Improper use of government

The greatest danger to our citizens’ freedom and liberty comes from the misuse and abuse of government power. That’s not just an opinion. It can be documented throughout history. In recent years it seems to be accelerating and perpetuated by America’s political class—more and more statists seem to be infiltrating our politics. Many of the people we elect and should be able to trust to defend our liberties have other interests—confiscating our property to buy votes or promote favored interest groups.

One of the more unpalatable of the later abuses imposed on us here in North Carolina is based on the misguided and false premise of government-sponsored “job creation” and “economic development”—under the banners: “We need jobs” and “We need growth.” While some may naively believe that these politicians care about workers and businesses, the real “need” underlying their messages is for more political power from increased tax revenue—more greed than need.

For example, take “incentives”—please.

Jeff Scribner writing at the Mises Institute defines these seemingly benign but shifty schemes as primarily “special tax abatements for a set period of time…developed and used in recruiting new businesses.” Of course, the economic consequences are that the incentivized win benefits at the expense of those who have more tax burden shifted to them—an inexcusable injustice. (link below)

These underhanded bureaucratic projects raise several legal and moral questions: “What constitutional laws authorize these schemes?” Isn’t giving favorable tax treatment to some business people, but not others, illegal under American jurist prudence?” “If not illegal, isn’t bribing selectively chosen companies with tax reductions, effectively burdening others, immoral?”

One would think that ethical legislators who know the proper and limited role of government would reject these “bait & switch” schemes on the grounds that they are wrong. There are signs in this State that many recently elected legislators do understand.

For instance, film industry tax credits—mostly benefiting a few people in the Wilmington area—may go away this year because the General Assembly isn’t expected to renew them. Gov. Pat McCrory, however, seems to be ethically challenged on this issue and has said he wants to renew and even increase bribes to selected businesses.

Even Wilmington StarNews editors, champions of these legislative misdeeds for years, recognize that incentives “are distasteful to many taxpayers because they amount to special treatment for a select group of companies.” Yet, they continue to justify them because they are “expected” and “unless North Carolina has a competitive incentive smorgasbord we may lose out.” (That’s analogous to the Mafia trying to get into drug extortions because rival gangs are moving in on that market.) (link to the editorial below)

Anyway, who is “we” and what will “we” lose? How about the injustice of taking property (taxes) from some people and assigning it (incentives) to others? Unfortunately, some legislators believe that is their role as our representatives; an unsavory attitude increasingly prevalent with our politicians.

Mr. Scribner has compared the incentives practices in North Carolina and New York State. Progressive New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo must try to bribe companies (many have been moving out of New York) because he presides over the State with the highest combined taxes in the country.

Gov. McCrory, on the other hand, is positioned to do the right thing. North Carolina is a right-to-work State, has relatively low taxes and majority conservative legislators. He could be a hero to most of our citizens by working with an agreeable General Assembly to reduce income and corporate taxes, and burdensome regulations—setting North Carolina not only on a more economically competitive course, but also a potential model for the proper use of government.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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