One term is public/private partnership. But, there are scores of expressions to describe the disposition of government officials to take our money and use it like a venture fund manager. The current nomenclature calls it government entrepreneurship. One wonders if it is an assistant, barrier or competitor with a healthy free-market. Entrepreneurs do great things and change the world, but they also take breathtaking financial risks and routinely fail.
The natural government monopoly boasts a gaggle of advantages (eminent domain, public bonding and cooperative zoning) outpacing even the most competitive private company. In a world where rapacious (perhaps, even worse – well-meaning) private businesses are attracted to easy money and public guarantees, shouldn’t government “assistance” be limited to the broadest possible private entrepreneur participation?
When speculating on who can claim credit for entrepreneurial success, some would openly assert that the individual entrepreneur “didn’t do that.” Even if one assumes veracity in this supposition, would it likewise be accurate to claim that government “didn’t do that either?”
Indiana is in the black. In fact, the current governor is locked in some James T. Kirk like battle with an alien Republican legislature about the return of some of those tax dollars to those who were overcharged for the services. A balanced budget amendment, in place since an 1837 canal project allowed government entrepreneurs to nearly bankrupt our state, prevents official largess being unchecked. Yet, we still set aside dollars to spawn home-grown high-tech companies. We rework ports. We build and maintain infrastructure. And, we directly support countless stadiums and billionaire sport team owners.
The pressure to undertake ever more expensive and elaborate schemes from entrepreneurial government officials is intense but no more so than the rent-seeking tendencies of entrepreneurs inside the private sector. Is collusion between these two forces the real threat?