I was interested to read Shirley Leung’s Jan. 18 column (“Jolts at GE won’t leave Boston shuddering,” Page A1) on the changing prospects of General Electric’s big move to Boston. Leung highlights that Governor Charlie Baker spent about $60 million to purchase two buildings for GE, and has set aside another $60 million for infrastructure improvements that directly benefit the company. In other words, Baker has spent more money on one multinational corporation than he did to improve the “winter resiliency” for the entire Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
That’s important not just because tens of millions of taxpayer dollars are going to help a relatively small number of employees, but because it’s simply not as much of a direct economic benefit for the rest of Massachusetts. Leung doubles down on these corporate subsidies, stating that she remains “a big proponent of the taxpayer support for the company’s relocation from Connecticut because it has helped cement our reputation as a place to do business.”
But how does being a “place to do business” square with all of the other values and qualities of our state? What if Massachusetts — and especially Boston — becomes a place for the wealthy elite to work and play, while the rest of us see rising inequality (which, in the long term, hurts our overall economy)? What if while GE’s executives helicopter in to work, the rest of us continue to be in two-hour mind-numbing traffic, or stuck on a disabled Red Line car in a tunnel or on a broken-down train on the Fitchburg line? These are the things that I shudder at.
Democrat of Acton