Lee’s Summit And The Road Not Taken
The Lee’s Summit City Council voted overwhelmingly to end its consideration of Enhanced Enterprise Zones (EEZs). This is a good thing, and it is a credit to the members of the City Council who were intellectually supple enough to reconsider something that as recently as two months ago seemed a fait accompli. It is also a great credit to activists and residents who attended meetings and hearings about the matter — making sure city leaders knew their concerns.
The Show-Me Institute testified before the City Council in April that EEZs are as effective at creating jobs and economic growth as doing nothing. The data simply doesn’t support EEZ supporters’ claims. In fact, when questioned at a subsequent informational meeting, the consultant the city hired had to admit that numbers showing the success of EEZs don’t take into account what the growth may have been without EEZs. Basically, the whole program is built on the logical fallacy knows as Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc — after, therefore, because of.
Figures showing how many other places in Missouri have adopted EEZs did not sway residents. They were skeptical of claims of growth as a result of EEZs, and they were hostile to the claims that blight would do no harm. They wanted none of it.
Lee’s Summit has a lot going for it. As we wrote in our guest commentary in the Lee’s Summit Journal:
In 2006 and again in 2010, Money Magazine cited Lee’s Summit as one of the 100 Best Cities in the United States. The Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce boasts on its website: “Lee’s Summit is an ideal place to live and work, providing a desirable lifestyle that everyone can enjoy — high-quality, affordable housing in safe neighborhoods endowed with fine schools and excellent health care facilities.”
Governing a city is difficult, and my guess is that it’s even harder than it need be because everyone is trying to second-guess the free market to get ahead. City officials don’t want to just create jobs, they want to create the right kind of jobs, whatever that means. But the truest path to success in Lee’s Summit and elsewhere is to do less. Keep taxes low for everyone, streamline the bureaucracy, and let the free market thrive.
When it comes to EEZs, Lee’s Summit has chosen the road less traveled, and that will make all the difference.