The easiest way is to point out that his Ark Park was built on government handouts.
- A tax-rebate program nets the Ark Park more than $1.8 million annually from the state. Under the plan, the state charges a 6 percent tax on the sale of tickets, food and souvenirs at the park. The funds are forwarded to the state, but once a year, all of that money is refunded to the Ark Park. It flows directly from the state treasury to Ark Encounter.
- As bloggers William and Susan Trollinger have pointed out repeatedly, the city of Williamstown floated $62 million in junk bonds for the Ark Park to subsidize the building of the structure. (By the way, Williamstown officials did this because they bought Ham’s claim that the Ark Park would spur tourism in their town. But that hasn’t happened, and now Ham says it’s their fault because the community is too far away from the interstate.)
- The Grant County Industrial Authority gave Ark Encounter $175,000 to offset the cost of land. In addition, local officials agreed to sell nearly 100 acres of land to Ham for the princely sum of $1.
- The state spent $10 million on highway improvements on a road leading to Ark Encounter.
Ham will fire off angry letters to the local newspaper and flood Twitter with indignant tweets if you point out that his grand building-that-looks-vaguely-like-a-boat is a gross violation of church and state separation, and that he couldn’t have built it without suborning state and local officials to funnel tax money into his pockets.
If I said I was building a Spider Park in my lab that would be a phenomenal tourist attraction, do you think I could persuade the state of Minnesota to give me a million dollars a year? Or at least improve Highway 28 (or better yet, rail service) for better access to the University of Minnesota Morris?
Maybe if I set up an affiliated Church of the Spider God…