Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Big Industries Demand More Corporate Welfare

You should have been at the Fayetteville Water and Sewer Committee last night to watch the corporate whinefest. It was pathetic to see grown men plead for greater corporate profits based on subsidies from local residents. They said it is necessary for local residents to pay above cost for water and sewer service so they can pay less for a glass of water or to flush of their toilet.

Darrell Froud, operations manager at the Tyson Mexican Original plant, threatened that having to pay actual cost-of-service rates would remove any competitive reason for a corporation that made $111 million in the last quarter to stay in Fayetteville. Nick Coburn, manager of Pinnacle Foods, Fayetteville's largest water user, said an increase in the corporation's water bill could lead to moving its business outside Fayetteville. Butch Scruggs, plant manager for Superior Industries, talked about costs related to operating in a global market. There was no need to remind officials that some Arkansas manufacturing companies are moving out of the country to hire cheap labor and comply with fewer environmental regulations.

Mayor Dan Coody supports maintaining and even increasing the multi-million dollar burden on residents to subsidize the corporations that use even more cheap resources. Nationally, only 25% of water utilities follow that Old South corporate welfare scheme, while 75% of cities have a fair flat rate or a progressive rate that encourages conservation and sustainability.

Here's how they run the scam.
Bill Ramsey, paid gun from the Chamber, tried to impress the committee by quoting outdated information that was five years old instead of current data. Then the mayor's paid consultant told the committee that they should ask questions like "What level of subsidy is appropriate?" That's easy, none. Why shouldn't the question be how much should residents be subsidized? Then he suggests asking "What is more important to residential customers — slightly lower water bills or jobs within the community?" Why not ask college students which is more important slightly lower water bills or free beer? There is just as much connection between the two.

In July, the state cut the beer tax from 3% to 1%. Did that result in new jobs or lower prices for beer, or did it all go into the owners' pockets? The state also cut the sales tax on electricity for Tysons, PInnacle, and Superior in July. Has that resulted in more new jobs or lower prices, or just more money for the greedy who demand corporate welfare or threaten to leave? You boys need to get some new arguments to justify your subsidies from the people.

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