Bombardier Deal Supported by Economic Development Officials; Sun Sets in West
State and local economic development officials, whom one might think would ostensibly be strong supporters of capitalism and markets, are far too often just rent-seeking enablers who are so neck-deep in the muck of the government-developer complex that tax credits, abatements, etc., become the normative features of their economic model. Imagine a Missouri economic field that involved low and consistently applied taxes, limited and reasonable regulation, a fair legal system, and an educated workforce. Sounds pretty good, huh? Well, not to economic development officials, who would no longer be needed in such a system. If taxes are low, they have nothing to give away except their own purpose for employment.
Lest you think I am being too harsh, I point you to these absolutely ludicrous comments in today’s St. Joseph News-Press:
“(Legislators) didn’t step up to the plate to get the race track. I don’t think they saw the real potential in it … They will have missed another opportunity. One of the biggest challenges we face is getting our legislators to think outside the box.”
So that is the worldview of at least one official, and probably many more. According to this worldview, it is the job of elected officials to direct who, what, where, when and how a business operates; it is the job of legislators to recruit and reward favored businesses, because only legislators and economic development officials know what is best for a community; and Missouri’s legislators were stupid several years ago when they did not give away enough taxpayer money to lure a favored business. There is no room here for market forces to be making these decisions economic development officials and their largess have replaced markets as the deciders of what goes where, and they believe that is a good thing.
It should be clear to all that within the past decade or so tax giveaways have become the norm in Missouri and the rest of the country, rather than an exception to be used in truly dire cases. Now that tax credits, abatements, exemptions, etc., are the norm, every business figures them into its calculations. Businesses didn’t demand this from government. It was offered and accepted, the natural result of having government and business involved too closely for too long. The most indispensable people in this system are, of course, the government development officials but now I’m getting out of economic policy and into philosophy.
I have no idea how to get out of this system. Of course, I want Missouri to stop but in the interest of fairness, I want everyone to stop at exactly the same time, which will never happen voluntarily. Perhaps a federal constitutional amendment requiring that tax rates be consistent across districts is the only way to end these current practices. I would hope people see the insanity for what it is long before that.
And a shout out to Combest for the link! Congrats to he and Monica for their solid performance at trivia night on Saturday, where I believe they came in a very respectable third. As for which team won well, that answer should be obvious. …