Published writing and interviews on corporate welfare and economic development
Detroit News: Don’t use Amazon to defend new transit taxes
There’s no reason a low-income Detroit homeowner already paying some of the nation’s highest effective property tax rates in a neighborhood decimated by foreclosures should have that tax burden increased to subsidize a well-paid millennial computer programmer’s train trip to work. If a corporation thinks its workers need help to get to work, they can put their money where their mouth is rather than asking the rest of us to foot the bill.
“Economic development” is based on the promise that you will benefit more if a politician takes money from you or your business to give to a corporation to “grow the economy” than if they’d just left the money with you in the first place. As politicians gamble billions on Amazon, taxpayers understandably question what kind of game they’re really playing.
Detroit News: We lost Amazon, so end corporate welfare
Let’s launch the next generation of great business success stories by becoming known as the state where every company is treated equally, reasonable taxes support the common good instead of private profit and business success comes from keeping customers happy instead of politicians.
“I would love to see Amazon locate in Detroit and hire people here and be a great part of the community. That’d be awesome,” said John Mozena, a local communications consultant and free market advocate who recently worked at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “But I don’t think they deserve any better and I don’t think they should be paying less taxes than a company that employs one or 10 or 100 people.”
Detroit News: Enjoy Detroit’s new skyscraper: You’re paying for it
Supporters of these new laws argue that they’re necessary to spur “brownfield redevelopment.” That’s a fancy marketing term for “building something where an older building used to be,” which is what human beings have been doing since we stopped being nomads and invented cities. It’s also what businesspeople used to do in Detroit with their own money.
The Jones Act, like other protectionist policies throughout history, has ended up hurting American consumers and businesses while failing to maintain a healthy domestic maritime industry. It shouldn’t have taken a natural disaster for us to realize it’s a bad idea to replace free markets with favoritism.
Crain’s Detroit Business: MEDC CEO wrong to say he has blueprint for state’s economy
In fact, even the MEDC’s own most optimistic claims don’t show a noticeable economic impact, other than costing us more than we spend on worthwhile government services such as food safety or state police… That’s not owning the blueprint for the economy; that’s barely having an opinion on what color to paint the walls.
Testimony to Detroit City Council on Detroit Pistons Subsidy:
Detroit Free Press: Detroit City Council approves $34.5M public funding for Pistons move
John Mozena, vice president for Marketing and Communications of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, spoke against the public funding and said private businesses will now be forced to compete with those who have an unfair edge in subsidized funding. “It will not improve the lives of the people in the city of Detroit,” Mozena said. “They (the Ilitch family and Pistons owner Tom Gores) can do this without your help.”
Mackinac Center Blog: George Orwell and Humpty Dumpty Economic Policy
The debate over these programs pits decades of history, consistent academic research results and fundamental principles of economics versus the flowery language of “economic development” promises. And just as Orwell warned us, the language is doing an excellent job of obscuring the facts.
Michigan Chronicle (co-authored): Wayne County Shouldn’t Subsidize a Soccer Stadium
Public subsidies of professional sports stadiums don’t benefit local residents, and this plan already calls for enough additional sacrifice by the people of Wayne County. Its residents and businesses should not have to pay for a privately owned, billion-dollar project.
Mackinac Center Blog: Should Construction Workers Pay Taxes to Billionaires?
Working Americans and entrepreneurs who risk their own resources to start small businesses that create good jobs in our communities already don’t benefit enough from the taxes they pay. They wonder, understandably, if their government is working for them or for the special interests. The way our elected officials treat this corporate welfare legislation so soon after they failed to roll back the personal income tax will tell all of us a great deal about how that relationship stands in Michigan.
Detroit Metro Times: Mackinac Center for Public Policy: Taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize Pistons move
Even the traditional argument that stadiums create ‘nightlife’ is a low-percentage shot: Instead of creating new demand and new customers for bars and restaurants, subsidized stadiums unfairly compete for a consumer’s entertainment dollar with those businesses. Someone drinking a beer or eating a hot dog in a subsidized stadium seat isn’t doing that in their neighborhood restaurant.
Crain’s Detroit Business: Detroit’s tax climate hurts mobility effort
That’s the true meaning of “incentives” that’s not widely advertised: Government economic development bureaucrats get to decide which businesses don’t have to pay the same taxes as everybody else.