by Max Brantley
Selling our birthright has been on my mind lately. Public officials have been crowing lately about some coming business announcements that are going to pour down prosperity on Arkansas like a mighty stream.
There's going to be a steel pipe plant at the Little Rock Port, an Indian venture.
Some foreigners, in return for massive giveaway tax subsidy legislation, will build a plant to make windmill blades,.
Another plant, at least, is in the works. Maybe a steel fabricator to join the new low-wage Pittsburgh in Mississippi County.,
We will give these companies millions in poor folks' tax payments to lure these companies to provide $10 to $13-an-hour jobs and your leaders will try to tell you that,. on balance., they are a boon to the state. They will not allow the law to provide sufficient public oversight to prove that their halloos and celebrations are true or not.
My rant is on account of this article in the NY Review of Books about the self-destructing round of state bidding that international corporate interests have created aross the U.S. We are being had.
The economic development story goes back to the 1930s when a group of southern governors set out to capture some of the manufacturing business of the North by offering cheap capital on top of the traditional lure of cheap labor. In more recent decades, the practice has gone national, and the private sector has taken firm control. To work their will with job-hungry public officials, corporations now routinely deploy teams of lobbyists, site consultants, and other hirelings. The formula rarely fails: drop word of a planned expansion or relocation; create the illusion of a wide-ranging search; overstate the company's own investment and the number of jobs involved; hire fancy experts to talk about the economic ripple effects; walk off with huge subsidies and tax concessions.
Here's the bottom line:
Corporations paid a third of all taxes in Arkansas as recently as the 1970s; by 2002, the figure was 2 percent
Who do you think is paying the tab now?