Publisher's Note: This article originally appeared in the Beaufort Observer.
On Jones Street (where the Legislature meets) there are hundreds of "great ideas" bubbling all around-in the form of new laws. We suppose, when we elect lawmakers, they think they ought to make laws. Trouble is, many of them latch on the a "great idea" and make laws that take other people's money to spend on something those people will never use. In fact, in many cases, nobody uses the great idea.
As often an not, those "great ideas" are intended to buck trends. The Turnage Theater is one of them. The great idea there was to restore an old/nostalgic landmark and bring in hyped up entertainment and this would revitalize the downtown. Didn't happen. Didn't happen in Roanoke Rapids, or in Newport where they converted an old teacherage in downtown to a museum. Ditto Aurora and Belhaven. There are dozens of such examples of great ideas that nobody takes advantage of.
At the risk of being cast as sacri-religious, we would also suggest that the flash in the pan "festivals" are similar great ideas that don't really end up being very successful, except making some liberals (those people who don't hesitate to spend other people's money) feel good. Sure they're neat but they don't do much for the local economy. In fact some of them, like the Summer Festival, actually take more money out
of the local economy than they pump into it. And the Chamber of Commerce sponsors it!
What Washington really needs is something that New Bern has.
Go to New Bern on any Saturday or Sunday when the weather is pretty and walk around the downtown. You find many more cars, people, stores open and other activities. One of the attractions that was said to be a "great idea" was a trolley. Trolleys are buses with a nostalgic body built on them. They circulate around the downtown, making it kool to hop on and ride a couple of blocks and then hop off, or on the other hand, simply ride a circuit of the downtown.
There's a really great idea Washington could latch onto. Would it not be neat for a trolley to pick you up at the Courthouse (where there are ample parking spaces on the weekend) and drop you off at the Estuarium and then run you up to Bill's and then down Main to Haven's Gardens and finally back to the Courthouse? Kool. And if they ever get a welcome center out near the U.S. 17 "Expressway," the trolley could shuttle people from there to the downtown and even someday maybe out to the nature park behind the old Park Boat building. Now that would be really kool. We might even be able to get some economic development grants, like those grants to "retrofit" buildings that are crumbling.because there was not enough business to pay the landlord to keep them up. Just get the taxpayers to pick up the tab.
We'll bet most people who have read this far have not even thought about the possibility of running another trolley out to the mall and Wal-Mart. But we'd speculate that it would have more riders than the downtown route, or even the eco-tourist routes. But wait! You say.that would take customers out
of the downtown to the Big Box stores.oh, well, maybe some great ideas are not so great.
Yes, we are ridiculing these "great ideas" that people come up with to take money from people to try to make a great idea work that the people have already decided they don't want and are not going to use. In other words, great ideas that will ultimately either fall flat on their economic face, or will have to be artificially subsidized because liberals just feel better when they can say they "did something" to save an economic system that is, and will inevitably become extinct, for all practical purposes. No doubt, had these liberals been around at the time, they would have taken tons of other people's money to try to save the dinosaurs. With pretty much the same end results.
But hey, we do need to find some use for those parking lots around the Courthouse that are used only about three days a week by those going to court. (If you doubt the three days a week bit, just ride by the Courthouse on most Thursdays and any Friday and you'll see what we mean.)
Then again, if they move the jail to the Industrial Park we could run a trolley shuttle back and forth there. Which of the three great idea routes do you think might have the most riders?
Yep, we're making fun of liberals. But they deserve it.
It's not just in Little Washington. Must have been a slow news day, so the managing editor of the Winston-Salem Journal
sent crack reporter Scott Sexton out into downtown Winston to check out their trolley system.
In all seriousness, let us conclude on a profound note: Government is seldom successful when it tries to buck economic trends.
It matters not whether it is trying to restore old real estate, trying to attract "tourists" to where they don't already go, or even in propping up failing businesses with "incentive grants".all great ideas that will ultimately fail.
Government would do better to reduce the cost of doing business for thriving businesses by lowering taxes, fees (like privilege licenses-have you ever heard of a more socialistic term?) and complying with regulators who've never, ever operated a successful enterprise than it does by chasing mirages like trolleys.
As Ronald Reagan is reported to have once said: "Liberals mean well, the trouble is they just have not come to grips with reality."