Donald Trump is an enigma. On the one hand he is not even President yet and he’s already using his legendary (according to him) negotiating skills to make good on his promise of keeping jobs in America. On the other hand this feat was accomplished through a combination of crony-capitalist carrots and sticks whose effectiveness was largely a consequence of Carrier’s parent company (United Technologies) being a cog in the military-industrial fascist apparatus. Dependency fosters control and United Technologies is highly dependent on the federal government for much of its business, therefore this was somewhat of a low-hanging fruit “win” for Trump.
The reaction to this deal has predictably fallen along party lines although there is a bit of cognitive dissonance on both sides as they try to come to terms with balancing fairness with pragmatism. People appreciate that Trump saved those jobs but are troubled by how he did it. Is it fair to bestow tax “giveaways” on one company but not others? Is it fair to reward only those that threaten to leave? Is it fair to invoke a punitive 35% tariff on goods imported from US overseas firms? The answer depends on the framework in which the question is asked. Within the framework of natural rights and individual liberty none of these are legitimate. The actions of any entity that initiates violence (taxation, tariffs) to achieve its ends are illegitimate. But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world literally run by the very warlords we are told would arise absent the state. Every state (i.e. country) is a plantation; some are far worse than others, but a gilded cage is still a cage. So given our condition of servitude to the state is it fair if the master decides to treat one slave more favorably than the others? Should we tell the master “You have no right to lift our brother out of the mud, please, cast him back down here with us!” Thus we have both sides of the political spectrum opposing this but for opposite reasons. The left opposes it because they enjoy being in the mud and believe this is the only way we can all be equal, therefore it is “wrong” for anyone to get out of the mud. The right opposes it for purity reasons. They believe ALL should escape the mud but that it is an either-or proposition; either all escape or none escape. Libertarians will argue for the moral solution but (grudgingly) accept the pragmatic one as a stepping-stone. Better for some to escape than none. Since wholesale emancipation seems to be off the table, then let’s create so many loopholes and deals that all can escape.
So do I wish I could get the kind of tax incentives Carrier got? Sure. It is absolutely unfair that they get them and other businesses like mine do not. However I’ll still applaud their small victory if it means it moves the needle even a bit toward the direction of universal tax relief.