July 18, 2005

Mississippi Burning

Ole Miss Journalism Prof Joe Atkins launched a broadside at corporate welfare in today's edition of The Clarion-Ledger. It's worth reading.

He offers several examples of how special tax deals for corporations haven't always worked out particularly well for the people of Mississippi. He points to companies who move in to take advantage of sweet-heart deals, only to shutter the factory and move out when they expire. He is also concerned with the way that workers are underpaid as companies fudge the numbers to make the public investments seem more worthwhile.

He's on to something very important with this Op-Ed. States need to move away from gimmick-economics and get serious about long-term planning, with easy to understand, level-playing fields. Everyone should be wary about a company that would only set up shop given a sketchy property tax deal.
Politicians should ask themselves: If we need to bribe businesses to come here, is the economy working?
The answer is no, and while a sweet-heart deal might draw a company or two, the real question is how to make a town or state an attractive place for a company (or family, or worker) to find start up and find opportunity. Good policies don't change on such an individual basis.


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