Blighted for Foxconn
April 15, 2018 3:29 PM   Subscribe

In Wisconsin, neatly maintained homes and dream houses are being designated ‘blighted’ to make way for Foxconn (many previouslies).
The premise of large numbers of Wisconsin residents making $54,000 a year is fundamental to the state of Wisconsin’s payback calendar for the $3 billion it gave Foxconn, which was originally, and highly optimistically, calculated to be about 25 years. In fact, all the workers I talked to were being employed by temporary agencies rather than Foxconn directly, a pattern we’d seen in their other U.S. locales.
Bonus material: The Meaning of Blight:
For pretty much all of the 20th century, that word has been used in close association with cities, and usually as a pretext for some kind of drastic project that results in massive displacement. For example, it was a blight designation that led to the gutting of Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District in the 1950s that uprooted thousands of families. For cities, blight lands louder than a bomb. Why the term is applied to urban spaces has a lot to do with who lives in these places and who doesn’t.
posted by clawsoon (37 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fuck this state. Yet I stay to fight.
posted by symbioid at 3:44 PM on April 15 [25 favorites]


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.”

I do.
posted by Gorgik at 3:51 PM on April 15 [38 favorites]


It's Kelo all over again.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:13 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


I am not reading this article. My "politicians are shit" meter has been pegged hard right for days, and I can not process this right now. My heart does go out to those affected though.
posted by Samizdata at 4:14 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


This is authoritarian crony capitalism, plain and simple.
posted by A. Davey at 4:17 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


Perhaps another reason why Paul Ryan has decided not to seek re-election.
posted by carmicha at 4:18 PM on April 15


My "politicians are shit" meter has been pegged hard right for days ...

I see what you did there.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:32 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


> ZenMasterThis:
"My "politicians are shit" meter has been pegged hard right for days ...

I see what you did there."


Good, because I apparently didn't. I was just thinking those little needle meters.
posted by Samizdata at 4:34 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


Gee , I wonder who their governor and Congress people are... oh wait, never mind. Of course.

(EDIT): of course my comment was based solely on the headline and the article sums all that up in the first paragraph.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 4:34 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


They voted for these guys. 3 times for Walker in particular.

Ya get what ya pay for.
posted by Max Power at 4:38 PM on April 15 [11 favorites]


And yet I still manage to feel empathy for them. If only empathy were communicable.
posted by klanawa at 4:50 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


I hope these homeowners win their completely just fight. I'm not sure I believe they will - but I know they should.
posted by corb at 4:50 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


They voted for these guys. 3 times for Walker in particular.

Scott Walker had a hundred percentage point margin in each of those elections? News to me.
posted by invitapriore at 4:53 PM on April 15 [31 favorites]


Never fear! You know who will help these beleaguered people? The God-fearin', liberty-lovin' second-amendment-remedy folks. Surely, they're ready to stand up for what is right, to defend the People against an overbearing and oppressive State!

What's that you say? They only rail against the State when it gets involved distributing wealth downward? Especially to working people with funny soundin' names and a bit more melanin than your average Joe? Huh. Who'd a thunk it?
posted by mondo dentro at 5:09 PM on April 15 [27 favorites]


I have tea party-loving relatives who moved to Pleasant Prarie from Illinois to get away from the liberals. I guess they got their wish.
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:12 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


Sure sounds like Gubmint Overreach to me, and not only that, it's by Furriners! Someone page the Bundys!

Anyone know how Ryan will be paid off by Foxconn? I imagine promises of later payola helped him come to terms with retirement.
posted by benzenedream at 5:21 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


He probably confused Foxconn with the Fox Con and signed on immediately.
posted by adept256 at 5:28 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


Scott Walker had a hundred percentage point margin in each of those elections? News to me.

Funny, he's 100 % in charge. And they can't just kick out democratic voters as they make room for Foxconn.
posted by Max Power at 5:37 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Well then, when we seize the estates of the rich for the tax-assessed value and turn them into affordable housing, there can be no complaints, right?
posted by jamjam at 5:38 PM on April 15 [17 favorites]


Monstrous and yet tediously predictable. Utterly unsurprising to anyone who was paying even the tiniest bit of attention.
posted by aramaic at 5:45 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


The bastards work under the principle that 'what's mine is mine', and 'what's yours is going to be mine' just as soon as they can yank it out from under you using the law that happens to favor them.

And the corollary to the first principle is the second: Somebody's going to get rich, and it ain't gonna be you.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:33 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Foxconn's plan to use hourly workers is outrageous. Its employees will have little or no chance of finding alternative employment in such a small town, so they're going to be constantly scrabbling and competing amongst each other for more hours. Good luck trying to unionise, too - the company doesn't need to fire people for agitation; it can simply reduce their hours if they sound the slightest bit radical. Good employees will know to keep their heads down; disgruntled ones will have to choose between leaving the company - and the town – or staying, and starving. This is going to be a modern company town, but mining people and taxpayers instead of iron or coal.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:55 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


I can't understand why even a dullard like Walker thought this was like a good idea. The state pays three billion dollars and displaces hundreds of people, and in exchange it gets back no taxes, a few thousand shitty hourly jobs, and the transformation of southeastern Wisconsin into a cadmium-blighted moonscape? Either the Foxconn people must have the mother of all Powerpoint presentations, or they're slipping Walker a little something on the side.
posted by Iridic at 7:13 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


The way my right wing friends in state are putting it, it's not _lost_ revenue since it's not revenue that we would have had anyway, so hey, no cost!

