Friday, June 15, 2007

Cry me a golf course

I have a love-hate relationship with the New York Times. The writing is often superb, but the bias in the stories is sometimes amazing.

Case in point: today's story about Bandon Dunes, the already-legendary golf resort in remote coastal Oregon. The Times has to (a) bellyache about some tax breaks Mike Keiser received in building the course, (b) complain about further "subsidies" to improve the local airport in the way of federal funds and lottery money, (c) bring in a token local who is being hurt by the project and (d) finally, go off on corporations subsidizing plane rides for their executives through the shareholders. Sheesh.

Subsidizing the pet projects of the Times is okay, I guess, but heaven forbid if something beautiful and profitable gets built using tax breaks, and then -- oh, no -- the wealthy (who pay most of the taxes anyway) benefit from it! What is this world coming to? I wonder if this reporter even read Stephen Goodwin's superb book about the making of Bandon Dunes and what had to be overcome to get it done. And the end product is some of the most amazing scenery in the world, with jobs and a world-wide tourist destination created. The horror of it all.

Mike Keiser (who, BTW, made his money as a co-founder of Recycled Paper Greetings) put it best: “Certainly from the recipient point of view, I’m pleased that there is a subsidy and know very well that it is a subsidy that can be changed at any point in time. That is why we have a Congress, to look at things like that.” I will at least credit the Times for not trying to make Keiser look like Gordon Gekko.

Lastly, as for the corporate subsidy? If you don't like a company's policies on travel, then DON'T INVEST IN THE COMPANY! It is that simple. Remember the divestiture movement in South African companies in the 1980s? Hello?

(Full disclosure: I do not know and have never met Mike Keiser, but I do know a member of the Keiser family.)