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Pete Kaliner

Picking winners and losers

 
Picking winners and losers

A little more than two years ago I stood in the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce building, looked into a TV camera and reported on the Big Economic Development Announcement.

Politicians from all over the state had dropped in to bask in the glory of the Big Economic Development Announcement.

Chiquita was coming to Charlotte and politicians could not throw money at the bow-tied CEO any faster.

This week, Chiquita announced it was merging with another company and will not be using the Queen City as it's home base any longer.

We're not sure how much, if any, of the $23 million in taxpayer funding used to woo the produce giant was paid out. Nor do we know how much will be repaid.

From the Business Journal:

If those promises aren’t kept, Chiquita must return up to 100 percent of the incentives during the first five years of its move to Charlotte. The company had said it would keep its headquarters in Charlotte for 10 years and have 417 employees here by 2015. Chiquita says it has 310 employees in Charlotte now.

 

It was unclear Monday whether keeping some executives in Charlotte while the headquarters moves to Dublin would comply with the incentives deal.

 

At the time, the deal was opposed by both the local Tea Party and the Occupy Charlotte.

As it should be.

The political right view it as an expansion of the role of government into the economy - not only disrupting market signals but also providing inequality under the law.

The political left tends to be a bit more selective in its protests of corporate cronyism. Too often progressives endorse government intervention if it's for an approved business or industry. But the left needs to coalesce around rejection of political favoritism in all forms.

 

 

 

Two music festivals - two different fates

A great example of how government picks winners and losers developed over the past few weeks in Asheville.

For years, Asheville hosted a music festival called Moogfest. A few years ago its organizers split apart the event when they could not reconcile competing visions of what they wanted the events to be.

One retained the name Moogfest.  The other became the Mountain Oasis festival.

Despite public lamentations about being broke last year (and then raising property taxes), the Asheville City Council voted to give $40,000 to Moogfest, plus another $50,000 in-kind contributions.

The Buncombe County Commissioners approved a $90,000 gift to the festival, as well.

Mountain Oasis did not get any money.

This week organizers canceled the 2014 festival. These are the same people who do Bonnaroo, so they obviously know how to make a festival profitable.

Perhaps if they had more sway with certain elected officials, organizers could've made a go of their event. I'm sure $180,000 would've helped them, too.

This rent-seeking relationship between business and government is nothing more than patronage and should be opposed by people of all political stripes. It's inherently unfair and treats people unequally.

Otherwise, we need to only elect venture capitalists who can make the best judgements about where to invest our tax money.

 

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