to Big Chains
Sherwood Ross - Dissident Voice - March 25th, 2008
Small retailers the nation over are being pushed out of business by government subsidies to chain competitors such as Wal-Mart and Target through a variety of ‘corporate socialism’ schemes, taxation authority David Cay Johnston says. Municipalities are permitting ‘tax increment financing’ that allow the big chains ‘to keep the sales taxes that you are forced to pay at the tax register,’ Johnston said on the television interview program ‘Books of Our Time,’ sponsored by the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover and broadcast by Comcast.
Instead of that money going to the schools and the fire department and the police department and the library, it is funneled through a mechanism of local government, usually a special authority, to finance the purchase of municipal bonds so that means that the wealthy underwriters and the lawyers and auditors all get a piece of this money to buy the land and build the store,’ Johnson told TV host Lawrence Velvel, dean of the law school.
The store is then leased to the big chain developer ‘at terms that amount to giving it to them for free or nearly free over a period of time,’ Johnston said, ‘and it’s destroying local business.’ An amazing aspect of this ‘corporate socialism’ policy, Johnston says, ‘is that local business owners have not risen up and stopped this. ’A system in which government, whether Federal or local, picks the winners in the economy, is not capitalism, it’s not competition, it’s not free market, it is corporate socialism, it is statism, it's the state making these choices,’ Johnston said.
In his new book, Free Lunch ‘(Portfolio) Johnston amplifies this point by noting ‘Sam Walton practiced corporate socialism. As much as he could, he put the public’s money to work for his benefit. Free land, long-term leases at below-market rates, pocketing sales taxes, even getting workers trained at government expense were among the ways Wal-Mart took every dollar of welfare it could get.