ESPN is illustrating a cautionary tale about “economic development” – in other words corporate welfare – by laying off employees in at least one Connecticut location while receiving incentives for “creating jobs” in another location.

If the state really doesn’t have net job creation provisions in their agreement, regardless of location, with ESPN and all the rest of the First Five companies, they are more hopeless than I thought.

A job is fungible, much like money. If ESPN creates 200 jobs at a new location and lays off 200 people around the state, does anyone believe we are better off?

The second reason the ESPN deal is interesting is Front Street, part of the Adriaen’s Landing development in Hartford. By 2010, this centrally-planned urban-utopian dream had failed so profoundly ESPN paid $5 million to “fulfill our commitment” to the project.

In other words, ESPN paid $5 million to help the project to help attract other tenants so ESPN didn’t have to live there.

After 11 years of waiting, ESPN decided paying $5 million was better than continuing to wait or moving ahead with the project, if that was even possible.

So let’s get this straight. In 2010, ESPN paid $5 million to escape one government-planning pipe dream. Then in 2011, less than a year later, the state gives ESPN: a $17.5 million loan, up to $1.2 million in job training grants and up to $6 million in sales tax exemptions.

The final cost is to be determined, but doesn’t it look like the state is paying for ESPN’s escape from Adriaen’s Landing?