Why that’s not screamingly obvious to all, especially pundits, is a mystery to me.

But the whole of economic incentives for a company or industry — i.e., corporate welfare — i.e., cronyism — i.e., giving special treatment and favors to this industry at the expense of everyone else, including of course competing companies and industries — is based on ignoring the obvious.

Instead, you have to believe that money that will yield massive returns to the state and recipient business, when redirected by politicians who get to be present at ribbon-cutting ceremonies, was otherwise doing nothing in the hands of private citizens and businessmen.

The most recent example

We are to believe, supposedly, that providing $122 million in state incentives to CSX to build a rail hub in Rocky Mount, the “Carolina Connector” intermodal terminal, will create 1,500 new jobs in North Carolina.

You see, apparently trucking companies use volunteer workers who float like ghosts throughout North Carolina not spending a dime, like the elves living with the  Grimms’ shoemaker. (Though if they are, why would we want to … oh, never mind.)

Back when this project was Expected to Create 1,500 New Jobs in Selma, Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington reported:

While McCrory, CSX, and most media outlets have said the project would create 1,500 jobs, the Project Scorpion report details much smaller numbers. (See page 35.)

The report estimated that the project’s direct, indirect, and “induced” jobs — jobs attributed to local businesses from the spending of employees and customers of the rail hub — would total 452 by 2019 and 632 by 2035. The report then compared those estimates to estimates from CSX’s report. CSX estimated that direct, indirect, and induced jobs would total 538 by 2018 and 788 by 2035.

In a telephone interview, Worley and officials from WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff could not explain where the 1,500 job figure used by McCrory and most media outlets originated. They also acknowledged the study did not account for lost jobs that would occur in the trucking industry if the project proved to be as successful as the study predicted.

So not only do we not know why the project sounds as if it were named by a bad spy novelist, we also don’t know where that 1,500 jobs figure came from.

But if you’re interested in what the report means by “direct, indirect, and ‘induced’ jobs,” please read my piece last year entitled “Apply some good horse sense to ‘economic impact’ studies.” As always, the direct, indirect, and induced jobs of money redirected by politicians never, ever, ever includes the lost direct, indirect, and induced jobs of that money being left in private hands directed to more practical, profitable uses.

Incidentally, the “Project Scorpion” report used IMPLAN.