Libertarian blogger/columnist Megan McArdle has deep roots in Western New York.
I love western New York, which may be the most beautiful place on earth. I love the old cities, the Victorian shells that whisper of much happier days, and the broad, rolling hills, and the broad flat accents of the people who live on them. I love waterfalls softly falling downtown and the Buffalo City Hall. I love the place as you can only love somewhere that your family has been living for 200 years. I would save it if I could.
But I can't save it. Pouring government money in has been tried . . . and tried, and tried, and tried. It props up the local construction business, or some company, for a few more years, and then slowly drains away. Western New York has been the lucky recipient of largesse from a generous federal government, a flush state government, and not a few self-made men with happy memories of a childhood there. And still, it dies.
Megan's post is arguing against using taxpayer money to stave off the failure of the Big-3 automakers in Detroit.
It's sounds like, though, she is against any number of government programs to help businesses start and grow, and there's a libertarian case to be made that government props get people overly dependant on handouts, killing entrepreneurial spirit
But what I really thought about as I read her piece was how the businesses that once employed so many people in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, as well as Batavia and LeRoy, didn't get their starts because Congress allocated a wad of cash to finance factories and office complexes.
These businesses got up and running because of the energy and vision of entrepreneurs -- often men, and some women, with little means, just an idea and the determination to see it become something worthwhile. They didn't look around Western New York and see obstacles or excuses. They saw opportunity.
WNY is a great place to raise a family and run a business. What's going to save it isn't government programs, but a new generation of entrepreneurs.
Batavia is doubly blessed because it already has a model for building new businesses with a track record of success -- the Harvester Center -- Joe Mancuso's sacred structure of entrepreneurship. To this day, as we reported yesterday, the Mancuso Business Development Group is already leading the way in helping new businesses get started.
I've toured the Harvest Center -- there is plenty of space available for any enterprising individual who wants to start a new business.
Also, Alice Kryzan may have lost the Congressional race, but her push for developing green industries in Western New York shouldn't be forgotten. In fact, we should encourage Alice to carry on with the effort. She doesn't need to be an elected official to be an effective leader in bringing together business owners and bankers to help create new jobs. In fact, it would probably be preferable to promote the effort without, or very little, government assistance.
When I look at things like the Harvester Center, or parts for wind turbines being hauled down Main Street, or local farmers experimenting with alternative energy sources, or an increase in shipping on the Erie Canal -- when I see and read these things, it gives me hope for the future of Western New York.
There's no reason not to expect WNY's best days are ahead.
Notes: Though I occasionally read Megan's blog, hat tip to Buffalo Pundit for pointing out the post; Also, Megan uses a photo of the Kodak Building from Flickr credited to SailorBill. Ironically, SailorBill is my boss. The picture at the top of this post is one I took myself two years ago.