Commentary: Let market work: Sell Mississippi NationalIn her June 4 opinion piece, Sue Oelkers argues the city should continue to own, and presumably to subsidize, Mississippi National Golf Links.
By: By Mike Kolsky, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
In her June 4 opinion piece, Sue Oelkers argues the city should continue to own, and presumably to subsidize, Mississippi National Golf Links. Her argument begins by claiming that “Elected officials are beholden to special interests.”
I agree. Elected officials are always beholden to special interests. Even by the most generous of interpretations, elected officials are beholden to one very “special” interest group — the vocal, politically active, “majority” who elected them.
The result is a one-size fits all “solution” imposed upon all regardless of personal preferences or individual, voluntary choices. But that truth is not a justification for more politics.
Specifically, it is not a justification for the city to continue its ownership of Mississippi National.
Contrast the political process with the free market that so successfully guides much of our lives. Those who value golf, pay for it. Those who don’t enjoy, or benefit from a golf course, do not.
Those who choose to spend more of the fruits of their labor on groceries, or housing, or movies, or boating, or skiing, or theater, or a variety of other alternatives are free to do just that. Those who have different preferences are free to spend their money and their labor as they choose.
There are no special interests in the market. There are simply voluntary buyers and sellers who choose to trade because both sides benefit when they do.
The Save MNGL group has presented this as a democratic issue.
Apparently, the original referendum that authorized the public ownership arrangement passed 4,997-2,178.
Political vs market factors
In a market, those who choose golf, pay to golf. But in our political solution, 2,178 adults who said they did not want golf, and uncounted others who didn’t express a preference at the polls, got a publicly owned golf course anyway, like-it-or-not.
The primary functions of our government are to protect our individual freedoms, to preserve law and order, to strengthen the institutions that foster competitive markets ... institutions such as the enforcement of private property rights and the enforcement of contracts.
Beyond that, I acknowledge, there are a few, limited instances where it makes sense for a product or service to be provided by a government rather than by the market.
The most common justifications for government interference in the market process are “third-party effects.” Individuals who are neither buyers nor sellers, who are not directly involved in the voluntary transactions, incur significant costs or benefits.
Anti-pollution laws and public provision of highways are examples.
Ownership of MNGL does not meet that “third-party” criterion. Let those who benefit from or enjoy golf in Red Wing should pay for golf in Red Wing.
Our public officials are beholden to special interests. The solution is not to naively hope for “better” public officials. The best solution is to let markets do what markets do best: allocate resources and services — and assign costs and benefits — according to the preferences of free individuals.
Let’s not assume that politics is best when “our” favored leaders are in power. Instead, let’s limit the power of our leaders - well-intentioned as they may be - from exerting so much influence in the first place.
Let the market work.
Exit the golf course ownership business. Sell MNGL to the highest bidder.