Senator Ted Cruz, the winner of the 2015 “Joe McCarthy Look-a-Like” sweepstakes, was in town this week. He was the first of the GOP multitude to make his way to Wyoming to campaign for President.
His first promise was to do something about all the government regulations he says are killing small business. Well, as my once-teenaged daughter used to say, “Gag me with a spoon.”
I’m sorry but I get tired of these politicians promising to rid the country of government regulation. Cruz is just one more in a long line of pandering pols playing to the crowd. In a lighter moment exemplifying how phony the “end regulation” ploy is, 2012 Presidential candidate Rick Perry remembered he wanted to eliminate regulatory agencies. He just couldn’t remember which ones.
“Let me tell you, it’s three agencies that are gone when I get there,” the Texas Governor told the audience at a GOP candidates’ debate. “Commerce, Education, and the um, what’s the third one there?” Embarrassed for his opponent, Mitt Romney offered to help. Romney shouted, “EPA?” Nope, that wasn’t it, Perry said. Another candidate said the EPA would do.
“I can’t remember the third one,” said Perry. I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”
There is an antidote far more effective than relying on pandering politicians to reduce government regulation. Memo to business people: Take responsibility for your own conduct.
Government regulation doesn’t just appear out of thin air. It is the failure of some businesses to act responsibly and clean up the messes they make, which ends up spawning additional regulation. You need look no further than the corner of Carey and 18th. The Z’s Building is a metaphor for an absence of personal responsibility in some of the business community.
The DDA website describes a tour of the building taken by its executive director Amy Surdam. She reported back to members, "We were only able to go into the “good” parts of the building due to pigeons darting at our heads, large amount of black mold and sporing, and water damage. Yes, those are mushrooms growing out of the carpet. Yes, that is black mold. Yes, that is me almost throwing up from the smell and vast amount of dead pigeons.”
DDA board chair Hans Seitz says the condition of the building has been permitted to deteriorate so much that the building may fall in on itself if something isn't done. There is no question that a building so large, so centrally located in downtown Cheyenne, in such dangerous condition must be salvaged.
What to do? But is the only alternative to holding the owner responsible is to hold up the taxpayers? The DDA announced they’ll apply to the Wyoming Business Council for a grant to buy the building, which once housed Z's Furniture. Such a grant won’t begin to pay the bill. It would cost as much as $332,633 to make even minor improvements there, a DDA report says. Intermediate-level upgrades would cost $1.5 million.
It could cost as much as $5.7 million to pay for improvements like new floors, walls and exteriors. Surdam admits even that may not be near enough.
What’s more is that there is much more. The Z’s Building is not the only abandoned, deteriorating, and privately owned building in the city. And there are others, not yet in that bad of condition, that may lengthen the list in coming years.
Politicians and business people who have such disdain for government regulation can pontificate all they want, but that doesn’t fix the problem. They need to grapple with this. What alternative is there to new laws and regulations to prevent the exorbitant cost of salvaging these buildings from migrating from the property owner to the taxpayer?
DDA chairman Seitz says he wants the DDA to show "it will no longer tolerate the blight and the laissez-faire attitude of the absentee owners in downtown." Neither the DDA nor the Wyoming Business Council convince anyone of that by letting property owners off the hook.