The present occasion for my bile comes out of a Charles Gasparino column in the NY Post (p. 21) of June 3, 2011. Mr. Gasparino speaks about how much small businessmen want to employ Americans in their firms, as well as to keep their companies firmly rooted in the US, but are being forced away from this strategy. He states, “Businesses have learned to make money by cutting costs (i.e., jobs) or relocating to China or India. And it’s not merely that it’s cheaper to operate overseas; a huge part of the problem is the fear that it’s going to keep getting more expensive to hire here.”
I know lots of small business owners and to a man they are lovers of America and are committed to their local communities. But why should any of us hire in an increasingly hostile anti-business environment that limits entrepreneurial creativity and flexibility, and lards on ever-increasing bureaucracy and taxes? I personally know owners of small firms who manufacture things like gloves, eye glass frames, automobile filters, electronics, etc., who are wracking their brains to figure out how to profitably stay in the US.
Or, to look at a large business, Boeing, out-of-the-blue, is being prevented from opening a new plant with thousands of new jobs in right-to-work state South Carolina by an obscure bureaucratic agency packed with unelected labor union activists. If the ruling holds, Boeing will not open a non-competitive union plant. It will simply move the plant overseas. Bye, bye American jobs. John Galt, where art thou?
Peter Sidoti of Sidoti & Company and a specialist in analyzing small corporations, points to the disturbing example of A.T. Cross Co., which makes Cross pens. Cross couldn’t imagine taking on the expense of relocating out of Rhode Island–until it started adding up costs of federal, state, and local taxes and bureaucracy. You guessed it. Another plant goes to China. (And now their stock is booming.)
Sidoti goes on to talk about his own Wall Street firm which pays a 75% tax rate in New York. Says Sidoti, “Washington has to decide what they want the country’s future to be. Is it going to be Detroit, which did nothing to help business so people and capital have fled. Or will it be Texas, which is attracting people and capital?” Mr. Sidoti is himself looking into relocating his office to Austin, Texas.
It’s becoming increasingly easy for small business, as well as large, to relocate internationally and to a few business-friendly states. Like China and India. Like Texas. Note the Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial on Friday (page A-14, June 10, 2011) which lists Texas as generating fully 45% of non-farm new jobs in America since the recovery began. Says the WSJ, “The Texas economy has grown on average by 3.3% a year over the last two decades, compared with 2.6% for the US overall. Yet the core impulse of [the current national government] is to make America less like Texas and more like California, with more government, more unions, more central planning, higher taxes.”
To quote Charlie Gasparino again, “The bad news is that not everyone in this country is wealthy enough to own [foreign] stocks or can afford to move to China for a factory job.”
Thank you, Charlie Gasparino. I guess.