Distorted Thinking and Bad Management
More and more of our leaders are kicking the can down the road for future generations by selling off valuable assets to the highest bidder. States, cities and universities are all looking for a quick infusion of cash to make their temporary term in office look good at the expense of those who must live with these bad deals for decades. We are losing control of our valuable assets, selling or leasing them to foreigners who have only profits in mind, not the well-being of our country. Our leaders are attempting to cover a multitude of sins and errors by taking in lump sum payments with only short-term interests in mind. This is steadily bankrupting our country by handing over the value created by our assets to foreign interests.
Each time a public entity has sold off its valuable assets the deal has appeared disastrous in retrospect. Despite this fact, The Ohio State University is now looking to lease its parking facilities to an Australian firm for a period of 50 years. If the deal is approved, OSU’s parking facilities would then be managed by LAZ Parking, the same firm that manages Chicago’s parking meters following the disastrous deal that leased those meters to a foreign entity. Such university parking facilities exist to serve the students and as a land-grant university, Ohio State has a duty to the public. Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee was previously Chancellor at Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt had leased its parking facilities for 30 years, a term which expired in 2011. Vanderbilt did not renew this deal because there had been too many problems, and the university felt it could handle the problem on its own. This deal was clearly not in the best interest of Vanderbilt University, and was not in line with the university’s goals. It was based on the idea that money now is better than steady profits over the years. Gee had seen that problem firsthand at Vanderbilt yet continues to pursue the same type of bad deal at Ohio State.
This kind of thinking has led to many distasteful arrangements already. Chicago’s parking meters are one example, as the city must now compensate the operator for simple street closures as well as handicapped parking and other “lost” revenue the operator incurs. The payment Chicago received for its meters has also been determined to be billions of dollars short of the real value. Chicago also sold its city-owned parking garages to a private company, and now the city is facing a massive lawsuit because it allowed another parking garage to be built in the vicinity of the city garages. Indiana sold its toll road to Spanish investors, and since then toll rates have nearly doubled. It is clear that even deals that appeared good at the onset often have hidden costs and turn out to be big losers for the seller.
This is not the way our country operated in the past, and it is not the way we can grow and prosper in the future. No one thinks that taking family heirlooms to the pawn shop is a good way of achieving financial success, so why should we believe selling or leasing the assets that were built by Americans for Americans to foreign interests is any different? We need to focus on creating real wealth, not selling off what we made in more prosperous times. This trend cannot continue for long or we will have nothing left to call our own.