If you want to get an idea of how tight a hold defense corporations have over the government, take a look at this Seattle Times scoop (update: originally reported at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). It reports on a secret document drawn up by Boeing and sent to 15 state governments. Boeing is dangling the prospect of establishing factories to build its new 777X commercial airliner, with the promise of creating thousands of jobs, but it is also demanding that taxpayers foot the bill for the building of the factory, the real estate, the facilities, and much more.
Here is a list of some of the demands the great welfare queen Boeing issued:
• “Site at no cost, or very low cost, to project.”
• “Facilities at no cost, or significantly reduced cost.”
• “Infrastructure improvements provided by the location.”
• Assistance in recruiting, evaluating and training employees.
• A low tax structure, with “corporate income tax, franchise tax, property tax, sales/use tax, business license/gross receipts tax, and excise taxes to be significantly reduced.”
• “Accelerated permitting for site development, facility construction, and environmental permitting.”
• Low overall cost of doing business, “including local wages, utility rates, logistics costs, real estate occupancy costs, construction costs, applicable tax structure obligations.”
• The quality, cost and productivity of the available workforce.
• Predictability of utilities pricing and government regulation.
So, Boeing walks into a bar tended by Uncle Sam and says, “Hey Sam, give me billions of dollars worth of free stuff, tax breaks, subsidized cost structures, and any other government assistance you can think of, and put it on the tab of the American people. In exchange, I’ll put some of your constituents to work – albeit at lower wages than usual.”
What a deal! While it’s great for Boeing and it helps ensure the politician’s reelection because they get to point to the uptick in employment numbers, it’s a bad deal for the taxpayer.
Despite the fact that in this case the Boeing factory will be building commercial airliners, this is the kind of raw deal Americans are served with in virtually every military contract. As I wrote about in October, rent-seeking defense corporations that have politicians wrapped around their little finger keep building expensive jets, tanks, warships, and weapons systems that the Pentagon says it doesn’t want or need. But they get built and bought anyways because politicians who understand the whole reciprocal back-scratching proverb insist upon it. It’s not necessary for national defense according even to the top military brass, but Americans get stuck with the bill anyways because the military-industrial complex has the clout to do it.
That’s the kind of safety net Republicans and Democrats don’t like to make an agenda out of.