Friday, July 07, 2006

Where's Value in Values Fund?

Today's Register reports that "Vilsack also sounded a defensive tone as he challenged critics who have questioned his administration's effectiveness in cultivating new jobs, and especially the $500 million incentive program called the Grow Iowa Values Fund." Harry Baumert, "Vilsack Says State Economy Has Improved on His Watch," Des Moines Register, July 7, 2006,

As one of those critics, I thought it only right that I take up his challenge.

Of course, it's true that it's literally possible to take tax money and use it for salaries, whether by adding jobs to government payrolls or outsourced contracts with private employers or just handouts to for-profit businesses. There's no trick to that; the questions, among others, are whether that's the most efficient and effective way to accomplish the goal (if entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investors and bankers don't think something's a good investment where do elected officials get the wisdom to say they're wrong?), whether it's fair and equitable to those not receiving grants, whether it really was necessary in any given case (i.e., woud the jobs have been added without the corporate welfare), and, if one is ideologically driven, how consistent with "capitalism" is this government intertwining with private business?

It's like our present federal financial policy of selling U.S. government bonds to China and taking that money to pay for federal programs so that tax money can be handed back to the wealthy -- ignoring the fact the debt is being handed to our grandchildren and passed along as a "birth tax" to those yet unborn.

If you're interested in the Values Fund debate you might want to take a look at my longer evaluation of the issues in Nicholas Johnson, "Values Fund May Not Be So Valuable for Taxpayers," Des Moines Register, April 13, 2006,

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