Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I thinks about the economics of supplying my side

Jim Schutze’s latest article in the Dallas Observer chronicles the Trinity River project, an issue which stretches back to 1998. In theory, this is a project to transform the Trinity River into a recreational park, an economic hub, a beautified central area that will be forever identified with downtown Dallas. The voters of Dallas approved a measure to fund the improvement of the levees and begin the project in 1998.

Schutze said the project was hogwash then. It appears, eight years later, that he was right. I’m unaware of any improvements to the Trinity or its levees, and Schutze has reported in previous articles that the money has already been re-appropriated. It’s interesting, then, that in November the voters approved over a billion dollars in bonds, some of which are already set for this project.

In 1998, a glossy mailing was produced with an artist’s rendition of the Trinity of the future, which featured sailboats, terraces, and happy cartoon people frolicking by a lake. Anyone familiar with the Trinity of today would have a hard time imagining such a thing, but kudos to the artist for his depth of imagination.

Schutze, doing the math calculates the money set from this record bond package still falls dramatically short of the final price tag on this project. Short by about 1 billion dollars. This is vehemently denied by city officials, including the mayor. This is a journalist doing math, after all, but can he be off by so much?

The editor of D magazine has dedicated his December issue editorial to a lesson in economics, Schutze feels largely because of his articles. The editor, Wick Allison, defends the large bond package by pointin to the investment in the arena, and the development that has stimulated. This strikes me as a reasonable argument.

Everything, in these issues, is proportional, however. The city invests 115 million in bond money in an arena. It gets millions in investment and construction around the arena. However, in a strange deal, tax revenue from said development must be reinvested in the Victory neighborhood, and only in the Victory neighorhood. So the city does get the benefit of increased tax revenue, but perhaps only to improve the interests of the developers they cut the deal with. Perhaps this is just Keynesian economics at work- the government runs up debt to endlessly stimulate growth, endlessly running up larger debt, until one day you have a 3 trillion dollar debt, but its alright, because “In the long run we’re all dead.”, just like John Maynard assured us.

Yet all of this is irrelevant, because I have already selected my motorboat for the Trinity of the future, metal flaked acrylic body with twin 200 horsepower outboard Mercury engines. I am requesting my own racing lane on the waterfront of the future, and feel confident with my strategic bribes, that the city will grant my wish. I think I will also outfit my boat with 50mm machine guns and torpedoes also, to keep unwanted types off my beautiful lake.

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