Appearing on Rhode Island Public Radio’s “Political Roundtable” show, recently, Rhode Island House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, who is running for governor as a Republican, had an exchange with political analyst Scott MacKay:
MacKay: It sounds, in a way, like you don’t really care whether the PawSox go or not. Do you realize this is a part of Rhode Island culture and family entertainment that hundreds of thousands of people go to every year?
Morgan: I do understand, and I have taken my children, as well, to the PawSox stadium, but I still believe it’s a private company at this point. We can’t build a facility for every private company. I mean, why don’t we build bowling allies; a lot of families like to go bowling. Why don’t we build miniature golf entertainment areas? At some point, we really have to keep taxpayer monies for the things that actually are economic development, will actually build good jobs in Rhode Island.
Morgan should have concluded that thought by saying we have to keep taxpayer monies for things that are actually government responsibilities, but her point is otherwise right on. The problem, however, is that conservatives can’t win this sort of reductio ad absurdum argument with progressives, because the latter will happily say, “Go ahead.”
Perhaps progressives won’t generally have the personal affection for bowling or mini-golf that they have for baseball, but nobody should doubt that they’d be happy to use government resources for family entertainment if somebody were to credibly propose doing so. After all, family time is very important. Why shouldn’t government build facilities to foster it? Isn’t government supposed to do everything important for us?
Of course, the conservative reply might be that the lack of a private market for a bolling alley in a particular area is simply evidence that people aren’t interested in that activity in sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile. But however inexpensive the activity is, there might be some families that would jump at the chance if the price came down a little and who, without that opportunity, instead spend their time doing unhealthy things isolated from each other. And hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders have fond memories of bowling with their families.