The free enterprise crowd — such as the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce — have a new scheme to tax poor people to put money in the pockets of big business. It zipped out of committee yesterday. It’s a bill to allow sales tax elections to raise money to pay the cost of luring new business.
Rep. Keith Ingram says, not to worry, this is no corporate welfare payment, but an investment in “infrastructure.” Read the bill. Infrastructure includes land purchase and site development costs. Wouldn’t you like to start a new business with free land? Where I work, we pay for our building. The free enterprise crowd also wants people to tax their groceries, light bill and blue jeans to pay for expansion of existing facilities (the tax on big ticket items is capped, naturally). Call it a ransom payment from the local hostages.
The bill, as I read it, could be used to build a highway connection for a Walmart or a sporting goods store or any other type of retail center. Should that happen, don’t call it economic development. No shopping center ever created new consumer demand or economic development; it only transferred it from one location to another.