In describing the problems with Missouri Employers Mutual, a quasi-private insurance entity, the editors say that the state government has kept its fingers in the business because
governors crave power, and when they get to play with a multi-million-dollar business with little oversight, well, that's the sort of siren song that is too strong for any politician to ignore.
So here's what's been happening: Since its inception, a string of Missouri governors has appointed cronies to the board that oversees MEM. The company gets the benefit of being a quasi-public body, receiving federal tax-exempt status, which helped it build up a $163 million surplus. The payback for such a sweet deal, of course, is supposed to be behaving somewhat like a public body.
They go on to say that
It's time to cut the cord.
MEM shouldn't reap the benefits of a public body with none of its checks and balances. Similarly, it's patently unfair for an insurance company to have built-in advantages over private-sector competitors that pay taxes.
The cause of this contradiction is one of the longest-standing and most corrosive traditions of American politics. It's called crony capitalism.Believe it or not, they want this entity privatized, of all things:
This is what happens when politicians use their power to enrich, however legally, their buddies.
It's time for the Missouri Legislature to end this charade. Pass a law, similar to one sponsored by Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, that would make MEM a private company free of government involvement.
Mr. Nixon should champion such good government rather than avoiding questions about MEM. Republicans should demand a free-market solution rather than clinging to this secret gem, hoping for the day when one of their own again occupies the governor's mansion.If the evils of mating capitalism with government are so clear to them today, how can they fail to see it in the cases of Solyndra, Lightsquared, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, GM, Chrysler, state tax credits, Obamacare, ethanol mandates and subsidies, etc.? This being February 29th, perhaps it's just that the editors manage to say something sensible about the economy once every four years.