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The Giant Sucking Sound in Reverse
Our Buy American Mention of the Week!
by Roger Simmermaker
July 6, 2002

According to the June 22, 2002 issue of the Atlanta Constitution, American-owned candy cane maker Bobs Candies is closing down operations in Tijuana, Mexico. A total of 40 jobs will be added to the existing Albany, GA plant as a result, which brings the total number of workers there to over 250.

Moves such as these are rare, of course, but they do happen. The first ever Buy American Mention of the Week featured Dan River adding more jobs to its existing domestic facilities from other American factories that they were closing. Dan River did not move any jobs from another country to the U.S., but made the admirable decision to transfer jobs to other American factories rather than to factories in other countries.

Also mentioned in the same issue of the Atlanta Constitution was an additional $68 million in tax abatements granted to Nissan by the Mississippi House of Representatives to encourage Nissan to add onto its existing Mississippi plant. This is in addition to the initial $300 million in tax breaks granted to Nissan back in 2000 that created 1,300 jobs, although the original plan was for Nissan to employ 4,000 workers. With the new $68 million commitment by the state of Mississippi, Nissan may spend $500 million more increase the Canton, MS plant capacity. But then again, maybe they won't.

Such deals are reminiscent of trade deals with China where the U.S. government puts the American taxpayer on the hook for promises that may come to pass in the future. China's record on keeping their promises isn't admirable, of course. And so here we have more public funds dangled in the face of foreign companies for promises that may never materialize in the future. Why should we offer Nissan more public funds to create more jobs when they only created 1,300 of the promised 4,000 with the initial $300 million?

Did the government offer Bobs Candies any public money as incentive to expand their plant? No. Granted, Bobs is a much smaller plant with roughly one-fifth the jobs compared to Nissan, but the point here is that American companies are expected to locate their factories here, while foreign companies are not. That's why we feel we have to offer public money as incentive to foreign companies, while we stack the deck against our own companies, then demonize them when they are forced overseas. As I have mentioned before, incentives offered to foreign companies are rarely offered to our own American companies.

If the Bobs Candies plant is one-fifth the size of the Nissan plant, why don't we offer Bobs Candies one-fifth of the $300 million we gave Nissan? Actually, we should not be bidding for private jobs with public funds at all. But when given the choice, America needs more American investment - not more foreign investment.


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