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News columnist Donn Esmonde has shed his anti-establishment populist mantle and is now hanging with the corporate state insiders. His recent column praises the cockamamie scheme to revive our moribund city by giving Adelphia Communications $100 million to build a run-of-the-mill office building.

Esmonde argues that this corporate welfare is necessary because the Adelphia-owned Sabres will lose $19 million this year. Why are we giving money to a company that has proven to be a poor manager of a sports franchise?

The Sabres are losing money for a reason that any eighth-grader could understand -- their costs exceed their revenues. This is in spite of the fact that the taxpayers already built the team an extremely expensive hockey arena.

To be more precise, the Sabres are losing money because players' salaries are too high. They are artificially high in large part because public subsidies to franchises leave them with more money to bid for players.

Esmonde's solution is to give the franchise more public money to bid salaries even higher and lose even more money. He urges us to take tax money from people who make $30,000 a year and give it to the billionaires who own Adelphia so they can raise the salaries of millionaire hockey players. Why didn't I think of that?

None of this Keynsian nonsense will cure the structural problems that have been causing Buffalo's economic decline for 40 years -- the highest tax rates in the country and a regulatory environment hostile to business.

The Adelphia handout worsens these problems by encouraging the growth of an enormous corporate welfare bureaucracy, and by keeping taxes high to pay for this project and numerous others that we will have to pay for in the coming years.

At this rate, our unimaginative leaders will ensure that our economic decline will continue for another 40 years.


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