the expense is barely justifiable, in bad times it doesn’t make any sense. Which is why Beshear is rightly trying to scale back the breakfast. I don’t have any problems with the need to save taxpayer money. But wouldn’t it have been easy to find some title sponsors to help offset most of the costs? I am sure some companies out there would like the opportunity to directly advertise to 20,000 plus people. Especially if they were given booths to promote their goods.”
“Instead of something sensible, Beshear has decided to charge for breakfast and remove the tent that it is traditionally held under. First off, who is going to show up and pay $3-$4 for a mass produced breakfast of mediocre food? Then be be left to eat out in the elements rain or shine. In addition, charging for each item will mean the normal long lines will become interminably long lines. It will take forever for cashiers to collect various amounts of money depending on what is on the person’s plate. Wouldn’t it have been easier and faster to charge a flat rate at the door and allow people to eat whatever they want?”
“Fortunately, no one will have to worry about long lines because no one will actually go to the breakfast. I know I don’t plan on paying for the breakfast. I suspect many others will have the same view. I suspect that turnout will be miserable for the event. Especially if the weather is poor. Seems to me that it would be better to just cancel the event than to hold the poorly thought out alternative that Beshear is offering.”
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Maybe Beshear is setting the stage for another tax increase. It does kind of sound like the Washington Monument Strategy.