How about strength through quality?

Elon Musk has pledged $1 million for a Tesla museum:

Riding a bike along the Truckee early on a weekend morning is one of the best reasons to live in west Reno. The air is cool and crisp, the river is alive with wildlife and fishermen, and joggers, dog walkers, hikers and bikers amicably share the winding narrow path under the cottonwoods. Everyone seems happy to live here.

Critics say Reno has a seedy reputation. and if you find yourself in one section of downtown Virginia Street amid the array of cheap souvenir shops and aggressive panhandlers with yesterday’s trash blowing into the gutter, it’s hard to argue with that characterization.

But it doesn’t take much effort to find beauty and serenity along the riverbank, framed by the nearby Sierra and the promise of Tahoe just over the hill. Local coffee shops like Dreamers and Java Jungle are filled with an eclectic clientele sharing conversation and free wifi along with a strong cup of joe. And during Artown, there’s a creative energy around every downtown corner.

“Seedy” is a word that would never be used to describe this Reno that most of us experience every day. Yet we’ve convinced ourselves that outsiders just see the less attractive parts of the city and will only consider moving their businesses here if we give them a big chunk of our tax treasury.

Nearly every candidate running for office talks about strengthening the economy by promoting Reno as a tax haven for business. Hardly anyone speaks of improving the quality of life for the citizens already here by enhancing public transportation or creating opportunities for young people through subsidized apprenticeships.

You hear about incentivizing businesses to grow Midtown but not much about revitalizing neighborhoods a little further from downtown where rents are cheaper and many houses still have the blue tape of foreclosure slapped on the front door.

Instead of promoting Reno’s natural advantages to new companies, business leaders focus on secret deals involving bigger and better tax incentives to compete with surrounding states, ignoring the fact that the absence of a corporate tax in Nevada hasn’t yet succeeded in drawing these businesses here.

One has to wonder if it makes sense, or if it’s even fair, to subsidize one business over another in the name of job creation.

In reality, the race to subsidize corporate profits doesn’t work very well. It seems the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority is already dialing back its efforts to recruit moviemakers to Washoe County after a fruitless two years of effort and a $150,000 investment.

As reported by Anjeanette Damon of the Reno Gazette-Journal, the RSCVA reduced its film budget by 65 percent, dedicating just $28,000 to the cause this year. The quasi-governmental agency, dedicated to drawing more tourists to town, hasn’t enticed any film projects despite the $20 million Hollywood giveaway approved by the 2013 Legislature on the advice of actor Nicolas Cage.

The RSCVA’s special film consultant insists he has three projects in the works, but can’t give specifics since they’re competing for the state subsidy. Presumably, if they don’t get enough of our tax dollars, they’ll make their film elsewhere.

If we’re going to use our money to create jobs, why not invest in jobs that benefit society at large, instead of corporate shareholders? Teachers, construction workers and firefighters will spend their salaries locally and their work will strengthen our community.

Proponents of the movie subsidies point to a decision by the producers of Mall Cop 2 to film in Southern Nevada as proof the program works. But in a state that can’t fund its schools or universities properly, not to mention such basics as mental health, programs for autistic children, or repairs to an aging infrastructure, is Mall Cop 2 worth $4.2 million of our taxes?