Chandler's column rightly reprimanded the state legislature for raising alcohol taxes, but was obviously more directed at staking out political ground on the expanded gaming issue than any altruistic concern for the Kentucky economy. He obviously supports expanded gaming and feels he can gain some political points among the horse industry in order to cover the fact that he's lost ground with coal supporters.
Why didn't Chandler also criticize the hike in gas taxes or cigarette taxes — both of which are currently hitting many Kentuckians in their pocketbooks? The answer is because he is following the big government track of letting bureaucrats and legislators pick economic winners and losers.
The brand of Kentucky
Chandler claims that bourbon and horses represent Kentucky's brand. While they are significant industries, he's wrong about our brand. Kentucky's brand is not now, nor will it ever be tied up in a single product. Rather, our brand is our people. Kentucky bourbon is the best because Kentuckians distill it. Kentucky horses are the best because Kentuckians raise and train them. There are many other industries in our state that are flourishing — not because of the products, but because of the hard-working people who make them. Chandler was elected to represent those people — not to pick winners and losers among them.
As a free market conservative, I believe in the bourbon and horse industries in Kentucky. But I also believe just as strongly in the many other industries in which Kentuckians work hard to contribute to our economy. Chandler's vote against the coal industry because of political pressure over the farce of global warming showed a deep lack of understanding of his own purpose in Washington.
Kentucky coal provides much of the cheap energy enjoyed by many of the constituents of Chandler's liberal friends in Washington. While they reap the rewards of our hard labor, they look down their nose at us because of misconceptions about the product — which they purchase.
Ben Chandler was sent to Washington to vote the conscience of the largely conservative constituents in his district. That means we wanted him to protect free market principles for all industries — not just big government approved ones. Instead, he has engaged in picking winners and losers like so many of his colleagues, as though all of the blessings that come to us must flow from government. Rep. Ben Chandler is in no political position to lecture us about signature industries.
Leland Conway is host of The Pulse of Lexington on News Radio 630 WLAP and executive editor of www.conservativeedge.com. He can be reached for comment at Leland@wlap.com.