What would you say to an investment adviser who said, “I want you to invest some money in a failing enterprise”? Especially if she added, “You’ve already put a bunch of money into this, so you’ve got to put in more to keep from losing all of it!” You’d fire her on the spot.
Or, worse, what if a thief grabbed your wallet? Would you think it any excuse if he said your money would pay for putting on a show other people would enjoy?
Sadly, that’s what going on right now in Wake County. According to the News & Observer, the Wake County commissioners are planning to spend $1.5 million for a new scoreboard at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, where the Carolina Mudcats play — and sell tickets, hot dogs and more.
I’m so old that I can remember when the best way to draw fans was for the home team to put more runs on the scoreboard. But times change. Mere baseball isn’t enough. Without a glitzy new scoreboard, the ball club says, fans will stay away in droves.
The team says it can’t afford to pay for a scoreboard itself. Mmm. So the Mudcats are such a failure they can’t afford to pay for a basic part of their facility? That’s not much of a sales pitch.
But if the new scoreboard will succeed in drawing more paying customers, why can’t they pay for it? Why should money be taken from people who don’t go to the games so that Mudcats fans will have something to entertain them when the action on the field slows up?
Yet news account says the Mudcats will pull in more than $140,000 in ad revenue every year from the scoreboard. Why should the Mudcats get such help, while the county lets Joe’s Hot Dog Stand and Mary’s Gift Shop struggle along on their own?
If you’re keeping score at home, this is one more example of why crony capitalism is both foolish and wrong.