Saturday, August 26, 2006

Must we sacrifice everything for jobs and tax revenue?

The nearby town of Keithsburg, Illinois is facing a tough choice. Either accept a business that most residents find distasteful, a bar featuring scantily clad waitresses, or lose jobs and tax dollars. Does that sound familiar?

Many residents of rural East Moline and Silvis, Illinois find the prospect of a proposed hog processing plant near them distasteful but have been told that they must accept it because refusing the plant means losing jobs and tax revenue.

The main difference between the two situations in my opinion is that the threat Keithsburg is facing is more dire and immediate:

The owner of the Keithsburg bar has closed all his businesses in town and is saying that if religious opposition to his business continues he will tear the building down.
If he razes any of his buildings that make up most of the sparse downtown in this community, still struggling from the devastating Great Flood of ’93, the structures cannot feasibly be rebuilt in the federally designated floodplain, city officials said. Read entire article

The threat to East Moline is that if they do not offer tax incentives to a proposed distasteful pork processing plant then the plant would be built in some other community. This is a less dire threat than that facing Keithsburg, but is obviously, to me at least, a similar threat.

Do we have to accept businesses in our community that we find distasteful because those businesses offer jobs and tax revenue? Does living in a capitalistic system mean that money always trumps our moral sensibilities, our sense of propriety and our environmental concerns?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nobody HAS to do anything, but there are always choices. A community can decide to forgo economic growth and higher tax revenue in favor of a better physical or moral environment. Individuals can move away from a place with an undesireable physical or moral environment. (A community could also decide to abandon a federally designated flood plain. Is it responsable to subject ones citizens to such a risk and rely on government or private charity for aid when the flood occurs?)
Anonymous California brother-in-law