Today is the third day of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Here’s a roundup of some of the goings-on there, as reported by The Seattle Times‘ Jim Brunner, The Stranger‘s Paul Constant, and other journalists who are in town covering the convention from a national perspective.
Incompetent central planning by the Republican Party kept many of Washington State’s Republican delegates from getting back to their hotel at a reasonable hour last night. The Seattle Times’ Jim Brunner reports that the privately owned and operated charter buses that were supposed to expediently transport delegates between the Tampa Bay Times Forum and a “transfer zone” at Raymond James Stadium (where a second fleet of buses were waiting) trapped each other in a traffic jam outside of the entrance to the transfer zone.
Consequently, it took a very long time for delegates to get to the bus that had been chartered to bring them back to their accommodations. Delegates ended up demanding to be let off the first bus so they could walk to the second one. Brunner tweeted that he reached the Holiday Inn around 3 AM.
Brunner also tweeted that he was passing the time with initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who is attending the RNC as a guest of Kirby Wilbur’s, and later quoted Eyman in his write-up of the fiasco:
Boarding the second bus back to a Clearwater Beach hotel, I needled Eyman that perhaps better central planning or a beefed up public transit system could have avoided the chaos.
“Absolutely not!” he shot back, laughing. “What they needed was a total free market – no buses at all and said to everybody find your own way to get to the damn stadium and then everybody would have found their own route to get to the place. It was just too much socialism!”
I didn’t hear Eyman say this, so I don’t know if he was attempting to be deliberately over-the-top, but what he told Brunner makes no sense.
Not having any kind of a transportation plan — telling everyone to find their own way to the Tampa Bay Times Forum (which, incidentally, was built with public money) — would not have worked at all. There are more than two thousand delegates at the RNC, and thousands more participating in the RNC who are not delegates. If each attendee was instructed to commute to the arena in their own vehicle, only a lucky few would be able to get inside without having to spend much of their day waiting inside an idling taxicab or rental car.
What’s more, Eyman’s notion of a “total free market” is ludicrous. There’s no such thing as a free market… let alone a “total” free market. (Incidentally, “total free market” is a curious phrase for a conservative to use, since it would seem to imply that “free markets” are not in fact free, as progressives have long pointed out).
In reality, all markets are constructed for somebody’s benefit, and no market stands on its own for very long without regulation. Very few markets in the real world are considered by economists to be perfectly competitive. (A perfectly competitive market is a market that is driven exclusively by market forces, like the four laws of supply and demand, where firms have no control over prices).
If government played no role in transportation, we would not have a very good roads system, and our economy would not function, because building and maintaining a far-flung roads system is not something the private sector is capable of doing. Businesses depend on the public sector to construct and operate basic infrastructure like roads, bridges, and ports (which allow them to transport goods to market) and mass transit systems (which allow their employees to get to work).
Roads are just as socialist as mass transit. All transportation planning is by necessity social engineering. But then, Tim Eyman has never been a transportation expert. He doesn’t understand what it takes to efficiently and effectively move people from place to place. No wonder the people of Washington have repeatedly said no when he’s tried to convince them to let him play transportation planner.
Anyhow, enough about that. Let’s move on.
Though the Washington State Republicans’ host hotel (a Holiday Inn) is located some twenty-five plus miles from the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Clearwater, the delegation does have pretty good seats inside the Forum, which is one of the country’s more spacious basketball arenas. Brunner says the delegation has a prominent spot right behind Virginia with a good view of the podium.
The Stranger’s Paul Constant continues to talk to protesters on the streets of Tampa. The latest installment of his series depicting protesters and their signs features a man named Bob, who is apparently a counter-protester (a protester protesting the protesters — sorry for the mouthful!) Earlier, he talked to Laura, a Tampa native who doesn’t agree with the Republican platform.
Local businesses in Tampa aren’t yet seeing much of a boost in foot traffic from the Republican National Convention. The Associated Press reports that bad weather and tight security appeared to be keeping many delegates away from storefronts in downtown. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn still believes the convention will result in a net gain for the city, though he admitted downtown was “dead” on Monday, the first day of the convention.
Republican governors are spending a lot of time in Tampa wooing big donors behind the scenes, reports Politico’s Ken Vogel, who used to work at The News Tribune of Tacoma some years ago. Wrote Vogel:
On Wednesday afternoon, one governor after the next pulled up in SUVs with police escorts to a discreet side entrance of the exclusive Tampa Club for a luncheon of the Republican Governors Association’s top donor club, the Executive Roundtable. It provides special access to governors for folks who give $25,000 or more each year, more than 80 of whom came to hear speeches from Govs. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Chris Christie of New Jersey, and to mingle with Govs. Terry Branstad of Iowa, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
The Republican Governors Association is expected to spend heavily on Rob McKenna’s behalf in the coming weeks. The Democratic Governors Association is poised to do likewise on behalf of Jay Inslee.