JDIG, or the Job Development Investment Grant, is corporate welfare, unfair, cronyism, all those things, obviously. But I think the fight some are having that we have to be involved because we don’t want to lose out to other states is essentially the wrong argument. Undoubtedly, because of broad tax cuts in part, North Carolina is a great place to do business. Tops right now according to Forbes.
In the frenzy to attract top businesses, many state governments have long been rolling out the red carpet so to speak with special tax breaks and other crony minded incentives. In North Carolina alone, Donald Bryson has noted that incentives are projected to reach a little over 671 million through Gov. Roy Cooper’s four-year term alone. This creates an unfair market and often props up one private-sector competitor against smaller ones. Should Amazon get special tax treatment while a smaller box store or retailer is left out in the cold?
How would you feel if you were a small business owner who sold similar products to a bigger corporation that was getting preferential treatment by your very own government? You wouldn’t feel like it was a “government of, by, and for the people.” You would feel disconnected from your lawmakers and government and that your entrepreneurial contributions don’t matter to that state, except when it comes to tax time of course. They are always mindful of you when it’s time to collect. Nobody should like the idea of their government picking winners and losers.
One way to differentiate from the current corporate welfare herd, in general, is for our elected officials to band together in bipartisan fashion and declare that the North Carolina government will be treating all businesses fairly and equitably moving forward. End the incentives and the unfair system. Make a public relations campaign out of it. I promise it will generate headlines and positive media. Continue to cut taxes. Nix the corporate income tax. That tax makes more of an impact on the public anyway, as the cost is so often pushed on to consumers.
Getting back to the fundamental question in the first paragraph, when it comes to government incentives and corporate welfare, the question we need to be asking is “What is the purpose of government?” We no longer fundamentally ask that question anymore, so too many inevitably find themselves sliding into a cronyism mindset in trying to micromanage the private sector and a market economy. So much of the overreach by the government today diminishes our capacity for self-government. The American framers themselves thought deeply about what is the purpose of government and the consensus was one of preserving our God-given rights.
When it comes to public policy and particularly in relation to corporate incentives and welfare, this is the question we need to be asking, instead of how much big business we can prop up at somebody else’s expense.