Never mind the millions of dollars of improvements we're doing to roll out the goddamn red carpet, in a time of high employment it was all jobs, jobs, jobs!

They've been awfully goddamn quiet about this, though. Huh.
posted by Kyol at 8:15 PM on April 15


Well, yeah. I mean the optics on this are... I don't even know how you spin it.

Being pro-business works in a certain political climate, but I don't think it's going to play well against stealing people's houses to give them away to suspiciously Chinese-looking foreigners. I mean, that's starting to get into actually-no-that-really-is-Stalinism territory. And Scott Walker has an official photo that's just deliciously photoshoppable.

Unless they can dogwhistle it as somehow taking away houses from minorities, they pretty much had to hope that nobody notices until it's a fait accompli, otherwise the populists will eat them alive.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:27 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


The way my right wing friends in state are putting it, it's not _lost_ revenue since it's not revenue that we would have had anyway,

It's lost revenue because company relocation is forcing states to play a game of Prisoners' Dilemma; and also because other companies will demand the same treatment as Foxconn, or leave. Foxconn's low-wage low-benefit low-obligation employment imposes extra welfare costs if wages aren't high enough (it sounds as if they won't be) as well as non-transparent costs, like pollution and wear and tear to roads. It really is a horrible idea.

Maybe emphasise to your friends that the people taking Foxconn jobs will be "you know ... desperate..., and Foxconn will be moving them into Wisconsin." It's the truth, but it might also be a message that appeals to right-wingers.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:29 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


The way my right wing friends in state are putting it, it's not _lost_ revenue since it's not revenue that we would have had anyway,

Taken to its logical extreme this would be a reason not to tax any company ever.
posted by jmauro at 11:41 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Ironically, in the EU this would probably be unlawful state aid.
posted by jaduncan at 12:21 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Taken to its logical extreme this would be a reason not to tax any company ever.

I think that's the idea, for that kind of worldview.
posted by Dysk at 3:11 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Kadin2048: Unless they can dogwhistle it as somehow taking away houses from minorities

Can anybody confirm what the demographics of the area are? From my inexpert poking around, not being familiar with the area, it's white and rural rather than black and urban. It seems like it might be part of the broader fuck you, it's your fault, poor white people movement in the Republican establishment. The fact that race - other than Chinese - is not mentioned even once in the Foxconn article - not even in reference to the hourly workers coming in from Chicago - makes me doubly suspicious.

As an aside: An eminent domain case is the one and only time I can imagine wishing I had Scalia as a judge instead of Ginsburg.
posted by clawsoon at 5:02 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


It's white and rural but not that rural, probably not that poor. There's farm land, but the people with newer houses that are being blighted are probably relatively well to do. It's less than 20 miles from Wisconsin's largest city.

Foxconn's plan to use hourly workers is outrageous. Its employees will have little or no chance of finding alternative employment in such a small town,

While I think Foxconn is going to be a terrible disservice to Wisconsin, it's really not a "small" town. It's in Mount Pleasant which is a suburb of Wisconsin's fifth largest city, in the most populated section of the state. The factory itself will be right off the interstate and it's assumed by local governments that workers will be brought in from Milwaukee and Racine.
posted by drezdn at 5:26 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


The core issue is that the people running this state have been decoupled from the people they supposedly represent. They win elections through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the support of a few dozen million and billionaires. Foxconn does not benefit the people of Wisconsin- but it will be very good for walker et al. But we are fighting. Time to set up another canvass- maybe it will be above 40 degrees this time!
posted by rockindata at 6:47 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


It's lost revenue because company relocation is forcing states to play a game of Prisoners' Dilemma

Can the federal government invoke the Commerce Clause to put limits on incentive packages? That would break up the game before we get to the point where the states spend their whole budgets on bribing their industries to stay put.
posted by Iridic at 7:48 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Can the federal government invoke the Commerce Clause to put limits on incentive packages? That would break up the game before we get to the point where the states spend their whole budgets on bribing their industries to stay put.

No I don't believe so due to limits of Federalism (how a state taxes things is up to the state as long as it doesn't violate equal protection, bill of attainder, etc), but they can however tax the benefits to the company at 100% or 110% to make the whole thing pointless for a company to seek so it will stop being offered.
posted by jmauro at 12:19 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


#$*&$@*ers
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 2:45 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


and also because other companies will demand the same treatment as Foxconn, or leave.

You say that as if it's a hypothetical thing that might happen in the future, instead of what has already started happening.
posted by escabeche at 5:17 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


They voted for these guys. 3 times for Walker in particular.

My dad's in Mt. Pleasant, moved to Racine 45 years ago from somewhere smaller & redder near the Iowa border. He's active in local Democratic circles, I mean actually doing shit. Goes out canvassing even when it's not a presidential year, organized an anti-gun rally, puts my relocated urban ass to shame. I don't say the words "Scott Walker" to him unless I'm ready for him to turn purple & spout off for at least an hour about Scott fucking Walker. (Which is incredibly entertaining, don't get me wrong, but if you do it every day it's not special.)

Point is, I don't believe there's anywhere you'll find a monolithic lockstep voting bloc, and I'd be happier if we could maintain a greater level of nuance than "people in a red region deserve what they get." Even in the most conservative district you can imagine, there's always, like, some 17-year-old queer kid who was born there & can't leave yet. (His name is Dennis.)

Please be nice to Dennis. He's got a hard life.
posted by taquito sunrise at 8:51 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


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