For Immediate Release: April 23, 1998
Contact: Amy Ridenour 202/543-4110 or [email protected]
Government risks undermining both the strong economy and the public's faith in their governmental system if it doesn't end pervasive and unnecessary abuses that hurt Americans, says The National Center for Public Policy Research.
The National Center specifically condemns the following practices:
1) Passing laws that kill jobs in one state, just to make an elected official in another state look good.
2) Passing laws or granting permits to allow people or businesses to build something, and then changing the law or permit after it is built, rendering an expensive investment worthless.
3) Allowing companies with political connections to use them to drive private citizens off their property, or competitors out of business, and force them to lay off their employees.
4) Penalizing companies for doing good works.
The National Center points to numerous recent examples of abuse, including:
* A bill in Congress, S. 1221, the American Fisheries Act, manages all by itself to violate the first three of these four abuses. The bill, sponsored by Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, would throw 1,500 Americans in Washington state out of work, sending some of the jobs to Alaska and others to politically-connected Tyson Seafoods, a division of Tyson Foods of Springdale, Arkansas. The bill would do this by changing a 1987 law (which required that new fishing boats must be 51% owned by Americans) to a new one requiring that all fishing boats be 75% owned by Americans within 18 months. If approved, S. 1221 would drive out of business fishing firms that relied on the 1987 law and spent hundreds of millions to buy and rebuild fishing boats wholly in compliance with 1987 laws. Predictably, Tyson Foods supports this bill. Seattle's newspapers, and at least 1,500 people who will have to look for work should it pass, hate it.
* The situation of Vera Coking of New Jersey strikingly illustrates Abuse #3. Ms. Coking received a notice giving her 90 days to vacate her home of 36 years. The reason? The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority was using the state power of "eminent domain" to take Coking's house, condemn it, and transfer the land to Donald Trump for his use as a limousine parking lot for the new Trump Plaza. "Eminent domain," of course, is supposed to be used to permit the government to build roads and other necessary public facilities, not to benefit private business.
* Abuse # 4 is illustrated by Coors Brewing, which discovered that beer fumes were more potent than originally believed. Rather than cover up the problem they spent $1.5 million repairing it - and promptly told the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment all about it. The Department thanked Coors - and fined them $1.05 million, saying the evaporating beer violated the Clean Air Act. So Coors spent $2.55 million doing a good deed. Doing nothing was free.
The National Center for Public Policy Research has additional information on these cases and other examples of government abuses. A column about the projected loss of 1,500 jobs in the Pacific Northwest by syndicated columnist Doug Bandow is attached. Also available on the job-loss issue are editorials from the Seattle Times and Post-Intelligencer, a briefing paper by the nonpartisan legal-assistance group Defenders of Property Rights, and a legal opinion about the case - and its possible additional costs to U.S. taxpayers in all 50 states - by former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.
A comprehensive directory of over 100 examples of government abuses that hurt Americans unnecessarily will be published by The National Center for Public Policy Research this summer.
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