Other Voices: Corporate incentives an outdated idea
I was glad to read that Grass Valley’s Mayor and City Council disagreed with the recommendation by Seifel Consulting, Inc., to invest $300,000 to lure new businesses to our area. The idea of competing with other communities for corporate investment by offering financial incentives is an idea whose time has come and gone.
It has been shown again and again that large corporations, while taking government handouts (corporate welfare) in the form of subsidized infrastructure, regulatory waivers and tax breaks, often take more money out of a county (or country) than they bring in. In spite of this “capital flight,” such corporations spend big bucks to influence local (and state and national) governments through their lobbying efforts. Because corporations are considered “persons” under the law and because corporate advertising is considered “free speech,” corporations often have more clout in community decision-making than the people do.
A newer, and I think better, idea is to limit corporate influence in communities. I would like to see Nevada County follow the example of Humboldt County, which passed Measure T, prohibiting corporations outside the county from participating in or seeking to influence local elections. The Humboldt resolution also stated that corporate advertising does not qualify as free speech.
Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (www.duhc.org) is the grassroots alliance that organized so successfully against corporate rule in that county. One way the group promoted and raised money for its cause was through selling tea, with the following words written on each tea bag: “We need a tea party of our own.” DUHC is now helping other communities to organize against the corporate takeover of their cultures, communities and governments.
Rather than trying to bring in more large corporations to Western Nevada County, let’s do what we can to build on the strengths that we already have. Yes, we could focus on tourism – maybe eco-tourism. But what will draw tourists to our area? Certainly not by creating more large-scale developments or “business parks” or renewing our focus on extractive industries, such as mining and logging.
How about focusing on creating a sustainable local economy that will appeal to residents, tourists and other visitors to our area? I would much rather see our hard-earned tax dollars used to support locally based small businesses and organic farmers, to provide services for those who are here and to protect the rural quality of our beautiful county.
I would love to see our government focus on protecting the land, the waters, the forests and other species and on demanding action to protect our air. These natural treasures are the source and foundation of the money economy, a heritage that we must protect for today and for future generations.
Sharon Delgado is an ordained United Methodist minister from Nevada City and executive director of locally based Earth Justice Ministries (www.earth-justice.org). She is author of “Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization,” available at local libraries and The Book Seller.
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