Between a Dog and a Man

Falling through the universe at the speed of life

By David Glenn Cox

There are no historical parallels, unless we assume the Captain of the Titanic intentionally rammed that iceberg or they were smoking a joint on the bridge of the Hindenburg. “It’s cool, you got it man! Come on! Oh wait!” Business abhors uncertainty. You can’t get where you’re trying to go without knowing down to the penny, what that’s going to cost you.

You aren’t going to build a car factory in an area of political instability. You aren’t going to build it where the government is hostile to you. You aren’t going to build it where the power goes out for a few days at a time unexpectedly. It’s not the taxes that bother them, it’s not knowing for sure how much.

Commercial property depreciates on average 2% per year. A shopping center built in 1970 is functionally obsolete by 2022. The concrete is cracked, and the water pressure is bad from those old, rusted pipes, and we are on our third HVAC unit and this one is making noises. It’s going to need a new roof in five years. You think of all the projects you’ve done and think, “Gee, if I had it to do all over again. What would I do differently?”

My how construction methods have changed, we’ll save a fortune over the year with better insulation. And the new security system is state of the art, using fewer people and giving better security. Why, we will save a fortune with that. And the tax breaks we had written into covenants this time, that can never be taken away.

Walt Disney World employs 77,000 people directly. The park has 58 million visitors annually, with an average ticket price of $125. That’s just to get in the front door; you do the math and don’t put your wallet away. The visitors pay landing fees at the airport and rent cars there too. They eat and buy gas and then fuel the rental car and pay taxes again. They pay taxes at the hotel where they are staying and taxes at the bar and at the Gator Museum and the Reptile Emporium too. “Taxidermy- Done Just Right!”

Florida has no state income tax which means most of the taxes are paid by out of towners, the poor and the working poor. Lodging taxes, drink taxes and fuel taxes. It’s a great system, just wait at the airport and start picking their pockets as soon as they begin to deplane.

Now, Disney isn’t drilling holes in the ground sucking out toxins by the ton, unless you watch their TV. There are no belching smokestacks over the Magic Kingdom, and they aren’t strip mining or emitting intense levels of radiation. They aren’t depleting the environment or destroying the ozone. You might not score as high on an IQ test, but hey, we had fun.

Walt Disney World began greeting guests fifty years ago. Florida was way different fifty years ago, politicians anxious and willing to give Disney whatever they wanted. Because Disney was going to make them all fabulously rich beyond their wildest dreams. Disney was bringing a printing press to town to print and hand out money. And all the politicians had to do was smile and take the check. That old broken-down Drive-in theater property is suddenly worth millions.

If Disney were to announce that they were breaking ground on Walt Disney World Savanah “Opening 2026!” their stock price would only rise. Business hates uncertainty and business won’t stay with a hostile government in power. The Disney board must be asking themselves “What’s next?” What sort of shenanigans will he come up with next time? Disney gave Chairman Ron DeSantis $100,000 last go round. I wouldn’t pencil that in for this time around. One hundred stacks of $1,000 freely handed over and this is how they are repaid.

The unravelling of Disney’s special arrangement means a whole new tax regime, guess who? Hit that golden goose going and coming. Take away their privileges and raise their taxes. Make them the whipping boy for your entire Administration. That’s not your girlfriend anymore, that’s your EX! You might make up and be friendly again, but that’s still your Ex! That relationship has changed forever, and you’ll never see your CDs ever again. Disney will be forced to raise prices. Everyone will be forced to raise prices and those willing to shell out for a Disney Dream Adventure vacation will decline.

I suppose the Governor of Nevada could order Las Vegas to close every night at nine o’clock or impose a punitive pasties tax. Or the Governor of New York could order the stock exchange closed on his wife’s birthday. Maybe we should have the Grand Canyon filled in. If we’re just going to salt the butter on our bread. The only word that fits is insanity. Attacking the largest economic engine in the state because they disagreed with you.

“Never attack a man with a fifty-year-old theme park” – A. Lincoln

Because if it ain’t nailed to the wall or stuck in the concrete it will move, and fit nicely in the new building. There are fortunes to be made at the new park and only confrontations at the old. Disney didn’t buy billboards or hold press conferences to advocate against Chairman Ron’s ridiculous “Don’t say Gay” bill. Disney was asked a question and answered it. That’s it. That is their crime. Disney lives and dies on it’s wholesome reputation.

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” – Mark Twain

Savannah is located on the water with an interstate highway and everything. Actually, probably even a nicer climate than Florida at least as far Europeans are concerned, but still no picnic. Climate would be an even draw. Beautiful Savannah with its rich history and lots of things for the family to do. Disney could build their own port for their cruise ships and a water park right on the ocean shore, all on the same property. The new park has all the great new rides that they wanted to put in Florida, but didn’t have the room for or the right building.

The corporate sponsors are lining up anxious to be included in the “New” Park to share in the buzz. With it’s new tax breaks and reduced maintenance costs. It’s new high efficiency air conditioning and security system. With lots of new property to buy and the airport expansion, and hotels and restaurants to build. somebody could make millions and millions of dollars. A fifty-year-old theme park is functionally obsolete. A fifty-year-old theme park in a state with a marauding maniac for a Governor is totally obsolete.

“Never attack a man with a fifty-year-old theme park” – A. Lincoln

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