Wisconsin announces tax breaks for businesses moving there from Illinois, and Dan at Chicago Boyz takes approving notice:

We may as well pick off what is left of the Illinois corpse before other states do.

One of his commenters is less approving:

Wonderful. Will the incoming Illinoisians do the jobs Wisconsians won’t do or will they steal jobs from Wisconsins?

You really needn’t worry too much, Tehag. Our experience here in Texas is that it isn’t a problem. The bigger problem is new arrivals bitterly complaining that some nicety available in California, Illinois, New York, or some other blue enclave isn’t available here, and for that we slap them upside the haid and remind them why they had to move in the first place.

It’s not just a new company, it’s a new business — but the business was there before, it was just elsewhere. Immigrants bring with them the customers they had before, which means they also need employees, and experience says a lot of the employees in the old location don’t follow along, preferring to stick it out in their familiar haunts. Whether or not that’s wise, it means the business needs new employees. Competition isn’t an issue — we have free trade within the United States, and a company that competes with a Wisconsin firm from its base in Illinois doesn’t become more competitive by moving.

Tax breaks for companies moving in make a lot of sense, especially if the taxes are somewhat burdensome. Of course they’ll be less or the company wouldn’t move in the first place, but a temporary bit of relief is just that, relief.

Back in the Sixties a man called Robert W. Townsend wrote a short, snappy book on business management called Up the Organization. It’s still very much worth reading today, for the whiplash when you see some of his numbers if nothing else — his breakpoint between a wage slave and a responsible employee was twenty-five dollars a week, for instance. Much of his advice, especially about central control of far-flung enterprises, is timeless even in the age of the Internet, and will be when Star Trek-style transporters replace the telephone.

Townsend spends a good bit of time on disruptions, extraordinary events that put a large burden on management. One of his dicta is “Three moves equals one fire” — even if the insurance covers the cost, replacement of the infrastructure of the business takes a long time and causes confusion, and loss of production while rebuilding allows competitors to rush in where they couldn’t before. A two year tax break sounds about right to relieve the average business from the burdens of one-third of a fire, and Wisconsin businesses won’t see any new competition, just the same old same old with a different Zip code. The delay while the newbies rebuild might even give the guys who’re already there a chance to poach a little revenue, hmm?

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