Frontier's Success No Excuse For Crony Capitalism


A year ago the City of Bismarck, at the behest of the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce, put in place a $200,000 subsidy to lure Frontier Airlines to town (about six months later Frontier Airlines was able to move into Minot about 100 miles north of Bismarck, no subsidies needed).

Now comes news that business has been pretty good for Frontier (no surprise with the state setting flight boarding records) and they haven’t had to tap into the subsidy.

So, uh, mission accomplished I guess?

It’s great that everything worked out, I’m not one to criticize a business success, but what if it hadn’t? What if Frontier couldn’t make a go of it and had to lean on that $200,000 fund? Why should the taxpayers have been on the hook?

One of the core principles of free market economic thinking – the sort of economic thinking the Chamber of Commerce is supposedly for – is that you don’t pick winners and losers in the marketplace. Yet, that’s what they did with Frontier.

Thankfully they picked a winner, not a loser, so our tax dollars are safe, but already they’re marking this exercise as a success and looking for the next one.

“[Bismarck-Mandan Chamber President Kevin] Hullet said the city would likely find chamber members to support a similar effort to improve air service in the future,” reported the Bismarck Tribune.