Thomas Sowell

Of course, this would make the city's municipal golf course workers unhappy. And unhappy municipal workers can be a big problem for a politician, especially if these are union workers.

How have San Francisco's golf courses been kept going when they cost more to maintain than they are receiving in fees from the golfers who use them? Recent renovations alone cost more than $23 million.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "the city closed the gap with $16.6 million from state bond funds meant for recreation and park projects in underserved and economically disadvantaged areas." In other words, the poor have once again been used as human shields, this time to protect golfers.

The great allure of government programs in general for many people is that these programs allow decisions to be made without having to worry about the constraints of prices, which confront people at every turn in a free market.

They see prices as just obstacles or nuisances, instead of seeing them as messages conveying underlying realities that are there, whether or not prices are allowed to function. What prices are telling San Francisco is that municipal golf courses cost more than they are worth -- not in my opinion, but in the actions of people who are spending their own hard-earned money.

But what politician wants to hear that? Politics is priceless.

This is part one of a three part series. To read "Priceless Politics: Part II" click here, for "Priceless Politics: Part III" click here.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate