Friday, March 17, 2006

Snow or No Snow, It's an Emergency!

I've always been amused when the governor of Maine declares a disaster due to snow, in order that government coffers may be opened. The only time in recent years that anything approaching a disaster happened was the Ice Storm of '98.

Now the Governor Baldacci sees another reason to open wide the state's purse strings: Lack of Snow!

"We've all taken such a beating financially," Suzie Hockmeyer, co-owner of Northern Outdoors in The Forks, said Thursday.

"Not only did we not have any customers, the guests that we had prebooked, we had to give back their money," the four-seasons resort owner said.

To help Hockmeyer, her partner Russell Walters, and other business owners affected by the snow drought, Gov. John Baldacci announced Thursday that the Finance Authority of Maine will offer one-year economic recovery loans of up to $75,000 at an interest rate of 5.5 percent, 2 percent below the prime rate.

This is another instance of government perversion of the economy to questionable ends. These sweetheart loans will encourage businesses overly dependent on snowy winters for their income to stick to their risky strategy, and in the meantime divert funds availability from less risky businesses. These businesses should either attempt to diversify their income streams or consider changing what they offer entirely. If a business wants insurance against weather patterns' incompatibility with its main functions, it should purchase weather insurance, which is available in many permutations, and from many sources. Just do a quick Google search via the handy search box in the left column. There is absolutely no reason for government to get involved in this situation at all.