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The Economic War Among the States: Letters







The Economic War Among the States is produced by Minnesota Public Radio's Civic Journalism Initiative and is made possible by a major grant from the Ford Foundation.

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All letters received will be considered for posting here on the Economic War Among the States Web site unless you request otherwise. We will include your email address with your letter if you offer it, but not your address or telephone number (although we prefer you include those with your letter.) We reserve the right to excerpt from letters for summary purposes, but full text versions will be available online.

Responses to commentaries posted by others are welcome; and, if the volume of activity warrants it, we'll establish an online bulletin board. Letters will be made available to attendees at the Economic War Among the States Conference May 21 - 22.

Below are excerpts from selected letters. Click on the headline to read the entire letter.


Incentive Battles Between States Inevitable and Healthy

Excerpted highlights:

[States]have no choice but to join the battle.... the process, our so-called "public servants" .... learn first-hand, at a gut level, what business has to do to survive. - Stu Mahlin

Avoid Corporate Manipulation and Stick to Education and Infrastructure

Excerpted highlights:

States should concentrate on what they do best: creating sound infrastructres, solid, productive education systems at all levels, and perhaps occaisonal targeted zoning changes, development projects, and broad (as opposed to company-specific) low-level incentives (such as a tax reduciton for a region or county).

Silicon Valley, the Research Triangle did not arise because of competition between states but rather through educational and infrastructural developments... - Matt Harmon

Government Should Require an Ownership Stake in Exchange for Subsidies

Excerpted highlights:

Any official who proposes to give public money to any private company ... should be required to see that the public receives a beneficial ownership holding in the company, equivalent in value to the gifts provided from the public coffers. - Donald L. Maxwell

An Initiative in L.A. to Support Entrepreneurs and Build Networks, Not Chase Smokestacks

Excerpted highlights:

The Los Angeles Regional Technology Alliance will provide the groundwork for the regional infrastructure necessary to directly assist those firms wishing to develop dual-use technologies, and truly solidify the State's commitment to defense industry diversification.

GOALS: (As specified in our 1996 contract.)

  1. Creation and retention of jobs.
  2. Creation of new businesses.
  3. Development of new commercial or dual use products.
  4. Establishment of industrial partnerships and consortia.
  5. Demonstration of productivity enhancements within key regional industries in such areas as a) return on investment, b) reduced cost, c) employee training, and d) equipment upgrades. 6. Establishment of private-public partnerships.
  6. Commitment of industry support, participation, and capital.
  7. Leverage State, Federal and private sector funds.
  8. Participation of small businesses and minority, women and disabled-veteran owned businesses.
  9. Work force training.
- Brandon F. Stauber

Unequal Subsidies to Business Simply Not Fair

Excerpted highlights:

I opened a small business in 1993...

In exchange for this economic stimulus, I have not received one cent from the State or local government, nor do I expect to. But why should I be paying taxes so that these governments can then subsidize other businesses? - George White


Employee ownership as a viable economic-development policy

Excerpted highlights:

"With respect to the bidding wars, the beauty of employee ownership is that worker-owned companies are highly unlikely to relocate out of state in search of lower wages. Why would workers be interested in exporting their own jobs?"

"States would do much better by using their scarce tax resources to promote employee ownership in home-grown companies, rather than trying to lure companies from other jurisdictions for little benefit." - Steve Smela

Congress Unlikely to Act

Excerpted Highlghts:

" I agree completely with the Fed's assessment; federal action is the only way to end this disgraceful waste of our local and state tax dollars. Unfortunately, I think it is pretty unlikely that Congress will address the issue, since intervening would appear to interfere with states rights." - Bob Patton

Incentives, one of many social problems

Excerpted highlights:

"Poverty is spreading in America. A woman who recently returned from South America said to me, 'Every time I come home to visit, the U.S. looks more and more like Brazil than the other way around.'"

"Regular people are not involved in these discussions. They aren't at the table. They aren't attending Harvard and they probably don't have e-mail. The median wage in 1995 was $26,000. What will the median wage at the symposium be? And because of that, ideas and ideals like democracy, sovereignty, promoting the general welfare are in jeopardy." - Emilie F. Nichols

Comments from an Indiana study

Excerpted highlights:

"My comments are based on business subsidy research I conducted in Indiana. I examined several state and local tax abatement and training grant programs. Data for 1993 were obtained for 2,873 individual firms. "

"It is assumed that public investments will produce a highly skilled workforce and rising standards of living. However, there is little accountability and incentives seldom are linked to performance." - Jeff Vincent