Technocracy at Bay: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate

Should-Read: Nathan Jensen: Learning public policy from Amazon: "Second, many of these state and local incentive programs are designed to provide very weak tests for providing incentives...

...The Texas Chapter 313 program says companies simply need to state that incentives are “a determining factor” in their decision. To qualify, companies only need to claim they have other options or that the incentive is necessary to make the project financially viable. No disclosures are required.

The bidding war for Amazon’s second headquarters demonstrates that some public officials are losing sight of many of these lessons. Many cities and states are putting on the table their best possible offers, but is that really good public policy? What if Amazon has already chosen a location—or, more likely, narrowed the choice down to a select few places and is simply taking bids to maximize its benefits? Whatever location wins the new project needs to be sure it conducts a thorough cost analysis to learn whether any tax abatements are really worth the cost...

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