Interventionists & rent-seekers

Interventionists & rent-seekers

Oh, the irony.

As the Post-Gazette’s Mark Belko reports it:

“Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is throwing the political equivalent of a penalty flag on the Steelers, claiming the football team is refusing to develop a North Shore parking lot because it wants to continue using the site for revenue and tailgating.”

Where does one begin with the incongruities of the incongruous? For there’s no greater, or sadder, spectacle in the prosecution of “public policy” than watching command economists attempting to devour their central-planning, corporate-crony acolytes.

Of course, there would be no dispute on the North Shore had market forces had been allowed to guide the development of 25 acres of land between Heinz Field and PNC Park.

In that scenario, instead of being handed, gratis, co-development rights for the tract with the Pirates, the Steelers could have purchased the parcel in question and controlled it outright.

Instead, the franchise promoted the nod-nod, wink-wink system that now is coming back to slap it.

To wit, the tracts are owned by the city Stadium Authority, which leases the parking lot in question to a local parking business, which gets half the revenue generated by the lot.

The Stadium Authority is paid the other half but funnels that money directly to the Steelers. The Pirates have the same deal.

Reasonable people might correctly characterize the authority, a public entity, as a shell corporation laundering money for the sole benefit of Pittsburgh’s barons of sport, private entities.

Harsh? Not nearly as harsh as the damage done to the marketplace and public policy.

While it might be entertaining for the public to watch interventionists and rent-seekers tangle, the tragedy remains that sound public policy is being disserved.

Yet again.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).