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Letter: The odor of corporate welfare

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It is with some embarrassment that I confess to a finicky palate. Cuisine that friends find delightful occasionally prompts in myself the urge to retch. Smell is, of course, a crucial factor. The aromas wafting from certain open kitchens in summer nigh suffice to knock me off my bicycle. Lends to amazement that canines, with noses thousands of times superior, rejoice in the most repulsive fragrances. It seems that what smells good depends largely upon familiarity.

So it is with the Hormel deal. As with the Vikings’ arrangement, the only reason it doesn’t stink is because we have become accustomed to the odor. It may indeed be the way business is done these days (leaving the city little choice), but praise of the deal’s virtues seems to conveniently sidestep full accounting of the corporate welfare entailed. Only councilman Ron Christianson alluded to the cooperation and cost of the roadwork required to tailor the property to the recipient.

While most employees to come will prove assets to the community, there was scant mention of the small but significant number of dysfunctional sorts the industry has previously drawn, and the subsidies their accommodation required from older neighborhoods, police and schools. Praising the company’s role as job creator should have also drawn note of termination of their contract with West Central Industries for recycled/refurbished pallets, parsimoniously done to secure modest savings per unit.

There is something odd to this notion of “compensating good.” One rarely hears the chamber of commerce insisting that good citizens/customers should feel themselves entitled to similar “five-finger discounts” as incentives for additional self-interested patronage.

Decades ago it was common to hear that welfare exists for those who truly need it. Those able to do without it, though eligible, were solicited to forgo whatever portion they might as a matter of self-respect.

Wouldn’t it be grand if Hormel would look itself in the mirror and say, “Gosh, that welfare package was really nice, but we really didn’t need it, so let’s give at least a quarter-million bucks to, say, Music Matters!” Such a turn would be a true air-freshener.

Fred Cogelow

Willmar

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