Why We Don’t Negotiate with Terrorists

The principle that government does not negotiate with terrorists is a longstanding American policy, endorsed (to date, at least) by foreign policy experts of both parties. The reasons are–or should be–obvious: when you reward an activity, you encourage it.

If kidnapping our diplomats or other citizens proves profitable, more kidnappings will occur.

Of course, if you are the spouse or loved one of the person being held hostage, you are likely to have a somewhat different perspective. Which brings me to the recent announcement–made with much fanfare–about Carrier Corporation’s decision to keep a thousand of its employees in Indiana, rather than moving their jobs to Mexico. Affected employees are undoubtedly (and understandably) euphoric.

Details thus far have been sketchy, but it appears that Indiana will provide financial “incentives” to keep the company here for the next few years. Since federal government contracts currently generate $6 billion dollars annually for Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, it is likely that promises about that contracting relationship sweetened the deal.( A spokesperson for Trump hinted that the government might relax regulations United Technologies found “onerous.”)

As one economist tweeted, “Every savvy CEO will now threaten to ship jobs to Mexico, and demand a payment to stay. Great economic policy.”

Trump’s Carrier “accomplishment” is Exhibit A in what would likely be a long list of “teachable moments” if Trump were teachable. The lesson is: deals that make perfect sense in the private business sector can be invitations to disaster in the public sector.

I learned that lesson when I served as Indianapolis’ Corporation Counsel. Cities get sued with some regularity; a car goes in a ditch and the driver blames the design of the road; a building inspector tags a property and the owner disputes the violation; a homeowner objects to a sewer assessment, or a rezoning..the list is endless.

In the business world, it often makes fiscal sense to settle a suspicious “slip and fall” case, for example–especially when the amount at issue is much less than the cost of litigating the matter. If a City did that–if it “bought off” relatively small claims–it would be tantamount to hanging a sign out that said “Come sue us–we’re patsies.” Plaintiffs and their lawyers know that, unlike many private defendants, government entities have money; if all they had to do was file a lawsuit, if they didn’t have to risk going to trial, it would be open season.

So–unless the City was clearly in the wrong– we litigated them all, large or small.

Thanks to Americans’ ignorance of the significant differences between the public and private sectors, there’s a widespread and profoundly naive belief that anyone can “do” government, that public sector experience and/or specialized skills are unnecessary.

I wonder how many terrorists Trump and his cabinet of inexperienced newcomers will negotiate with–and what it will cost us taxpayers– before they figure it out…


  1. Shameful, but to be expected! In addition, it will create a divide and conquer atmosphere within the company as only half of the jobs will be saved. There is going to be a battle for who will be a “winner” and a “loser”.

  2. I’m sure the devil is in the details of the Carrier “deal”, which, if revealed at all, will be slow in coming forth and buried on p. 8 of the Star. However, it’s such great political theater, that the President-Elect and his sidekick can’t pass up the photo-op. I guess it’s easier for them than a press conference – Trumper can just Tweet his policies to his 25 million fans – screw the rest of us.

  3. As one economist tweeted, “Every savvy CEO will now threaten to ship jobs to Mexico, and demand a payment to stay. Great economic policy.”

    The above copied and pasted statement was my first thought while watching Rachel Maddow’s report on this miraculous salvation of Carrier by Trump here in Indiana. There is, of course, much more to this story than we will be told during the Trump/Pence announcement this afternoon, no doubt giving Trump all of the glory for saving Carrier from distinction. With this action Pence is still (pardon my language) the incomplete abortion being drug along behind Trump. The Star today does report the Carrier connection to United Technologies, Corp. and their many government contracts being part of this equation.

