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Commentary

Government Deals Are No Cure For City


     
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The excitement over Oakland’s new federal building and the possibility of landing some $600 million from the Clinton infrastructure agenda is a sad commentarv on city efforts to create jobs.

Government contracts will at best only help in the relative short term. And once government workers are in place a new addition to Oakland’s total work force will not be involved in business development and capital creation, but in the government "service" of confiscating income and profits and in piling up greater barriers for private business development.

In fact, the prospect of trying to depend on government as the driving force for the local economy is frightening. Take Washington. D.C, for example, a city not unlike Oakland demographically and socially with its "economy" firmly dependent on government. Certainly, the majority of working-class Washingtonians are hardly better off now economically and socially for the Bush administration’s "big government conservatism’ that greatly expanded government employment in D.C.

Entrepreneurs, business owners, and their employees all have an intense stake in developing their communities into safe, clean and profit-making economic centers. The private sector creates communities that are self-policing, self-sufficient, and not given to tolerating social pathologies.

That said. Oakland’s local government could create the right conditions for attracting private businesses by ending business taxes, deregulating the downtown and making a mockery of the constant business-bashing of one neighboring city in particular. On top of legendary crack-pot regulations and confiscatory taxes, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors continues with its absurd-as-usual politics, this time by threatening to yank city money from Bank of America accounts if the mega-employer and capital-lender does not right its alleged "political incorrectness."

What an act of biting the hand that feeds. Few businesses have contributed to San Francisco’s economy and job base directly and indirectly as has Bank of America, a firm started locally by an immigrant entrepreneur to service the low-income community.

Other cash-strapped Bay Area cities would jump at the chance of having a private concern such as Bank of America contributing to their economy directly with jobs and indirectly through loans to start-up businesses.

Instead of continuing to hitch Oakland’s economy to government’s self-defeating pork barrel. Oakland’s community leaders should begin today to economically liberate the city from its stifling bureaucracy.


Jim Christie is a policy analyst with the Independent Institute, an Oakland-based think tank.






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