Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blackmailed Into Oblivion

The Journal Sentinel thinks Harley-Davidson was justified and correct in blackmailing the State for $25 million and decimating many well-paying middle-class jobs by unnecessarily demanding contract concessions.

The Journal wonders, "Is it a win if these actions mean fewer jobs? Are state incentives worth it?"

And, of course, to both questions, they answer, "Yes."

Maybe this repeated bribery by corporations of state taxpayers would make for good front-page stories in the newspaper. Maybe governors and local media could make this a federal issue, draw attention to this corporate welfare, and help bring an end to this economic war among the states.

The Journal also opines, "State government should do all it can to retain its base of existing companies and help them to grow." Isn't this the same paper that often writes about an overpaid, inept, inefficient government? When did it become the government's job to insure private sectors businesses remain successful? Doesn't the provision of clean water, roadways and other transportation, educational institutions, and legal entities already assist private corporations in their day-to-day operations?

Does the Journal really feel we, as a nation, should allow companies to blackmail any community of millions of dollars whenever the mood strikes them?

The State nor the Department of Commerce is here to kiss the ass of big business. The Journal's suggestion of such shows how far we, as a country, have drifted. This is class warfare, disguised and homogenized by the local media, sold as a prescription for what ails us and, somehow, deemed the only logical choice we have available.

As discussed earlier, the State (and its departments) provides the ground-rules which aid all business and allow them to, supposedly, compete on a level playing field. The more we give-in to private business blackmail, the more we allow state incentives to alter the market and distort free enterprise and fair competition. And isn't that what the conservatives always claim they want? To let the market decide?

It's one thing to improve parking for downtown businesses. It's another to build a parking garage for one specific business. The larger point being, I understand the government doing something to enhance the environment, the quality of life, the school system, and such to buttress the attractiveness of a city and to allow a city to be better positioned to provide what private businesses desire.

To simply be paying off bribes to companies threatening to leave is criminal. This is not cost-effective economic development. Rather than the newspaper just acting as a PR shill, they could make this corporate blackmail a major issue for discussion and possibly assist in ending such inefficient and wasteful policies.

For Further Reading:
Accountability For Development Subsidies
The Failures Of Economic Development Incentives

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