Tag Archives: corporate welfare

Planned Parenthood: If You Have to Ask Why, The Answer is Usually “Money”

Planned Parenthood volunteers help bring the f...
Planned Parenthood volunteers help bring the fight for health insurance reform to the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Planned Parenthood pops up regularly on the political radar as “pro-choice” and “pro-life” activists wage their decades-long battle over abortion. The latest controversy is over a series of videos released by a “pro-life” organization, purporting to show that Planned Parenthood is in the business of selling what pro-choicers call “fetal tissue” and pro-lifers call “baby parts” to medical research companies. And as usually happens when such controversies arise, there’s a move on in Congress to “de-fund” Planned Parenthood.

I’m not interested in re-litigating the issue of abortion per se here (that argument will never end), but I do think it’s important for all of us — “pro-choice” and “pro-life” alike — to understand what Planned Parenthood is and how it operates.

Ideological considerations aside, abortion in America is an industry, and Planned Parenthood is a business. It calls itself a “non-profit,” but in legal parlance all that means is that it isn’t owned by individuals or stockholders who rake off its profits.

Planned Parenthood boasts more than 800 local franchises and knocks down a billion dollars a year. Its CEO’s salary and benefits top half a million dollars annually; other executives and franchise managers also earn low- to mid-six-figure salaries. It IS a business, full stop.

More to the point, Planned Parenthood is a “politically connected” enterprise which games government to subsidize it and protect its  business turf.

Of Planned Parenthood’s billion dollars in annual revenue, about half comes from the federal government as direct corporate welfare. Its supporters don’t call it corporate welfare, of course. They claim its services are good and necessary and that the payout is justified. Shoes and books are good and necessary too, but if Nike or Amazon asked for a $500 million check from Uncle Sugar, we all know what we’d call it.

Planned Parenthood claims to work on behalf of women’s reproductive health, but uses its political clout to lobby strongly against, among other things, congressional efforts to make many forms of birth control available “over the counter.”

Why would Planned Parenthood do that? Answer: Plain old economic protectionism. If a woman can just drop by the pharmacy at Wal-Mart for her contraception, she doesn’t have to go through Planned Parenthood’s clinics and see Planned Parenthood’s doctors for a prescription. That would help the woman, but it would hurt the case for continuing the corporate welfare checks. This tells us something about Planned Parenthood’s priorities.

When it comes to fetal tissue “donations” that are actually sales — Planned Parenthood charges a “processing fee” — it’s reasonable to assume that the organization’s involvement is self-interested. That’s not to say that fetal tissue research is good or bad, but rather simply to point out that Planned Parenthood doesn’t care deeply enough about it to take a business loss on the proposition.

When it comes to continuing the half a billion dollars in annual taxpayer funding, the answer should be “your corporate welfare is going away — sink or swim in the marketplace on your merits.”

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.




“Tax Incentives”: Cut! That’s a Wrap!

Map of USA highlighting states with no income tax
Map of USA highlighting states with no income tax (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Movie and television producers say they just can’t afford to film in Florida without “tax incentives,” a mix of special tax treatment and outright corporate welfare. And with those welfare checks drying up (Rene Rodriquez, “Florida’s entertainment industry fights for flailing tax-incentive program,” Miami Herald, June 28), they’re reduced to grabbing some quick exterior shots for location flavor, then moving production to states where the legislatures are more willing to be more cavalier with taxpayer funds.

Re-combobulating state policy to spur “economic development” is a losing game. Every time a rent-seeking industry comes along demanding that taxpayers build them a sports stadium, kick back a portion of highly hypothetical “money we’re causing to come here” or cut them special slack on taxes, the eventual outcome turns out to be an economic wash at best.  Native residents and long-established, home-grown businesses pick up the tab for legislators’ mistakes. The only real gains come in the form of fancy lunches and campaign contributions for those legislators.

Fortunately, things are starting to change nationwide. As Rodriguez notes, in recent years “many states downsized or eliminated their incentive programs altogether.” That leaves Florida in great position to compete with Hollywood as a film center and win.

California demands a top state income tax rate of 13.3% from its citizens and residents. Florida takes no income tax at all. Florida also compares favorably with California (and the rest of the US) when it comes to sales and property taxes. The “tax incentives” are already there, no special programs needed!

When it comes to shooting locations, Florida competes well too. Aside from Arctic and mountainous terrain, there’s almost no outdoor environment or terrain type that can’t be either found or cheaply simulated in Florida. We’ve got jungle. We’ve got swamp. We’ve got evergreen and deciduous forest. We’ve got beach. We’ve got ocean. We’ve got island. We’ve got iconic cityscapes and bucolic farmland.

We’ve also got the infrastructure and the population to support as many studios and crews as care to come here, where they can make — and keep! — more money from their work.

We don’t need a bunch of tax jiggery-pokery and lobbyist-fueled legislative favoritism  to bring more television and movie production to Florida. We can get there by hopping off the corporate welfare/special interest merry-go-round and promoting our state as what it is: Hands down, the best place in America to do business.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.