Remarks at the National Rally Against Corporate Welfare
Albany, NY, Oct. 12th
by James Ostrowski
Welcome to the first annual National Rally Against Corporate Welfare. We’re holding this event in Albany since it probably leads the states in doling out taxpayer money to politically-connected business firms.
The other reason we’re here is to argue the Pork Lawsuit at the Court of Appeals at two o’clock. The Pork Lawsuit was filed to make it illegal for the state to give away your tax money to corporations.
We are up against about 25 lawyers but I have 50 good citizens behind me led by Lee Bordeleau so by my math we have them outnumbered. We also have truth and justice on our side which is why we beat them like a gong in the Appellate Division. And backing up those 50 good people are ten million other taxpayers who also get ripped off by corporate welfare.
When I’m in court today, I will make all the technical legal arguments and I will speak in a “civil” manner and maintain decorum. But I don’t have to do that here. Here, I can speak the truth in plain terms.
Corporate subsidies that go to a small number of politically-connected firms are legalized robbery but worse. The armed robber doesn’t lie to you and tell you this is for your own good. He has the dignity to know he’s a thief and act like one.
In this country, if you steal a few bucks, you’re a criminal. If you steal billions, you’re a politician or corporate executive.
Corporate welfare is the glue that holds the whole rotten political regime in America together. And just like’s there’s not much glue in a model airplane, but without it, the plane would fall apart—-corporate welfare only accounts for a small percentage of government expenditures but it fuels the whole operation. Politicians trade corporate subsidies for donations to the their campaigns to buy the lying 30-second TV ads that keep the scoundrels in power year after year while the state and country and your bank account continue to decline.
Corporate welfare is a form of central planning that doesn’t work. Politicians and bureaucrats lack the competence to pick winners in the marketplace. Since they are not risking their own capital and will not directly profit from the success of these enterprises, they lack the powerful incentives that entrepreneurs have to make the right choices in the allocation of scarce capital.
Also, entrepreneurs have money in the first place because they have been successful in past enterprises and have shown their skill and thus likely to be successful in the future. Bureaucrats in contrast can fail for decades as the current ones have and still have the political power to be in charge of corporate welfare decision-making. When entrepreneurs fail, their assets are quickly transferred to better entrepreneurs.
Thus, the market process is a continuous process of discovering what people want. In contrast, corporate welfare projects like the Hyatt Hotel in Buffalo keep getting bailed out year after year when the market would and should have liquidated them.
Every subsidy is an argument for every other subsidy so corporate welfare is used as a rationale to support every other big government program.
Corporate welfare allows the business class to escape from the high taxes the rest of us are fighting. Virtually no prominent business people have supported the real tea party movement. They don’t have to. Corporate welfare allows them to escape the high taxes the working class tea party and Occupy Wall Street supporters have to pay.
Corporate welfare corrupts the political process and keeps the incumbents in power. Shiny new projects funded by corporate welfare help convince the public that things are changing and that progress is being made. That is an illusion that keeps the politicians in office year after year. The reality is that these are zero sums games that benefit some at the expense of others.
Since they do not create new wealth, they usually fail for lack of customers with good jobs having the money to buy their products, and they need to be subsidized continually, like the Hyatt Hotel. Also, I have carefully studied political donations in this state. Recipients of corporate welfare are among the leading donors to the politicians. Corporate welfare helps keep the regime in power!
Corporate welfare crowds out real change such as lower taxes. It is not a good short-term solution to our economic problem. It’s what we do instead of dealing with our problem. It’s not the solution; it is in many ways the problem itself.
The failure of New York’s so-called economic development program proves that seizing money from hundreds of thousands of taxpayers for use in politically-chosen business projects will always fail – except to line the pockets of the developers and politicians.
Why then, other than naked greed and power-lust, do they deep foisting these tax-supported business projects upon us? Three reasons:
They make for great publicity for the politicians. The politicians don’t have a photo op for tax cuts – they help too many people in too many subtle and invisible ways.
Rich and powerful private interests are better at robbing the public purse than the average working stiff is. Will Andrew Cuomo take your call? Try it and let me know. Seriously! But I guarantee you he’ll take IBM’s call to hand over hundreds of millions of dollars of your money.
Once you establish the absurd principle that instead of protecting private property, government should steal it from some people and give it to others for the sake of “economic development” – the rich and powerful will tend to get most of the benefits. As Lew Rockwell likes to say, “politics is a rich man’s sport.” Obviously, the economic development bureaucrats – a breed of cat that would be extinct in a free society – are going to prefer big and glamorous projects to little ones even if the little ones have merit.
