Yes, Foxconn, in all its majesty, deigns to bestow magical gifts on the lowly, beat-down state of Wisconsin.
13,000 jobs! A plant bigger than the Great Wall of China! A “Wiscon Valley” that makes Silicon Valley look like a dead end street.
Foxconn will work its magic for $3 billion American dollars, courtesy of Joe and Jane Sconnie.
That would work out to $15,000 per job per year, according to calculations by Bloomberg News.
The Wisconsin lore-makers, a giddy bunch, held the first public coronation of Foxconn Thursday afternoon.
Nobody from Foxconn showed up.
So the lore-makers slung easy questions at Scott Walker’s Wise Men, who repeatedly chanted that Foxconn’s jobs would pay $54,000 a year, “plus benefits.”
Rep. Christine Sinicki said her research had shown that Foxconn assemblers in California were paid $9.20* an hour. It works out to a salary of about $18,000 a year.
With Wisconsin taxpayers providing a $15,000 subsidy?
Foxconn wasn’t there to answer.
In any event, $18,000 is about one-third the salary Foxconn promises for local wages.
And that’s what Foxconn’s paying in Los Angeles.
Sputter sputter sputter said Walker’s Wise Men. While they hadn’t been able to negotiate “guarantees” from Foxconn, the Wisconsin jobs would be “high tech manufacturing” and “not assembly work.”
Hmm. A factory that does not need assembly workers. Magic!
Or maybe robots?
Rep. Amanda Stuck wanted to know how the taxpayers would get their money back if Foxconn, ahem, failed to perform its magic act. She reminded the Wise Men of a case where they’d simply shrugged off $1.4 million rather than pressure a welching company to pay it back.
Rep. David Crowley wanted to know how his Milwaukee constituents might get out to ah “Wiscon Valley,” that’s it. Out to “Wiscon Valley” to compete for jobs. Did the state have any plans for public transit?
We don’t even know where “Wiscon Valley” would be.
The Wise Men then acknowledged that if all our dreams came true, there’d be 33,000 jobs created during the plant’s construction and operation. And there was no way people from Wisconsin could fill them all.
So that means Joe and Jane Sconnie will be paying $15,000 per job in order to employ people from … Illinois?
But those objections were obliterated by the cheerleading section of the University of Wisconsin. System President Ray Cross and his acolytes expressed their “exhuberance” for the whole Foxconn magic show.
They might as well have brought their pon-pons.
The UW has everything to gain and nothing to lose. Joe and Jane Sconnie will pay for the entire magic show.
Without having voted on it.
So the UW and the political establishment are lined up with their cotton candy and their tickets to the magic show. It does seem like the Foxconn tent will arise.
It would certainly be a great future for Wisconsin if a high-tech manufacturer brought in 13,000 jobs paying $54,000 plus benefits.
But Foxconn has a long history of promising a magic tent show, and then failing to drive even a single spike into the ground.
Foxconn’s strategy seems to be: Stake out options for coping with an uncertain future in a volatile and competitive industry. Promises, like butterflies, are free. Wisconsin flat panel plant? Eh, maybe. No harm in gaming that one out.
Meanwhile, the boys from Taiwan have scored some mighty impressive political points. They have cast their magic glow over Misters Trump, Ryan and Walker. It’s probably not 100% coincidence that their magical mystery tour is promised for the home turf of the most powerful man in the House O’ Rep.
Misters Walker and Ryan are facing an election soon. So it has cost Foxconn very little to sprinkle pixie dust all over its powerful friends in the US.
And none of them have to keep any of their magic promises.
* The figure of a $15,000 annual subsidy per job comes from this Bloomberg News story, which calculates that the Foxconn plant would employ 2,300 people. https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-08-03/foxconn-s-dubious-deal
* Indeed.com shows $9+ per hour wages for data entry clerks and assemblers in California. Technician jobs went for about $15 an hour. Production planners etc could make $20+ per hour. Engineers might expect $30 an hour. This salary range in no way averages out to $54,000 a year plus benefits.