    We all remember Chris Christie was appointed head of Trump’s transition team only to soon be removed and replaced by Pence who decided to remain sitting Governor here in Indiana and briefly returned. Trump’s son-in-law was then named head of the transition team. We were led to believe Christie’s removal was at least in part due to his conviction and imprisonment years ago of the son-in-law’s father. Pence named himself chairman of the board in Indiana which disperses Indiana tax dollars; as sitting Governor on his brief visit recently, he has released $700,000 of Indiana tax payer dollars as a one-time payment to Carrier rather than tax incentives spread over a period of years. Pence then returned to his duties as vice president-elect.

    Rachel also reported Trump’s announcement that he has turned control of his businesses over to this children, thereby absolving himself of any future accusations of conflict-of-interest, is basically meaningless. Because he has NOT divested his interest in his many businesses around the world, merely the control of said businesses, so he will still receive the profits as owner. A continuing conflict of interest regarding our president-elect once he is inaugurated? Only if there are legal representatives with the balls to bring suit against him once he is inaugurated. With Republican ownership of all three branches of government, this action is highly doubtful.

    A high ransom indeed in this Trump/Pence and all appointees terrorist regime we are facing.

  4. “I wonder how many terrorists Trump and his cabinet of inexperienced newcomers will negotiate with–and what it will cost us taxpayers– before they figure it out…”

    As long as it benefits their buddies, they don’t care how much it will cost the taxpayers. They have no interest in governing, only in plundering the Treasury as much as possible in the next two years, before the voters wise up – assuming they do, and also assuming they will have the opportunity to vote.

  5. “Every savvy CEO will now threaten to ship jobs to Mexico, and demand a payment to stay. Great economic policy.”

    The NFL has been playing this kind of game for some time and it’s galling how so many cities get suckered into it.

    I would not be surprised at all to see this kind of action taking place more and more in the coming years regardless of party.

  6. Company-specific incentives won’t gain much on a large scale, but they do make believers out of the workers (and local economies) who would be directly affected by a company’s move. One can also convert them into YUUGE! PR acts. “Look! I’m not in office yet and I’m already making deals!” Of course, Pence shouldn’t have failed to keep Carrier (and other companies in line to ship jobs out) here in the first place. But, it’s harder, more expensive, and takes longer to replace the economic model that depends on that kind of manufacturing. Pay-offs to corporate extortionists, and quashing trade agreements won’t stop globalization.

    New industries have to be developed at local and regional levels; market economies don’t always fill the vacuums they create when corporations make decisions that, for them and their shareholders, are rational. The role of government in the marketplace should not be to score short-term gains (PR or otherwise) by paying off companies that are doing what companies do, but to create the general conditions for those empty spaces to be filled, ideally with innovative companies that will bring the next cycle of long-term economic stability.

    And, The Star has 8 pages?

  7. When the news hit the stands that Carrier would keep some jobs here, we all knew that the deal has got to be bad for the taxpayers. My first thoughts were – how much is this going to cost us and how long will the jobs actually stay before Carrier actually goes ahead and moves them to Mexico? Any sane person knows that those jobs will not last more than a few years, if that.

    Carrier wins. Trumpence wins. Trump voters are gloating. Finally, the general public is fooled into believing they are our saviors while they are raiding the tax coffers for their own gain and power.

  8. JoAnn,

    re your statement – “With this action Pence is still (pardon my language) the incomplete abortion being drug along behind Trump. ”

    This was so funny! It reminded me of something that a former pastor’s wife used to say: “Post-Birth Abortion should be legal”. Think about it and you will get it. LOL

  9. I never watched his reality show The Apprentice but I’m certain that it played to one of Trump’s favorite pasttimes: picking winners and losers. Expect more of this. A lot more.

  10. As we now have clearly seen, any fool can be President. The only requirements are age at least 35 and citizenship by birth.

    Mr. Trump keeps saying there is nothing in writing that says he can’t manage his business while he is President. He says that either because he has never read the Constitution, or because he doesn’t realize that places like Scotland and Argentina are foreign entities.

    I don’t believe that his supporters care what his cabinet might do to the country. They obviously don’t care about policy. They are gleeful that sober minded people are frightened. They ignored the advice of nearly every security expert and nearly every economic expert to elect the guy who, although lying on average once every 5 minutes, “tells it like it is.”


