The young and the liberal


The Bank of America building, which is now empty, in Providence, R.I.

The 2012 presidential election campaign was framed as a choice between a former governor who knows how to get the economy producing good jobs (the Romney line) but is unacceptable in character and experience (the Obama line), and a sitting president who is “cool” and understands your life situation (the Obama line) but is economically incompetent (the Romney line).

Large majorities of young voters and self-described liberal voters (who in some cases, but not all, are the same people) voted for “cool” and understanding rather than good jobs … and it seems today that they are getting exactly what they voted for.

As noted in a summary of economic news stories reporting on the employment situation of young Americans on the Weekly Standard blog, “the official unemployment rate for those under age 25 is 16.2%, more than double the rate for the population as a whole.” Further, “only one age group has managed to go the past year without reducing its unemployment rate. It’s 20-to-24-year olds.”

And anecdotally, the same blog includes a post about news articles highlighting the economic situations of various states. In the “blue state” of Rhode Island, according to a report from the Associated Press, the state’s “tallest building” and “most distinctive feature on the Providence skyline” will “soon be its most visible symbol of the state’s long economic decline,” as the last tenant remaining in the building has left. According to the news article, the state had a 9.4 percent unemployment rate in February, and “has had one of the worst jobless rates in the nation for years.”

On the other hand, in the “red state” of Texas, the city of Midland (population 111,000) is “growing quickly as companies bring in employees to drill new oil wells.” As a result, “Midland officials are welcoming plans to erect a 53-story skyscraper that would be … the sixth tallest in all of Texas.” Housing and office space are reportedly “hard to come by.”

The lessons? First, you get what you vote for. Second, perhaps the liberal politicians and thought leaders are the real danger to the economic well-being of young people, not the corporate and political boogeymen that the liberal politicians and thinkers incessantly use to influence the votes of younger generations.

The Sundance tempest

Last week my Sutherland colleague Derek Monson wrote about the Sundance Film Festival. To highlight the unbelievable truth that a whole bunch of your tax dollars go to a film festival in Park City, Derek mentioned a few of the questionably themed films promoted there – and, for that simple narrative, my good colleague has been lambasted by The Salt Lake Tribune (not just once, but three times).

Furthermore, and rather oddly, a state senator from St. George used his Facebook page to ridicule our blog post, absolutely lie about some alleged personal conversation with me and compared Sutherland Institute to a twisted pack of religious bigots who demonstrate about homosexual rights at military funerals – but not once did this state senator from St. George explain why he supports tax dollars to a film festival.

So let me back up and retell this story. The widely popular Sundance Film Festival is held in Park City every winter. It attracts thousands of visitors to the state and quite a few famous Hollywood types. Over the last four years the state of Utah, using your tax dollars, has given this film festival over a million dollars. Read more

State of Utah should end ‘complex relationship’ with Sundance

For past Sutherland commentary on the positive, family-friendly content produced by Sundance, click here. For past Sutherland commentary on questionable content and activities associated with Sundance, click here.

What would you call a film festival airing movies that explore the lives of porn stars, adulterous relationships between mothers and their friends’ children, and teenagers competing to lose their virginity? Many Utahns’ values would lead them to call this “obscenity” or “pornography,” but to the state of Utah, evidently it is simply “economic activity.”

The director of Sundance Film Festival called the theme of these movies “complex sexual relationships” when they were recently announced as part of the Festival’s “Premieres and Documentary Premieres” programs. And admittedly, having an affair with your friend’s son while she simultaneously has an affair with yours is a “complex” relationship – not to mention indecent, immoral, and potentially illegal, depending on the boys’ ages.

Given the amount of sexual promiscuity that Sundance Film Festival regularly brings to Utah, it seems similarly indecent that Utah’s major economic development agencies basically endorsed the event: providing “critical support” to the festival as a “global branding”[1] opportunity, and being listed under the event’s “Corporate Support” bannerRead more

In context, liberal economic policies are still killing jobs

When considering what the dismal economic facts and realities of today mean for liberal economic policies and liberal thinking in general, one criticism I have encountered is a lack of consideration of the economic context in which those policies were enacted. Certainly, consideration of context is important for good public policy.

In this case, it turns out that if you take that context into account, it doesn’t change the basic conclusion: Liberal economic policies are depriving low- and middle-income families of job opportunities that the economy should otherwise be producing.

