Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Happened to the Quality of Life Quotient?

There used to be a time when a company chose where to locate based on quality of life.  Was there a good school system where their employees could send their children and provide the company with a steady supply of educated workers?  Were there parks for the children to play in and the workers to spend their weekends?  Was the crime rate low and was the police force competent?  Was the public library well stocked and was the city council evenhanded in their dealings?

These were the questions companies once asked before deciding where to locate, questions they ask no more.  Now they ask how much will the town provide in tax breaks?  Will the county give them a reduced amount their property taxes?  Would the state be willing to build them a new road?  Maybe the state would pay them $8000 per new hire?

There are now bidding wars between cities and states over who will be the new location for a business.  Those bidding wars end up costing our public schools and our social safety net as the bids are in tax dollars the company will save or be given.  Wal-Mart and car manufactures hold the various governments hostage all in the hopes of padding the bottom line with corporate welfare while dangling the prospect of numerous jobs.

We need to back to focusing on quality of life, not how low the corporate tax rate is.  We need to get back to asking about the quality of schools, the number of parks and the level of crime in deciding where we will locate a business.  Only after we have refocused on quality of life will we make our cities and states more welcoming to business.

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