… even if refraining from destroying helps someone you disagree with.

Currently, Walt Disney Corporation has a special status in Florida that allows it to avoid many regulations and some taxes and fees. Because of its special status, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which is a 38-square-mile plot of land that includes Walt Disney World has, according to the April 16-17, 2022 Wall Street Journal, “been exempt from many state and local environmental rules, building codes, and taxes.” Disney uses this freedom to set its own rules. Disney also provides fire protection, utilities, and more than 100 miles of roads.

Oh, the horror!

No one that I have found addressing the issue claims that Disney uses this freedom badly by, say, polluting the air and water more than corporations in other Florida counties do. Indeed, if we look at how private owners manage their own private property, we might conclude that Disney runs thing better than other Florida corporations, hamstrung by government rules, do. Care to bet which roads are better: roads in the Reedy Creek District or roads in surrounding counties? I’ll take the bet.

The explicit argument that Florida Republican legislators and Florida governor Ron DeSantis make is that Disney receives special treatment.

They’re right. It does.

But what if that special treatment works to produce good results? Many Republicans have favored deregulation on both ideological and  pragmatic grounds. But when a corporation comes along and its executives say things that these Republicans don’t like, suddenly the Republican commitment to deregulation or, at least, lighter regulation, vanishes. We often hear Republicans and conservatives talk about what “snowflakes” people on the left are when people criticize them. Well, Florida Republicans have discovered their inner snowflake.

Last month, DeSantis stated, “As a matter of first principle, I don’t support special privileges in law, just because a company is powerful.” Fair enough. But then why did DeSantis suddenly discover this “first principle” only after Disney came out strongly against one of his favored pieces of legislation? And of course, there are two ways to get rid of special privileges. The way the Florida Republicans don’t seem to have considered is to make them less special by giving people in other counties the same flexibility.

Last year I had great hope for Ron DeSantis. I now have less.

Note: It shouldn’t have to be said, but I’ll say it anyway. My view has nothing to do with Disney’s opposition to a particular bill. I favor this bill and I think Disney’s chief executive Bob Chapek has been cowardly in letting himself be influenced by some Disney employees. In my view, his initial decision to stay out of it was the right decision.