Early television celebrated The Honorable Man. He was the one who stood up against corruption, who fought for principles of right over wrong, even at great personal cost. When Mr. Smith went to Washington, he would have no truck with corruption. The Honorable Man never considered taking unfair advantage of anyone: his ethics were not situational. Ward Cleaver was someone always to be trusted. Lucas McCain was an unfailingly straight shooter.
My, how times have changed. “Greed, for lack of a better word is good. Greed is right. Greed works.” – Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street. Some of the folks in Oxbow and, without question, its country club, could adopt this as their motto. Greed has, indeed, worked very well for them. Greed has been very, very good to these people.
Numbers recently released by the FM Delusion Authority tell the tale: 40 homes purchased at a cost of $39.3 million, $982,500 per home. These same homes, in 2015, had a total taxable valuation of roughly $11.1 million. So, for their trouble of relocating, this group received roughly 350% of taxable value.
Reinvention of the country club, meanwhile, is now estimated to cost the taxpayer $28 million (look for the final number to go higher). Replacing the clubhouse, pool and holes lost to the levee construction is understandable. But to completely rebuild the course, converting the entire thing to a links-style course and adding improvements like concrete cart paths throughout, represents a pillaging of the public coffers.
The Honorable Man would hang his head in shame. It would be more than he could bear. But The Honorable Man is dead, killed off in the 1990’s by The Greedy Man. And, as a society, we have come to now celebrate The Greedy Man: his cleverness, his situational ethics and lack of shame. When The Greedy Man scams someone else, surely it’s the victim’s fault. But when The Greedy Man scams us personally, it’s not so acceptable.
So, here’s the deal, folks: in the case of the Oxbow project, we have all been scammed by The Greedy Man. How did it happen? Simple: he rolled those folks charged with the public trust, our incompetent custodians of the public treasury. And he was able to do this because The Greedy Man holds the levers of power: he has infiltrated the seats of power and is part of the machine that is designed to line some pockets by picking other, less fortunate pockets…like yours. “Greed”, after all, “is good.”
The Oxbow project is just a small part of the overall boondoggle that is the FM Diversion project. By its own admission, the delusionist’s cost estimate to ‘save Oxbow’ was off by about 97% ($64 million vs. $126 million). And the final numbers may well be higher before the project is done. Yet, we are supposed to believe that the estimate for the overall diversion project, now $2.126 billion, is sound. Really? Even after the local share of the project has increased from $450 million to $1.2 billion?
The whirring sound you hear at night when you are trying to sleep is The Honorable Man spinning in his grave. The high-pitched cackle that keeps you awake is The Greedy Man, laughing all the way to the bank, head held high. And that sucking sound? Well, that is coming from your wallet.