Saturday, August 28, 2010

Property Rights and Freedom of Religion, Yes; Taxpayer Financing, No


Per Reuters:

The Muslim center planned near the site of the World Trade Center attack could qualify for tax-free financing, a spokesman for City Comptroller John Liu said on Friday, and Liu is willing to consider approving the public subsidy.

There's some weasel wording in there, so let's unpack it.

The issue isn't "tax-exempt financing" per se. All financing (and everything else!) should be tax-exempt.

Nor is "tax-exempt financing" by definition a "subsidy." Not taking money from someone isn't the same thing as giving money to someone.

But this actually is a subsidy -- it's one of those "public-private partnership" things, where a quasi-governmental organization (a "local development corporation") is allowed to issue bonds (the interest on which is tax-exempt to the bondholder, hence the "tax-exempt financing" language) to complete the project. If the project goes under, the taxpayer takes the hit for payment on the bonds.

REFILE - CORRECTING STAGE OF TOUR mam Feisal Abdul Rauf (L), executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, shakes hands with worshippers after leading midday prayers inside the Fanar-Qatar Islamic Cultural Center's mosque in Doha 27 August, 2010. Abdul Rauf is currently on the second leg of his funded tour to Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as part of an outreach effort by the U.S. State Department to promote religious tolerance, according to a State Department spokesman. Abdul Rauf's Cordoba Initiative is building a Muslim cultural centre in lower Manhattan, which currently faces an emotional campaign to block it by conservative politicians and families of the Sept. 11 2001 attacks, claiming that locating it only two blocks north of the site was a provocation. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad (QATAR - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION)
REFILE - CORRECTING STAGE OF TOUR mam Feisal Abdul Rauf (L), executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, shakes hands with worshippers after leading midday prayers inside the Fanar-Qatar Islamic Cultural Center's mosque in Doha 27 August, 2010. Abdul Rauf is currently on the second leg of his funded tour to Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as part of an outreach effort by the U.S. State Department to promote religious tolerance, according to a State Department spokesman. Abdul Rauf's Cordoba Initiative is building a Muslim cultural centre in lower Manhattan, which currently faces an emotional campaign to block it by conservative politicians and families of the Sept. 11 2001 attacks, claiming that locating it only two blocks north of the site was a provocation. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad (QATAR - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION)
Note to Park51/Cordoba House's principals, especially Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf: You shouldn't even be thinking about trying this.

A majority of the populace appears to have already swallowed the "Ground Zero Mosque" demagoguery hook, line and sinker and there's a strong mob mentality movement hell-bent on stopping you from building your cultural center.

Of the minority standing up for your property rights and religious freedoms, a significant portion of us are civil (or uncivil, as the case may be) libertarians who are standing up only for your property rights and religious freedom.

Most of us aren't Muslims or particularly enamored of Islam.

Most of us don't really give a tinker's damn whether the thing gets built or not -- we're just standing up for your right to build it, if you choose to, on your own property and with your own money.

It's a fragile coalition centered around rights versus might, freedom versus compulsion, tolerance versus suppression.

As soon as you start claiming a "right" to stick your hand in taxpayers' wallets for a bailout if your project goes south on you, that coalition disintegrates.

So don't do it.

[see what others are saying about this story at memeorandum]

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