South Carolina vies with other states in an increasingly global marketplace to attract and keep companies - and the jobs they deliver. The United States faces a similar challenge against other nations.
Lately, our state has had many victories in that competition.
Unfortunately, our nation has not done as well.
And complaining when executives of U.S. companies move their operations beyond our nation's borders, usually to minimize their tax liability, won't stop those ongoing exits.
The latest controversy over this pattern is the planned transfer of Burger King Worldwide Inc. The corporation, backed by Warren Buffett, among other investors, wants to move its base from Miami to Canada. That's in conjunction with an approximately $11 billion buyout of Tim Hortons, a Canadian chain of coffee and doughnut shops.
If Burger King leaves, this would continue a series of "inversion" shifts by companies from the U.S. to nations with lower corporate tax rates.
Officials at Burger King and the Brazilian private-equity firm 3G Capital Management, which owns the iconic American fast-food chain, insist that this move is not aimed at lowering the company's taxes.
Sure. It's just a coincidence that Burger King would pay a lower tax rate in Canada, eh?
Regardless, big-business experts have long sounded the alarm about the 35 percent U.S. corporate tax that ranks as the world's highest among major economic powers (Canada's is about 26 percent).
Mr. Buffet and others have argued that comparing those rates from nation to nation is like comparing apples to oranges. They say our level, in effect, isn't really as high as it seems when all factors are included.
Yet as Rich Lowry points out on today's Commentary page, Mr. Buffett told Fortune magazine earlier this year: "I will not pay a dime more of individual taxes than I owe, and I won't pay a dime more of corporate taxes than we owe."
And many U.S. companies have plainly cited our nation's corporate tax rate as a motivating force behind that outward trend.
Plus, as Robert Samuelson, the long-time, widely respected Washington Post financial columnist, wrote last month, the U.S. "is the only advanced nation that taxes profits earned abroad."
Mr. Samuelson also warned that the administration's proposal to tighten inversion rules could cause more, not fewer, companies to leave the U.S. He concurred with analysts calling for a "corporate tax overhaul to improve U.S. multinationals' global competitiveness."
Of course, just as our state must count the costs of low-tax policies aimed at attracting and keeping companies here, our nation must do the same.
But blaming corporate tycoons for taking their businesses elsewhere when the U.S. tax bite is too deep is akin to blaming the tide for going out. They're just doing what comes naturally.
And our elected officials in Washington are unlikely to stop, or even slow, this costly exodus until they craft a balanced, practical reform of our tax system.