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‘…but more importantly for the common good.’

The above is from Governor Pat Quinn (Democrat, although it’s fairly obvious from the quote) of Illinois; and it tells you everything that you need to know about Quinn’s mindset – not to mention the mindset of the Democratic party in general, too.

Here’s the background: the Sears Corporation has its headquarters in Illinois, and has been bribed offered incentives to stay in Illinois, despite the fact that Illinois itself is a rotten place to do business.  However, the bribes incentives run out in 2012, so the corporation is making sounds about moving somewhere else unless some new bribes incentives are offered.  You may safely guess from the previous sentences that I am not particularly interested in making Sears out to be the plucky little underdog in this conflict; it is in fact in an excellent position to get its bribes incentives, because Quinn doesn’t want to be the Governor Who Lost Sears To Texas.  And everybody knows it.

However, in the process of starting the intricate dance that is legalized corporate bribery, Quinn had this to say:

“We will sit down with the Sears people . . . and I’m sure we’ll work out something that will work for the company, but more importantly for the common good,” Mr. Quinn said.

Yeah.  About that.  This ‘common good’ thing?  That’s your problem, not the Sears Holding Corporation’s.    The Sears Holding Corporation’s responsibilities are first and foremost to the Sears Holding Corporation (which is to say, its owners and stockholders); ‘the common good’ is a semantically meaningless buzz-phrase used by politicians to justify… whatever the politician wants to justify that day.  Sure, sometimes ‘the public good’ represents a valid concern (dumping raw industrial waste into reservoirs is generally frowned upon).  And sometimes it doesn’t (banning trans fats in restaurants is generally just annoying).  The problem is that you can’t tell from the buzz-phrase… and that politicians who use said buzz-phrase are usually predisposed towards rank demagoguery when they don’t get their way.

Again:  this is, strictly speaking, not an issue for Sears.  Illinois Democrats do not want to see SEARS FLEES ILLINOIS headlines in a variety of national newspapers, so Illinois Democrats will make a deal with Sears.  This is instead an issue for are all the Illinois-based companies who do not have the economic clout of Sears; those companies will be apparently expected to put the interest of “the common good” before their own interests, despite the fact that an out-of-business corporation serves nobody any good at all.  And those companies can certainly expect Illinois Democrats to be unsympathetic to anyone who can’t force them to become sympathetic.

Fortunately for those companies, there are options.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

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