Cumberland Times-News

February 24, 2013

Good question

Just how friendly is Maryland to business?

Cumberland Times-News

— A recently published report stated that while Maryland generally ranks 27th in terms of business-friendly states, it was ranked as high as fifth most-friendly in at least one survey.

One might ask, “How can this be?” (the same question often posed in TV commercials).

The thing to remember about polls and surveys is that their results often depend upon the wording of the question and the person asked.

Someone who works in a metropolitan office building, for instance, is less likely to think that farm subsidies are important than someone who grows crops for a living and is having a hard time making ends meet. (Never mind that the office worker might actually eat food produced by that same farmer.)

Maryland’s tax structure and corporate regulations were described by as the driving force behind the state’s relatively low rankings when it comes to being business-friendly. (Its corporate tax rate is 8.25 percent, while that of Virginia — which ranks higher in terms of being business friendly — is 6 percent.)

Maryland, which apparently is considered more business friendly than 23 other states, also is one of America’s most prosperous states. Its median family income is the highest.

If Maryland isn’t business friendly, then — once more — How can this be?

Wyoming is considered by at least one survey to be America’s most business friendly-state, but comparing Wyoming to Maryland is about like comparing hamburgers to crab cakes.

Annapolis is the seat of Maryland’s government. Within less than 50 miles are the seat of the U.S. government, Baltimore City and the Port of Baltimore, numerous colleges and universities (along with their hospitals), several professional athletic teams, the U.S. Naval Academy, more defense and civilian government installations and offices than one can count, the civilian contractors whose livelihood is derived from serving these entities, highly paid lobbyists, and so on.

It’s no wonder this area is affluent, but much of that is subsidized by the taxpayers. Defense spending alone has been estimated to account for nearly 10 percent of the combined economies of Maryland, Virginia and Washington.

Unfortunately, this epicenter of prosperity is also an epicenter of poverty ... and the farther west one goes in Maryland from that affluence, the less-prosperous its people seem to be.