Coble to laid-off employees: in your face


So, the city of Columbia is in such financial straits that it’s forced to lay off employees, but it’s still going ahead with plans to award a contract for construction of a $2.3 million pavilion connected to the EdVenture Children’s Museum.

“I believe it will be one of the most beautiful spots on the greenway,” Mayor Bob Coble tells The State newspaper. “It creates jobs and it adds to a synergy of attractions that are a major downtown economic engine. It’s our own local stimulus package.”

Mayor Coble has never met a soundbite he didn’t like, but let’s examine what he said:

  • “It creates jobs.” So did Stalin’s Gulag Archipelago, but that doesn’t mean it was a good idea. Simply spending money to create jobs rarely makes good economic sense. The city of Columbia has likely expended tens of millions of dollars or more in recent years in streetscaping improvements and similar projects that many have argued were unnecessary or simply wasteful. And now, with the economic downturn in full swing, it seems particularly foolish to plow ahead with non-essential work.
  • “It adds to a synergy of attractions that are a major downtown economic engine.” That’s a whole lot of economic development cliches packed into a single sentence, but one suspects that much of what’s in the area Coble is touting as a “downtown economic engine,” such as EdVenture, is being subsidized in one way or another.
  • “It’s our own local stimulus package.” And just like the federal stimulus package, somebody’s going to have to pick up the tab eventually.

But, come hell or high water, Columbia officials are going to proceed with planned building projects such as the pavilion, no matter how superfluous they are or how many employees’ jobs could have been saved if the projects had been put on hold until the city’s budget improved.

That’s the magic of government – logic and common sense need not apply.


Remembering blacksmith Philip Simmons


South Carolina lost a legend Monday when famed blacksmith Philip Simmons died in Charleston at age 97.

Born in 1912, Simmons began work as a blacksmith by putting shoes on horses as a young man in Charleston and moved into decorative ironwork by the mid- to late 1930s, according to The Associated Press. His acclaimed pieces include one that hangs in the Smithsonian Institution.

Other works among his most prominent included the symbolic gates to the city outside the Charleston Visitor’s Center and a piece at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, The Associated Press added.

According to The Charleston Post and Courier, Simmons’ great popularity couldn’t be explained simply by his ability to bend iron. He also was one of the gentlest Charlestonians of his time.

“As he carried on a craft practiced in Charleston since the 1730s, Simmons also became one of the city’s most well-known ambassadors,” the paper wrote. “Thousands of visitors to Charleston stopped by his house and forge at 30 1/2 Blake St. either to watch him at work or to listen to him tell tales.

“His 77 years at the forge spanned two eras,” the paper added. “When he began, blacksmiths were sort of like car mechanics of their day, making horseshoes and other practical items. By the time he laid his hammer down a few years ago, blacksmithing was seen as more of an art form.”

…how about when hell freezes over?


An interesting post from S.M. Oliva at the Ludwig von Mises Institute’s blog, reprinted below:

There are four articles on the front page of my local newspaper this morning. One deals with the post-election violence in Iran. The other three articles deal with abuses by the U.S. and local governments:

(1) A city government contemplates stealing land from private owners in order to build a road for the benefit of political officials and their business allies;

(2) A county government prevents a couple from giving part of their own land to their grandchildren because it contradicts a previously imposed central plan for land use; and

(3) The Federal Trade Commission is now asserting an unqualified right to monitor and censor blogs.

Here’s my question: When will Congress pass a non-binding resolution expressing support for American “citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law.” You know, like they did for Iranian citizens.