The latest maddening news about Wisconsin's Foxconn deal piles more garbage onto what is already a violently burning garbage fire of a situation. To recap: The governor of Wisconsin offered up $3 billion in taxpayer subsidies to Foxconn Technology Group in order to lure the company into building a new facility in the state. Oh, and then the amount went up to $4.5 billion. Next the company asked to siphon off millions of gallons of precious Lake Michigan water for its uses, not to mention the pollution the factory will undoubtedly bring to our region.
All this because Foxconn will supposedly bring thousands of well-paying jobs to our state; meanwhile both the amount of jobs (likely less given technological advances, the ability of residents from neighboring states to easily drive across the border for work, and general tendencies to over-promise in situations like this) and the wages (again, given the trends of other warehouses to pay low wages and mechanize much of their production) are highly unlikely to actually materialize in their promised form.
But just when I and my fellow Wisconsinites thought it couldn't get any worse, we learn that thousands of acres of farm and homeland are now being condemned as "blighted" so that Foxconn can bulldoze it all to build its campus. A report out of Belt Magazine paints the picture from a recent public meeting in Racine County:
Joe Janacek, in his late 50s, sporting a graying mustache and a crew-neck sweater, looked uncomfortable as he walked to the podium carrying a single sheet of paper. “I’ve lived in my home for 28 years,” he read to the board. “I’m a tax-paying citizen and I deserve better than this, to just be kicked to the curb and thrown out of my residence.” [...]
Robby Jensen, his voice breaking with emotion, pointed at the board as he said, “The Village is telling us our land is worthless, while at the same time you’re telling Foxconn it’s the best property in the world. I don’t know how any of you guys can sit here and do this.” [...]
“We spent our life savings on this thing, and now we gotta move,” said Alfredo Ortiz, an 18-year resident. “It’s an insult,” he added, reflecting the general mood of the testimonies. It was extremely personal for these residents; having your carefully maintained residence, or in at least one case, recently built dream home, designated as blighted.
Madison-based writer Lawrence Tabak highlights a metaphor that many residents have used "to describe the speed and magnitude of Foxconn’s arrival. “It’s a freight train,” they said. It seems unlikely that anyone will prosper by stepping into its path." Head to Belt Magazine to read the whole article. (Incidentally, if you haven't yet come across it, Belt Magazine is thoroughly worth checking out — lots of great in-depth, on-the-ground reporting.)
And by the way, while I may harbor a strong distaste for nearly everything that Scott Walker does, I don't, for a second, think that a Democratic governor would have been any less likely to bow down at the feet of Foxconn. Just look at the groveling for the new Amazon headquarters. Unfortunately, if there's one thing that seems to be non-partisan in our nation, it's kowtowing to corporations.