Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Crying wolf in DC and California

Last week, the Los Angeles Times had an op-ed, "Business and employment: A 'job killers' list disproved," about how businesses often claim, in the starkest and hoariest terms, that X or Y law or regulation is a job killer, will destroy businesses, etc., but the reality is far different. From the piece:

Since 2003, the California Chamber of Commerce has published an annual hit list of bills it labels job killers. The list has included state legislation to protect consumers, workers and the environment, and to raise revenue to fund public services or support middle- and working-class families. ...

The chamber's argument is always the same: If "job-killer proposal X" passes, companies will go bankrupt, shrink or move out of California. Excessive taxes, regulations and paperwork, especially on small businesses, will crush private sector investment.

If all this sounds familiar, it's because business lobbies have made these claims every time California has increased the minimum wage; every time businesses have had to disclose or limit toxic material in workplaces, consumer products and communities; every time California's wealthiest or most profitable corporations have been asked to pay their fair share of taxes; and every time legislators and voters have taken action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. ...

But if we look backward, we find that the job-killer predictions are often wrong. Despite the chamber's political clout, some of the bills on its lists became law. So it is possible to evaluate whether the organization was providing honest analyses or crying wolf and engaging in scare tactics. ...

The chamber continues to promote its job killer list, despite the fact that its dire warnings of economic doom have been consistently wrong. And it does so despite the fact that Californians broadly support laws and protections that have made our air cleaner, our workplaces safer and our families more secure. Businesses do well when workers do well. That's what makes for a healthy economy.

Nonprofit arts organizations are making similar claims with regard to a proposed tax on admissions tickets to nonprofit events, according to "D.C. sales tax extension strikes a sour note>" from the Washington Times. From the article:

Should the theater tax become law, the “ripple effect would be quite profound,” far outweighing its estimated $2.3 million in additional tax revenue for the city, says Linda Levy Grossman, president of the Helen Hayes awards. Now-thriving areas such as the Penn Quarter arts and entertainment district would be especially hard hit, with its restaurants, shops and parking garages emptying as arts patrons stay home or take their business outside the city.

Any special interest is likely to cry wolf, to argue that they are exceptional and therefore deserve special treatment. It's not usually the case that this is true and I doubt that it would be the case for arts events in DC either.

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