The biggest news story ’round these parts (and through much of the country, I suppose) is the Great Taxpayer Sweepstakes of 2018, winner to receive Amazon’s second headquarters, also known as Shangri-La.
Competition has been fierce among states and municipalities (now down to 20 regional “finalists”) to give the retail giant the biggest, baddest tax break and subsidy arrangement: plans that makes the Bridge to Nowhere look like, well, a bridge to nowhere.
The entire nation is doing a Binghamton, and mayors and governors all over the country are doing their best Tom Libous impression.
Hey, guys. Listen, you want to do business here. I’ll give you as much of my constituents’ money I can legally give, then I’ll change the laws so I can give you more.
The economic impact of Amazon’s new facility is something on the order of five billion dollars. According to somebody somewhere. The tax-dollar prize package offered by the State of Maryland is said to approach that figure. That’s pretty pathetic. Until you learn that New Jersey is offering seven billion.
I guess I can’t fault Amazon for this little shell game. Gimme, gimme, gimme is what I’d say. Having politicians tripping over one another to give me money? Must be nice. That’s the new businessman, remember. He or she doesn’t really have to build anything or make anything or provide a service. Just know how to cozy up to government officials. And the modern politician? He just has to know how to cozy up to “businessmen.” That’s 100 times worse.
I’m embarrassed that my backyard, “Northern Virginia” as we’ve branded it re: Amazon, is one of the finalists in this game. Not just one of the 20, but one of the favorites, considering that the guy who owns Amazon lives right down the street. Northern Virginia is, in fact, one of three area finalists, as the District itself and “Montgomery County” (Maryland) are also in the running. No doubt Amazon brass is having those three fight one another to get the biggest tax giveaway, a clever ploy from people who know how the game is played. If they put it in either Maryland or Virginia can they finally build that “Techway” bridge across the Potomac from Route 28?
Or better yet, keep it in Montgomery County, caveat being that they’ve got to expand the Purple Line to the Purple, Violet, Indigo, Lavender, and Laughing All the Way to the Bank Lines, and you can only ride them if you have an Amazon Prime membership.
God I wish I weren’t making all this up.