Gus Van Horn blog Posted May 4 Report Share Posted May 4 Over at Slate is an interesting piece about the origins of the legal entity formerly known as Reedy Creek, which Ron DeSantis has been trying to commandeer ever since the Disney corporation had the temerity to exercise its free speech rights in a way he didn't like.Aside from the fact that it sheds light on how one of America's great captains of industry built an empire, the story is interesting for two major reasons.First, contrary to Disney folklore, it would appear that Walt Disney either never actually intended to build the futuristic utopia that would later inspire EPCOT, or very quickly realized that actually doing do would present legal problems for his new theme park:Image by Boy Scouts of America, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain, due to publication date.While [Richard] Foglesong was reporting [sic] his 2001 book, which traces Disney's use of its government immunities and relationship with the surrounding area, he dug into Disney's archives, poring over company documents and memos. Instead of evidence of serious plans for the development of an idealized city, he found a warning from a lawyer that such a development could threaten Disney's control of the land. If there were real residents, they would be able to elect a local government and establish the external control that Disney feared.Looking at that two-page memo about the development plans, Foglesong recalled in an interview, he saw that "someone had written NO in inch-high letters.""I took that memo to the archivist in the Disney Archives, and I asked whose comments these were," Foglesong said. "The archivist said, 'That's Walt Disney's comment.' Every place in the memo where the attorney referred to the property of real residents, Walt Disney had written, between the lines, 'temporary residents/tourists.' So, in this planning memo, Walt is telling the attorney, 'We're not going to build a place with residents.'" [bold added]Foglesong calls this "dishonest ... but ingenious."Foglesong is half-right, and I don't blame Disney for outfoxing politicians.Indeed, I am reminded of how the great railroad barons had to deal with the governments of their time, as discussed by Ayn Rand:[W]hat could the railroads do, except try to "own whole legislatures," if these legislatures held the power of life or death over them? What could the railroads do, except resort to bribery, if they wished to exist at all? Who was to blame and who was "corrupt"--the businessmen who had to pay "protection money" for the right to remain in business--or the politicians who held the power to sell that right?Under actual capitalism, and not the mixture of controls and freedom we have had in America for so long, a landowner would not need to get permission from the state to do anything with his land, so long as such use did not violate the rights of others. Negotiating the Reedy Creek land deal was Walt Disney's version of what the railroad barons did.it's a shame he had to resort to such finagling and a bigger one that a self-proclaimed champion of freedom is working overtime dismantling that deal, rather than working to make such "deals" completely unnecessary -- for everyone.A second point of interest is the general attitude towards rights in general and those of businessmen in particular reflected by the piece. This includes Foglesong (!), who shows that he understands on some level how important the deal was to Disney's ability to innovate:Foglesong is not opposed to what DeSantis is doing, at least in terms of practical outcomes. He pointed to the fees that Disney has wormed its way out of paying for decades -- fees that could pay for widened roads and law enforcement needed to handle the traffic and tourism brought to the area because of Disney World. "I believe it's appropriate to take powers away from Disney that were ill-gotten," Foglesong said. But DeSantis is trying "it for the wrong reasons."Let me echo Walt Disney here:NO!What Foglesong wrongly calls Disney's "powers" are a small subset of its rights. What is ill-gotten here is the power of government to interfere with production and trade by violating property rights as a matter of course.In America, the government is supposed to protect our rights to life and the pursuit of happiness. It is not Disney -- or any other company or person who has had to trick the powers-that-be in order to pursue a dream -- but the governments that stand in the way -- who need to be stripped once and for all of their ill-gotten and immoral powers.-- CAVLink to Original Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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