Beware the Ideologues

I am getting a little tired of slackjawed journalists taking every opportunity to hammer economic developers. The latest attempt was published in the Montreal Gazette in which a journalist writes with great indignation about the ‘incentives’ the federal government gave large firms to create jobs and economic growth through the Technology Partnerships Canada program.

What these journalists do is turn public opinion against economic development and that peeves me to no end.

Let’s take an example. The recent Toyota manufacturing plant that was announced in Ontario recently will employ 1,200 people directly and the economic activity will likely result in another 1,000 jobs. These jobs, by the way, are also very good paying jobs.

Without the $150 million incentive package, that plant would have been put in Alabama. There is no doubt about it. Now, the average life of these plants is 25-30 years. The $150 million in incentives will be paid back in personal and corporate taxes within 5 to 7 years. So, for the next 20 years or so, all the taxes paid are incremental revenues to local, provincial and federal governments.

If we had listed to these journalist or the kitty of think tanks that support them (Can. Taxpayers Foundation, Fraser, AIMS, etc.), those jobs would have been in Alabama. Ontario’s economy would have been weaker. In fact, some of the biggest and most success manufacturing plants in Ontario were seeded with government incentives. These ideologues would hobble the economy for narrow-minded ideals.

Now, consider New Brunswick. We haven’t seen a mega economic development project since Bricklin. That’s 30 years folks. And our economy is reeling.

Somehow we have got to get the message to the public that government support of economic development (and financial incentives are only one way to do this) and business investment attraction is critical to the future of New Brunswick. Government ‘investment’ in economic development will build the tax base required to make the ‘expenses’ on social programs.

Spending $700 million a year on EI – no public outcry – hardly a whiff – even from the right wing think tanks (I guarantee they are more cranky about ‘corporate welfare’ than regular welfare).

Spending $200 million a year on welfare/social assistance – this is for compassionate purposes.

Spending $50 million to attract a mega economic development project – journalists get their panties in a knot – Brian Lee Crowley’s whiny voice rises to a fevered pitch. Public outcry galore.

That makes no sense at all and those guys should know better.

AIMS is the worst. They hold up Ireland as the model for economic growth. I hate to tell Mr. Crowley but Ireland spent billions to attract all that foreign investment. Billions.