This story shows just how dysfunctional big government can be. The Texas Historical Commission is taking $80k from Blanco County taxpayers because the County, following a hail storm, replaced its wooden courthouse windows with acrylic windows that are virtually indistinguishable but considerably less expensive. 

Unfortunately, F. Lawrence Oaks and the other bureaucrats at the Historical Commsision are punishing Blanco County taxpayers over this local decision.  They demanded that the County either order and install new wooden windows or pay the state $80,000 – the County is choosing the latter because it is cheaper.

In  another example of government dysfunction, Oaks suggested that Blanco County could defray most of the cost of wooden windows by seeking a grant through the Texas Department of Transportation for restoring old courthouses.  However, it turns out Blanco has applied for funds since 1999 under this program, which we should mention is well outside TXDOT’s basic mission.  But the grants have evidently gone to counties that, unlike Blanco, have allowed their courthouses to fall into disrepair.  So Blanco has never been selected – this is an example of a government program that creates a perverse incentive for a race to the bottom. 

In the final dysfunction here, Mr. Oaks admits that the $80k will not be used for restoring this courthouse or any other.  In fact, he says that under state law, it will just go into the big dark hole called general revenues.  Policymakers need to review what Mr. Oaks and the Historical Commission have done in this case – their heavy-handed machinations have produced an outcome that punishes taxpayers while doing nothing for historical preservation.

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