Business well-being | Columnists |

Today’s politicians want to spend more on all: Amtrak subsidies, sports stadium subsidies, green energy subsidies, even fossil fuel subsidies …

President Joe Biden said the documents “will put more money in your pocket.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says they will “protect the planet for children.”

They could. But a disproportionate amount of money will end up in the hands of big companies – the ones with the most lawyers and lobbyists.

A new documentary, “Well-being in the workplace: where is the outrage? ”Gives examples. This week my new video covers two of the worst.

First, the “tax breaks”.

Memphis, Tennessee has a program called the Economic Development Growth Engine, which is designed to entice new businesses to locate in Memphis by giving them tax breaks.

The growth engine gave Swedish furniture maker IKEA $ 9.5 million in tax relief. In return, IKEA agreed to create 175 new jobs.

Local furniture vendors have retreated.

” And U.S ? Asks Ron Becker, owner of The Great American Home Store. “Here we pay taxes. Where is our financial incentive?

Good question. Inferior taxes would be a good incentive. But Memphis politicians can’t lower taxes when giving tax breaks to big business.

Such tax breaks are complex, so large companies with many tax accountants typically benefit.

Memphis “pits these gigantic corporations that know about government and have tons of lobbyists against the mom and pop stores in our community that we’re trying to save,” complains Mark Cunningham of the Beacon Center, the free market think tank of Tennessee. “You’re basically asking people to pay more taxes so that their competitor is successful over them. “

“These are our taxes,” he adds. “We are working very hard for them. They should go to the things we need: essential government services, roads, schools, police, firefighters… It is just not the role of government to give money to big business.

Two years later, IKEA still hasn’t created all the jobs it promised, and several local furniture stores have closed.

“Such programs start with good intentions,” stresses documentary host Johan Norberg, “but they have unintended consequences. “

It covers another document with unpleasant unintended consequences: agricultural subsidies.

Farm Bill supporters claim that handouts and special crop insurance deals are needed to secure America’s stable food supply.

It’s a bunk. Producers of fruits and vegetables do not receive any subsidies. There is no shortage of apples or pears. Crops are doing well without subsidies.

“Only the big guys who can afford it” get grants, explains Véronique de Rugy, an economist at the Mercatus Center.

Some are not even American companies.

“The largest pork producer in the United States, Chinese company Smithfield Foods, has raised consumer prices,” Norberg said. “Yet they still benefited from the government’s subsidy system, lobbying intensively to keep food prices low. It is estimated that in 2019 alone, the agribusiness spent over $ 135 million on lobbying.

It’s worth spending $ 135 million to get billions in return.

In contrast, Jeff Hawkins does not spend anything on lobbying.

Hawkins owns a farm in Indiana. He sells chicken to restaurateur Pete Eshleman. The Indiana Legislature asked Hawkins and Eshleman to do a presentation on local farmers’ markets and restaurants.

When they finished speaking, politicians in Indiana told them that selling chicken directly to restaurants was “illegal.” The Indiana Farm Bureau, the State Poultry Association and the Pork Producers Association have all testified in favor of banning direct farm-to-restaurant sales.

“They basically made up a story that small farms processing chicken on the farm pose a health risk,” complains Eshleman.

What really happened was that larger politically connected farms used the legislature to ban competition.

But the Hawkins chicken was popular. Her clients have complained on social media and flooded the phone lines of state officials.

In a rare twist, politicians gave in.

Now, says Norberg, “restaurants like Pete Eshelman’s can serve locally sourced poultry, and neighbors have a choice in the food they eat.”

It was a small victory against US anti-freedom, pro-big business, and wealthy welfare regulations.

You can watch Norberg’s full documentary at

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