Missouri State Sen. Chuck Purgason deserves a medal – instead, he’s been removed from his committee chairmanship in the Missouri State Senate and may lose a primary race against Congressman Roy Blunt for the U.S. Senate.
Purgason — with the help of a few key Republican allies — filibustered in the Missouri Senate for 21 hours earlier this week in an attempt to stall a bill that will give Ford Motor Company $150 million in tax incentives to expand in Missouri. It was the longest filibuster in that state’s history, but it wasn’t enough to stop the legislation.
As other state officials accused him of sending Missouri jobs down the river and killing business, Purgason said he was standing for free market principles.
They’re principles I share, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be in his position. Missouri faces stiff competition for Ford plant expansion. Other states are offering tax incentive plans just as sweet to the motor company. Ford has a significant presence in Missouri with a plant right up the road. I wouldn’t want to make them angry.
However, even with the legislation, there is no guarantee Ford will expand in Missouri, and even if they do, it only requires a 10 year commitment from the company. What happens 10 years from now? Ford likely requests further incentives in order to re-commit to the state.
It’s a vicious competitive cycle. Large businesses demand that states, cities or counties offer them dramatic tax incentives, and competing governing entities slobber all over one another offering the world. Meanwhile, the companies offer pie-in-the-sky benefits to the community – high paying jobs, additional tax revenues from anciliary development, growth. Few ever follow up to determine whether those things occur – although occasionally we learn the benefits didn’t quite live up to expectations.
At some point, competing governing entities have to stop this cycle. Someone has to tell a Ford Motor Company or an Allen Group ‘no.’ They have to say, ‘We want your business, but the taxpayers aren’t going to subsidize you.’ That’s how the free market is supposed to work.
Instead, we have “too big to fail,” while small businesses in essence pay the price in the form of taxpayer subsidies to their larger competitors. It’s government picking the winners and losers, and it needs to stop. That’s not a free market. That’s a watered down version of tyranny looking for a place to happen.
But saying no to these big industries is a tall order for politicians who don’t want to be called anti-business and don’t want to be blamed for job losses within their constituencies.
It also hits politicians right in the pocketbook. Large corporations are big time contributors to political campaigns, and they aren’t giving money to politicians who actively support a true free market that would dry their subsidies and tax incentives up.
In a free market, everyone should have to pay their fair share to public coffers – to a man. If taxes are too high for Ford – and I believe they are – then they’re way too high for smaller businesses in the region. Yes, when businesses are taxed, those costs get passed on to the consumer, but then, at least the consumer gets the choice whether to pay for it. The consumer picks the business winners and the losers.
Everyone should have an equal playing field in America – big businesses and small – but that can’t happen until government gets out of the way.
A big thank you to Sen. Chuck Purgason for taking a stand for the free market. It’s desperately needed.
OPINION: Missouri's Purgason deserves thanks