Why I Oppose Foxconn Deal
Rep. Brostoff on corporate extortion, suicide nets and the race to the bottom.
For the $3 billion demanded by FoxConn, we can fix every pothole in the state with Wisconsin workers, reduce our public school classroom sizes by hiring hundreds of new teachers, reinvest in our University System (a $15 billion annual economic activity generator), and still have money left over! Instead, Scott Walker is working with billionaire private interests to fleece the public and demand we pay the price tag.
When approaching a venture like this, it is important to look at who we are dealing with: Scott Walker, FoxConn and Donald Trump. First we have Walker, a politician whose credibility on jobs is seriously lacking. Remember this is the same guy who lied about creating 250,000 jobs in his first term and created that hotbed of corruption and failed promises, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Strike one. Then we have FoxConn, the same company that lied about the factory they were going to set up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and had to set up suicide nets at its Shenzhen factory because people were literally jumping out of their windows. Strike two. Finally we have Trump, who is personally taking credit for single-handedly making this happen. I can think of no politician in American History who has lied more about everything and anything. Strike three. So we are asking Wisconsinites to put their trust and billions of tax dollars into a deal with these three untrustworthy entities at the helm?
Instead of wrestling with the proportion of the extortion, why not cut out the graft and just hire Wisconsin workers directly? If we’re serious about tech investments, we have a nationally renowned university system that would be a much better investment. Over the years we’ve let ourselves accept this “race to the bottom” where we have to bribe mercenary companies to lure them to our cities with big dollars. These are huge companies with no loyalty to the places they’re coming to; their loyalty is only to the payoff money they demand. They bribe and threaten politicians with campaign dollars, an army of highly paid professional lobbyists and public relations firms. Cowardly politicians sellout their communities, often leaving them with the bill regardless of whatever promises end up getting fulfilled, and usually at a higher cost than initially proposed. The extortion continues and the process repeats. This a terribly inefficient use of resources. Tons of money should not be going to subsidize jobs through corporate welfare, especially when these jobs may well be lost to automation in a few years or moved because of a bigger payoff from somewhere else. I’m in favor of economic development and I’m against crony capitalism. A better use of our resources for economic development would be to invest in small businesses already invested in our state and here for the long haul. Not some company that wants to suck as much of our resources as possible then leave us as quickly as they came.
Even if you still support this, don’t get it twisted – it’s like the middle-class dad spending his mortgage at the casino for a moonshot hope that he can pay for his kids’ college tuition with a wink, some optimism, and a lot of luck at the craps table. Instead, we need to make sound, fiscally responsible decisions. Leave the casino, spend less than we make and get a good night’s rest, because there is more than enough work to do in the morning. Another path is possible if we’re willing to do the courageous thing and take a stand. If we are willing to spend billions of taxpayer dollars then let’s employ Wisconsin workers, fix every pothole in our state, hire community connectors and park staff, invest in renewable energy infrastructure, fully fund our world class university system, hire teachers for our schools, and invest in the success of small businesses across our state. We don’t have to say yes to this shiny, headline grabbing proposal. Let’s be deliberate, create a plan that actually works for Wisconsin, and build long-term infrastructure that is in all of our best interests. Trump has perfected the art of the steal and it’s up to us to stand up and keep it real; real jobs that will build our economic stability and real investment where it’s needed.
Rep. Jonathan Brostoff represents the 19th Assembly District in the city of Milwaukee.