Newsday reported on Thursday that the City Council voted to settle a $1.7 million lawsuit filed in 2012 against firms involved in what can only be labeled a debacle at the Waterfront in the form of the bulkhead for the latest attempt to establish a ferry terminal there.
Newsday also reported the city would receive $700 thousand and “waive $300,000 in unpaid fees”. In return, the defendants will drop counterclaims.
At the center of the lawsuit were seven fixing bolts, which essentially connect the bulkhead together at different locations. The “botched” bulkhead could have caused the bulkhead to collapse, according to court documents. In addition, the City paid over $1 million to fix the bulkhead, and alleged that the firms “refused to cure their mistakes”.
Of course, it’s not like an honest entrepreneur woke up one day and decided Glen Cove really needed a ferry service. Instead, in 2009 a Democrat-led Congress and President Barack Obama approved a $787 billion “stimulus package” which opened the spigot for almost $11 million in federal awards for the City’s latest ferry business venture.
Comically, the award has resulted in “0.64” jobs (yes, that’s less than one) according to the federal government, which means that if we measure dollars per job, it would cost the federal government and City $17 million if it did create one job (which it hasn’t).
The laughable result of the Ferry stands as a clear example as to the folly of the idea that government can stimulate the economy. By definition, government has no resources of its own, and when it acts it takes from the people who created or earned the value already. Which is why whether it’s members of Congress or the City Council, they simply cannot allocate society’s resources nearly as efficiently and effectively as Starbucks, Downtown Cafe, and 7-Eleven.
Further, when politicians do get caught in pretentious thinking–the idea that they can stimulate the economy with other people’s resources–they often unintentionally attract rent-seeking from what we call “crony capitalists” who are not interested in engaging in voluntary exchange and competitive enterprise but rather forced exchange in the case of Obamacare, and gains from the taxpayer as we see at the Ferry.
In other words, government’s collective action enables and entrenches devious actors to impose their bad ideas on the rest of us. As F.A. Hayek noted, “the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful” which is why “the worst get on top” in such a society. Moral, honest entrepreneurs try to sell us stuff and services with our voluntary cooperation, while crony capitalists use government’s monopoly on the use of force to again, impose their otherwise undesirable ideas on the people.
So the federal government has spent $11 million and the City at least $1 million, and we still do not have a ferry terminal or an operator in sight. On the bright side, it created 0.64 jobs. Clearly, society has not benefited from this largess of government. Alas, “government stimulus” is by definition an oxymoron not just in this case, but to the tune of hundreds of billions per year.
Don’t forget, developers and pols have said this ferry terminal is the cornerstone of the current proposed project at the waterfront, as Mackenzie Riggs reports.
The seeming incompetence reminds me of the “San Sebastián Mines” from the novel Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957. Long story short, one of the lead protagonists, Francisco D’Anconia convinces the brother of the main protagonist and his crony capitalist friends to invest in copper mines in what had become the “People’s State of Mexico” and they vote to have their railroad company Taggart Transcontinental build a railroad there. They do not care about the facts about what minerals actually exists in the mines, they just expect to exploit D’Anconia, the world-famous Argentine-American heir to a copper mining conglomerate.
Before long, the People’s State of Mexico expropriates the railroad line and then takes over the mines. Upon discovery, the Mexican government discovers they’re worthless–”hopefully worthless”. There was no copper, it was a total waste. The People’s State held emergency meetings, they felt cheated.
“They’re in for some more knowledge. There’s that housing settlement for the workers of San Sebastián. It cost eight million dollars. Steel-frame houses, with plumbing, electricity and refrigeration. Also a school, a church, a hospital and a movie theater… A model example of progressive State Housing. Well, those steel-frame houses are mainly cardboard, with a coating of good imitation shellac. They won’t stand another year. The plumbing pipes—as well as most of our mining equipment—were purchased from dealers whose main source of supply are the city dumps of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. I’d give those pipes another five months, and the electric system about six. The wonderful roads we graded up four thousand feet of rock for the People’s State of Mexico, will not last beyond a couple of winters: they’re cheap cement without foundation, and the bracing at the bad turns is just painted clapboard. Wait for one good mountain slide. The church, I think, will stand. They’ll need it.”
“Francisco,” she whispered, “did you do it on purpose?” He raised his head; she was startled to see that his face had a look of infinite weariness. “Whether I did it on purpose,” he said, “or through neglect, or through stupidity, don’t you understand that that doesn’t make any difference? The same element was missing.”
She looked at him blankly. “What are you trying to say?”
“I am saying that the workers’ settlement of San Sebastián cost eight million dollars,” he answered with slow emphasis, his voice hard. “The price paid for those cardboard houses was the price that could have bought steel structures. So was the price paid for every other item. That money went to men who grow rich by such methods. Such men do not remain rich for long. The money will go into channels which will carry it, not to the most productive, but to the most corrupt. By the standards of our time, the man who has the least to offer is the man who wins. That money will vanish in projects such as the San Sebastián Mines.”
It also vanishes in projects such as the Glen Cove Ferry Terminal.