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Government should get out of the handout business

MBJ Editorial

It can be very difficult to define the proper relationship between business and government. Tax abatements, in particular, are thorny issues for many communities in Mississippi. Is it wise to support an industry by giving them a free ride on the tax rolls? Who pays for the infrastructure? Who pays for the services? These days, such questions are being raised more often when industry requests are made. This consideration is good for Mississippi economic development. It is imperative that we make economic decisions from a big-picture perspective and not simply bow down to a handful of businesses or special interest groups.

One business-government relationship that has outlived its usefulness centers around programs designed to “promote” and “encourage” minority- and women-owned firms.

In fact, these programs simply foster a dependence on government grants or loans that end up costing other businesses and individuals healthy sums of money.

The city of Jackson announced last week that it plans to help minority- and women-owned businesses with special assistance when it comes to providing the city with goods and services. It’s a bad idea but not surprising. The city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on studies, the latest — a disparity study, to improve municipal services. From all indications, every cent of this money has been squandered chasing one bad social engineering idea after the other.

Is the playing field level for each and every business wanting to compete? Probably not. But welcome to life. It’s not fair.

Successful companies are built with hard work, better ideas, great service. Businesses suckling at Uncle Sam’s teat are festering wards of the state that we shouldn’t have to pay for anymore.

It’s time for government, from Jackson to Washington, to get out of the handout business.

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