Harvard Professor: Mass. Targeted Industry Subsidies Unfair

January 28, 2011 -

The Boston Herald offers an editorial on state representative Vincent Pedone's proposal to offer tax breaks to the game industry in Massachusetts. The author, Edward L. Glaeser (professor of economics at Harvard University and author of the forthcoming book "The Triumph of the City"), compares it to the disastrous results of Evergreen Solar and ponders aloud if this is all "throwing good money after bad?"

Two weeks ago, a major tax break recipient in the state, Evergreen Solar, announced that it was closing its Devens, Mass. factory. Why are people so ticked off by this news in the state? Because the company took advantage of $58 million in state aid. Evergreen Solar was launched in 1994 as a joint venture of alumni of Mobil's Solar Division and an MIT scientist who pioneered String Ribbon solar cells. As the company matured and prospered the state took notice. In 2007, Massachusetts gave the company $58 million in grants, tax breaks, and other incentives to open a plant in Devens. The company obliged, taking the money and opening the plant. Fast forward to 2001: the company announces that it is leaving the state and moving its manufacturing operation to China. While the state is doing its best to get some of those funds back, the loss of jobs in the region and the investment have given the state a real black eye. In short, the deal seems foolish in hindsight.

Glaeser says that Pedone's proposals for the video game industry seem eerily familiar. While the details are still forthcoming the main part of the deal would be through a transferable tax credit that pays for around a quarter of a video-gaming company's labor costs. The company taking advantage of the bill would get even more credits if the video games are developed in a "disadvantaged community" or if the games prominently feature the "Massachusetts state marketing logo." The logo on the box program sounds exactly like what Georgia does for video game and film companies that promote the state prominently in some way on or in their products.

While the author admits that the video game industry is more likely to succeed because it "plays to the Commonwealth's creative strengths," he also says that that fact "doesn't make it more worthy of subsidy." He also cast doubt on whether the commonwealth's parents "want their children's video gaming supported by state subsidies."

Another point he makes is that the video game tax credit "is paid after, not before, workers get hired, and that reduces the difficult problem of enforcing claw-back provisions."

One of the most ludicrous comments he makes is that some firms that are not in the video game industry might be encouraged "to masquerade as video gamers, even if their main business is something else" to get these tax credits. What?

We will let Glaeser have the last word here - an opinion that many businesses in the state would agree with:

"Targeted subsidies, for Evergreen or video gaming, are neither fair nor likely to engender wide-spread economic growth. The best economic development strategy is to improve fundamentals: fewer regulations, lower tax rates for everyone, good services, and especially good schools."

Source: Boston Herald


Comments

Re: Harvard Professor: Mass. Targeted Industry Subsidies ...

 "Targeted subsidies, for Evergreen or video gaming, are neither fair nor likely to engender wide-spread economic growth. The best economic development strategy is to improve fundamentals: fewer regulations, lower tax rates for everyone, good services, and especially good schools."

Holy smokes, that's about the most clearly sane thing I have heard anyone say about tax subsidies in a long time.

Re: Harvard Professor: Mass. Targeted Industry Subsidies ...

That is true, however he seems to have disregarded the fact (of which I am sure he is aware) that these measures are intended to keep the state competitive with other areas in the US and Canada which offer similar subsidies.

Also, his "doubt on whether the commonwealth's parents "want their children's video gaming supported by state subsidies."" is a moot point that he and many others have tried to apply to the issue. This is not about encouraging the production of video games, it is about maintaining a share in a wealthy industry. Children (and adults) will still be playing video games regardless, but the proceeds would not be going towards jobs in the state if developers move to a location with better trading conditions.

 
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MaskedPixelantehttp://m.tickld.com/x/something-you-never-realized-about-guardians-of-the-galaxy Right in the feels.08/29/2014 - 6:56pm
AvalongodAgain I think we're conflating the issue of whether Sarkeesian's claims are beyond critique (no they're not) and whether its ever appropriate to use sexist language, let alone physical threats on a woman to intimidate her (no it isn't)08/29/2014 - 5:04pm
prh99Trolling her or trying to assail her integrity just draws more attention (Streisand effect?). Which is really not what the trolls want, so the only way to win (if there is a win to be had) is not to play/troll.08/29/2014 - 5:02pm
prh99Who cares, just don't watch the damn videos if you don't like her. Personally, I don't care as far as she is concerned as long there are interesting games to be played.08/29/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenZip - And yet, you can't cite a single, solitary example. (And no one said you hated anyone. Along those lines, no one claimed Sarkeesian was perfect either.)08/29/2014 - 3:51pm
Andrew EisenSaint's Row: Gat Out of Hell was just announced for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One making it the 150th game For Everything But Wii U! Congratulations Deep Silver!08/29/2014 - 3:49pm
ZippyDSMleeI do not hate them jsut think its mostly hyperlobe.08/29/2014 - 3:40pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - I'd say that's likely. From my experience, most who have a problem with Sarkeesian's videos either want to hate them in the first place (for whatever reason) or honestly misunderstand what they're about and what they're saying.08/29/2014 - 3:16pm
james_fudgeWe appreciate your support :)08/29/2014 - 2:55pm
TechnogeekIt gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, the gaming community is not statistically indistinguishable from consisting entirely of people that your average Xbox Live caricature would look at and go "maybe you should tone it down a little bit".08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
TechnogeekI just want to say that while I've disagreed with the staff of this site on several occasions, it's still good to see that they're not automatically dismissing Anita's videos as a "misandrist scam" or whatever the preferred dismissive term is these days.08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
E. Zachary KnightZippy, So you can't find even one?08/29/2014 - 1:04pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen:Right because shes prefect and never exaggerates... *rolls eyes*08/29/2014 - 12:53pm
SleakerAnd honestly, nearly all of the games she references, or images she depicts I've always cringed at and wondered why they were included in games to begin with, from pinups through explicit sexual depictions or direct abuse. I think it's cheap storytelling.08/29/2014 - 12:35pm
Sleaker@AE - aren't most people fundamentally misunderstanding her at this point? haha.. On a related note I think a lot of the backlash is coming from males that think she is telling them their 'Generic Male Fantasy' is bad and wrong.08/29/2014 - 12:33pm
Andrew EisenAnd no, I don't think the female community would be upset over the performance of a case study in and of itself. Possibly the mostivations behind such a study, the methodology or conclusions but not the mere idea of a case study.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
Andrew EisenAmusingly, these videos aren't saying you can't/shouldn't use tropes or that sexual representations are inherently problematic so those are very silly things to have a problem with and indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the series.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
SleakerDo you think the female community would get extremely angry over a male doing a case study on the negative impact of sex-novels and their unrealistic depiction of males and how widespread they are in american culture?08/29/2014 - 12:25pm
SleakerThe other thing that people might find problematic is that they see no problem with sexual representations of females (or males) in games. And realistically, why is there anything wrong with sexual representations in fiction?08/29/2014 - 12:24pm
SleakerTo even discuss or bring up these issues at a cultural level to begin with. Going straight for games to many probably feels like a huge overstepping given that it's interactive story in many cases, and when you're telling a story why can't you use tropes.08/29/2014 - 12:21pm
 

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