Southwest agrees to SC – without incentives

Southwest Airlines said today it would launch service at both Charleston International and Greenville-Spartanburg International airports, and would do so without any public assistance, aside from routine start-up help from Charleston International Airport, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.

The decision, which comes after weeks of debate over proposed incentives to lure a discount airline to the state, came as lawmakers expected to take up a bill stalled in the Senate that would establish the S.C. Air Services Incentive and Development Fund, which allows the Aeronautics Commission to borrow up to $15 million from the Insurance Reserve Fund to lure low-cost carriers, the paper added.

Hopefully, this will put an end to H. 4343, the House bill and related budget proviso that would provide up to $15 million in loans to attract airlines to South Carolina.

Among other problems with H. 4343, neither the bill nor proviso has any language requiring the benefitting airlines to repay the loans with their own money should aircraft property tax revenues fall short. Also, neither measure lists any deadlines to repay the loans.

State taxpayers would – not surprisingly – likely be left holding the bag in that situation.

Whether Southwest actually goes ahead and serves South Carolina without taking incentives remains to be seen. If so, it would certainly lend weight to the theory that state-backed incentives are an unnecessary expense doled out by politicians who like giving away other people’s money.

Self-defeating anti-immigration laws

Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe identifies a curious phenomenon: Those on the Right who “deplore the liberty-infringing perils of big government, yet applaud Arizona’s draconian new immigration law, which empowers the police to interrogate anyone suspected of being in the country unlawfully.”

“How can they brandish ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ signs at a Tea Party rally on Monday,” he asks, “then on Tuesday cheer a law making the failure to carry ‘an alien-registration document’ a crime?” 

Jacoby then adds: 

I have never understood the anti-immigrant hysterics. Industrious self-starters who come to the United States to find work, create new wealth, and improve their lives are not a menace or a threat. They are an asset. No state seeks to drive out hard-working newcomers from New Mexico or Indiana; why should hard-working newcomers from Old Mexico or India be treated any differently? To say that they cross the border illegally only begs the question. Why should it be illegal for any person to come to the United States, assuming his intentions are peaceful and he is not likely to become a public charge or health risk?

Much of our current illegal immigration problem is the result of cumbersome and byzantine federal law, which makes legal immigration costly and difficult.

As Jacoby points out, neither walling up our borders nor punitive sanctions on employers who hire illegal aliens will remedy the situation. What’s needed is meaningful immigration reform that would make it easier for low-skilled or unskilled workers to enter the country lawfully.