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Business Regulation and Subsidies
State and local governments, just like the federal government, produce their most beneficial economic results by merely staying out of the way of entrepreneurs and customers. Many communities get overanxious and attempt to stimulate growth by using tax dollars to fund buildings or other incentives for prospective businesses. Sometimes this succeeds in drawing development and growth. Sometimes it results in empty buildings and huge local debt. In every case, someone has to pay, and it is usually the local residents.
Regulation and subsidies always require choices among what and, most important, who, will be burdened and who will be benefitted. These choices inevitably go by who knows who, rather than the free choices of providers and buyers in the marketplace.
Interference with business, should be discouraged, and government at all levels should protect businesses from interference. To the extent that some business activities will necessarily be dangerous, regulation of those activities is appropriate.
For a specific example, I think if a group thinks “light rail” is a viable or necessary service, they should raise the investment necessary for it from private sources, put their system together, and reap the profits if they are right. And they alone should suffer the loss if their idea draws no customers, or fails due to poor management. And the only regulation that should be levied on them is that minimum necessary to prevent fraud or physical damage to people and property around them, or to their workers.
The same goes for a solar power plant, an air express company, a guitar manufacturer, and so forth.
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