The talk of the town on the business front in El Dorado Hills this past week was the decision by Waste Connections to move headquarters for its successful national garbage conglomerate from Folsom to Texas.
Needless to say, public dialogue on Waste Connections’ decision has been extensive and varied. For some, the relocation is yet another frustrating example of private enterprise choosing to run from California’s highest national tax rates that are likely heading higher and over-regulation. For others, the move represents corporate greed at its finest.
Some in the “greed” camp voiced the typical sentiments we hear when businesses seek greener pastures outside California. We’ve all heard the statements: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Good riddance. Enjoy the lousy weather in (name the state).
I can be as emotional about an issue as the next guy, but these types of comments directed at private employers leaving California have always struck me as amazingly shortsighted. Regardless of your views about how a company manages its business or its executives and their compensation, we’re still talking in the case of Waste Connections about a reported 100 private jobs leaving our region. As the “My Hometown” song by Bruce Springsteen goes, “foreman says these jobs are going boys, and they ain’t coming back.”
In a state stifled by unemployment and financial chaos, you would think we’d want to hold on to every job we have. Reports indicate our region has lost more than 75,000 jobs during the last five years. On top of that, you’d think we want to hold on to every private job we have since our regional economy here is so reliant on government gigs. You would think we’d have a better response than good riddance.
Also, the people who hold these jobs are productive members of our regional community. These are people, and I know at least one personally, who contribute to our schools, our youth sports programs and our charities. They are contributing to the system, not sponging off it. I haven’t even brought up what they personally and the business overall contribute in taxes to the region. Now they will all contribute to the system in Woodlands, Texas. Bet I know what Woodlands is saying: Good for us.
With the move, our region is also losing its largest publicly traded company, with Waste Connections valued at more than $3.5 billion. We always hear about Sacramento working to attract more private employers to the region and competing with other states and cities in the country. Wonder how this news will affect those efforts? It’s going to be tough to spin that one.
No one denies our Golden State is in a downward economic spiral. Proposed solutions are all over the map, but again, you’d think we’d do everything we can to hold onto private jobs. After all, we all can’t work for the government. There would be no private pockets left to tax if we all worked for the government. Imagine the budget deficit if that were the case.
As tax-paying, hard-working native Californians who watch our state’s decline each day, can we really fault those who choose logic and come to the conclusion that there are better places to live? These places might not be as pretty or warm or have as many things to do. But on paper, they can be deemed better.
I’ve written before that my heart remains in California despite my brain often telling me something else. As we absorb blow after blow, you wonder how long your heart will hold out before your brain wins the debate.
Dan Francisco is an El Dorado Hills-based public relations consultant to the high-tech industry.