To sum up, the corporate welfare schemes our politicians are addicted to fail because they suck the energy out of the far corners of the market economy and concentrate that energy in one place and time, where it can do the most good for the politicians. After the press conferences are over and the consultants, lawyers, and power brokers have been richly paid off, these projects are left to face the harsh reality that they are not sustainable in the free market. Their costs exceed their revenues.
Duh! That’s why they needed a subsidy in the first place. The choice then is to either keep subsidizing them – stupidly sending good money after bad – or abandon them. A grim prospect but the politicians don’t give a damn because they will be long gone by then, spending our pension funds down in the Sunbelt to avoid the high taxes the scoundrels imposed on us.
So far, I’ve covered the economic, political, and propaganda aspects of this corporate welfare scam. I’ve also alluded to the rank immorality of it all. It’s sheer robbery. One of the drafters of the present ban on state subsidies called it “legalized robbery”. But we will in court today that it’s illegalized robbery.
Corporate welfare is a violation of equal protection of the laws. It is beyond obvious that if the government taxes some businesses to give money to other businesses, it is treating those firms differently. They are not providing equal protection of the laws. Quite the contrary!
Corporate welfare is banned by the State Constitution: “The money of the state shall not be given or loaned to or in aid of any private corporation…” Art. VII. Like many states, New York got burned by past wasteful corporate welfare and pork barrel projects so we made it illegal. This hasn’t stopped anyone. After all, if you are willing to steal other people’s money, you would also be willing to flaunt the law.
Corporate welfare converts normally feisty business people into gutless toadies to politicians they would never hire at their own firms, and silences them from criticizing the regime or supporting real change lest they be cut off from the subsidies they feel they need in New York’s hostile business climate. That explains why the WNY tax revolt and tea party movements have virtually no support from private business firms above the level of mom and pop shops.
The politicians also love corporate welfare because it gives them a tool to bamboozle the public about how they are supporting economic development. But it’s yet another big lie. How does stealing your money and preventing you from using it to support businesses whose products best fit your needs and wants improve the economy? How does it stimulate economic growth to prevent you from using your money to start and grow your own company, and instead give your money to a company that bought a politician with a campaign donation?
Governor Cuomo, stop lying to the people! Governor Cuomo, stop stealing from the people! Governor Cuomo, stop giving our money to the plutocrats. “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
We know corporate welfare is evil but what are we going to do about it? The problem with most mass movements like the tea party and occupy movements is a total lack of strategy or tactics. The Tea Party Coalition does have a three-part plan that will work with your help.
First, we filed the Pork Lawsuit and we are winning! If we win this appeal, we can shut down billions of dollars in corporate welfare and return that money to the people. How about getting rid of the regressive state gas tax which forces the poor and working class in NY to play the highest gas prices in the country outside of Hawaii? If we win this suit, we will immediately file another one to bar 1000 local governments from giving away our money. Finally, we will go to war against the so-called Industrial Development Agencies. IDAs are yet another useless scam. The Buffalo News recently reported that just one IDA funneled two million dollars in legal fees back to a law firm that gives piles of money to slimy politicians.
So please support the Pork Lawsuit. Google “pork lawsuit” for more information. We have not done any fundraising in a while but we may need to do so in the near future so please help us out when we do.
What else can we do while waiting for the Court of Appeals to rule on our case?
Battle plans only work when they are simple. Let’s keep it easy and simple.
First, ask every candidate who seeks your vote to sign a pledge against corporate welfare. We have handed out copies to you today. Second, and this is even more important. Pledge not to vote for any candidate who supports corporate welfare.
In Buffalo recently, the so-called free market candidate for county executive, Chris Collins, actually produced a TV ad bragging about his micro-loan corporate welfare program. I publicly condemned the ad on PoliticalClassDismissed.com, Facebook and Twitter and, more importantly asked all tea party people not to support Collins. If Republicans like Collins and Rick Perry who supposedly support free market policies, get away with the blatant hypocrisy of supporting subsidies, we will have no hope of change.
In the presidential race, the only major candidate I know of who opposes corporate subsidies is Ron Paul. I pledge not to vote for any Republican candidate for President whose name is not Ron Paul!
We must make these clowns pay a price regardless of which party they are in. Sooner or later, one party or the other will realize that to win elections, they will have to stand against corporate welfare and we will win.
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