Economic Development: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Economic Development: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Jobs. Literally, the only reason
that anyone gets up before 11am.
Politicians care about jobs
more than anything else,
as you can tell from how often
they mention them.
These are the things I focus on.
Jobs, jobs, jobs–
Jobs, jobs, jobs.
Jobs, jobs, and jobs.
-Jobs… jobs… jobs.
It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs.
Good-paying jobs.
It’s about jobs.
Jobs, jobs, jobs, and more jobs.
American Jobs.
Politicians seem to think
that jobs are like Beetlejuice.
If you just say the word
a magic number of times,
eventually they’ll just pop up
out of nowhere.
Now, more specifically tonight,
I’d like to talk about
one of the ways that politicians
try to create jobs.
Economic development incentives.
And I know that
that doesn’t sound interesting.
Wait, wait, what are you doing?
You’re putting me
Is thatEntourage: The Movie?
Fine, you know what,
switch over the audio,
listen to the first line.
You’ll be back.
I may have to jerk it
before we even get there.
-Oh! Oh, how about that?
All of a sudden, a show about
economic development
doesn’t seem like
the worst thing
you could be watching, does it?
-As I was saying…
Economic development incentives
are essentially when state
and local governments
offer perks to companies
to entice them to build
or expand in their area.
Here in New York
there is a program called
StartUp New York
which launched with some pretty
astounding tax breaks.
AD ANNOUNCER:Start-Up New York
creates zero tax zones

for new businesses
for ten years.

Zero property tax,
zero corporate tax,

zero business tax,
and zero income tax.

Wow. Zero property, corporate,
business, and income tax.
And I believe that that sound
you just heard
was Donald Trump
getting an erection.
Wait for it. Don’t wor–
Wait for it…
-It’s gone again.
-See ya next year, little buddy.
And look,
it’s not just New York.
All 50 states
offer some kind of incentives,
like tax-breaks
to attract companies,
and the argument is,
that they attract employers,
which attract jobs,
which lead to spending,
which creates more jobs
and so on, and so on, and so on,
and many places have
bought into this, hard,
trying to outbid one another
for businesses.
Indiana even once took out
attack ads on other states,
like this billboard, which read,
“Illinnoyed by higher taxes?
Come to Indiana,
a state that works.”
And that’s pretty aggressive,
although, it’s actually much
tamer than their
original billboard,
“Just Arkan-saw your tax bill?
Ida-hope you like
our tax breaks.
Because if you Colora-don’t,
we’ll Conneti-cut
your fucking balls off.”
And if a company is big enough,
it can even start
a bidding war itself.
That is actually happening
right now, with Amazon.
They are planning to build
a second headquarters
somewhere in North America
and they are making
governments bid for it.
They even released eight pages
of instructions for candidates
telling them to “think big
and be creative,”
which led many cities
to do stupid shit like this…
NEWS REPORTER 1:Overnight,
the Big Apple

looking more like an orange.
New York City mayor,
Bill de Blasio

lighting up the city in, quote,
“Amazon orange.”

The city of Birmingham is using
giant Amazon boxes
to try to get
Amazon’s attention.

NEWS REPORTER 1:Stonecrest,
Georgia offering to create

a new town of Amazon, Georgia.
They would create a new town
and name it “Amazon.”
You know, to compete,
I’m not surprised
that Omaha, Nebraska didn’t
offer to let Jeff Bezos
kill any three people he likes.
‘Cause you know he would.
Look at him, he wants it so bad.
It’s the only thing
he can’t have and he wants it.
And numerous mayors
made direct appeals to Amazon
with videos ending in versions
of the same bad joke.
Hey Alexa, where should Amazon
locate HQ2?
ALEXA:Hmm. In Frisco, Texas.
Alexa, where is
the most interesting company
in the world gonna locate?
Washington, DC.

