Flashy Projects Generate Taxpayer Losses

A state economy isn't made up of the biggest companies

According to MIRS News, Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is pushing for driverless vehicle legislation, hoping to land a research center in Willow Run. The intent of the legislation, MIRS said, “is to propel Michigan to the head of the line in the highly competitive autonomous sweepstakes, which involves such states as California, Nevada, Texas and Florida.”

According to the news site, Kowall issued a warning: “If we do nothing, that would be irresponsible. We'd lose jobs. We'd lose people moving away wholesale and the universities promoting these studies, everybody would move out of state.”

There are often “competitions” between states for projects. Lawmakers tend to send heaps of taxpayer dollars to companies that try to play one state or locality off the other as they consider where to place new projects.

It’s a good thing that the state economy relies upon decentralized decision-making to create jobs instead of political deals. The deals are not the fountain of all economic activity, as portrayed by policymakers.

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That is because a state economy is not the compilation of the biggest companies and favored industries, but rather the result of decisions made by thousands of business owners and managers. There are thousands of jobs created and lost every month. At best, politicians make deals for dozens, and these rarely come to fruition. And there is an economic cost to the taxpayer dollars used to lure companies not accounted for in the job announcements.

Some of Kowall’s proposals may prove to be valuable. Creating a legislative environment that allows self-driving vehicles is an important thing to do, considering that many of our laws on road and vehicle usage assume that there is a person driving.

But the competition for flashy projects results in taxpayer losses.


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