Righting America

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Ken Ham Misleads Again | Righting America

by William Trollinger

Picture of the front of the bow of the wooden ark outside the Ark Encounter with people walking in front and under the ark.
Ark Encounter, photo (c) 2018 by Susan Trollinger

“Disingenuous” is the kindest word I can come up with to describe Ken Ham’s latest blog post. 

Responding to an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader, which (among other things) highlights the failure of Ark Encounter to benefit the nearby town of Williamstown, Ham writes:

It’s interesting that many secularists and others like this reporter continue to attack the Ark for not greatly impacting Williamstown. Now, even though the address of the Ark Encounter is Williamstown, the actual city of Williamstown is a half a mile off the interstate. Because it’s not very visible, Williamstown sees very few Ark visitors, plus there are no major hotels or restaurant chains there. 

Wow. Talk about eliding the truth. From reading this post, one would not know that (as we have noted again and again) in 2013 Williamstown issued $62m worth of junk bonds and loaned the proceeds to Ark Encounter to get the Ark project underway. This very sweet deal (for the Ark, if not for Williamstown) was made much sweeter by the fact that, over the next thirty years, 75% of what Ark Encounter would have paid in property taxes will instead be used to help pay off the loan.

So how did the folks at Ark Encounter sell Williamstown on what has turned out to be a very bad deal for the town? Why, of course – Ham and his compatriots suggested that great economic benefits would accrue to Williamstown, with hordes of tourists coming into town, and with hotels and restaurants popping up to service this horde of tourists! 

But that was then.

Now – with the deal done, with the Ark built, with millions of dollars of property taxes lost to the town for decades into the future – Ham is telling Williamstown that the town itself is to blame for its economic misery, as it is too far from the interstate to get Ark visitors, and as it has failed to find someone to build the requisite hotels and restaurants. Interestingly, Ham and company did not share this wisdom with Williamstown in 2013, when they were pushing the town to sign on to the “$62m of bonds and property tax forgiveness” package. 

Of course, there is no chance that Ken Ham will acknowledge that he sold little Williamstown a bill of goods. It is much better to blame the victim. Especially since there is nothing the victim can do. The fix is in.