British Airways (& another assorted red flag)

British Airways (& another assorted red flag)

A Post-Gazette editorial opines that a $3 million taxpayer subsidy to British Airways to re-establish direct flights from Pittsburgh to London “appears to meet the responsibility test.”

That’s because, the P-G says, “It’s in line with what other U.S. cities have provided for London service” and that “the incentives likely will pay for themselves in short order.”

And, after all, the editorial adds, “There’s no shortage of demand” for such a flight out of Pittsburgh.

To the first point – since when is proper stewardship of scarce public dollars gauged by the degree to which other cities have been fleeced?

To the second point – this notion of corporate wealthfare “paying for itself” always is a non sequitur; if the public subsidy pays for itself, why should the public pay at all (other than purchasing tickets)?

To the third point – if there’s “no shortage of demand,” why does this endeavor require a public subsidy?

Speaking of the forthcoming resumption of British Airways’ Pittsburgh-London flight – in April 2019 — Allegheny County officials continue to play volleyball in producing documentation to support the claim that the flights will have a local economic impact of $57 million.

The office of Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald could not produce the study when queried Friday last. That’s despite the fact that Fitzgerald ballyhooed the number during the July 25 announcement.

His office hit the ball over to the county Airport Authority where, once again, a spokesman could not readily produce any documentation to support the claim.

He said the authority’s “air service person” had the information and it would be had this week.

Five days later (as of Wednesday morning), the requested documentation had yet to be produced.

One would think that such a centerpiece claim of grand economic impact would be not only quantifiable but readily available.

Curiously, when Nashville landed a similar British Airways flight nearly a year ago – flights that began this past May — for a like-$3 million in public subsidies, officials there touted an economic impact of $103 million.

The Nashville Post reported that the economic impact number came from – drum roll, please –British Airways.

And now, to the other assorted red flag:

A frequent correspondent passed along a news release from the Forbes Funds and Neighborhood Allies about their partnering to “increase the collective impact of community and economic development nonprofit organizations in the Pittsburgh region.”

Uh-oh.

Continues the announcement of this coming exercise that smacks of “progressive social justice” masquerading as “public policy”:

“The organizations are developing a transformation leadership model through which regional resources will be better aligned around equitable development, increase employment and reduce trauma and violence.”

Then in the news release we are told by Neighborhood Allies President Presley Gillespie:

“Only when nonprofits, organizations and residents share common goals and align their metrics and actions can communities build capacity and impact at scale.”

But as the frequent correspondent noted, something is missing here.

What could it be?

Wait… Wait for it…

Ah, yes, he reminds: “Not one mention of for-profit business.”

You know, the folks who typically pay for all this through higher taxes, excessive regulations and a collection of collectivists’ hoops.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).