by Max Brantley
Seven-plus years in, Arkansas has a Task Force for the 21st Century Economy. It issued an interim report today. Lots of words.
Scanning for nuggets, I find suggestions about: 1) Merging or at least "co-locating" some state agencies with related functions -- Economic Developemtn, Development Finance, Science and Technology Authority, etc.; 2) Changing the law to allow public money to be used for venture capital (count me very nervous about that one). I presume investment bankers would find a way to score a fee for managing this money without assuming any risk; 3) Much more money for economic development, naturally. Because we all know so-called free enterprise can't succeed without public subsidies; 4) Better physical infrastructure, from roads to communications networks. The peons, naturally, would pay for this so that the free-enterprise, free-market entrepreneurs who make this country great will have higher profit margins and perhaps trickle down a little underpaid, non-union work on the rest of us; 5) letting cities get into venture capital (be still my heart) 6) broadening taxes that can be tapped for Tax Increment Finance Districts (in other words, try again to change the law so that sporting good store developers can steal school tax money to build shopping centers and maybe let them annex local sales taxes, too); 7) And, oh, by the way, more rigorous and productive education, geared to knowledge-based businesses.