by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
Earlier this week I wrote about Business North Carolina’s cover story praising Gov. Roy Cooper’s willingness to offer fattened business incentives to corporations. Of course, it’s really not surprising that the business press likes business incentives.
Still, it reminded me of an article I wrote back in 2013 about Gov. Pat McCrory’s approach to economic incentives:
There’s a well-rehearsed dance to these things. Policymakers institute incentives for a favored industry. The industry gratefully accepts. Policymakers and industry representatives smile for the cameras as they announce new jobs thanks to the incentives. Media dutifully report how politicians created jobs.
The fatal flaw is their interest in only certain kinds of jobs: jobs created by government favors, not by enterprising risk-takers in a freer business climate. “Seen” jobs plopped in one location for one government-incentivized business, lauded at elaborate ribbon-cutting ceremonies by politicians happy to be seen “creating” jobs. Not the “unseen” jobs created statewide from small business expansions brought about by improvements in the business climate, a new position here, a new store there, a process repeated countless times in countless places, but no public ceremony, just people going about work.
As for media reactions, I wrote, “Too often the discussion of economic incentives amounts to being pleasantly surprised that dogs like dog food.”
Apropos of that, if you need a quick distillation of the big business community’s reaction to Cooper’s fattened “transformational project” incentives, this old Beggin’ Strips ad seems to capture it quite well: