April 13, 2016
Disney, Apple, Coke, Starbucks, and others have spent the last three weeks griping about how bad the First Amendment is for business. Boy, were they wrong! According to a new report from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), North Carolina and Mississippi have everything to gain promoting freedom. Turns out, H.B. 2 and H.B. 1523 weren't just good decisions -- but profitable ones!
Based on their annual "Rich States, Poor States," the areas with the brightest economic future "are all solidly Republican or leaning that way. These states," ALEC writes, "have the common denominator or less taxation and government spending, right to work labor laws, and efforts to curtail out-of-control pension costs. The bottom states reflect the opposite prognosis and are almost all solidly Democratic." By comparing things like income tax rates, property taxes, minimum wage, state and local debt and other factors, conservative states blew away the competition. In case you're wondering where North Carolina ranks on the list, try #2! The state supposedly "hurting recruitment," "destroying tourism," and "alienating business" when it gave companies power over their own policies has the second-best economic growth in the entire country! So much for H.B. 2 being "bad for North Carolina, bad for America, and bad for business."
Mississippi, where the Left is distorting common sense protections, is #17. Yet Big Business bullies are railing against the bills, wrongly arguing that "this is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development." And here's the kicker, the majority of states in the Top 20 have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts -- the very laws liberals are protesting! North Carolina, Arizona, Indiana, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Idaho, Mississippi, and Arkansas all having booming economies and protections for faith. Only two in the bottom 10 can say the same: Illinois and Connecticut.
PayPal might want to consider that when they ship their jobs out of Charlotte. If CEO Dan Schulman accepts Vermont's invitation, the company would be moving from the second-best economy in America to the second-worst. (New York's travel-banning Governor Andrew Cuomo, D, is dead last.) And while ALEC's focus was market freedom, the correlation with religious freedom is tough to ignore. The twin liberties have always been the driving forces of a healthy economy. That's why the Wall Street Journal warned Big Business earlier this week of the short-sightedness of their position. "The private economy would be foolish to reject America's heritage of liberty, which has powered the greatest engine of economic success in history. And if corporations want the benefits of a business-friendly environment, with lower taxes and less regulation, they would do well to recognize who enacts such policies: people with center-right social values, not the hard Left."
And where are those values? Not in California, which has lost 1.2 million people in the past 10 years to greener economic pastures. "When you tax people who work and work people who aren't taxed," Tori Richards explains, "this is what happens. The only positive thing about California is that it has no death tax." Hollywood and Silicon Valley should make the region a business mecca. But when locals only keep fifty cents of every dollar they earn, the effects on any industry are crippling. "California's decades of Democratic leadership have brought on unmanageable pension debt and billions wasted on pork project developments such as a statewide bullet train that runs through the desert while constantly increasing taxes for everything from plastic bags to alcohol to gasoline." New York, Hawaii, and others are in the same sinking boat.
"The top states try to not spend beyond their means, curb legislation and pension costs, and aspire to create higher earning jobs." They also have an unshakeable respect for liberty, which contributes just as much to the common good as financial gain.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.