Is Scott Walker Foxconning us?

For a long time, corporations have been luring job-starved states into bidding wars, conning them into tax breaks for setting up shop in the locations subsidized by the highest bidder.

The states' participation in these schemes seem driven by wishful thinking or ideology, but the success of of corporations has given economists plenty of cases to investigate whether it's good for taxpayers. The consensus seems to be not so much.

Now Wisconsin is weighing a plan to bring Foxconn here, with the promise to bring along some thousands of jobs (3,000? 13,000? No one is sure.) For that, Scott Walker is promising vast sums of money ($1 billion? $3 billion? It's not yet clear.) The magnitude of the Wisconsin offer is well beyond what's usual, and is a good indication of Scott Walker's desperation to get a jobs win after a dismal record.

This is attractive to Scott Walker and Donald Trump because of jobs promises they haven't kept or are unlikely to keep, and to Paul Ryan, whose district is the planned location for the Foxconn plant, and who needs some good news after the Wealthcare debacle. So the political appeal to them is clear. And let's face it, these guys are historically not on the side of the angels, anyway.

But the serious question is whether it's good for Wisconsin. Given the cast of characters above, one would be predisposed to be skeptical. 

Before we go any further, try to attend the Foxconn listening session on Aug. 12, noon to 1:30 p.m., being held by Sen. Chris Larson, Rep. Christine Sinicki, and Rep. Jon Borostoff. 

An analysis from the Wisconsin Budget Project indicates that skepticism is well placed: Anywhere from $17,300 to $34,000 per job, per year (or $$220,000 to $340,000 total per job). 

Meanwhile Terry Gou, the billionaire recipient of this largesse, has a reputation no better than our three politicians. This is the guy whose Chinese workers dormitory has nets installed to prevent his employees from committing suicide by leaping from the heights. He has referred to his workers as "animals" who give him a headache. How long before he replaces the animals in Wisconsin plant with robots? If indeed he builds the plant. His record is spotty.  

It is vital that our representatives set aside any inclinations they might have to support Scott Walker's political ambitions and ensure that any deal with Foxconn is good for all of Wisconsin, not just some short-term political winners.

Write to your representatives and make sure they are watching out for us. And let them know you'll be watching them. Here's the contact information for our Wauwatosa legislators:


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