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Commanding failure: Yet more proof

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Monday, Sept. 21, 2009

An in-depth analysis of Michigan's fumbling foray into government-directed "economic development" is must reading in Pennsylvania, which embraces the same fiscal policies -- and with the same miserable outcomes.

In what The Wall Street Journal calls "one of the largest experiments in smokestack chasing in American history," Michigan politicians over the past 14 years have provided $3.3 billion in tax credits plus another $1.6 billion to create jobs. The results in the analysis by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank, aren't pretty.

For every 100 jobs promised by politicians through tax credits for the favored few, only 29 materialized. Worse still, for every $1 million in manufacturing tax credits from 2001 to 2007 in a given county, 95 manufacturing jobs were lost in that county.

Two initiatives that promised to accrue half a million jobs and $440 billion in new investment by 2010 went bust in 2007 amid millions in bad loans.

And despite politicians' chorus for "jobs, jobs, jobs," the authors write, "(T)here's little evidence to show that these direct financial incentives actually have any impact on state employment levels."

Whether the same programs in Pennsylvania are called "economic development" or "WAMs" or "Susquehanna Succotash," they're a waste of precious taxpayer dollars.

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