In 2021, Delegate Lily Qi introduced House Bill 658, a bill that engages in Statism and Crony-Capitalism.
In defense of her bill, Delegate Qi recently wrote: “Identifying high-growth industry sectors and making strategic investments is precisely the job of the public sector.”
No — it’s actually the job of free people, who innovate, live freely in a free market, and produce goods and services in the private sector.
So concerned is Delegate Qi with helping the emerging digital economy, that she voted to tax it — during a pandemic! Consequently, Marylanders must pay taxes on every digital download and advertisement. Inquiring minds wonder — how do higher taxes on digital downloads help advance Maryland’s digital economy?
Delegate Qi continues in her article: “We should not shed tears on industries that will never come back.” This is a remarkably cold statement. As a native of Baltimore, I shed tears with fellow Marylanders over the decline of our once great city, crumbling under 100 years of Democrat control.
According to Delegate Qi, we should not shed tears for the closure of Bethlehem Steel or for the closing of car assembly lines, aircraft part plants, or tool factories — all of which employed thousands in Maryland. In other words, shed no tears for the serfs, they’re not woke. They deserved to go broke.
Delegate Qi mentions growing up in Communist China, and claims to take offense to “such inflammatory remarks” as “central planning.” Yet HB 658 imposes the same central planning on Marylanders as Communist China. In the fiscal note of the bill, one of the responsibilities for the “workgroup” is to “examine specified research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the relationships between emerging technologies and the workforce to enable a future of shared prosperity.”
This sounds a lot like a socialist utopia. Delegate Qi likened remarks made during the House floor debate to “escalating anti-Asian hate crimes.” According to Qi, criticism of an idea is a hate crime. In Montgomery County, which Delegate Qi represents, the only diversity that seems to matter is how you were born. Diversity of thought is prohibited.
To be clear, I believe that Delegate Qi and I both want manufacturing to return to Maryland. We want Maryland to be a leader in “Industry 4.0” — the so-called fourth Industrial Revolution with smart factories, using robotics, 3-D printing, and artificial intelligence for optimization.
However, we have extremely different views on how to achieve this vision of a thriving Maryland. I want to foster innovation across our state with a free market that attracts pioneers to try new ideas — a level playing field giving equal opportunity to all. Delegate Qi wants to put the state government in charge of handpicking which corporations get handouts from Maryland taxpayers — who wins, who loses (just like deciding who’s essential and who isn’t).
To win a government handout, companies will implicitly understand they will be expected to advance the government agenda. Go Woke or Go Broke.
HB 658 does not grow Maryland manufacturing. No, the growth will be in the armies of lobbyists and consultants swaying the decisions of the “central plan.” Large, global companies will exploit HB 658 for their tax breaks and as an easy way to squelch competition. Innovators and emerging industries without lobbyists and a legal department will merely build their businesses in other states. With HB 658, Maryland will become a leader in Crony Capitalism, with a distorted economy, expanding the division between wealthy corporations and the rest of us.
It is a Manifesto that codifies and rewards unequal treatment under the law.
Click here to see the unedited floor debate of HB 658.
— MARK N. FISHER
The writer, a Republican, represents Calvert County’s District 27C in the House of Delegates.