Democracy and the Astrodome

State Sen. John Whitmire has announced plans to introduce legislation that will require a referendum on the proposed $105 million project to refurbish the Astrodome. “I’m trying to allow the public to have a vote, the taxpayers to have a vote, before we spend over $100┬ámillion on the Dome with no stated purpose,” Whitmire is quoted in the Chronicle.

This means that if a majority of voters approve the project, all taxpayers, including those who are opposed, will be forced to fund it. This is democracy in action–the majority can do as it pleases simply because it is the majority. Individuals are forced to subordinate their own judgment and values to the “will of the people.”

Whitmire’s proposal is only marginally better than that being pushed by the advocates of the $105 million boondoggle. Individuals will have an opportunity to express their desires on the matter, but if the proposal passes, the desires of the minority will be rendered irrelevant. They will be forced to spend their money on something that they don’t want.

The most moral solution is to sell the Astrodome to private developers, and they can decide the best use of the facility. A second moral solution is to solicit voluntary contributions for the refurbishing project. Instead of forcing all taxpayers to fund the project, let those who are in favor put their money where their mouth is rather than reaching into everyone’s wallet.

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