Jul 12, 2012

The Honey Trap or, "Why We're Broke"

Iowa again; no apologies.

Even in Hicksville a fellow can find excellent evidence to counter the widely accepted fallacy that government officials are occasionally smart enough to pour piss out of a boot.

I suppose this one caught my attention because a certain number gives me something in common with a big Iowa DNR enterprise. Calculating my income and outgo for last year, I wound up with an operating profit of $4,230.*  Coincidentally, so did the DNR owned and operated Honey Creek Resort.

There's one slight difference. I am not in hock for $30 million, meaning I don't have to stick a gun in my neighbors' ribs and lift the interest payment on $30 million from their wallets.

A few years ago DNR commissars got together with dullards in the legislature  and Governor Tom Vilsack.  There's no hard evidence they were smoking, drinking, or injecting mind-altering substances at the party, but you can be forgiven for harboring suspicion because, collectively,  they decided they were experts in the resort business. A flurry of architecting and market studying and public relationing followed. And borrowing.

In 2006 Honey Creek Resort opened its mortgaged doors down on Lake Rathbun, itself a government invention. (The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ignored the banjos and throttled the unobjectionable little Chariton River. I don't really know why. The best guess seems to be a Corps of Engineers desired to economically stimulate itself by giving the Corps of Engineers something new to  manage, but that's a subject for another essay.)

And the Honey joint has been sucking on taxpayers ever since. Even the DNR admits it and in a left-handed way concedes there is no exit strategy.  New DNR Boss Chuck Gipp:

Some legislators have argued Honey Creek should be sold. Gipp says the state should keep it. “At this point in time, unless there’s somebody that comes along and is willing to pay what the worth of what that facility is, we’re not going to sell it at 10-cents-on-the-dollar. That would be foolish,” 

Mr. Gipp, incidentally, is a conservative small-government Republican. He was in the legislature when the Honey Creek Dacha was approved. He voted to sign my name to the IOU. If he's embarrassed that the asset is now worth 10 per cent of the debt, it doesn't show.

As I say, it's only a little Iowa issue, but, 'course, if you root around in your own state's forays into enterprises requiring several sentient neurons, who knows what you might find. Thirty million here, thirty million there -- pretty soon you're talking about enough money to send a First Lady on a couple-three vacations.

*An estimate. If an audit proves it unreliable, I claim the same poetic license His Ineptness gets when he reports, oh, say, the unemployment or inflation statistics.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When people tell me what a wonderful job government can do, I remind them that the feds couldn't even operate a Nevada leaping house with a liquor license at a profit. Closer to home, there sits on the Houston Ship Channel a georgous cruise ship terminal built a few years ago by our Port Authority, waiting yet for its first visit by even a Somali pirate. JAGSC