Copper Tubes in Alabama
You’ve gotta be somewhere, so you might as well choose where that somewhere is in a non-random fashion.
That seems to be the rule.
One consequences of this is that we now have local government officials and functionaries jet-setting the world promoting their towns, counties, cities . . . their hills and their dales.
A fascinating report from The Economist tells how the mayor of Thomasville, Alabama, came to sit in a north China pipe-factory canteen talking up his town. “Sheldon Day was there to drum up investment,” the report explains. “Two years ago he convinced another Chinese company, which makes copper tubes, to build its first American factory in the county next door. The plant will create around 300 jobs when it opens next year. Mr Day wants more.”
It’s a charming tale, even if “the battle for Chinese attention” be “fierce.” And risky:
The mayor of Farmer City, Illinois, cancelled his plans after residents expressed anger at the idea of using city money to woo foreign businesses. Chad Auer, a mayor in a right-wing bit of Colorado, had to take to YouTube to explain that when Richard Nixon went to China in 1972, it turned out to be worth his while.
Nixonian prudence aside, there’s an even darker aspect to this practice: Bending over backwards to entice businesses to an area . . . at the expense of existing businesses, residents, and any concept of equality before the law.
I refer, of course, to “tax incentives,” loopholes, tax credits, regulatory workarounds, and the like.
Fine, you pillars of society, going off promoting your town — so long as no special deals are made.
But make special enticements, and you morph from “seller” of community to “sell-out.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.