One of the advantages of observing the many incentives being thrown at Amazon is that it highlights the absurdities of cronyism and government meddling in the market. This humorous video created by ReasonTV depicts well the utter hype and insanity of it all in attracting HQ2.
At Civitas, we’ve been consistent in pointing out the unfairness of such policies in general and especially for North Carolina. Donald Bryson has already pointed out some of the unfair policies in regards to the costly tax incentives for HQ2. This state has improved in recent years in promoting a friendlier business climate for all instead of merely picking winners and losers. Besides, Washington D.C. has already and unfortunately modeled those kinds of policies for too long. We shouldn’t copy them. It would be a shame for North Carolina to regress so radically on that front.
As it relates to incentives, below is sage advice from the late economist Henry Hazlitt in his masterful book “Economics in One Lesson:”
The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.
“For all groups,” and particularly for the common good, is a key quote from that line. One of the main purposes of government is to protect the property and to “secure the blessings of liberty” for its citizens. The government can’t do that if it is favoring one competitor over another or one citizen over the other by creating a separate set of rules and regulations. The issue of cronyism is something the political left and right should be united on to a greater degree going forward.
Pushing back against government corruption is an American tradition, and I can’t think of many issues outside of cronyism that deserve greater pushback, particularly because it is so unfair to the taxpayer and citizenry. Hopefully, one positive that comes out of this Amazon hysteria is a deeper understanding of the pitfalls of cronyism and a respect for the rule of law.