07 February 2007

Subsidies for the rich in Chicago

Looking at the distribution of subsidies to state-granted economic development subsidies to the Chicago region, Good Jobs First found, amongst other things, that:  

[T]he ability of core-area workers to take advantage of the new employment opportunities in the collar counties is limited by the fact that the vast majority of  subsidized workplaces in the newly developing suburban areas are not easily accessible by public transportation from the city. This means that for the many car-less workers in low-income, especially minority, communities, those jobs are effectively out of reach. Gold Collar (pdf)
The ‘collar counties’ are more prosperous than Cook County, which forms central Chicago. This sort of thing is one reason why I much prefer the targeting of outcomes when it comes to spending taxpayer funds. If its goal is the economic development of poor areas, then that is what a government should explicitly target. Funds should be contingent on meeting that goal. It’s just not good enough instead to set up institutions that have that goal as their stated objective. That’s where a Social Policy Bond regime scores heavily over the current system: it rewards people only when targeted goals have been achieved. Government goals and those of investors in the bonds are congruent. Bondholders gain most when they achieve social and environmental goals, as articulated by government, most quickly and efficiently.

The contrast with the current system is stark. The story told in ‘Gold Collar’ applies to colossal quantities of government revenues, all over the world. It’s one of waste, inefficiency, environmental destruction and corruption.

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