The article “Controversial Choices: Debating the Pratt & Whitney Project” [Jan. 20, Xpress] ignores the fact that the corporate welfare scheme is in desperate need of reform. Do cheerleaders for corporate welfare even talk to the victims of the freeloading companies? Such as the people who say they were fired for serving on a jury only to find that the county and state don’t enforce the law against firing jurors? The people who may have been disabled or may have had relatives killed by a dangerous workplace so a company can spend the money on executive perquisites instead of safety?
The term “revenue neutral” was used in the Pratt & Whitney deal to mislead people into thinking the county is somehow getting a free lunch. They’re just shuffling numbers and hoping we can’t do math. Taxpayers are in reality paying for the deal, and so we have every right to hold them accountable.
Everyone who spends money in the county benefits the economy and pays sales tax. By the Economic Development Coalition’s logic, every person is therefore entitled to a revenue-neutral tax deal.
The argument was made that if we put conditions in the incentive contracts, a company may not sign. What then is our incentive to give them our money? Fix the failed scheme and put the following requirements in writing for the companies getting our tax dollars:
1. Pay a decent living wage to all employees, as opposed to a deceptive average wage achieved by giving most of the money to managers. Not just vague, unverifiable promises of “community prosperity,” but specific numbers for each job.
2. Hire only people from the county paying for the bailout.
3. Forfeit the incentive cash if a company fires people for serving on a jury, since no government agency enforces that law. Don’t tell the victim to pay a lawyer to enforce the law. We already pay taxes to have the law enforced.
4. Forfeit the incentive cash when a workplace is so dangerous that an employee is killed on the job. …
5. Conduct a yearly confidential survey of all employees (not just managers) and require a 70% approval to get that year’s incentive cash.
6. Ban the dishonest, unethical requirement that employees sign a statement allowing a company to take money out of an employee’s personal checking account.
The trickle-down economists (corporate lobbyists) will say these regulations would kill jobs, but they can’t say how to bring back people who were killed on the job because of deregulation.
If the companies don’t want conditions, then they can raise their money through a GoFundMe page instead of forced reverse-Robin Hood socialism for the rich. Companies may lobby to lower the bar by not including conditions. Trying to avoid improvement is self-defeating.
Our highly skilled young people know how to use the internet to find better jobs elsewhere. After they’re gone, we won’t be able to attract any company.
The argument was made that there was not enough opposition to stop the Pratt & Whitney deal. Convenient excuse, since they pulled a fast one and gave the opposition only a few days’ notice. There was even far less support for the deal. How many counterprotesters were downtown demanding we give a free ride to Pratt & Whitney?
— Brennan Green