Uneven Playing Fields
As we have written previously, one of the great evils of tax increment financing (TIF) is that it offers special advantages to the beneficiaries selected by elected officials, forcing everyone else in the market to compete at a disadvantage. Sadly, there’s a new example of how destructive this sort of policy can be.
Months ago, the city of Rock Port, Mo., decided to approve a TIF project worth $175,000 in order to bring a new grocery store to town. The long-time owners of Rock Port Market (up to that time the only local grocery store serving the town’s residents) said they didn’t mind fair competition from a new store, but objected that the TIF would give the new store a gigantic financial advantage not offered to the existing business. Sadly, just six months later, the family that has operated Rock Port Market for nearly 80 years has decided to close the market’s doors.
True economic development happens best when governments allow businesses to compete on a field that offers no special advantages to any of the players. The government does a grave disservice to its citizens when it assumes the responsibility for picking winners and losers in the market, rather than letting businesses succeed or fail on their own merit.