So, Alexa,
where is the best place
for Amazon to locate
its second world headquarters?
ALEXA:Danbury, Connecticut.
I told ya so.
You know, my one and only worry
with all of those ads,
and I mean this sincerely, is,
are they almost too hilarious?
But those stunts
are just window-dressing.
What Amazon cares much,
much more about,
as they mentioned
in their instructions 21 times,
are incentives.
And while few places
are revealing what they offered,
we do know that New Jersey
reportedly offered
seven billion dollars
in tax breaks,
which is an insane amount
that other places
may now have to compete with,
and think about what that means.
That could mean billions
of tax dollars
that would not be collected
for things like roads,
or schools, or hospitals,
and Amazon already has
more money than it knows
what to do with.
How else could you explain
the existence ofGoliath?
A show that, and this is true,
literally nobody has ever seen.
Nobody. No human.
No animal. Nobody.
-Nobod– No one.
Does it even exist?
If you make a show
and no one watches it,
does it exist? Discuss.
And that is the thing here.
We give companies a lot of money
through these incentives.
By one estimate, in 2015
they cost state
and local governments
45 billion dollars.
And that money can go
to some questionable projects.
For instance, a few years ago,
Kentucky took a big swing
on this…
A full-size replica
of Noah’s ark
is drawing thousands of visitors
to Williamstown, Kentucky.
This is the Ark Encounter.

A chapter from Genesis
told on a $100 million budget.

Four floors of Noah,
his family,

and beasts great and small.
The project received $18 million
in Kentucky tax incentives.

Eighteen million dollars
of tax breaks
for a gigantic ark museum.
And I’m not saying that is
inherently a bad idea,
I do kind of want to see
this thing,
especially as its website
genuinely has a section
devoted to the question,
“What about all the manure?”
The answer, apparently, is,
“Slatted floors
or multiple-level cages,”
which is really
not a good answer,
’cause you do not want to be
the animal on the lowest level
of that ship.
And while the ark
clearly created some jobs,
there were some caveats
to those positions…
REPORTER 3:Critics complain
of discrimination in hiring.

Only Christians,
no gays or lesbians,

and single people have to sign
a chastity pledge.

-Oh, come on!
Aside from the homophobia,
chastity is a pretty weird rule
to put in place for a museum
that’s pretty much a gigantic
replica of a floating fuck-zoo.
They… they weren’t brought in
two by two
so that everyone
would have a swim-buddy,
they were on that boat
to fuck.
To fuck!
But the justification
for taking a gamble
on a gigantic ark,
was that it would be
a boom to the whole area,
and to hear one
local official tell it,
the economic impact
has been underwhelming.
The ark’s success has not had
the ripple effect
many hoped it would.
REPORTER 4:Downtown

