Ocean Springs Leaders Make the Rules–But They Don’t Want to Abide by Them

Ask yourself a question:  What is the purpose of government?  Most folks will say something “nice” like this:  The purpose of government is to make our lives better.  With appreciation to Captain Kangaroo and all the kids in the kindergarten class, may I suggest that we’ve been fed such horse hooey long enough?

The sad truth of the matter is that every time government “makes our lives better,” it’s done at the expense of someone.  Either everyone gets a benefit paid for by a few, or a chosen few get something that comes at the expense of everyone.

Now let me propose a different explanation for the purpose of government:  The purpose of government is to prevent fraud, abuse, and violence so that the people of any given constituency can pursue the betterment of their own lives and the lives of those they hold dear.  This, I humbly suggest, is the vision of those of us who think that government is best when it governs least, or when it governs only when it must.  Why?  Because governance controls and limits the options of the governed.  This is necessary when the governed foist fraud or misrepresentation upon others, but government is doing so much more than preventing that.  Government seems to be everywhere and in the middle of everything, and citizens seem always to be answering to government representatives.  Imagine how many things our city and county leaders wouldn’t be involved in if they had an understanding of limited government.

On June 15th the City of Ocean Springs is set to open its new $7 Million Sportsplex on Highway 57.  My busy work schedule will make it impossible for me to find the time to enjoy this lovely new facility. I’m a full-time college professor and my wife and I own a business in Ocean Springs.  Like others in our fair city, we’re busy working hard in order to pay city and county taxes.  After all, our leaders have lots of important projects on which to spend that tax money (like the city’s new Sportsplex and the county’s expansion of soccer fields).  My wife and I can’t enjoy these things because we’re working to pay for them.  If county and city officials think they should watch out for our health, however, perhaps they could chip in to buy us an exercise bike for our living room.

Let’s get back to the purpose of government.  Watching some of the leadership of Jackson County and Ocean Springs, one might think they believe the purpose of government is to figure out how to spend all the money they have managed to take from taxpayers.  Now that Ocean Springs has a new Sportsplex, of course it needs a fancy new sign.  It’s not enough to point out the entrance to the facility; Mayor Moran wants a big sign with all the bells and whistles.  She seems to think that citizens aren’t smart enough to learn about the activities at the Sportsplex on their own.  According to the Sun Herald, the sign will have “an area for advertising and en electronic display in the middle to advertise upcoming events.”

There’s just one little problem:  the proposed sign would violate the county sign ordinance (the Sportsplex is not within the city limits so it is subject to county ordinance).  Actually, as county supervisor John McKay pointed out, there really is another problem as well.  You see, one day the city will probably annex the Sportsplex  and here’s a surprise:  the proposed sign would also violate city ordinance.  According to the Sun Herald, Mayor Moran said “it could be considered a billboard.”  That’s an easy solution.  But would it be offered so quickly if the proposed sign was the brainchild of a privately-owned business?

This is but one more example why government that governs too much actually hurts us all.  I am quite sure that the Sportsplex will be lovely, but I’m not so sure it was necessary right now–when the nation’s economy is tattered and nearing a second round of heart palpitations (there’s no recovery yet, folks).  In fact, I’m not so sure that it’s the job of counties and cities to build multimillion-dollar sports complexes.

Of course, if our leaders are going to build such monuments to their own generosity with our money, they also have to advertise them.  And why bother to follow the regulations that are imposed on everyone else?  Governments make the rules.  They don’t have to abide by them.

I applaud Supervisor McKay for questioning the matter of signage.  Let’s hope he doesn’t give in on the matter.  Mr. McKay, if government is going to regulate its citizens, then it must abide by the laws it forces upon us all.  Anything else is plain hypocrisy and abuse of power, even when it comes to “nice” things like the Sportsplex.


14 thoughts on “Ocean Springs Leaders Make the Rules–But They Don’t Want to Abide by Them

  1. You are way off on this one! The sports complex has been a work in process for over a decade and if you have visited any other sports complexes you would see the huge economic impact in hosting tournaments. My daughter plays softball and I like you, had no idea how many teams, from so many states will come to a fastpitch tournament. Promoters are getting rich off of these tournaments. This was a Great move on the part of our Mayor and the 2% tax is well worth what we are getting for our money! I realize that she is not popular with some but the truth is if everyone likes you, you’re probably not doing a good job!

  2. Thanks, Sammy. I’m always glad to have other opinions here. It’s obvious that you are in favor of this Sportsplex, but my point was not whether it does economic good–but whether it’s the place of GOVERNMENT to build it.

    You have a daughter. I have no children and can’t get to the Sportsplex. Your argument seems to be that it brings economic good to Ocean Springs and therefore I and all other taxpayers are right to have been forced to pay for it. I disagree. Economic vitality shouldn’t come because of government spending. It should come because of private spending.

    A fancy fastpitch center is a great idea, but let it be built with private money and let the people who use it support it.

    By your reasoning, anything that will bring people to Ocean Springs to spend money should be done by city government. I disagree.

