Sen. Chris Girdler: City-owned gas station will hurt area economy

August 4, 2014 

Sen. Chris Girdler of Somerset represents the 15th District.

  • About the author: Kentucky Sen. Chris Girdler of Somerset represents the 15th District.

  • At issue: July 20 Associated Press article, "Somerset opens its filling station to public; Competitor calls venture socialism" and July 25 Herald-Leader editorial, "Making markets work in Somerset; City gets into gas sales to spur competition"

As evidenced by the latest media reports, along with the demonizing and vilifying of our community's hard-working entrepreneurs, socialism is alive and well in Somerset. It is disguised as Mayor Eddie Girdler's attempt to push the city into the gasoline business.

This absurd decision is not only bad for the city, it's bad for our businesses and their employees, bad for the consumer and bad for the overall economy. It starts us down a very slippery slope that can lead to a financial disaster in Somerset and set a horrible precedent that hopefully very few will ever follow.

First and foremost, facts are facts. Mayor Girdler was recently quoted as saying that small business owners such as gas station and convenience store owners are "simply ripping off the public and they're doing it because of greed."

But, according to gasbuddy.com, Somerset's gas prices over the last 16 months have been 1.6 cents below the average price across Kentucky. Even at face value, the mayor's claims are false, much less his demonizing and uncalled for comments about our community's hard-working entrepreneurs.

To quote our great President Ronald Reagan, "You can't be for big government, big taxes and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy."

By subsidizing this business venture with taxpayer dollars, the consumer is paying sufficiently more for gasoline. Their taxpayer dollars are covering the business costs and they are paying at the pump. I'm sure the citizens of our community don't consider paying twice as stabilizing gas prices. It is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

If the mayor or anyone in our community wants to have an impact on gasoline prices in Somerset, why use taxpayer dollars to do it? Why not get their own business loan, buy a store and spend the money to hire employees, pay utilities, purchase supplies and run a business that will pay taxes into the Somerset economy?

Instead, they are choosing to take money away from hard-working people and businesses that have been good to Somerset and Pulaski County for years.

Why would a municipality want to go into business against its own taxpayers? Do they want to discourage even more businesses from coming into our community by sending a message that, if we think you are making too much money, we will just jump in and compete against you while using your own money to do it?

Folks, this is not about gas prices. This is about free enterprise and economic development. If people feel that milk prices are too high, is the city going to subsidize a new dairy in town? If people feel that the price of beef is too high, is the city going to start a beef cattle farm?

If people feel that coffee costs too much, is the city going to open a coffee shop?

All of our taxpaying and caring citizens should be very leery, if not downright scared to death, of this endeavor. It kills economic development, will lead to job losses and brings about several questions of price fixing, anti-trust issues, etc. Government has a hard enough time running itself, the last thing it should attempt is running a business.

Reagan said it best: "Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, 'What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power.' But, the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector."

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