Amazon’s “HQ2" debacle—a high-profile nationwide shakedown of state and local governments by a fabulously wealthy corporation—made many people realize that maybe this whole “desperately offer tax breaks to companies to locate here” thing is a bad idea. Guess what: change is possible!
Nowhere in America was the sheer insanity of the corporate incentives game more evident than in Kansas City—a city that straddles two separate states, meaning that companies could demand economic incentives from the governments of Kansas and Missouri simply to move across town. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Since 2011, 5,526 jobs have moved from the Kansas side to the Missouri side, with Missouri paying $151 million, according to a study by the Hall Family Foundation, a nonprofit that provides philanthropic grants in the Kansas City region. In that same period, 6,729 existing jobs moved from the Missouri side to Kansas for a cost of $184 million. In total, $335 million has been spent on such company relocations, according to a study by the Hall Family Foundation.
The majority of company moves from 2011 to 2019 were between five to seven miles and hewed close to State Line Road, the 12 mile north-south street that divides the part of the region between Kansas and Missouri, the Hall Family Foundation found.
If you believe that the citizens of the United States of America are well served by paying hundreds of millions of dollars to companies to relocate jobs from one side of town to the other, you are either a corporate CEO or an insane person. This policy is, clearly, insane and pursued only so that politicians can tout purely fictional economic gains on paper. Moreover, the Kansas vs. Missouri situation is just a more easily understood illustration of the insanity of the entire system in which U.S. city and state governments throw money at companies to build facilities that they would build regardless. This entire practice should be outlawed.
And, hey: Kansas and Missouri are on the verge of doing just that. The WSJ reports that the Republican governor of Missouri and the Democratic governor of Kansas are set to each sign agreements not to pay tax incentives to companies for crossing the border. Officials across the country are talking to each other about how to put similar agreements in place for their own states. Perhaps, even in this divided age, there is one thing that those on both sides of the aisle can agree on: We shouldn’t throw public money at corporations in return for no net benefit to the public like a bunch of suckers, and furthermore, Jeff Bezos is a huge fucking greedy prick.