Friday, September 07, 2007

Blimp My Ride

Over at the Locker Room, I added my support to the movement opposing the Goodyear incentive program. I join a diverse cast, including members of the John Locke Foundation, NC Policy Watch, and the Governor himself. Check it out! (Apparently Mr. Coletti enjoyed the subject line I included in the email -- wonder if that nickname will stick with me) One thing I learned from watching NC Spin is that anytime John Hood and Chris Fitzsimon agree on something, it’s probably because somebody in government is screwing up so egregiously, it simply cannot be accepted. Of course, not everyone listed is so hard-lined against targeted incentives for ‘economic development.’ Easley being the most obvious example. But that just shows the complete lack of foresight amongst those that support such measures when it promises to “create new jobs.” OF COURSE existing firms will start crying for a handout. How would you feel if you were a businessman in North Carolina for some number of years, always making it on your own, when you see that someone else is getting a break starting out because they’re adding jobs at a time when it’s politically expedient to give a handout. Some of the players in the Incentives Game are throwing their hands up at the Goodyear deal saying, “We only want to give to those who are adding jobs!” Well what about those that have already added jobs? Did you help them? Frankly, while the whole deal is detestable, Goodyear, and any other existing company in the state, has some grounds to request support. And the next domino is teetering over in Wilson County.

Of course, supporters of corporate welfare claim that it is not a matter of rewarding those that create jobs, but just providing incentives for new jobs to be created. It’s strictly an investment. It pays for itself. Unfortunately, those that are making the decision to undertake the entrepreneurial risk are playing with someone else's money. Politicians can gamble on long-term risks with the taxpayers' money and take the short term gain of smiling for the camera at a ribbon cutting ceremony. If the terms of the incenvitves outlast the next election cycle, then it's too late to hold the pols respondible. Indeed, because of short memories and political spin, the animosity will likely be on the company if they pack up and leave once the public teat dries up. There is simply not enough personal risk assumed by the decision makers. It takes a lot of faith in the hands that hold the purse-strings to believe they will give away money with only the best of intentions. It's not really a surprise, then, that most proponents of such giveaways are those that feel comfortable consolidating more power in the hands of the politicians to run our lives, but I digress. Even assuming the best of intentions, it's too much to expect aldermen and commissioners, and even state legislators, to have sufficient knowledge of industries in which the cruel efficiencies of the market make or break experienced venture capitalists.

Anyway, this is the first blog post in a while. I've been thinking of getting back into it for a few weeks now, mainly because of issues like these. But once I got the reference on the Locker Room, I figured I'd definitely need to start back sooner rather than later. I just need to find (or remake) my old banner image and host it somewhere.

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