  11. Nancy; I didn’t have to think about it get it, have considered it often during my 61 years of motherhood…LOL

    Ginny F; thank you for providing the corporate ownership name of Carrier yesterday.

    This escalating election shit-storm continues to boggle my mind and has warped my thinking processes. Those of you who are fans of “The Walking Dead” will understand this. To jump-start my brain each morning I work the crossword puzzle in the Star; this morning one clue was “Walker” so I naturally wrote in “livingdead” which fit but was wrong. They wanted the word “pedestrian”.

  12. Welcome to the world of (publicly conducted) private enterprise! This is just the beginning. We the taxpayers will in one way or another fund such nonsense ( bribery) as the Carrier move back and forth across the Rio Grande with the Orange One and his sidekick Pence taking the credit for any such move either north or south of the border (which we will fund), including even the Canadian border, all of such moves being characterized as pieces of brilliant strategy by this duet, of course.

    It occurs to me that there is a bigger situation than mere bribery at stake here. What about the disappointed Mexicans who thought they were going to get a thousand more Carrier jobs? Is Trump flexing his political muscle (with our money) to show the Mexicans what he is capable of doing if they fail to pay for the wall and, if so, what’s next? A tariff on Mattel toys made in the Orient? Government by bullying? Whatever happened to the legislative process as constitutionally designed to spread power around decision-making?

    Far out, one could legitimately ask? Well, yes, but everything is far out with this bizarre combination of a right wing Christian and a sexual predator narcissistically wed to making money and bullying everyone in sight. Who’s to know what goes on in the back room as bullying substitutes for legislative processes in re wages, trade, pliable environmental restraints for sale etc.? I fear that “the art of the deal” will be conducted with taxpayer money by this out of control duet in ways we cannot yet know as they conduct a shadow government covered by the usual PR and and tweets they will feed to you and me. Let’s be aware.

  13. Thank you. I’ve shared my concerns about this deal when the next shoe was going to drop. He is so disengenuous and so slippery that you simply cannot trust what he says on face value. Makes Tricky Dick look like St. Augustine. Aside from specific conditions of the agreement, which will no doubt be stunning, you add another layer, that his behavior is also not in the best interests of the common good and he has some tendencies toward bad judgment. But, what the heck, 1000 people don’t care about the wisdom of public policy. Sounds like a South American dictator to me.

  14. As baseball coach once told me, you can’t hit the ball if you take your eyes off the pitch.

    Bush the Elder and Bill Clinton were both in favor of NAFTA. Ross Perot said in 1992 debates, “We have got to stop sending jobs overseas. It’s pretty simple: If you’re paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for factory workers and you can move your factory south of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor,…have no health care—that’s the most expensive single element in making a car— have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement, and you don’t care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound going south.”

    Bill Clinton signed NAFTA into law in December 1993. The House passed it 234-200. The agreement’s supporters included 132 Republicans and 102 Democrats. The bill passed the Senate on November 20, 1993, 61-38. Senate supporters were 34 Republicans and 27 Democrats. A triumph for Neo-Liberalism, Crony-Capitalism and Corporatism was the result. So if you are keeping your eye on the ball, the pitcher was Bill Clinton who threw the curve ball of NAFTA.

    I voted against NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China. I think they have been a disaster for the American worker. Bernie Sanders.

    Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer lead the Democratic Party in the House and Senate, so we have the Establishment Corporate Democrats in control. By all means follow the leaders and stay on the path that loses.

    As far as Corporate Welfare in the form of direct and indirect subsidies it is a fact of political and economic life. Look at Indianapolis, Republicans and Democrats (Republicrats) are always eager to line the pockets of the Pacers and Colts.

  15. If there isn’t one already, I strongly support a law prohibiting government purchases or contracts with those who manufacture the contractual products outside of the USA unless there is no homebound manufacturer.

