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The Great American Jobs Scam: Corporate Tax Dodging and the Myth of Job Creation Hardcover – July 15, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1ST edition (July 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576753158
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576753156
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Founder and director of the nonprofit center Good Jobs First, LeRoy offers a parade of damning case studies showing why communities should not woo corporations with subsidies. Corporate tactics, he finds, include quickly shuttered subsidized facilities, union busting and jobs that pay below the poverty line. Rewritten tax codes, which focus on sales taxes but ignore payroll and property taxes, as well as other tax abatements, undermine schools; most stadiums and convention centers further bleed public monies. Moreover, subsidies generally support suburban sprawl rather than accessibility to public transit used by the poor. Some corporate location consultants work both for companies and governments—"a sad reflection" of a disorganized public sector. On the corporate minus side, tax incentives to relocate, he shows, are dwarfed by labor, transport and utility costs. The upshot? Corporations are paying 28% less in state and local taxes than 20 years ago. LeRoy's suggested reforms include greater disclosure about subsidy deals; money-back guarantees if companies don't fulfill their pledges; requiring subsidized jobs to meet local average wages; closing corporate loopholes; and making sure every deal is approved by elected officials rather than appointed ones. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Companies like Wal-Mart aren’t going to want you to read this book—all the more reason why you should. -- Carl Pope, Exective Director, Sierra Club

Greg LeRoy has exposed the problem of corporate misuse of taxpayer subsidies and promoted real working solutions. -- Gerald W. McEntee, American Federation of State County, and Municipal Employees

LeRoy reveals why corporate tax cuts don’t work: corporations get huge subsidies while workers get trickle-down lip service. -- Jim Hightower, author, Thieves in High Places and Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush

This book is one-stop shopping for every citizen who wants to understand why and how corporate welfare doesn’t work. -- Joe Trippi, author, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything

We have supported Greg’s work since 1998. This book is a welcome resource for leaders of our union all over. -- Sandra Feldman, American Federation of Teachers

…should be required reading for governors, mayors and legislators who want to invest their citizens’ money wisely and effectively. -- Robert S. McIntyre, Citizens for Tax Justice

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
As the story goes lots of new jobs will be created and the tax base will be greatly expanded.
Paul Tognetti
This is a quick read primer on what's wrong with the way state and local governments and corporations are selling our communities short.
Chuck Sheketoff
In a topic that could quickly and easily become extremely boring this book is written with style and humor.
Jesse S. Walker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Perri Morgan on July 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Across the country, state legislatures appropriate millions of taxpayer dollars each year on "corporate jobs incentives" under the guise of "economic development and job creation". Greg LeRoy manages to shed light on the fallacy of these programs, using real life examples to prove that "incentives" are simply corporate welfare schemes that do little more than pad the pockets of hugely profitable corporations - while providing photo ops for politicians.

As a longtime advocate for small business owners, who are responsible for the vast majority of new job creation despite their lack of eligibility for taxpayer subsidies, I have been frustrated by the ridiculous and baseless defenses used by lawmakers to justify using taxpayer dollars in this egregious manner. LeRoy narrows down a comprehensive study of the issue into an illuminating and ultimately readable treatise, wading through the many different forms that subsidies take - from outright cash hand-outs to Tax Increment Financing (TIF's) - and ultimately providing ample evidence that the "if you build it, they will come" approach is NOT responsible for new job creation in America.

This book is a public policy manual for our time; required reading for elected officials at every level who have voted - or are thinking about voting - for targeted tax subsidies. These lawmakers are creating an escalating "Economic War Between the States" at the expense of lower taxes, fair competition, and improved public services for all.

For citizens (and taxpayers), LeRoy will enlist your outrage.

For lawmakers who have voted against such disgraceful scams, he provides all the evidence needed to defend that vote in the face of a society which has been brainwashed to believe that "incentives = jobs".

Nothing could be further from the truth, and Greg LeRoy proves it.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on December 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
LeRoy reports that job scams cost governments about $50 billion per year in lost revenues. The most common scams include:

1)Create a bogus competitor (another town or state) vs. wherever the company wanted to locate in the first place.

The intent is to create a "bidding war" over the freebies offered.

2)Job "blackmail" in which a company threatens to move (or locate elsewhere) unless it gets the subsidies/tax relief it wants.

Easily enhanced by overestimating the job increase - LeRoy cited examples from Connecticut in which only 9% of forecasted jobs materialized, leading to a cost of $367,910 per new job. Exaggerations are typically followed up by failure to track or publish actual results.

3)Entice a firm that pays "poverty" wages, and stick the taxpayers with hidden costs (eg. employee and family healthcare).

Wal-Mart is the most notable example.

4)Exaggerate "ripple effect" benefits - eg. the number of supplier jobs, and those created by employee spending.

(LeRoy cited an example where one city used a low multiplier to downplay jobs lost when a company left, and a high multiplier to play up the potential gain from another moving in.)

5)"Bust the union" in which the company uses Federal funding (eg.

CDBG grants from HUD) to move, and thereby break an existing union.

Obviously any and all these machinations can be combined.

Mayor Giuliani was cited as a prolific scam-"victim" - giving up $350 million in tax revenues between '94 - '01.

Small wonder N.Y. also ended up with a large deficit.

LeRoy points out that "nobody wants to be the mayor/governor who lost ______," and that fear impels leaders and legislatures to succomb.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Peter S. Fisher on July 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I hope the people who really need to read this book do read it--the state legislators and local officials who have been seduced by the arguments of the "job scammers," as Greg LeRoy calls them. As an academic economist who has been researching state economic development policy for many years, I know how hard it is to get the attention of policy makers and convince them they are wasting vast sums of tax money on corporate incentives, and in the process harming, not helping, their state's long term growth. I think Greg LeRoy has written the book that can cut through the nonsense in this debate and actually make a difference. Its readable, its colorful, its compelling, yet at the same time it is based on exhaustive, careful research. Here is finally the documentation for what many of us suspected has really been going on in the "incentive wars." My advice: buy a few extra copies and send them to your state representative or city council member. Then call them up a month later and ask them how they liked it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John Metzgar on July 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is complicated stuff, but LeRoy walks you through it bit by bit in an entertaining way that builds both your understanding and your anger. Without a hint of cynicism, he systematically exposes $50 billion in job scamming and tells how to stop it. It's so clearly written and explained, even state legislators should be able to finally "get it."
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Frank Mauro on July 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As Greg LeRoy makes abundantly clear through one rich example after another, state and local governments are spending taxpayers' money with abandon in the name of "economic development" and not producing the desired results: more and better jobs. And he puts these examples into context, explaining how the estimated $50 billion a year in business subsidies has resulted in a huge shift in the nation's tax burden - from large corporations to ordinary citizens.

For over 20 years, Greg LeRoy has been on the front lines of the effort to make state and local government economic development programs smarter and more accountable. And he and the local leaders and local organizations that he has worked with in various parts of the country have had some notable successes in adding disclosure and evaluation requirements, and job quality standards, to some of these programs. Some states and localities have even adopted money-back-guarantee requirements (frequently called "clawbacks") to deal with the countless number of situations (many good examples of which are given in this book) in which firms take big subsidies from the government and then fail to deliver on their job creation and job retention promises, and sometimes even cut their workforces substantially

I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Greg LeRoy since 1994 and I am continually amazed by his mastery of this important subject. In this book, Greg distills his vast knowledge and experience into a well-written and entertaining volume that doesn't just explain what is going on but tells us why and what we can do to change things. Anyone who wants to improve the American economy will benefit from reading this book.
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