The Foxconn deal is an escalation of Wisconsin’s race to the bottom.
It sets a dangerous precedent in multiple ways. Firstly, the corporate subsidies Foxconn will be receiving will be record amounts. Never before has a company received such lavish appropriations. Secondly, the environmental waivers Foxconn will be granted are vast in scope. Never before have these waivers been so permissive. Lastly, Foxconn’s abysmal treatment of workers stands out, even in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin. Never before have we accepted a company with this atrocious of a labor record. If we are giving record amounts of money and waivers to a foreign company, what is to stop any other company, domestic or foreign, from demanding the same appeasements.
Wisconsin is poised to give out $3 billion to Foxconn. In the best case scenario it would take Wisconsin taxpayers approximately 25 years to break even on this contorted “investment.” The costs to Wisconsin and its families do not end there. Massive costs to build infrastructure projects, including roads, utilities and public buildings will also be incurred -- much of which will be for Foxconn’s sole usage. Other economic impacts include relocation of habitats and communities, pollution cleanup and the care for health issues incurred because of this increased pollution.
The damage to our great state does not end with the financial burdens. The proposal has Wisconsin waiving the need for Foxconn to complete an environmental impact statement. This statement’s purpose is to promote informed decision-making by providing information concerning significant environmental impacts to both agency leaders and the public. Removing this requirement not only removes public insight into the impact the company will have on the area, but also removes any ability for the public to express concerns. Considering Foxconn’s record of irresponsibility with the repercussions their facilities have on their surrounding environment, a statement on how it will affect our lands, our water, our state, and our lives is more important than ever. This negligence is amplified since it is paired with the removal of other environmental protections.
Specifically, this deal purges limitations on filling in wetlands. Wetlands act as nature’s sponge soaking up and cleansing our water. With the number of floods Southeastern Wisconsin has received this summer, destroying wetlands is counterproductive to the needs of the area.
Yet another environmental concern is the water consumption of this facility. There are estimates of up to 15 million gallons of water used per a day to operate this. That is twice the amount of water the entire city of Waukesha asked for. And when this facility is built within the basin of Lake Michigan, its approval for this water will be fast tracked by the state, as it does not need the approval of the other Great Lake states.
A company that puts up suicide nets in response to employees killing themselves probably shouldn’t be trusted in the issue of labor rights. Foxconn’s abuses include wage theft, intimidation, long hours, and insufficient break times. These jobs that are being held up as beacons of hope to the community, are likely going to be filled with similar drawbacks. Exploitation of a community that is desperate for jobs is not an ethical business practice.
The Wisconsin State Assembly has just approved Foxconn legislation, but the politicians continue to squabble about specifics. It must be stated that no amount of tweaking will make this giveaway palatable. The Wisconsin Green Party stands against the Foxconn deal and sees no acceptable option other than outright rejection.
To contrast this negative deal, a Green vision for job creation in the state would include green energy projects, marijuana legalization, public transportation improvements and co-op creation. Jobs we would invest in would have guarantees for workers such as lifetime health care and card check union recognition. The jobs we would foster would actually add revenue to our public coffers and be a less costly initial investment. They would also be environmentally sustainable with limits on fuel usage and minimal pollution to our waterways. We should be investing in our people, not multinational corporations. Green jobs are the way of the future, and our only chance at a future.