  16. In a piece in the Wash Post yesterday, the Union Rep for the Carrier workers said that the cost advantage to Carrier of doing the work in Mexico would require the workers in Indy to reduce their wages to $5 a hour(from a current average of $15) to be competitive (and that amount likely didn’t include benefits). We know the Carrier workers won’t work for that amount; they could make more working at a fast food joint.

    That means Carrier undoubtedly extracted a huge ransom, and as others have already mentioned, the jobs will very likely only remain in Indy long enough for Trump/Pence to claim victory, and then, they too will shift to Mexico. Those details, though, probably won’t be “trumpeted” at the news conference, and likely will be obtained and made public, if at all, by a public records request.

    But as Jerryh points out, the taxpayers of this country have been paying the ransom to the wealthy and multi-national corporations for years. Lucas Oil Stadium anyone? St. Louis Rams (back) to LA? Tesla just extracted millions from the State of Nevada to build a new battery factory there, after dangling the prize in front of other states to see how big of a ransom they could extract. Here in my neck of the woods, Monsanto is after huge tax breaks and incentives to build an indoor greenhouse that will probably only employ less than a hundred people.

    So corporations using jobs as “hostages” to “shake down” and extract ransom from local and state governments is not anything new. Rather, it’s the norm. Corporations have indeed learned that they can make governments “pay to play.”

    The only thing truly new about Trump/Pence’s Carrier “deal” is using the President and Vice President to extract the ransom. Also likely new will be the granting of exemptions from all kinds of safety and pollution Federal regulations, and who knows what kind of agreements to grant Federal contracts to United Technologies. It’s the height of cynical politics, but then everything about Trump/Pence’s campaign has been the height of cynical politics.

    As they say, the “hits just keep coming.”

  17. “Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer lead the Democratic Party in the House and Senate, so we have the Establishment Corporate Democrats in control. By all means follow the leaders and stay on the path that loses.”

    @Louie – You’re hitting nails on heads. Iceland looks damn good right now.

  18. Trump has, in effect, announced to businesses wishing to offshore jobs, “If you want to ship 4,000 jobs offshore, announce publicly that you plan to offshore 8,000. I’ll give you a call, you’ll back down to 4,000, and we will both get credit for being great negotiators. Incidentally, you may wish to consider fattening the coffers at the Trump Foundation.” Over time, this will become known as the “Carrier solution.”

  19. Sheila, that’s an interesting title to your opinion piece after the cash ransom paid for a few Americans held by Iran. That was negotiated and paid by the existing Democratic administration. Businesses and their employees pay the taxes that provided that ransom money along with the secure servers that weren’t used to protect the secrecy of the payments. Using the old average of $23/hour these 1,300 employees (obviously that number has been a moving target) would pay about $1.7million/year in State income taxes against a $700,000/year incentive package. Plus local income taxes, $7.7 million in Federal income tax, on top of the corporate income tax generated by the business. How much would we spend on job retraining grants, etc? This, ma’am, is a win. Industry has been playing the incentive shell game since states and cities started losing manufacturing jobs and the middle class taxpayers that worked them. To place blame on Trump and Pence for working to save jobs under the guise of ransom is partisan and below your usual quality of conduct. When we lose these middle class jobs we make our neighbors, our little league coaches, PTA volunteers more dependent on a government that has failed them. That’s why so many traditional Democratic voters turned their backs to the party.

  20. Knowing Trump’s ego, I’m waiting for him to declare December 1st a national holiday, VT Day like VE (Victory in Europe) Day and VJ (Victory in Japan) Day.

    No mention of the closing of the Huntington, IN, plant and those 800 jobs still going to Mexico. Also conflicting reports on number of jobs saved; is it Carrier’s report of 1,000 or Trump’s 1,100 or is it the MSNBC report of 800 jobs saved? I haven’t seen a time frame; is this assumed to be permanent or as long as the government keeps giving millions annually to United Technologies, Corp.? Just the facts, m’am.

