Government Investment Wrong

A prominent Mississippi businessman is asking the taxpayers of Mississippi to give him 17 million dollars to help his company. He told a Senate committee that the reason he was asking for the money was because the legislature had provided millions of dollars to other companies, and since he had been in business 43 years and had never asked the legislature for anything, he wanted them to give him some money, too.

In a strange way, it was refreshing to hear such honesty from someone who was asking for something from the taxpayers. Usually, such requests are shrouded in presumptuous claims of benefits for the state. It was also good to have those senators hear the consequences of their past actions that took money from you and me and gave it to private companies.

But those highlights were overwhelmed by such a brazen request that violates one of the principles of governing, namely that the free market should not be distorted by government dictates or advantages. Money should never be taken from taxpayers and given to a private company to subsidize its business. This causes taxpayers to invest in a company by force, which violates their property rights, distorts the market, and violates the state Constitution.

It might be appropriate to provide roads, water and sewer systems, and other infrastructure that government would ordinarily provide for its citizens. Some types of tax breaks are acceptable in some cases, because those are taxes that would not be collected anyway if the businesses weren’t there. Tax breaks also allow people to keep their own money. But it is quite a different issue to take money from private individuals and give it to other private entities.

To learn more, go to mspolicy.org.