Friday, September 12, 2008

Broyhill/Furniture Brands

So I guess everyone knows by now. The City of Lenoir and Caldwell County have rolled over and taken Broyhill's hijacking, spending our money to make themselves look good.

If you'll recall, one of the arguments used to justify Google's handouts last year was that the tax rebates were on investment that wouldn't have happened without the incentives; we were giving away money we wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Not even that excuse works here.

Furniture Brands International (Broyhill's owner; let's be honest, it's not really "Broyhill" anymore) is staying in Lenoir and consolidating its operations, including closing several other plants. For this, the City and County have given them massive incentives conditioned on placing limits on job REDUCTION, rather than promoting job creation. If Furniture Brands cuts ONLY 100 jobs, City and County taxpayers will pay them $2 million dollars over the next year or so. This isn't tax rebates. Checks will be written out of the general funds, paid for by you and me, to Furniture Brands, a company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.

The John Locke Foundation, in its Agenda 2008 pamphlet, put it better than I can:

[Government] will reward specific companies that it deems worthy. If a company will run its business the way politicians and state economic development planners think it should be run, then the subsidies will flow in its direction.

If it locates in the right place, if it hires the right amount of workers, if it compensates the workers with the correct mix of salary and benefits, and if it is producing the right products or providing the right services, then it will qualify for the privilege of being subsidized by the citizens of North Carolina. This is government central planning, plain and simple.

Of course, the City and County will go through the motions of the public hearings required by law. Lenoir's hearing will be October 21 and Caldwell's hearing will probably be October 20. But the votes have already been unofficially cast. I'll very likely be the only local official who opposes these taxpayer subsidies.

Despite this, I encourage you to turn out for the public hearings and express your opposition. Because I will, and if enough citizens show up to voice their opposition to this corporate welfare, maybe together we can put a stop to it.


T.J. said...

Can I comment on my own post? Sure; why not! It's my blog. In any event, Todd Perdue spoke to me tonight, and in fairness to him and the rest of the City Council, I need to back off of the first part of my comment. I do not believe they "spen[t] our money to make themselves look good." They did not do it for selfish purposes. I believe each of the councilpersons is legitimately doing what they believe is best for the City of Lenoir. In this case, though, I think their fear of losing Broyhill led them to make a bad deal. They fell victim to blackmail, and were not brave enough to tell Furniture Brands "No." They did not want to run the risk of being known as the Council Who Let Broyhill Leave. As I say in my posting, I think they made a terrible mistake.