    I am from a UAW union family so am very glad for those who will continue to have their jobs.

  21. Reading the article by Tony Cook in the Star this morning; a question occurred to me about this United Technologies, Corp./Carrier multi-million dollar “deal”. Trump is taking all credit for negotiating it and he and Pence are touting Carrier as a major coup, but…are all of these benefits in effect under President Obama’s administration, due to agreements from the current Republican Congress or will they not go into effect until/unless Trump and Pence are inaugurated? It appears to me that this is a deal Pence should have accomplished FOR the state of Indiana, using the Republican Congress to OUR benefit. Instead; due to Trump’s grandstanding this deal is costing millions of tax dollars in additional tax incentives to those already being paid to United Technologies, Corp. and how many other companies. Trump’s aim is off, his campaign promise to cut back tax incentives on big business has been forgotten by his supporters who are still screaming to jail Hillary Clinton at yet another Trump rally. Will these be weekly events during his administration?

    Mr. Cook’s article states regarding this agreement, “It’s also the kind of agreement Trump slammed on the campaign trail.” He also states, “The board of the state’s economic development agency must still approve the deal. As governor, Pence is the chairman of the board and appoints its members.” Pence is the self-appointed chairman of the board so little chance of them declining this multi-million dollar ransom with our tax dollars.

    WTF; if I, a high school dropout with a GED notice these questionable issues, why aren’t government officials speaking out? Bernie Sanders, our Independent/Democratic Socialist is the only one I have seen making waves but the boat is not rocking.

    An inside article in the Star by Robert King, “Other workers seeking Trump miracle, too”. Carrier’s Rexnard plant in Huntington, IN, will lose 300 jobs next year because of a plan similar to Carrier’s where 700 jobs are still to be shipped to Mexico over the next two years. And still; Trump is blaming the media – who seems to report on no one BUT Trump – is against him.

    How much of all of this paid for by the Koch brothers and the 1% as Hillary’s vote count continues to rise and nothing is heard from the Electoral College members?

  22. The net effect of the idiocy is that Trump lowered the wages of the Carrier workers who stay to make them competitive with Mexico.

    How? We can’t know all of the details yet, but he essentially got the taxpayers to subsidize Carrier workers just like they do fast food and big box workers when they work full time and need welfare to survive.

    So that’s his formula to make America economically great again.

    How successful will that be? Well if he wasn’t lying about tax cuts for everyone his employment plan is to spend lavishly on bribes to corporations to make workers who are less competitive because of his public education policies effectively paid third world wages and make up the difference with national debt. How sweet is that for everybody but wealth creators/worker/tax payer/consumers?

    As things spiral out of control he will of course blame Obama as earlier Republicans did for incurring debt to save the country from the previous trickle-downer Cheney (With Bush II bobble heading in the background).

    All very tragic and makes one hate Trump et al until we realize that it was almost a majority of Americans who asked for this treatment. There’s the tragedy!

    Of course he also will make good on his plan to make 2X more expensive health care than the rest of the world affordable by only covering the wealthy half of us. That will also solve the Medicare/Social Security problem by the early deaths of wealth creators/worker/tax payer/consumers so only the wealthy live to retire. Sweet.

    This is what the end days of the republic look like folks.

  23. I never give up but the mountain is looking steeper.

    Of course if Democracy is maintained we can make TrumPence one term wonders but then I remember that Saddam Hussein was once elected too.

    I’m afraid that with the Cabinet that he selected a toady Congress and soon to be Supreme Court there is nobody defending the Constitution.

    Pre war Germany part deux.

  24. Not sure exactly with the discussion, but not really irrelevant is the observation that, only three weeks out, buyer’s remorse is setting in: http://trumpgrets.tumblr.com/. Nothing like disappointment to make angry people angrier. No way he could make these people happy, but he’s found lots of ways to stir them up. Bring on the pitchforks and the rope!

Comments are closed.