The Pennsylvania General Assembly, at the prodding of Gov. Tom Corbett, has an opportunity to buy some jobs in the coming session.
Through a tax break totalling $67 million per year for 25 years beginning in 2017 (don't bother looking for your calculator, that's $1.675 billion total) the state would get a guarantee from Shell Oil that it would create 10,000 to 20,000 jobs at a cracking plant in Monaca.
Calculations again: That amounts to an annual per job stippend from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania of from $3,350 to $6,700 depending on the actual number of jobs created.
Shell, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, headquartered in the Netherlands, hasn't commented on the gift and neither has the governor's office, which has already pushed the proposed refinery site as an expanded Keystone Opportunity Zone that carries its own 15 years worth of tax cuts and exemptions.
That's a lot of tax credits, so much so that if Shell doesn't need them all - one might presume that occuring if the company came out not owing the state anything - it could sell them to another company with a state tax obligation.
It's clear that Mr. Corbett wanted to sweeten the deal for Shell, since West Virginia and Ohio were also in the running for the facility.
It's getting hard to remember the old days when entrepreneurship existed quite well without the partnership of government. Whether it's Democrats dishing out billions in loans to car manufacturers or Republicans forgiving the taxes of oil companies, the result is the same: The line between government and private enterprise continues to blur, making it more and more difficult to determine whether lawmakers see themselves as public servants or venture capitalists.