The con is made official. Duped and outfoxed, Wisconsin has slid into a dangerous regression thanks to the decision of Governor Scott Walker and the Legislature to approve a colossal package of corporate welfare for the Taiwanese company, Foxconn. In the bloated incentive package, Foxconn is slated to receive $3 billion in cash payments and tax breaks, roughly $250 million per year for 15 years.
Ever so hesitant to use his self-proclaimed business acumen to benefit the state of Wisconsin, Walker is content in receiving only $181 million per year in return. In other words, Wisconsin will be running in the red to the tune of $69 million per year for the indefinite future.
Thinking of this another way, the analysis of economist Michael Hicks finds, “this tax subsidy is the equivalent of every household in Wisconsin writing a $1,200 check to a multi-billion dollar Taiwanese manufacturer… We will be paying $66,000 per job for jobs that the company boasts will pay less than $54,000.”
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s report on the matter shows that only by the ripe year of 2043 will Wisconsin be paid back in full for its initial $3 billion investment. That’s right my fellow citizens, we must wait a quarter-century to be fully compensated.
Out of respect for Walker and the Legislature’s shared negligence for the environment, Foxconn is permitted to shirk several environmental protection standards that other companies are required to follow, all in pursuit of its amoral profiteering agenda. Additionally, no environmental impact statement needs to be considered, much less completed.
Most assuredly, those transgressions, even on an individual basis, are the cause of immense concern. But the real dagger is hidden deep within the recently passed Foxconn law — a provision, wholly unprecedented in Wisconsin’s democratic history, to bypass the state appeals court on the matter of lawsuits against Foxconn, sending lawsuits directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The Legislature is forcibly shoving aside the notion of ‘separation of powers’ for the express purpose of fast-tracking the completion of the corporate welfare phenomenon. Independent judicial courts are being used as Republican pawns in a highly corrosive agenda. Public trust and faith in institutions are already quite low, and now justifiably so.
Provided these extensive sacrifices, economic and systematic, it would be sensible policy for Wisconsin to reject an offer of “up to” 13,000 jobs from a company with a history of worker suicides, borne from repulsively low wages and egregious working conditions.
But alas, Wisconsin is too open for the wrong kind of business. Wisconsin’s economic complexion has been and will continue to morph into a slew of behemoth transnational corporations. Startups in the state are virtually nonexistent. Without the vibrancy of startups, hardly anyone can truly compete with the giants on the same field.
Knowing full well that Wisconsin’s democracy is a farce, gigantic corporations have the capacity to dominate the political system and reward their own crookedness. If you’re the casual corporate tycoon type browsing your weekly edition of The Badger Herald, you know you have it made here.
Wisconsin is more than willing to subsidize your obscene pollution, ignore your gross misconduct in court and relinquish our integrity in the democratic process for your profit margin. Everyone else — from college students, to working families and middle-class folks — can expect the same detrimental diet, carefully prepared with the ingredients of budgetary duress, economic anxiety and suppression of opportunity, to produce a lethal dosage of ‘screw you’ stew.
Wisconsin has sold its soul and natural treasures for the promise of “jobs.” Any job, for any substandard wage, for any lack of benefits will do. Under the primitive leadership of Walker, Wisconsin has ditched its legacy of robust middle-class jobs and became a harlot to the open market. We have no standards.
Foxconn was made possible by preferential treatment geared toward the corporate elite. Now fully established, the vultures of prey need only circle around their prize and strike to their heart’s delight. Foxconn is the clear indication that this administration will do whatever it takes to deliver for their bosses up top.
‘Forward’ has long been Wisconsin’s motto, but recently holds meaning in name only. The current trajectory is a manifestation of backwardness and if left uncontested, it will poison the very ideals that generated respect in an era not that long ago.
We are slipping speedily down a path we have never seen before. Wisconsin must stand up and forcefully declare “no more.”
Michael Sauer ([email protected]) is a freshman intending to major in political science.