A recently published editorial on the website of Investor’s Business Daily provided economic context for the liberal federal economic policies of today by looking at how the current economic recovery compares with previous recoveries. In other words, setting aside the recession, which the policies of the current federal administration had nothing to do with, how does the economic recovery of the last three years – all of which have occurred under the current administration – compare with what we should expect, based on past recoveries? The answer: terrible. Read more

Big government, big business are 2 sides of the same coin

Conservatives are often accused of being the friend of Big Business because of their support of free markets. The irony of this argument, however, is that in reality it is Big Government – the child of most liberal policies – that is the best friend of big business.

The bigger government gets, the more it starts to intrude into peoples’ lives. When it comes to the economy, this means that it starts to put more burdensome, and often unnecessary, rules and regulations in place that make it hard to start, grow and run a business (e.g., excessive licensing fees and restrictions, unreasonable environmental regulations, health insurance mandates, special taxes on business, etc.).

As these intrusive policies multiply, what it creates is a scenario in which politically savvy businesses with enough money can navigate, and sometimes manipulate, the system to their advantage. Because small and medium-sized businesses by nature have fewer resources, they often cannot afford to play this political game, meaning that it is set up to favor big business with all of its lobbyists, political donations, and connections to people in power. As a result, this big government process almost always places the biggest burden on small business, giving big business the advantage.  Read more

Economic gardening arrives in Utah

Economic gardening – an entrepreneur-centered approach to economic development – has arrived in Utah and could lead to hundreds or thousands of new home-grown jobs.

The National Center for Economic Gardening (NCEG), an affiliate of the Edward Lowe Foundation, has introduced an economic gardening pilot project in Utah in cooperation with the Carbon County economic development office.

Through this innovative program, NCEG will offer specialized assistance from its National Strategic Research Team (NSRT) to qualifying companies in Carbon and Emery counties. What kind of assistance will these companies receive?  Read more

S.L. has enough room for a convention, but not enough cabs? Hmm …

In a recent KSL article about the Outdoor Retailer show possibly relocating outside Salt Lake, the head of Visit Salt Lake said the following:

Salt Lake has enough hotel rooms and convention floor space, but Outdoor Retailer wants 900 taxicabs, which the city doesn’t have.

This quote is interesting on various levels. First, because both Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County have been considering helping build a convention center hotel specifically to attract or keep conventions just like this one. Several of the cities with convention hotels that would supposedly “steal” conventions because of Salt Lake’s lack of a convention hotel were also cited by the sponsors of the Outdoor Retailer show as having insufficient hotel space for the convention.  Read more

Pew: Utah is ‘trailing’ in evaluating tax incentives

Utah is fortunate that Governor Gary Herbert and the Legislature have made significant efforts to improve Utah’s economy and lessen government’s involvement in the free market. We hope they will continue these commendable efforts by closing a gap in Utah’s economic development policies.

The Pew Center on the States – the same organization that gave Utah its “best-managed state” ranking – released a report today saying that Utah is “trailing behind” in evaluating the effectiveness of its tax incentive programs.

This report comes just as two new tax incentive packages were announced in Utah. Two weeks ago, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) handed out an offer for another multi-million dollar tax break ($3,764,578) to Family Dollar Stores Inc., and just this morning it approved a cash rebate of up to $375,000 for an Indian company to produce a film in Utah of a “multi-faceted Bollywood love story.”

These new tax deals are just two of the more than 100 deals offered companies since 2006 – worth a total of nearly $600 million – with promises of tens of thousands of new jobs. The promise of more jobs in Utah is always encouraging, especially to those who are or have been seeking employment in this slowly recovering economy. But are these deals actually producing these promised jobs?  Read more

Public subsidy for a convention hotel in S.L.?

Salt Lake City is considering subsidizing a convention hotel in an attempt to lure more conventions to the city. According to Bob Farrington, the city’s economic development director, the subsidy is necessary because the market isn’t working efficiently or rationally. Rich Rosa of Utah Hospitality believes the proposal is not financially viable and could come back to bite taxpayers.

Watch this video report to learn more about the proposal and what Farrington and Rosa said about it:


What do you think? Should Salt Lake City subsidize a convention hotel?

Here’s the script for the video:  Read more

Going upscale in downtown S.L.

Five years ago backhoes started ripping two old, not-so-upscale malls and surrounding buildings in downtown Salt Lake City into rubble. Now, after an immense amount of construction, the new City Creek Center is open.

City Creek is remarkable not only because of its size, architecture and array of retail offerings, but it’s also being hailed as possibly “the largest privately funded development project in the United States,” even as the U.S. retail industry lingers in its state of stagnancy.

On that last point, City Creek is especially impressive, given that it’s privately funded while other developments and businesses seek government assistance through tax breaks, subsidies and other special favors. It’s good to be reminded that true private enterprise is possible.  Read more