which was expecting
increased car and foot traffic,

has almost as many
empty store-fronts

as occupied store-fronts.
REPORTER 5: What’s it meant
for downtown Williamstown?
I don’t wanna sound negative
in this interview, but…
there’s nothing here.
and that kind of makes sense
because once you’ve spent
three hours walking around
a wooden boat with
sexually frustrated tour guides
and haunted by the mental image
of a miserable zebra
neck deep in shit,
’cause apparently decks
were assigned alphabetically,
you’re probably gonna
skip lunch in town.
And look, a well-designed,
closely monitored program
with clear goals
might make sense to an area,
but too often the terms
are extremely lax.
Some don’t require
that jobs be created at all,
and some require
almost laughably few.
Remember StartUp New York?
Zero taxes for a decade?…
-Oh shit, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Don’t think about it,
I’m sure it will pass.
That program
is hiring requirements–
That program’s hiring
were that you create just
one new job a year,
and the state
recently considered
scaling that back to one
new job in the first five years.
And sometimes these incentives
are given out
even when
they may not be necessary.
Take a look
at Fargo, North Dakota.
-You know what, he’s not wrong.
He’s not wrong and I knew
that would do the job.
Fargo gave a tax break to FedEx
for moving a facility
to their city, but why?
Did they really need to?
‘Cause just listen to what
happened when one
city council member
asked that very question
of a FedEx representative.
Mr. Wilson, if you don’t get
this exemption,
will you still move to Fargo?
-MR. WILSON: Yes, sir, we will.
Yet, ten minutes later,
the council voted
to give FedEx that exemption.
Also, if someone wants to
willingly move to Fargo,
you don’t offer them
tax incentives,
you simply offer them
a full psychological work-up
that starts with the question,
“Who did you murder?
We’ll still let you live here,
but we do need to know.”
And then…
Then there are programs
narrowly set up to encourage
a particular industry to grow.
Which can sound great,
but may not lead
to good, permanent jobs.
Take film and TV incentives.
At some point
in the last couple of decades,
nearly every state decided
that they wanted to be
the next Hollywood, and now,
31 states
have incentive programs
for film or TV.
The problem with that is,
if you are one of them,
you have 30 other states
competing with you… hard.
And because film productions
are portable,
if you try and scale back
your incentives,
they’ll just go
wherever a better deal is.
Just listen
to this movie producer
who has taken advantage
of multiple states’ incentives.
I would never make a movie
where I didn’t get an incentive,
and I don’t ever intend to.
But at the end of the day,
if there’s an incentive…
it’s good for me.
-And look…
He’s not wrong,
I mean yes,
he looks like every woman’s
worst ex-boyfriend,
but he’s– he’s not wrong.
It is not his job to worry
about whether his incentives
are good for the states.
It is his job to, I’m assuming,
refer to sushi as “sush,”
because he definitely does that.
But it should be someone,
someone’s job,
to worry about the effect
of these programs.
And on some occasions
when states have done that,
the news they got was not great.
For instance,
Louisiana found that
for every dollar
it spent on its film program,
it generated just 22 cents
of tax revenue.
Which sounds bad,
but which is still better
than Maryland,
which made just 10 cents
for every dollar spent,
which is still better
than Connecticut’s program,
which returned only
seven cents on the dollar.
That’s like putting a dollar
into a vending machine,
and getting a single,
yellow Starburst in return.
At some point,
what you’re getting out
is not worth what you’re
putting in.
And defenders
of economic incentives will say,
that’s just a fraction
of the broader economic benefit
that they bring.
The problem is,
there’s not much evidence
for that.
And I know that accounting
for the total economic impact
of anything is tricky,
but we are gambling
billions of dollars
on little more than faith.
And even basic information
can be really hard to come by.
One study found that
three quarters
of major state
development programs
don’t even disclose actual jobs
created or workers trained.
So, we’re basically throwing
money down a hole
and hoping it bring us
which is the exact
business model
of a fucking wishing well.
And to see this at perhaps
it’s most pointless,
just look at Kansas
and Missouri.
They’ve offered competing
tax breaks
to businesses for years.
Which has made things
particularly interesting
in one metro area.
I’m in Kansas City, Missouri.
That’s it behind me. Uh,
there is Kansas City, Kansas.
Two states, one metro area,
but those states offer subsidies
for job creation. Create a job,
you get a tax break.
So, what do businesses do?
A Missouri business will move
some employees
over to Kansas City, Kansas
and claim a tax break,
move ’em back,
claim another tax break.
It’s true.
For instance,
Kansas City, Missouri
lost corporate offices
for all these companies
to Kansas City, Kansas
which, in turn,
lost offices
for all these companies
to Kansas City, Missouri.
And that isn’t creating jobs
any more than moving your couch
from the bedroom
to the living room
is creating fucking furniture.
And this war has come
at a real cost.
A local foundation has studied
two state-level
incentives programs
and estimates that since 2009,
around 6,600 jobs
have moved from Missouri
to Kansas.
While around 5, 500 jobs
have moved
from Kansas to Missouri.
Meaning there’s been a net-gain
of around 1,100 jobs
on the Kansas side of the line
and a combined cost
to the two states of
$331 million
in lost tax revenue, and
think about that for a second.
You could create a program
where the first 1,100 people
to move from– to Kansas City
from Missouri
would each get a Ferrari
which they could then
drive around a giant pile
of $30 million
that the state had set
on fire
and you’d actually be
fiscally responsible,
because you would have
saved the area $20 million.
Look, it is pretty clear
that economic development
needs to be done
in a much smarter way.
And I don’t fully blame
the companies for this.
Because if governments
are going to offer
ridiculous incentives,
they are going to take them.
So, governments need to
hold themselves,
and companies,
more accountable.
And if companies aren’t
producing what they promised,
we need a system to claw
our money back.
But to find that out,
we’re going to need
much more oversight
over these programs
and what we’re getting
in return.
Although, I will tell you
one thing that I know for sure
we got in return,
That got a $5.8 million
tax credit from California
and where else were they
going to filmEntourage?
Idaho? So,
California, please know
that you indirectly had a hand
in producing a movie,
which, may I remind you,
had this,
for it’s very first line…
I may have to jerk it
before we even get there.
You know what,
I’ve got to say this,
Kentucky Ark Museum,
because somehow, you’ve become
the second worst
tax-payer subsidized
fuck-boat in this story.”

