Property Rights and Freedom of Religion, Yes; Taxpayer Financing, No

Per Reuters:

The Muslim center planned near the site of the World Trade Center attack could qualify for tax-free financing, a spokesman for City Comptroller John Liu said on Friday, and Liu is willing to consider approving the public subsidy.

There’s some weasel wording in there, so let’s unpack it.

The issue isn’t “tax-exempt financing” per se. All financing (and everything else!) should be tax-exempt.

Nor is “tax-exempt financing” by definition a “subsidy.” Not taking money from someone isn’t the same thing as giving money to someone.

But this actually is a subsidy — it’s one of those “public-private partnership” things, where a quasi-governmental organization (a “local development corporation”) is allowed to issue bonds (the interest on which is tax-exempt to the bondholder, hence the “tax-exempt financing” language) to complete the project. If the project goes under, the taxpayer takes the hit for payment on the bonds.

Note to Park51/Cordoba House’s principals: You shouldn’t even be thinking about trying this.

A majority of the populace appears to have already swallowed the “Ground Zero Mosque” demagoguery hook, line and sinker and are hell-bent on stopping you from building your cultural center.

Of the minority standing up for your property rights and religious freedoms, a significant portion of us are civil (or uncivil, as the case may be) libertarians who are standing up only for your property rights and religious freedom.

Most of us aren’t Muslims or particularly enamored of Islam.

Most of us don’t really give a tinker’s damn whether the thing gets built or not — we’re just standing up for your right to build it, if you choose to, on your own property and with your own money.

It’s a fragile coalition centered around rights versus might, freedom versus compulsion, tolerance versus suppression.

As soon as you start claiming a “right” to stick your hand in taxpayers’ wallets for a bailout if your project goes south on you, that coalition disintegrates.

So don’t do it.

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