Another full-page ad appeared today in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette urging VOTE NO ON ISSUE 3. The legislatively referred constitutional amendment would permit corporate welfare — handouts of tax money to private businesses chosen by political bosses and also to lobbyists for chambers of commerce.
The ad was paid for by Arkansas for Free Enterprise, based in Fayetteville. Its latest report shows it raised $29,000 and spent almost all of it on newspaper advertising through the Arkansas Press Association. The money came in $14,500 contributions from Conduit for Action, the conservative political lobby, and Political Strategies LLC of Fayetteville, organized by Brenda Vassaur Taylor of Fayetteville. Joe Maynard has been a financial backer and activist in Conduit and similar efforts, particularly in attempting to elect legislators who’d overturn the Medicaid expansion in Arkansas.
The group is also urging votes against Issue 1, to give county officials four-year terms, and the medical marijuana amendment. They are right at least once. VOTE NO ON ISSUE 3.
A small irony occurred to me yesterday as I was doing the weekly podcast. The chamber of commerce and politicians like the governor talk a lot about free enterprise. But they are madly endorsing a proposal to give government handouts to business. These same people often say handouts are a disincentive to work when they are in the form of food, health care or child care for poor working families.
At the same time, the chamber of commerce and the same politicians are trying to defeat a measure that would provide pain relief and comfort to sick people. That’s mean-spirited. But it is also ironic. The medical marijuana amendment is openly backed by people who are spending a couple of million dollars in venture capital to open a market for their business. THAT is free enterprise. Private business people taking all the risk and seeking no government handout to do it. What a concept.