By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabamization of America is off to a nice start, it seems.
A few weeks ago, following the election of a dimwitted, orange, pathological liar as president of the country, I predicted that America was well on its way to becoming one giant Alabama – a not-so-magical land where crooks rule by claiming the moral high ground and voters routinely choose to give their money to billionaires.
I assumed we would at least wait until the inauguration before this Alabamization got under way. But I way underestimated the commitment.
Less than a month after winning the rigged election and losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million, Trump last week carried through on a campaign promise to stop the outsourcing of jobs by convincing a billion-dollar company to keep a handful of jobs in America by giving that company millions of dollars.
Carrier Inc., the maker of AC units, was set to ship several hundred jobs to Mexico, putting roughly 1,000 American workers in Indiana out of work. Trump stepped in, and after forking over $7 million in Indiana tax revenue, he convinced the company to keep 850 jobs in the state.
Now, that’s fantastic for those 850 people.
It’s less than fantastic for the rest of us.
It’s a ridiculous deal that was less about doing what was right for the country and average workers, and far more about creating good PR for a president-elect who thinks he’s running a TV reality show.
Nevertheless, this is Trump, so that means a good number of Americans have been suckered into thinking this is a good deal, or at the very least, a harmless deal.
It’s anything but.
It’s an Alabamization deal that sends one clear message: We’re for sale, big companies.
For those of us in Alabama, we know this scene well. We’ve been governed by this playbook for years – the one that convinces everyone that any tax break, cash payment, construction agreement, worker training expense and rezoning cost is worth it if it’s in the name of the vague catchall “economic development.”
It starts with a simple “economic development” plan to “incentivize” a company’s relocation plans or prevent a company from departing. Nothing outrageous – something like a few tax breaks in exchange for keeping the plant around or a “competitive bid” to lure a new company to town.
The next thing you know, you’re knocking down most of the taxes and agreeing to build plants, pave roads, roll back regulations, finance loans and train workers.
It’s a con game, and a second of rational thought will tell you that’s true. Or a second of looking around Alabama should do the trick just fine, too.
We gave away nearly a billion dollars to a company that jumped ship and ran with a good chunk of the money. Despite our perpetual economic shortcomings, we’re currently paying more than $5 million per month to a gun company with billion-dollar profits.
We’ve paid off car companies and their suppliers, built their plants, moved roads, pushed out unwilling land owners and rerouted utilities. We’ve created an entire government entity that trains the workers for highly-profitable companies.
Through it all, we’ve been promised the glorious fruits that come from jobs – any jobs. J
ust bring the jobs and life will be good, the conservatives have told us.
Yet, after decades of this nonsense, life is anything but good.
The jobs, by themselves, have meant nothing to the overall quality of life in this state. Just a couple of weeks ago, yet another study ranked life quality in Alabama as one of the worst in the country.
Our problems in education and health care and economy are well documented.
And there is no solution in sight, because we long ago sold out our people to put piles of money into the hands of greedy business owners, instead of investing in the people.
Instead of building a top-flight education system that provided an equal education to all and provided students with the tools to excel in the world. Instead of ensuring health care for all, with an understanding that a healthy populace is one that works and thrives. Instead of putting emphasis on keeping the state’s waterways and air clean and our infrastructure sound and sturdy.
Instead of doing any of that, we chose the easy way out and tried to just buy jobs through absurd expenses and the promises of cheap labor.
Because that’s what all of this is: a sellout.
The Alabamization has begun.