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Opinion in Wallingford: Here is a fact: There is no free lunch

Opinion in Wallingford: Here is a fact: There is no free lunch

By Stephen Knight

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.”

Just in time for this column, I read this quote from the late US Senator Daniel Moynihan, a Democrat from New York (of all places).

Please keep this prescient quote in mind, because one of the mayoral candidates continues to mislead his supporters to the point where their letters to the R-J seem to find actual facts inconvenient to their argument that Wallingford “is fading,” that Mayor Dickinson’s long tenure “does lead to complacency.”

In one letter, a Jared Liu supporter supports her contention that Wallingford is failing by stating, “He sold our power plant…” This as an example of failure? Apparently her candidate has told her so. Does he not know that this power plant, when it was sold, hadn’t produced power in decades as it was obsolete? Was he unaware that it was sold in order to be refitted with modern gas-fired standby generation? Was he also unaware that we own almost a third of the plant, along with being the first in line for the power should a statewide outage occur? Did Mr. Liu, using this “example” of a fading Wallingford, do any fact-checking, any research on the history of the Alfred Pierce plant?

Here’s another line from the same letter: “…we lack basic technology that can attract new businesses.” Another campaign line from Mr. Liu. First of all, the ballyhooed lack of technology argument falls flat if one actually looks at the Town budget to see the enormous expenditures made to improve the town’s electronic capabilities. The innuendo that we are in the dark ages is entirely built around the fact that internet access is not universal in town departments. But that anomaly — and it is a valid issue — cannot be puffed up to warrant the adjective “basic.”

Let’s follow up on the other half of the statement: “…that can attract new businesses.” Really? You mean to tell me that a business considering Wallingford as a location will ignore all the work that Economic Development Specialist Tim Ryan has probably put into attracting that business, will ignore the lowest electric rates in the State of Connecticut, will ignore the reasonable and predictable property tax rates, will ignore all the recent efforts that the Wallingford School System has put into educating tomorrow’s workers? That the company or business will say, “Not every town department has internet access, so we will go elsewhere”?

One of the letters goes on to parrot Jared Liu’s favorite theme: “…we have to make those investments now.” Okay, now we get down to what this is really about. We need more money. Remember that, in progressive-speak, there is never a reference to actual spending. It is always investment, as if calling it investment means that there will automatically be a financial return. If we spend $3 million a year more on paving our streets, then somehow, from somewhere, all that money will come flowing back into the town coffers.

No, investment really means spending more money. And … follow me here … that means raising taxes. It means every homeowner, every landlord, every business, and every car owner in this town will pay for whatever these “investments” are. But we hear: “Oh, but that’s not true. Businesses will flock to Wallingford because we make these investments.” As if there is a direct and virtually overnight return on that “investment,” that businesses will ignore the punitive and predatory state business environment, or that a Liu administration will find other sources to pay the bills for all our “investments.”

No, here is a fact: there is no free lunch. No one else will get stuck with the bill but you and I. Now many of us might be lucky enough to still be able maintain our standard of living even if taxes went up by, say, 20% to pay for all these investments. But many, many people in Wallingford cannot.  A much higher percentage than Mr. Liu thinks… because he hasn’t done the actual demographic research that the Dickinson administration has done. But progressives — who consider themselves the champions of those who struggle to make ends meet — forget that part.

So here is another fact: there are just too many people in Wallingford who will be genuinely hurt if taxes are raised to pay for all this “investing.” Mayor Dickinson is guided by that reality; Jared Liu ignores it.

Margaret Thatcher once said: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.” That definition fits all too many who claim to be gifted with “vision.”

When choosing our next town government, the question we must ultimately ask is: If candidates don’t know or won’t at least acknowledge the facts as they truly exist, then this “vision” they claim to have is better described as … delusion.

Stephen Knight is a former Wallingford town councilor.

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