I don’t have a problem philosophically with subsidies. Some people talk about them like they’re little devils running around, trying to get into your wallet and take your cash. But a subsidy is a government payment to a company so that it can keep functioning. There are some companies that can’t run at a profit, or can’t right now, that we’d want to keep functioning anyhow. Say a company that makes important parts for our aircraft. Now that’s a company we’d want to keep in business. If it goes bankrupt, and we need to buy these parts from a foreign company, we might be open to a lot of security problems.
First, this company could give away our secrets to its government.
Second, it could simply have them stolen, since our security agents wouldn’t be around in, say, India, to keep them safe.
Third, in the event of war, we’d be dependent on that company’s country keeping the doors open for us to get the parts we need.
Now doesn’t that sound a little spooky? It sure does to me. I’d rather pour a little dough into one of our local companies so that the parts stay local.
Of course this isn’t the only example of why we’d want to subsidize a company. Say for example that there is a company that needs help getting going now, but that can support itself later. Say a nuclear power plant. Nuclear plants are expensive to get started, but their power is cheap and long lasting. It’s clean energy too. Now, it can be tough to get the kind of dough together to make a nuclear plant, and that means we can lose its benefits because the money isn’t there to get it started. A small subsidy could help it get going. Just make sure the tap gets turned off once the plant is running and we’re all set to benefit.
Obviously there are quite a few cases where subsidies are just welfare. In that case I’m against them. I don’t want Uncle Sam pouring our money down a hole in the ground. Any case of mere corporate welfare I’ll be against in a second.
So that’s my yardstick: is it good for Americans or not? If it’s just giving dough to companies that don’t deserve it, then out with the subsidy. But if it will help Americans by helping the economy or keeping us safe, then I’m for it.