Government (Chuck E.) Cheese



Sometimes, government spending looks like a great idea. Take kids' paradise Chuck E. Cheese, for example. It's got heaps of games, great pizza, and cheap beer on tap. Get a celebrity nicknamed Big Daddy to invest and it's a sure bet, right?

That's apparently what the Buckeye State thought when it gave investor Allen County a $495,000 grant to set up a Chuck E. Cheese last year. Eager Lima, Ohio, children can expect the doors of the 12,000-square-foot party palace to open later this year.

As always, it was the meany Big Kids who went and ruined everything. Watchdoggies of the Citizens Against Government Waste and the Buckeye Institute made a big stink yesterday outside the Ohio statehouse in Columbus. They brought "a man dressed in a pink pig suit," to promote the Ohio Piglet Book, which suggests that now might not be the best time to spend government money on mouse pork.

The pig and his pals are probably upset because they never got invited to a Chuck E. Cheese party. But they're partially right. Investing in Chuck E. Cheese is a bad idea. Forget corporate welfare: Do you know what goes on in those places? Chuck E. Cheese mixes the world's two main sources of trouble in one setting: booze and babies.

A cursory search of Chuck E. Cheese brings up one violent incident after another. A 2008 article about a Brookfield, Wisconsin, location describes the venue as the place where a kid can be a casualty:

Officers have been called to break up 12 fights, some of them physical, at the child-oriented pizza parlor since January 2007…

Law-enforcement officials say alcohol, loud noise, thick crowds and the high emotions of children's birthday parties make the restaurants more prone to disputes than other family entertainment venues.

The environment brings out what security experts call the "mama-bear instinct." A Chuck E. Cheese can "take on some of the dynamics of the animal kingdom, where beasts rush to protect their young when they sense a threat." Apart from animal attacks, mascots are also a huge insurance risk, what with the regular assaults on poor Chucky.  

So throwing money at Chuck E. Cheese might look like a great way to "invigorate" the economy, but it's clearly a bad idea. A better choice? Hobby Lobby. It's always quiet and the muzik's great. Plus, the investment could easily be called a faith-based initiative

Another great idea is reading Reason's coverage of corporate welfare. Associate Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward blogged about the gun and booze policy at a Georgia Chuck E. Cheese.