100 thoughts on “Economic Development: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)”

  1. Nky here! Hes right the ark hasn't done jack shit for Williamstown and they didn't need to be kicked while they were down.

  2. I bet AOC watched this video and got ‘like super informed and stuff’ before shutting down Amazon’s New York deal.

  3. When you give companies tax breaks to move in, years later when the breaks end, they go elsewhere, and do the same, never needing to pay taxes.

  4. I'm from Kentucky. I just love that my taxpayer money went to a religious movement that bans good people from working there. 🙁

  5. John Oliver addresses deadly serious issues in a hilarious manner. Does his research as well. Honestly, I think we would be better off ditching whatever curriculum schools offer on current events and having students watch and discuss Last Week Tonight. Mayhaps that would enable our country to pull its collective head out of its collective ass.

  6. for they cannot rob friends and family.. ( the clan, club, team, group, flock, school, collective, hyve, selection, murder included) they rob the generic people..

  7. Thankfully, the ark encounter has failed. It was successful for a week or so and now it just sits there. No visitors, no nothing. Just a garbage museum that wasted millions.

  8. Tax incentives don't "Cost state governments" anything, they bring in jobs; they wouldn't have the revenue if the company didn't locate there. Annoying how Amazon gladly makes customers pay sales taxes that were not required before (no fight), but fights tooth and nail to avoid tax increases themselves, don't throw your customers overboard.

  9. Just so everyone knows. Amazon is setting up shop in my town of Nampa Idaho. Just outside Boise. Thanks AOC you stupid cunt.

  10. People don't just need jobs, they need MONEY that comes with jobs! Money that corporate boards deny them all the time and even condescendingly demand that their workers 'should be thankful for having a job.'
    Employers may be 'job creators' but the wealth of the company comes from the work those employees put in. Employers should thank their 'wealth creators' by giving them more of the share of wealth created through the hard labor.

  11. Corporations rely on many systems paid for by OTHER taxpayers, like public roads, maintaining a healthy water supply, safety services, education, etc. If anything they are taxing everyone else. 'Oh, but they pay it in individual income tax anyway, corporate taxation is just government double-taxing its people.' No they don't, and no it isn't. Individual income tax pays for the use by the individual only, i.e. you driving to work, NOT the work itself using the public systems. 'Corporation' comes from the word 'corpus' that means 'body' and by legal precedent a corporation is treated as an individual itself. So apply that individual income tax… To the corporation too!

  12. A 'full size replica' implies there was an original one. A 'full size model' is more appropriate for things that are just fantasy.

  13. Me and my brothers actually finished the first season of Goliath in 1 day, we couldn't stop watching, we had a little more control when season 2 came out, that one took us 2 days.

  14. Excuse me mr Oliver thanks for all the information, I normally detest these subjects but you inform me AND make me laugh.

  15. 0:37 i just remembered i was watching an actual clip of human things on a news channel… why is he speaking like that

  16. My city was competing for amazong HQ2, house prices increased because of that so property taxes increased too, we didn't win Amazon HQ2 but house prices still high here.

  17. Do excuse my nerding here, and let's put aside the homophobia and chastity thing (which are their own dumb things), but to only have Christians on that Ark museum is anti-semitic and islamophobic not just for the obvious reasons, but also because the Ark narrative is found in Genesis, which Judaism and Christianity share, and the Qur'an. So all three of these religions have a claim to it, and all three should be eligible to work on it. For something that offers religious education, that Ark museum knows surprisingly little about religion.

  18. developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers…

  19. Anybody else have an Amazon alexa that this particular episode set off? I sure did….. "Shut up Alexa!!! Why would I care about Halloween HQ in May?!? Stupid!!!"

  20. If New York, one of the most liberal places in the country is doing it…clearly there is a reason. The answer to every problem is not tax it to death. Considering how incompetent the government is…they don't need anymore money. How about they actually do their budgets properly and stop wasting our money recklessly…that would be fair better than taking even more than they already should.

  21. btw, what about those who are hired as "business development" managers?

  22. A study made in several countries in Latin America, showed that cutting taxes to companies, do NOT rise employment rates. We would have to see if the creation of new ones do, that would be a different thing.

  23. Goliath is an AWESOME show. I binged both seasons. It's a show I would watch before watching LWT.

  24. Hard to understand why people shoot up schools and concerts and not corporate execs and politicians. Reminds me of the failed fraud, waste, abuse program in the military.

