On Hookers and Bananas

All the tax incentives in the world couldn't win Chiquita's cheatin' heart

So Charlotte lost Chiquita. It happens. Chiquita left Cincinnati for Charlotte. No reason they can’t leave Charlotte for somewhere else.

As generally happens when this or any other city wins or loses a corporate headquarters or factory or server farm, people are “raising questions” about state and local tax incentives for corporate relocation. One question they needn’t ask, and it’s the only important one: Will government officials continue to dangle them in front of CEOs’ faces?

Yes, they will. Of course they will. That’s how this game is played. I don’t like it, either. It’s basically legalized extortion, but when those are the rules, what, exactly, are you supposed to do?

“I just shake my head every time it happens. It just gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach,” a Kansas City economic development official said a few years ago, as quoted in a comprehensive and revealing New York Times report. “It sounds like I’m talking myself out of a job, but there ought to be a law against what I’m doing.”

But that would restrict the free market. Can’t have that. So we’re left swimming with the rabble in the common pool of the global economy. “No one falls in love with a hooker,” Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James said yesterday, as if love had a thing to do with it. What difference does that make when the world is a whorehouse?

Categories: Poking the Hornet’s Nest