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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Comparing Foxconn Favorably To GM Janesville Is Idiotic

Yes. They went there.

According to the Janesville Gazette, Gov. Scott Walker made a campaign stop at a Janesville business and like Paul Ryan's visits to the area, Walker held a captive audience on private property and would not take questions from the press. So there's that.

But most notable from the story was a comment from one of his supporters favorably comparing Foxconn to Janesville's General Motors plant. The comparison isn't just apples to oranges, it's more like comparing apples to hammers.

Here's why.

First, the most obvious. Not only is the value of the dollar much less today, but the wages expected to be paid to the majority of workers at Foxconn in 2020 is less than half of what GM workers earned 20 years earlier. When you throw in retirement benefits, health insurance and job security, the comparison becomes absolutely laughable and sad at the same time. Clearly, we've moved backwards with Foxconn.

But more importantly are the things we don't readily see like the fact that labor unions, not government, provided a culture of worker training and community. Or that GM or its suppliers didn't require government to act as a middle-man to GM officials for communications, government assistance or subsidies. Clearly, we're moving backwards with Foxconn.

An unlike Foxconn, the hated corporate GM plant did not reside on government purchased land in a tax-free sales-tax exempt embassy-like environment. GM paid their hefty annual property tax bill to the county without demanding massive kickbacks, so much to the point where the city of Janesville was less dependent on state aid.

Today, Janesville officials claim they are being robbed by the state because the state aid formula remains as if the city still had GM paying into the general fund. Clearly, Janesville without GM is more dependent on government. Clearly, we're moving backwards without GM.

Unlike the Foxconn deal, GM paid their public utility bills to the city just like everybody else. GM used massive amounts of city water and public waste facilities and paid for what they used to the point that their payments substantially lowered residents bills. Back then, city officials and the Gazette tried to claim that their "conservative" policies and efficient governance deserved the credit for keeping costs lower than peer cities. But some of us knew better.

Unlike Foxconn, Janesville GM did not require the state government to extract $50M or $100M or $200M a year from taxpayers just to employ workers for the first 15 years. Yet, the UAW labor union was scorned for expecting far less in the form of dues from GM workers to help keep employees free from government dependence. They persevered for 90 years in Janesville and they're still hated today.

Yep, unlike General Motors Janesville, Foxconn brings with it a government-run Chinese mentality where "workforce housing" won't be privately owned homes lining the streets of Mount Pleasant in Racine county like the modest family homes on Janesville's southside, but factory on-site dormitories with channels to cheap global labor.

I'm barely scratching the surface here but I think you get the idea. Foxconn in Wisconsin is a product of inverted free markets and backward thinking. It's "transformational" for the state in the same way an apple pie can be reformed with a hammer.

"Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost!" -- President Ronald Reagan

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very true commentary, and it takes a real honest person to say it (did the Gazette, noooo).

In Fond du Lac, Agnesian Healthcare has overtaken Mercury Marine and the former Giddings & Lewis (taken over by Thyssen, a big partner with Hitler way back).

Mercury moved a lot of their business to other places--Oklahoma, then Mexico, then China. This was the way they used to attack the workers in the union, which then was the main employer here. Randy Hopper was the guy that arranged to create a 2-tiered workforce, in exchange for Mercury leaving Fond du Lac, which would have destroyed our local economy. Hopper would then go on to abandon his wife and children while playing a big part in creating WEDC and Walker's economic plans.

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