Governor of Arizona Dreams the Impossible Dream: Freer Markets, Less Prison Population, and More Drug War

I say that the governor dreams the impossible dream because how can you have freer markets and less prison population, but at the same time, more drug enforcement? I will be analyzing Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s State of the State Address. The transcript and video of the address is here. I will break down the major parts of the address and give a summary and some liberty minded commentary.

Beginning of the Address: Arizona is great

The address begins with the governor bragging about Arizona with the usual rhetoric about improving education and public safety while lowering taxes. He throws a bone to the people with the comment that “it’s the people’s money, not the governments” when saying he wants to reduce waste and keep taxes low. He also makes a comment about beer flowing at Four Peaks brewing. This is a reference by the governor that he signed Arizona Bill, SB 1030, which raised the maximum amount of beer a brewery can produce while still being licensed as a microbrewery. This of course, was a step in the right direction.

Repeal Laws and Regulation

In order to appease limited government folks, the governor acknowledges that the state has tens of thousands of statutes and laws. In this same spirit, he references Barry Goldwater’s book, Conscience of a Conservative, and states that “my aim is not to pass laws, it’s to repeal them.” Governor Ducey then continues to say that he has identified regulations that are ripe for repeal, including unnecessary occupational licensing. Unfortunately, he is not advocating repeal of all state mandated occupational licensing, but at least some of them. In the address he specifically mentions talent agents, but no other details are given as to the amount of licensing he would like to see reviewed for repeal. He does correctly identify special interests as being involved in occupational licensing to keep out competition.

My take is that this part of the address resonates with liberty minded folks. However, this is all talk and rhetoric at this point. Only time will tell if Arizona will actually move to reduce the number of occupations requiring state licensing.

Sharing Economy

Governor Ducey spent some time promoting the “sharing economy”. Here is a quote from his address:

Whether it was allowing inventors at TechShop in Chandler greater freedom to crowdfund, or ending sting operations against ridesharing by overzealous state regulators – we’ve embraced innovation, and we’re not done yet.

More than 40 million passengers enter our state through Sky Harbor International Airport every year. But you can’t order an Uber or Lyft because unelected bureaucrats at city hall are protecting special interests.

I have to make a small correction in his statement about not being able to order an Uber or Lyft at the airport. I’m not defending the City of Phoenix’s regulations, but I think I should point out the error for the sake of accuracy. The City of Phoenix doesn’t specifically prevent Uber and Lyft from picking up passengers, but it requires ground transportation drivers to have permits. With that being said, the regulations are indeed onerous. Currently, in order to obtain a permit, a driver must go through a fingerprint-based background check with the City and pay a multitude of fees, including the purchase of a vehicle decal every quarter while undergoing a quarterly vehicle inspection. The registered vehicles must also have a tag that allows the airport to track how many trips the vehicle makes to the airport. Additional restrictions abound beyond these main restrictions that I have mentioned. Consequently, only a limited number of Uber and Lyft drivers have this permit in Phoenix, so it is harder for customers who would normally use these companies to hail rides, and in some instances would not be able to in the case that no permitted Uber or Lyft drivers are available. There is a proposed update to this policy, that would help a little, but it doesn’t really scrap the onerous regulations. These regulations are of course in the name of “passenger security”, and no real discussions are had as to whether a state agency, the city of Phoenix in this case, should really be running an airport!

Why does the Governor specifically talk up the sharing economy? I think this is a shot at California, because he says,

I want startups in the Sharing Economy to know: California may not want you, but Arizona does.

I believe this is a reference to the recent attempts in California to regulate and/or tax companies such as Airbnb and Uber. The Governor signed an executive order to explore ways to update regulations to help expand the “sharing economy” in Arizona. While I would like to see any non-market based regulations repealed, I have a feeling the state will still want to manage companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb.

Advertising Arizona and Improving Public Schools

This next part of the address concerns itself with encouraging the Arizona Commerce Authority to better market Arizona as a state that businesses should come too, but the governor doesn’t spend much time on this topic.  Instead, he talks mostly about public schools.  The rhetoric here is pretty standard with statements such as top performing schools will be rewarded with more money, and all schools need to continue to improve.  Unfortunately, he is silent on the failure of the public schooling system and instead of promoting a transition out of the current system, more money will be thrown into the public schooling sinkhole.

Tough on Crime and Drugs

It’s funny how a politician can admit failure of the “public safety” system, but not actually acknowledge it. He begins with tough talk against deadbeat fathers and perpetrators of sexual assaults, all the while admitting the backlog of cases that remain uninvestigated. Unfortunately, he can’t admit that police forces aren’t actually prosecuting real crimes, but he can brag about all the drugs seized by the “Border Strike Force Bureau”, which includes federal, state, and local agencies. Also, you’ll be happy to know that the governor wants to reduce the prison population all the while increasing drug enforcement. I don’t see how that will work out!

Now, here’s a statement that is concerning with regards to medical privacy:

75 percent of heroin addicts started out using prescription drugs.

We found in a single month – through a voluntary online database – that hundreds of Arizonans were doctor shopping, and receiving highly-addictive and dangerous drugs from multiple physicians at the same time.

Imagine how many more people we could help with a requirement that doctors use that database. It’s time for us to make that happen.

I haven’t looked into this database, but it sounds like patients who are given certain prescriptions are put into a database somehow. I do not know if the patients are privy to this knowledge or not, but seems like a violation of medical privacy that the state is always saying you have a right to. Even scarier is that he is calling for it to be a requirement. Just another example of state intervention into medical care!

End of the Address

The rest of the address is the usual patriotic feel good fluff about Arizona with some military and police worship thrown in there.



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