Conservatives have long questioned whether welfare is the best way to help the least fortunate among us. More recently, the debate has shifted to a different type of welfare. Conservatives today are challenging whether “corporate welfare” achieves its stated goal of boosting economic growth. And, as in the case of traditional welfare, the debate extends beyond the effectiveness of corporate welfare to the effect it has on the principles on which this country was founded–particularly that of liberty. The Policymakers’ Guide to Corporate Welfare examines numerous examples of corporate welfare in Texas in light of liberty and the Texas Model that has made Texas the nation’s economic leader. It is available on Amazon for 99 cents.
Filmmakers and government economic development types are bemoaning the fact that Texas doesn’t offer as much as other states when it comes to film subsidies.
“Texas is losing jobs because we cannot compete,” said Janis Burklund, director of the Dallas Film Commission.
It may, or may not, be the case that Texas is losing jobs in the film industry. But even if that is true, what is missing from that equation is what Texans would be doing in the private sector if the money for subsidies had not been taken from them.
My bet is that George Mitchell and Glenn McCarthy, Gerald Hines and Trammell Crow, Michael Dell and Bob Rowling, etc., could do a lot more for the Texas economy with that money in their pockets than a Hollywood filmmaker. Especially when we consider the cut taken by the state to run the Division of Film Subsidies and the rest of the Texas State Office for Government-created Economic Development, or whatever they are called.
A recent program in the Defense Department for the purpose of understanding “unidentified aerial phenomena” cost taxpayers at least $20 million.
The program was initiated by Harry Reid, at the behest of a campaign contributor, when he was still Senate majority leader. Politico reports:
Reid initiated the program, which ultimately spent more than $20 million, through an earmark after he was persuaded in part by aerospace titan and hotel chain founder Bob Bigelow, a friend and fellow Nevadan who owns Bigelow Aerospace, a space technology company and government contractor. Bigelow, whose company received some of the research contracts, was also a regular contributor to Reid’s re-election campaigns, campaign finance records show, at least $10,000 between 1998 and 2008.
Corporate cronyism takes many forms today, much of it driven by liberals who are supposed to be for the little people. However, this has to be one of the craziest.
Corporate welfare, the use of government to enrich corporate executives and shareholders with profits they can’t earn in the market, is rampant today. Title insurers, alcoholic beverage distributors, and renewable energy companies are just a few who rake in ill-gotten profits at the expense of taxpayers and consumers.
Though cronyism today may be at its highest level in American history, it is nothing new. Here is Alexander Hamilton promoting it over 200 years ago in his 1791 Report on Manufactures:
Capital is wayward and timid in leading itself to new undertakings, and the state ought to excite the confidence of capitalists, who are ever cautious and sagacious, by aiding them to overcome the obstacles that lie in the way of all experiment.
We have such short memories.
Relating to today’s debate about fossil fuels versus renewable fuels, here is what The Times of London said about a similar debate over coal versus renewables:
Coal is everything to us. Without coal, our factories will become idle, our foundries and workshops be still as the grave; the locomotive will rust in the shed, and the rail be buried in the weeds. Our streets will be dark, our houses uninhabitable. Our rivers will forget the paddlewheel, and we shall again be separated by days from France, by months for the United States. The post will lengthen its periods and protract its dates. A thousand special arts and manufacturers, one by one, then in a crowd, will fly the empty soil, as boon companions are said to disappear when the cask is dry.
People forget that the world was powered entirely by renewable energy until fossil fuels and later nuclear fuel came along. The truth is that today’s attacks on fossil fuels and the push for subsidies for renewable fuels are tantamount to asking for a return to the days described by The Times.
Few things in politics surprise me anymore; I expect to see the unexpected, the absurd, the mind blowing, etc. Still, the fact that the Republicans can’t see that with SwampCare (or RyanCare, or ObamaCare Light, etc.) they are doing the exact same thing that the Democrats did—“we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”—is almost enough to take one’s breath away. And, of course, they are doing it for the exact same reason the Democrats did it–they don’t want the people to know what is in the bill.
See the press release below from the Texas Public Policy Foundation to see the latest on the mess going on in D.C. today. In the meantime, the good news is that the House Republican leadership still doesn’t have the votes to pass this bill, “I’m confident that we have still enough concerns that a vote of 216 votes in the House would not happen today,” House Freedom Caucus Charmain Mark Meadows said yesterday.
Liberty has afforded all Americans the opportunity to live prosperous lives through hard work and civic cooperation. Unfortunately, the immense growth of the federal government has, in the words of Milton Friedman, made it more likely “that its actions will reflect special interests rather than the general interest.” Instead of government being the means for the preservation of Americans’ “Life, Liberty and … pursuit of Happiness,” it has become the instrument through which others seek to appropriate their liberty and wealth.
The American people have made it clear that they are fed up with this federal assault on liberty. Restoring Liberty through the States—and the People is a road map for America rooted in the U.S. Constitution that re-centers federal governance on only constitutionally enumerated powers which very intentionally maximize liberty and prosperity by leaving all other governing authority with the states, or the people.
See the full agenda here.
Good news from Florida on the corporate welfare front as reported by the News Service of Florida:
The talks on [budget] allocations had largely centered on Gov. Rick Scott’s call for a $1 billion tax-cut package and a “Florida Enterprise Fund” of $250 million in business incentives. … In the end, lawmakers agreed to $400 million in tax cuts in the current year and no money for the Florida Enterprise Fund. Scott’s office blasted lawmakers late Friday for the decision on the incentives package.
“With the Legislature’s action today, there will no longer be incentive funding for major projects to come to Florida … and we are beginning the process of notifying cities across the state that there would be no funding available to help them recruit businesses if the Legislature does not take immediate action to reverse course,” Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.
On the other hand, the Washington Post reports that the establishment in D.C. is still using pork for constituents to draw support:
Richard Shelby has been in Congress since the 1970s and faced no significant challenge since getting elected to the Senate in 1986. Yet the 81-year-old has spent millions of dollars in an effort to receive more than 50 percent of the vote tomorrow so that he can avoid a runoff with an unknown, 33-year-old challenger.
Shelby told the crowd [at the Calhoun County Republican Party’s annual dinner] that he currently chairs the Banking Committee but opened up about his grander ambition. “If things go right, maybe I’ll chair the Appropriations Committee. And I’ll tell you: Calhoun County would know it! And Alabama would know it,” Shelby added, drawing a standing ovation. “I’m about one step from that!”