Public Dollars for Private Profits

November 2, 2009

The federal government is running $1 trillion deficits, but that hasn’t slowed down the government’s corporate welfare gravy train. As a microcosm of the business subsidy problem, I happened to notice in an Ohio newspaper that the U.S. Department of Commerce is footing the bill for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber to fund a 16-day junket to China and Taiwan.

According to the Chamber’s president, Tom Humphries: 

[The trip] isn’t about signing deals. The goal is to build relationships with company executives and government officials so that they consider the Mahoning Valley for future expansion. 
That sounds fun, especially since Tom gets to bring some friends along, including one whose salary is paid by the federal government: 
Three others are traveling with Humphries, including Eric Planey, who was hired in July as the chamber’s vice president of international/ national business attraction. The chamber used federal funds to bring on Planey, who worked in Asia as a vice president of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. 
I hope Tom and Eric do some good schmoozing on their trip, but the rest of us shouldn’t have to pay for it. There ought to be a Great Wall separating private business interests and taxpayer funds, but the Department of Commerce breaches that wall all too often.



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