    Thanks for your comments. We may disagree, but the fact that we are respectful in our dialogue is a great sign of what democratic values are all about! God bless you.

    • This is more than a Fancy Fastpitch Center, this along with other projects planned with the 2% tax, voted on and passed by the citizens of Ocean Springs will provide facilities that most cities around us provide to their youth, these things have been a long time coming. By your reasoning maybe we shouldn’t build and maintain public schools because not everyone has children. This is not the Federal Government or the State Government overstepping their bounds, which I’m sure we agree on 100%. I would like to add that keeping children involved in sports and other activitys keeps them out of trouble. The 2% tax has not ever persuaded me one way or the other as to whether or not I was going to have dinner or drinks in Ocean Springs.

      • As for public schools, no, I wouldn’t argue for their dissolution. They have a long and productive history in our nation that goes all the way back to 16th-section land provisions, land set aside by the government for support of schools. I do think taxation for schools is out of hand, however, and I tend to be supportive of a voucher or credit system where those who want to send their children to private or parochial schools could at least divert their school-related taxes to that cause. It’s not that your argument holds no water, Sammy, it’s that it is symbolic of the problem we’re facing at every level of government: as long as I like an idea or think it’s helpful, I want it funded. I’m arguing for funding less all across the board by cutting the size, scope, and expense of governments. In my view, such an approach would be much more consistent with the values upon which the nation was founded.

      • How about Libraries, Fire Protection, Jails, etc. The list goes on and on of things the Government provides that could be handeled by the private sector. My political leanings are as far as you can get from our Presidents. I would support Ron Paul if he wasn’t crazy! I do believe somethings are best left for the Government to provide. The problems we are having are that the people have let the Government get out of control. it’s time to stop blaming and start taking back our country!

  3. John, It is so good to see and read this. You know that it is all true too.
    Please keep it up.
    I wish I had time to take some of your classes.
    The spending is interesting around here isn’t it?.
    That silly little 2% tax that will never end. Bahahahahahah, who are they kidding? They will keep adding projects to it as time goes on. And, although the idea is good, the reality is they didn’t do a good enough job on it.
    I like to call it “the band aid patrol” because they do just enough to keep most of the citizens out of the loop.
    They should all become interior decorators because they sure can make things look pretty…
    Thanks for all you do.

  4. Thanks for your comments and support, Kris! I’m always thrilled to see your place loaded with patrons spending their own money and supporting someone who used his own money to start a business. Makes you want to put out a sign that reads, “private equity at work here,” or “no government money spent on this project,” doesn’t it? The economy should pick the winners and losers, not government. Is it sad when a person’s business fails? Yes, but it’s also evidence that the product or service offered wasn’t needed by others and thus they failed to support it. If Kwitzky’s sold sour pickle slushies instead of beer and had no customers, would it be the place of government to pay to keep it open?

    LOL–I wish you continued success. I hope lots of my blog readers will visit your place. The link is placed here to make it easy for them to find you!


  5. Let me point out that the Ocean Springs sign regulators refused to allow the Dog Rescue on 90 to display any signage forcing the volunteer organization to jump through hoops to even lean a sign against their building. They moved to new location. The Ocean Springs signage regulation enforcers were absolute bullies to those who wanted to help rescue dogs. BULLIES!

    This is a clear case of Government spending taxpayers money without regard to cost and more about control. Connie Moran said she bought the best lights money can buy for the sportsplex, she bought EXPENSIVE lights with expensive bulbs.

    This will make those who worship Mother Earth, the American Planning Association, and the (Communist) Congress for the New Urbanism very happy to say Mayor Connie Moran sacrificed the money of her town to save the planet with mercury-filled lights that use less electricity but if one bulb breaks may causes brain or organ damage in our children.

    Hypocrites in city planning justify their United Nations green-connected projects and deny others.

  6. John, on this particular issue, we must disagree. I’m as much of a small government guy as you are. However, if Ocean Springs residents elect (and re-elect) a Mayor and Aldermen who use their money to build a sports complex, I have no problem with that. I have no kids who will be using it either. But, this is a local decision. If locals want their government to spend their money in this manner, so be it. I would never tell another state or another city that they should adopt my “small government” ideas, no more than I’d tell Mass. that Romneycare is bad for them. My problem is when States overlord over cities/counties and when the Federal government (which is the biggest problem) oversteps it’s bounds.

  7. As always, Sam and Sammy, I appreciate your respectful dialogue even though we disagree. I only wish to point out, however, that since I grew up in Ocean Springs and continue to own a business there, I’m one of the locals. So I may be in the minority, but I’m joining the local conversation by raising questions that I think are urgenty in need of attention. As Sam said, “this is a local decision.” Well, I’m local!

  8. Dear Reader: Please note that this blog post has been corrected. Based upon the reporting of the Sun Herald, I made an error concerning the legal size of billboards in Ocean Springs. That incorrect reference has been deleted. I regret the error and I removed it as soon as it came to my attention.

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