Flyover from MPR News

S1E4: What's the American job worth?

As bids pour in to host Amazon's second headquarters, so do the promises of huge tax breaks.

At least 118 cities across the country want Amazon HQ2 and all the jobs it'd bring, reports The Seattle Times, the retail giant's hometown newspaper, and nearly 30 of those cities are offering tax breaks of over $100 million.

Flyover from MPR News
Flyover from MPR News
MPR News

But look more broadly into these types of deals — you could call them corporate welfare, or public investment for the future — and $100 million is relatively miniscule.

Wisconsin's offering a $3 billion incentive package for the Taiwan-based Foxconn company to build a flat-screen TV plant.

New York state gave aluminum producer Alcoa some $5 billion in tax breaks.

Boeing could get more than $8 billion in tax breaks from Washington state.

Of course, many of these big corporate incentives are for manufacturing, which for generations fueled our economy and defined our national identity.

But as the economic landscape shifts, an important question arises: are these deals worth it?

Chances are your town or state has seen significant public investment in corporate incentives and attempts at job creation. That's our topic this week on Flyover, and we want to hear from you.

This week's guests

Shawn Johnson — reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio

Matthew Mitchell — director of the "Project for the Study of American Capitalism" at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

William "Sandy" Darity — professor of public policy at Duke University.

• Are these deals good for you?

• Will throwing money at companies make for a stronger economy?

• What's the American job worth?