Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Measure the good vs. the bad with Foxconn deal, and you'll understand the skepticism

Mitch Henck complains about complainers, and I give my thoughts on that

Local commentator Mitch Henck doesn’t get why people are upset with the new Foxconn deal that was recently brokered by the state and the tech company.

“Alright, would you rather have the jobs not be here?” Henck asked rhetorically in his latest video column. “Understand that jobs are very vital, and we need them. [The state] is bringing up to 13,000 jobs" as a result of the deal, he argues.

Henck is fine to defend the deal if that’s his opinion, but he makes a lot of assumptions throughout the video. The idea that 13,000 permanent jobs could be created is a fiction. In fact, that number is only estimated by the company itself to be around 3,000 jobs to start with the potential to bring more in the future.

Much has been said, too, of the billions of dollars we’re giving away in tax incentives to Foxconn. The $3 billion in tax incentives isn’t even all of it — according to state Senator Kathleen Vinehout, the company will also forgo paying local property taxes for the next thirty years.

And concerns abound about the environmental impact of Foxconn’s arrival. A new bill in the state legislature this week would give the company tremendous leeway to pollute their surroundings — including potentially waiving the need for an Environmental Impact Statement.

Henck’s argument is that this deal is all about jobs, jobs and jobs, and that we should be grateful for the plans that Gov. Scott Walker has laid out for us to get those jobs. But there has to be a measured approach to the impact that the Foxconn deal will have for whatever area they locate to, as well as the rest of the state.

I liken it to this: if a new pill allowed balding men to regrow their hair, but came at the expense of losing their toes, would it be worth it? Some might actually make the sacrifice. But others would understand that toes, while the smallest extremities on the body, provide a very important role for the rest of the body when it comes to balance.

In other words, the sacrifices that get made may not be worth the impact of the overall goal. A man who constantly falls over all of the time may not be attractive, even with a full head of hair. And a company that may provide for thousands of jobs may not be worth it if comes at the expense of local governments or creates environmental hazards.

Scott Walker has failed to create jobs in any other way. And bringing more jobs to the state is a positive move. But if the only way Walker can do so is at the expense of the financial and physical health of the people he serves, then it’s hard to consider that a success, in my book.

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