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January 21, 2018

STEPHEN L. CARTER: Amazon’s Utterly Predictable Game of Musical Chairs: The same cities that always get a seat are still in the competition for HQ2. Yawn.

Amazon released the list this week. And, like lots of people who’ve taken a look, I was left underwhelmed. Because what immediately struck me is how conventional it is. Amazon has pretty much picked the same finalists that any company with an eye toward building a new headquarters would pick.

I mean, seriously. New York. Duh. Boston. General Electric Co. (or what’s left of it) is already heading there. Washington and its environs. Like they need more jobs and pricey real estate. Atlanta, Dallas and Raleigh, North Carolina. Where everybody else is moving.

Utterly conventional. Yet we’re all talking about it. Writing about it. Arguing about it. Amazon has accomplished an enormous act of public relations. Companies move headquarters all the time. They choose where to invest. But usually it’s a semi-private process. They talk to the right city and state officials, presentations and offers are made, and then comes the announcement. The news is a two-day story, if that.

State tax abatements and other “incentives” should be treated as taxable income at the federal level. States should be encouraged to have low taxes for every company, not just the favored few.