Companies hold much more sway in every aspect of American life than ever before. When you think that prior to the early 1900’s organizations could only form a corporation and receive a charter from their respective state legislatures. Furthermore, they were prohibited from freely operating across state lines. These prohibitions led to company formations of ‘trusts’ and hence the old term ‘Trust Busters’.
In more modern times, companies act much more freely than ever before. They are part of a global society employing or marketing to millions throughout the world. The fear in Teddy Roosevelt’s day was the singular amassing of power and wealth that corporations could bring to bear on the world stage and potentially interfering with any number of public policy goals and American citizen interests. These are the days that good political sense was in ample supply and those that would be setting America’s course for the future seemed more concerned about the public welfare and economic interest than that of corporate America.
Understand that greed is not new and self-dealing is not confined to our century or life time. It’s easy to have a jaundiced eye and wax poetic on how things used to be (apparently a popular theme in politics these days). One must, however, bring some common ground between the lives Americans led then and how we exist today.
In our present economy, governments are inclined to throw money at corporations to have them locate to their region. In order to accomplish this, businesses are promised tax breaks, incentives such as free utilities or, in some cases, flat out cash that is considered grants if the company meets set criteria (or at least promises to meet those criteria). Of course, the government is hoping the corporation establishes itself in the given location for a long duration period to permit it recouping taxes and income from the employees that are brought to work at these establishments. In truth, many companies that undertake to receive this corporate welfare stay just long enough to meet their promises and then they’re off to the next place that will give some free money. Unfortunately, many instances involve the company just taking the money and running, leaving the constituents holding the bag and cleaning up the mess. This my fellow Americans is not how democracy works.
Businesses are in business to make money. If those ends are furthered by placing a factory in an economically depressed area of the country (wages are lower in these areas by the way), they will do so for business reasons anyway. The money is just a gift on top that is an unnecessary burden upon the taxpaying public. The corporate welfare payments can be put to better use in reeducating the out of work population so that they may learn new skills. It is always more attractive to businesses to have a ready and willing work force that is well trained. This would be a much better use of government money that would pay dividends in a much shorter amount of time.