The ticket for job creation

When I wrote my brief little synopsis on Friday regarding manufacturing, I noted in my promotion that it made me think of former gubernatorial (and future State Senate) candidate Ron George, for whom the most appealing part of his campaign was the emphasis on bringing industry back to Maryland.  In response Ron wrote:

Your article is spot on. Note also the companies that are taking their manufacturing jobs out of China and bringing them home to many southern and midwest pro business states. Our Maryland midsize cities need it back.

Governor Larry Hogan needs help by voters in these areas pushing representatives and candidates for low taxes for manufacturing at the state and local level. The increase of the number of new workers paying the payroll tax will itself greatly increase state and local revenues. Keep it up Michael Swartz.

So I decided to revise and extend my remarks. Those of you who have read here awhile probably have a good idea about what I’m going to say, but I do have new readers all the time so a refresher is in order.

I have no doubt that Maryland can compete for businesses large and small once they eliminate the mindset that employers are cash cows to be milked dry for revenue and embrace the thought that their main goal is to be profitable. I definitely show my age and home state bias, but the mantra I grew up with under Ohio Gov. James Rhodes was that “profit is not a dirty word in Ohio” and to get there we wanted people to make things, just as this 1966 advertisement in my hometown newspaper states. Those things Rhodes touted a half-century ago are still valid today for attracting industry – low taxes, financial incentives, a well-trained workforce, and easy transportation. Plus aren’t we the land of pleasant living?

In the first case, Maryland can make a splash at the cost of three cents per dollar of state spending by completely eliminating the corporate tax. Even if it were phased out over a two- or three-year period, the fact that progress is being made should vault Maryland higher on those business-friendliness lists those whose business is to attract business refer to.

As for financial incentives, I’m leery about having the state in the investment business because I don’t believe they should pick winners or losers. At this time, though, they already have the Maryland Venture Fund although it’s geared more toward startups.

Supposedly Maryland has the best educational system in the country, although I’m a little skeptical of that claim based on some of the recent graduates I’ve seen. One thing we need to focus more on, though, is the idea that vocational education can be valued as much as college prep. Maybe Johnny and Susie’s parents think otherwise, but even “A” students sometimes show not all high school students are college material.

But people with the aptitude to run machinery, know how to tinker and fix things, and are good with their hands don’t need a degree from State U to succeed – and oftentimes have the advantage of not being thousands in debt. To be perfectly frank, to succeed in my chosen profession of architecture one should not need a college degree if they are willing to spend several years learning the craft from the bottom up as one of my former employers did. Somehow they have picked up the idea that five to six years of college schooling plus a couple years in an intern development program is the only way to create good architects, and that’s simply not so. This is why money should follow the child, so they can explore the maximum number of educational options out there.

Finally, there’s the aspect of transportation. Maryland is a state in a great location, but in our case on the Eastern Shore we have the lousy luck of a large body of water limiting our ground-based options. We can either go north through a tangle of traffic lights and small towns along U.S. 13 north or go south through a different gauntlet of traffic lights and small towns. Of course, any improvement to that situation requires the assistance of Delaware or Virginia.

Yet the alternative of going west remains with a third Bay Bridge span. Environmentalists can stop reading after this sentence because I will give them a stroke over the next paragraph – just pick it back up two grafs down.

To me, the best place for a third span runs between Dorchester and Calvert counties, southwest of Cambridge along Maryland Route 16. Obviously roadway improvements would need to be made, but imagine the ease it would bring for traveling between Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore. No longer would it be an arduous three-hour journey to travel perhaps 50 to 60 miles west as the crow flies. Would it go through some environmentally fragile areas? Yes. But I believe the benefits would outweigh the costs.

I know people will complain that bringing industrial development to Maryland in general and the Eastern Shore in particular would ruin the rural lifestyle, but lifestyle is what you make of it. The carrying capacity of the Delmarva Penninsula is probably at least double its population; a number that will increase with advancements in technology. Regardless, we are nowhere near the density of the I-95 corridor and that should remain the case for the foreseeable future.

I’ve often said that if an area doesn’t grow, it dies. I used to use North Dakota as my poster child for this until they got an energy boom and began attracting people seeking work in a lucrative field. While Maryland can get some benefits from doing the same and allowing fracking, perhaps the best way to make their mark is to adopt the old Ohio mantra that profit is indeed not a dirty word and take the bold steps needed to shake its anti-business reputation.

To enjoy the land of pleasant living, you have to be able to make one.

Can this work in Maryland?

I touched on this a little bit the other day when I plugged the event, but fellow patriot O.P. Ditch recorded Dan Bongino at Monday’s New Fair Deal rally in Washington D.C. His speech ran around 15 minutes.

In his look at the ideas behind the New Fair Deal – ending corporate handouts, taxing fairly, stopping overspending, and empowering individuals. Bongino opted to treat the latter two as one item, and I think this is fair for the purpose of my discussion. This post is going to be an exercise in thought about the next two years.

I’ve seen MDGOP Chair candidate Collins Bailey talk about a “Contract with Maryland” but what would happen if we had a “New Fair Deal” for Maryland?

You might think that Maryland doesn’t have corporate handouts but I can assure you they do. I saw the other day where the InvestMaryland scam selected three companies to give a grant to – why is our state government selecting these winners and losers? And why is it that the same contractors always seem to get state work? Can you give me the reason that renewable energy has to have its own carveout in state law? Let the market work, as new, better ideas will naturally come to the fore.

Meanwhile, our governor rammed through a tax increase last year on the state’s producers – not only do they pay higher rates, but their deductions decrease once they reach a certain income threshold. We can flatten the tax rates out; in fact I would willingly pay a percent or two more in sales tax if they reduced the income tax rate down to 3% for all filers, regardless of income. And the state could easily afford that change if they just spent the median amount per capita, rather than an amount 10-15% more than the average. We could wipe out every last one of Martin O’Malley’s 37 tax increases and still have a little left over because the budgetary difference is about $4 billion.

But how do you empower individuals? Unlike the federal NFD, the state doesn’t really run any entitlement programs on its own. However, there is a lot which could be done to empower the counties and municipalities, particularly in the areas where they used to be much more autonomous until the nanny state stepped in.

There’s no doubt that these proposals would need to be fleshed out, but I think much of the basic principle could work. And while things can always change, Dan has seemed to place himself in the unique position of being able to make these changes in one of the “laboratories of democracy” we always hear about because he’s going to run for governor. Of course, I have no official announcement of this fact but I would lay the odds of him running for the state’s top job at about 80/20. I simply don’t see Dan going through the motions of forming an exploratory committee to run for a Congressional seat, wait until 2016 to run again for Senate, or fight a sitting Republican for Anne Arundel County Executive, not after he nationalized his first campaign and become a media darling. Obviously the Bongino/Keyes rumor was believable because one has to ask where else Dan would go? (Now if Bongino decides to make a trip to Iowa or New Hampshire people hereabouts will absolutely freak.)

So I wrote this post under the assumption that Dan might just borrow elements of the New Fair Deal and apply them to his own platform.  There would be nothing like presenting Marylanders a clear choice between the tired old tax-and-spend mentality of cronyism which the state has labored under for decades, presumably with just a different face in Anthony Brown, and a different approach which relieves the Free State and frees it from the dependence on government at all levels.