The Daily Star
---- — Your recent editorial, “Call center good use of public funds,” disappointed.
“New York spends approximately $7 billion each year on subsidies to businesses … with little accountability,” according to a report by Align. Other studies had similar conclusions.
Donating $600,000 for a Qualfon call center in Hancock that “expects” to create 400 jobs in two years, the vast majority for $10 an hour, is a cynical waste. It lowers the local standard. By contrast, 45 years ago the minimum wage was $10.74 an hour (adjusted for inflation).
Ten dollars an hour is roughly half the current median wage, meaning half earned more than $777 per week.
So-called “Industrial Development Agencies” in the Southern Tier (including Delaware and Chenango counties) gave away $37.8 million in net tax exemptions to 258 projects in 2011. Seventy percent of them did not meet or exceed job creation goals (48 percent lost jobs or didn’t create a single job). IDAs in the Mohawk Valley (including Otsego and Schoharie counties) gave away $14.9 million in net tax exemptions to 224 projects, 68 percent not meeting or exceeding job creation goals.
Government can instead directly save or create good jobs. It can even profit. In 2009, we bought 61 percent of GM. That saved tens of thousands of decent-paying jobs and produced more than $20 billion in four years. (By contrast, half of businesses fail within five years.) Unfortunately, the corporate shills that run our government just finished selling off that stake now that GM is profitable again, losing us $10 billion (though that is still maybe one-tenth what the loss in taxes would have been if GM had dissolved).
Fortunately, Americans are organizing to raise the minimum wage. Some have succeeded, such as $15 an hour in SeaTac out West.