Georgia Residents, Thank You For Subsidizing My Firm!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

My company is proud to announce that it has finally joined the ranks of household names like Tesla, Wal-Mart and Boeing. Yes, my company joins a long list of prestigious capitalist businesses that have happily received taxpayer subsidies. Georgia residents, I greatly appreciate the fruits of your labors. Keep up the great work!

Don't worry; your hard-earned dollars will not be wasted. They will be dedicated with absolute resolve to improving the profitability of my business, and allowing me access to an increasingly lavish lifestyle. And the best part? My company isn't based in Georgia, doesn't employ anyone from Georgia, and possesses no property in Georgia either. As a result, the subsidy my firm receives will never be repaid (hat tip to Red Sox legend Curt Schilling for teaching me how to argue for the power of the marketplace while simultaneously accepting subsidies with nary a hint of guilt or embarrassment).

While most companies would simply accept their subsidies quietly, leaving gloating to the confines of the boardroom, that's not how I like to operate.

I'm going to expose the details, explain how you can replicate what I did, and delineate what the state of Georgia should do to prevent being taken advantage of by companies like mine.

Both I and my company are based in Florida. Nevertheless, I'm currently visiting Georgia, my state's neighbor to the north. During the day, I've been working on my books, articles, and various marketing materials at a handful of Georgian libraries.

The state's facilities have proven to be excellent work spaces - far superior to trendy coworking sites or expensive coffee shops. The libraries are beautiful, quiet, and (most importantly) free thanks to the largess of local taxpayers. I've already spent dozens of hours in them, cranking away at writing that will hopefully lead to big profits for me and my firm. Of course, since I'm a resident of Florida, and that's where my business is based, neither I, nor my business, will be funding the libraries in the slightest. Instead, all of the benefits that I accrue will be paid for by Georgians, whose tax dollars are used to maintain the buildings, pay the staff salaries, and supply the electricity and wireless internet access that prove so vital to my needs.

It almost doesn't seem fair. My company is freeloading on the backs of hardworking Georgians. Hopefully the locals won't take offense at my actions. As award-winning author Ice-T once remarked: Don't hate the player, hate the game.

So what should Georgia do to stop people like me and companies like mine from taking advantage of their tax dollars?


All things considered, it would be both difficult and expensive for the state to prevent businesses like mine from benefiting in this manner.

Sure, librarians could start carding and interrogating patrons, but such drastic measures would be fraught with undesirable side effects. Locals would feel less welcome (reducing the value that they receive from libraries), and additional staff members would need to be added to monitor and vet library visitors.

And what would the libraries gain from an increased level of vigilance?

Not much.

Despite the beauty of Georgia's libraries, few rational actors would ever travel to another state in order to work at a library. The transportation costs would prove excessive. Travel time would be enormous, outlays for gasoline would put a dent into budgets, and vehicle depreciation would make accountants upset. It would be far more efficient for people to simply visit their local libraries instead. This is especially true when one considers that a portion of each person's tax dollars will be allocated to his local libraries whether he goes there or not. As such, his out-of-pocket costs for the library visit, itself, would remain constant no matter which library he visited.

In addition, I'm sure that there are many Georgians who travel to my home state to enjoy the surf, the sun, and (of course) the libraries. Just as Georgian tax dollars are paying for my use of Georgian libraries, no doubt my tax dollars are subsidizing a Georgian's visit to libraries in my home state too.

Most importantly of all, my library visits don't even amount to a rounding error in the state's budget. No one is feeling pressure to hire additional staff or to build new libraries. The marginal cost of my wireless internet usage is likely zero, and what little electricity my laptop requires is hardly worth mentioning.

So, if my subsidy doesn't matter in the scheme of things, why was it even worth bringing up? In a way, that is exactly my point.

Many businesses spend far too much time hunting down freeloaders like me. Sony BMG, for instance, even went so far as to hack into any computer that played one of their albums in an effort to stamp out piracy. The result? A series of court actions from legitimate customers and a heavily-tarnished reputation in the eyes of music aficionados worldwide. The truth is that no matter how well one can lock down a value stream, there will always be someone who finds a way to receive a bit of value without paying for it. In many cases, vendors would be well-served by tolerating small numbers of freeloaders, treating them as an avenue for increasing discoverability, rather than a scourge that must be eliminated at all costs.

The truth is that my subsidy was rather small compared to those enjoyed by the nation's largest firms. That said, I'm proud that I was able to capture the value that I did with an absolute minimum of lobbying and paperwork. Boy, do I hate paperwork.

Do you need help with your pricing strategy? Why not pay me for a consult? If you're a taxpayer, I'll likely find a way to obtain your money anyhow. You might as well get some actionable advice in return.