The Associated Press reported today that Missouri GOP gubernatorial contender Dave Spence had to repay part of a grant he had received from the state of New York. The grant was associated with a plastics business he acquired in that state. It seems that Spence, who is running on his record as a job-creating businessman, failed to meet the job creation targets upon which the grant was contingent.
Embarrassing, sure; surprising, not especially. Businesses succeed and fail for a number of reasons. It does, of course, undermine Spence’s job-creator chops, the single qualification he presents to persuade us he deserves to be elected governor of Missouri. As the AP put it, “Spence was not able to create jobs in New York.” Of course, success in business is, on its own, at least, a pretty weak qualification for a political career since government’s goals and methods are much broader than that of for-profit business.
What especially struck me, though, was one statement from the Democratic Party response:
A party spokesman pointed to various speeches in which Spence has said he doesn’t like “corporate welfare” and believes businesses should have to repay government incentives if they don’t follow through on their job-creation agreements.
The Democrats are on to something, but seem not to have a very firm grasp of all the implications. My question is if Spence doesn’t like “corporate welfare” what’s he doing accepting government subsidies under any circumstances? Whether or not he created jobs with
corporate welfare government money is irrelevant.
If memory serves me, Spence got Alpha Packaging, his big Missouri business success, going strong thanks to a Small Business Administration Loan, and then, of course, there’s his support for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) – he sat on the board of a bank that took TARP money and then defaulted. Seems to me that Mr. Spence has been more than happy to take advantage of corporate welfare. You could even say he owes much of his success to just that particular form of government largesse.
But when it comes to government looking out for the folks who occupy those jobs he claims he wants to create, he’s not so generous. He may be willing to accept government help to insure his welfare and to endorse policies that permit government to help businessmen like him, but he wants that same government to leave workers’ welfare to the “free” market, via right-to-work-for-less legislation and totally abolishing the minimum wage.
Which brings me to a simple question that Mr. Spence’s many trips to the government trough suggests: Why isn’t what’s good for the goose, good for the gander? If government subsidies help businessmen like Spence “create” jobs, why isn’t government oversight to guarantee a fair share of the proceeds for the workers just as good? There might not be any proceeds, after all, if weren’t for our tax money – including those of union and minimum wage folks. Why should we subsidize a “free” market that offers us slave wages?
And, lest you be misled by Mr. Spence’s claim that unions and minimum wage requirements are what made it impossible for him to succeed in New York, bear in mind that as recently as 2011, New York led the nation in job creation and is ranked third in job growth by Kiplinger this year.