Crony Capitalism Is the Enemy of Left and Right
Around the State
On Oct. 24, Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando gave his “State of Downtown” speech at the new $480 million Amway Arena. Protesters from “Occupy Orlando” were outside protesting what they called a "closed-door meeting that should be open to the public" (tickets to the event started at $45).
The left-leaning protesters said politicians are more responsive to "big-business contributors" than the economic plight of working-class people.
The contrast between the protesters, some of whom have been out of work for three years, and the businessmen in suits could not have been greater. The “working class people” were left outside while the people who benefit from government spending enjoyed a $45 lunch inside. Many, if not most, of the attendees are special interests who make their living off the taxpayer: lawyers, lobbyists, engineers and contractors who build arenas, rail systems, and art centers.
Inside the arena all is well; outside, in the real world, people are suffering.
Mayor Dyer spoke about renovation of the Lake Eola fountain and coined a phrase, “love Orlando, love downtown.” That sounds great, but means very little to the tens of thousands of unemployed. What Dyer did not address is the plight of the taxpayers of Orlando or the financial condition of the city.
FACT: 23 percent of taxpayers between the age of 20 and 25 are unemployed.
FACT: 49 percent of African-American youth are unemployed.
FACT: Orlando has a $250 million pension shortfall.
FACT: The bonds used to finance the arena are rated “junk.”
FACT: Orlando has no source of revenue to pay for ongoing costs of the $1.2 billion SunRail project.
Buddy Dyer has claimed all of this spending will create jobs. But the results speak for themselves. Orlando still has double-digit unemployment. And Orlando has billions of dollars in debt and future obligations.
The city of Orlando is in Dyer straits.
The reckless fiscal policy of Dyer’s “spare no expense” mentality will hurt the Central Florida economy for years. Money that should be going to pay police, build roads and pay down debt will be going to pay interest on projects that we did not need.
In an odd political twist, the grass-roots on the left (Occupy Orlando) and the right (tea party) have a common enemy: crony capitalism. Taxpayers do not believe politicians who say taking their money and giving it to their political contributors is good for them.
We the people, on the right and the left, deserve elected officials who serve taxpayers, not special interests.
This is a guest opinion column by Matthew Falconer, a businessman and anti-tax advocate who ran for mayor of Orange County in 2010.