Source: Leo Hohmann, by Leo Hohmann, May 29, 2019
If conservatives are paying attention they will note that the day may soon come when corporate America, if it is willing to bring all of its monetary muscle to bear, could effectively turn every state into a radical blue state in the mold of California and New York.
Here’s where libertarians get it wrong. It’s not government we must fear in the struggle for freedom as much as its corporate masters.
I saw this coming in 2015 when large companies threatened to pull out of Indiana because of then Gov. Mike Pence’s support for a religious-freedom bill opposed by LGBT activists.
Another bad omen arose in 2016 in North Carolina, which passed a law designed to prevent gender-bending men from entering female bathrooms in public places. The Tar Heel state partially repealed the law in 2017 to appease the NCAA basketball tournament and several big corporate employers who threatened to pull out of the state, bringing thousands of jobs with them. Media outlets sounded the alarm, estimating that North Carolina’s economy could suffer a nearly $4 billion blow.
How much of this was mere empty threats as opposed to an actual economic hit, we may never know, because we’ve never seen a state stick to its guns and defy the corporate bullies. The governors and state legislators always back down under media pressure that makes it appear that the economic sky is about to fall, pointing the finger at elected leaders wedded to an antiquated social structure, a structure that just happens to be based on Judeo-Christian values found in the Bible.
Enter the states of Georgia and Alabama in 2019 and we may find out just how serious these corporations are about putting politics over business interests. Georgia and Alabama both recently elected strong pro-life governors and have Republican-dominated state legislatures that have passed restrictive abortion laws.
Georgia is especially vulnerable because its Republican lawmakers, led by former Gov. Nathan Deal, have invested a lot over the years in taxpayer-subsidized incentives that have been successful in luring the film industry. Largely on the strength of those tax breaks, Georgia has replaced California as the state with the most film-related jobs. New studio operations have popped up in Senoia, Fayetteville and surrounding areas, transforming them from sleepy towns into hotbeds of construction and real estate-driven economic activity.
But there’s always a trade-off. Hollywood is notoriously liberal, and what Georgia is gaining economically it is losing politically. The influx of people from Hollywood, along with immigrant communities attracted by the construction jobs, has clearly helped turn Georgia from a solid red state into a purplish one that some say is ripe for the Democrats to take over in coming elections. [Good luck in ever winning the White House again if Republicans lose states like Georgia and North Carolina].
Never was this trend more clearly on display than last November when a far-left Marxist Democrat, Stacey Abrams, nearly pulled off an upset victory in the Georgia gubernatorial race, narrowly losing to Republican Brian Kemp. Democrat dark money flooded into Georgia from San Francisco and Los Angeles, leading to a funding advantage for the Democrats that almost overwhelmed the Kemp candidacy.
Kemp campaigned on a pro-life platform and kept his promise to sign the so-called “heartbeat bill,” which bans most abortions at the point when a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six or seven weeks into a pregnancy.
A number of Hollywood actors and actresses led by Alyssa Milano, Amy Schumer and Jason Bateman have said they will not work in the state because of the heartbeat bill.
A few B-grade actors is one thing. But on Tuesday the first major studio, California-based Netflix, said it would stop shooting films in Georgia if the law goes into effect as scheduled in January 2020.
The last thing politicians are cut out for is to defy corporations that bring jobs into their states. Job creation is the biggest bragging point for any red-blooded political candidate in a conservative state like Georgia.
Yet, the greatest enemy to life and liberty in today’s America has proven to be corporate America. When they speak, political leaders listen. To date, every time a state has been threatened with the loss of jobs, it has blinked.
There’s no hope that the business bullies will stop bullying as long as this tactic is successful. Hope will only arise when a conservative state, preferably several acting in unison, stares down a corporate giant and says “sorry but you and your media buddies will not intimidate the people of our state.”
Georgia and Gov. Kemp could be the first to test the will of a wealthy industry, that being Hollywood. But there are other corporate bullies in the auto industry, the tech industry, the finance industry and various consumer products industries, who are just as aggressively political.
It may come down to this: What do they value more, the tax breaks offered by a conservative state, or the political capital they are able to extort from a liberal state that will bow to their increasingly far-left agenda but exact a heavy cost in terms of taxation and burdensome regulations.
If red states don’t at some point draw a line in the sand, what’s to stop corporate America from demanding aherence to the entire progressive wishlist that goes beyond abortion and LGBT rights? What’s to stop them from demanding that states implement strict gun-control laws or pass Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s green new deal?”
The very reason many industries are leaving New York, Illinois and California is because it became economically oppressive to do business in those states. It would appear they want their cake and to eat it too, scooping up tax breaks offered by states like Georgia and Alabama while making political demands that controvert the values of red-state voters. Kemp must stand his ground and deliver some tough love: “Sorry Hollywood. You can’t have it both ways,” reaping the economic benefits of low taxation while also dictating public policy on controversial social issues.