  25. Faith got nothing to do with it… You are just feeding corporate Greed at expenses of the well-being of Tax-Payers… How stupid is that ????

  26. Let's talk about how stressful this job must be for John Oliver. When he started in 2013, he looked young and had dark brown hair. Now all gray hair and wrinkles. We salute you Mr. Oliver, and appreciate your contribution to society.

  27. When that dude said "Hey Alexa…" it triggered my Alexa to answer the question for real. And she would NOT shut up about it.

  28. Not GIVING them anything….letting them KEEP it. 7 Billion in tax credit….how much will the state raise in tax revenue in 5 years after? Include the income tax revenue from employees too. Failed to share that. I like your content…but like your content from earlier days, it was informative and didn't push agenda. Let's NOT give them tax breaks, let them build it some where else, Canada maybe?

  29. No wonder so many Americans are anti tax if it's misused like this. It's pathetic. That money as a strange idea, could have been used to built some public infrustructure……which is what it is there for……and this creates jobs…..and this helps companies, I dunno, because people need roads to get to work…..people need hospitals, so they can work.

  30. This show always leads me to do follow up research. This episode lead me to the Arc coverage. I learned so much from the Bill Nye AND ARC GUY tour.
    The Arc founder isn't a total whack job as I imagined.

    The most important thing came in the last 5 minutes — how to hold a phone to take a selfie. Golden info.

  31. Im pretty sure god did not give Noah plans to build a greek ship! Hahah. After modeling the dimensions out of the bible, why would you still build something that was common knowledge from the region. Hahaha. Religious people are so done.

  32. Okay. I had my Alexa turned off. I made the mistake of watching this video in the same fucking room, and as soon as the first "hey where should Amazon locate its office" joke started, the goddamn thing gave me a heart attack and started talking about where the office ended up. So. Thanks for letting me learn something and screw you guys for the heart attack.

  33. America is a shithole country full of assholes and I agree when the world says that Americans are the biggest thiefs

  34. Wait, the people at the top don't give a fuck about what it cost someone else. First I'm hearing this…. Said only by people who watch fox news.

  35. That's why I hate answers in genesis and the arch encounter. I hate fundamentalist Christians. I am fine with moderate and progressive Christians but fundamentalist Christians make me angry

  36. this subject is so important. There is so much republican hypocritical BS on this issue (handing out billions of dollars to failing industries like coal and corn) and so much emotionally driven waste on the democratic side. We are wasting so much money in this country its ridiculous.

  37. Amazon doesn’t create full time jobs at all,they only hire people from temp agencies. Only management and administrative jobs are permanent the rest don’t know if they’ll have a shift the next day and the employee has to pay the temp agency in most cases for transportation etc. Amazon is basically extortion

  38. A proposal: nationalize Amazon, put it under democratic control, and "compensate" Bezos with a $10 Whataburger voucher.

  39. The Ark Encounter is still the dumbest economic ecentive rescepiant. For nothing else then that it is a monument to making kids scientifically illiterate.

  40. citizen action is needed to end all tax breaks and incentives. until that happens areas will be in constant competition for who can pleasure the wealthy best, and will keep being exploited. there should be no benefits for large businesses at all, only some help for small businesses. put chains and big box stores out of business. they are the reason good jobs are so few. whenever you shop at Walmart or eat at McDonald's you're putting a local business out of business. those companies won't invest in your community or offer decent pay. support small business instead.

  41. Christianity is merely the cheap finery. The only thing these scientists like Dawkins, Hawkings, Hitchens, or any of them stand opposed to is paper plates in the system. Christianity is a mid-progress dagger, so to speak. A > B > C. You know the good stuff.

  42. He mentions that no one has ever seen Goliath, so I looked it up. While it's probably true that not many people have watched it, the few people who have must have really liked it. It's going on it's third season and has an 8.2/10 on IMDB, so it must have something going for it. Not many shows maintain a score of over 8. Esp after a cpl seasons.

  43. You guys all get that it was never about the jobs, right? That's just a fancy buzz word corrupt politicians use to pull the wool over your eyes while they give LITERALLY BILLIONS to their buddies, the wealthy corporations and businessmen that are actually controlling the country.
    Whoever you vote for, only vote for a candidate with a proven record of being anti-establishment. Those are the only ones you can trust.

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