Accountability Is Nowhere To Be Found For Foxconn's Wisconsin Head Fake

from the hype-and-bluster dept

If you recall, the state of Wisconsin had originally promised Taiwan-based Foxconn a $3 billion subsidy if the company invested $10 billion in a Wisconsin LCD panel plant that created 13,000 jobs. But as the subsidy grew to $4.5 billion, the promised factory began to shrink further and further to the point where nobody is certain that anything meaningful is going to get built at all.

Last October, reports emerged clearly illustrating the ever-shrinking nature of the deal. They also highlighted how Foxconn was effectively just using nonsense to justify its failure to follow through, showing that while the company hadn't built much of anything meaningful in the state, it was still routinely promising to deploy a "AI 8K+5G ecosystem" in the state to somehow make everything better. Shockingly, that mish-mash of buzz words is effectively meaningless.

Whatever Foxconn is building in the state now, it's certainly not the massive factory that was supposed to create 13,000 jobs. Feckless leaders appear to have just finally figured out the original deal should be amended in the wake of Foxconn's head fake (something even Foxconn seemed amenable to initially), yet documents obtained by The Verge show that the company is refusing to budge in any meaningful capacity until somebody grows a spine and forces them to:

"Documents obtained by The Verge show that Wisconsin officials have repeatedly — and with growing urgency — warned Foxconn that its current project has veered far from what was described in the original deal and that the contract must be amended if the company is to receive subsidies. Foxconn, however, has declined to amend the contract, and it indicated that it nevertheless intends to apply for tax credits.

Foxconn has “refused by inaction” to amend the deal, says Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan. “They were continuously encouraged. It’s a relatively recent development, where they have said, ‘No, we don’t want to do anything with the contract.’ Our expectation has been, and continues to be, that they should want to come back and have discussions about this."

Local politicians have compared the scandal to the Fyre Festival, and many locals say the company is being aggressively secretive and often misleading. Even many of the "innovation hubs", which Foxconn promised would somehow be better than the ever-shrinking factory it originally proposed, are little more than empty buildings at this juncture, and we still seem miles away from the company -- or any of the project's original architects and hype men (Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Donald Trump) -- being held accountable in any way that actually matters.

Meanwhile, the few jobs that are created by Foxconn's efforts could ultimately cost state taxpayers anywhere between $300,000 to $500,000 per job, once again highlighting how we may just want to reconsider this generation-long habit of throwing billions at giant corporations for doing nothing.

Filed Under: handouts, subsidies, wisconsin
Companies: foxconn


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  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 19 Dec 2019 @ 6:44am

    So the "fox" "conned" the state of Wisconsin? Color me surprised.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 10:05am

      Re: So the "fox" "conned" the state of Wisconsin?

      I always trust foxes to guard the henhouse. It's safer than trusting some of the politicians touting these schemes...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 6:53am

    Don't politicians have to be careful about holding people liable for failed promises, less the get held responsible for their own failures to keep promises?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 7:23am

      Re:

      Members of the "party of family values" don't get held responsible for having affairs; members of the "party of fiscal responsibility" don't get held responsible for ever-climbing deficits; members of the "party of free-market capitalism" don't get held responsible for going through a revolving door between highly-placed government jobs and corporate lobbying, making sweetheart, monopolistic deals all the while...

      I fail to see why the hypocrisy of holding other people to their promises, while failing to keep their own, would be any less likely to be forgiven than any other hypocrisy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 19 Dec 2019 @ 6:56am

    Clarification needed:

    Meanwhile, the few jobs that are created by Foxconn's efforts could ultimately cost state taxpayers anywhere between $300,000 to $500,000 per job, once again highlighting how we may just want to reconsider this generation-long habit of throwing billions at giant corporations for doing nothing.

    Per job or per job promise or per office space rental or per office space rental promise? It doesn't appear like there will be any number of jobs. At best a call center or something equally relocatable at the drop of a subsidy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ceyarrecks (profile), 19 Dec 2019 @ 6:56am

    Spine, you say?

    The statement was made "until somebody grows a spine," but those in leadership positions were raised where every attempt to shield them from exposure to and thus learning to be Noble was taken, and their spine was systematically removed with constant statements of "do not do that!" "you do not have to that,.." "I would not do that" "do not hit, be nice!"
    So.
    You have passive children now in said leadership positions who have NO spine to speak of,...
    Is there any wonder why we have articles like "Accountability Is Nowhere To Be Found"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 19 Dec 2019 @ 7:04am

    HAHAHAHAHA

    GOP accountable? GOP admitting fault? GOP accepting blame for this debacle? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Dec 2019 @ 7:13am

      Yeah, I have more faith in world peace happening overnight than I do in a Republican holding themselves accountable for anything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 19 Dec 2019 @ 7:49am

        Re:

        I have come to understand with some displeasure that the Republicans are perfectly correct in decrying the whole impeachment process as a purely partisan process.

        Because considering corruption in the highest places a bad thing has stopped being a bipartison concern.

        Trump stands for the total progressive corruption of government and legislation, and in that sense indeed the Democrats are trying to undo the 2016 presidential election.

        Which is actually a job that ultimately will require more of the populace than just those willing to vote Democrat. But one has to start somewhere.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 8:07am

          Re: Re:

          All the word salad boils down to the fact that no one is above the law.
          That is the way it is supposed to be, in my dreams anyway.

          I find it astonishing that people can happily proclaim their hypocrisy to the world as if there is nothing wrong with it. This may imply they think themselves better than everyone else. Being rich does not make one any better, it just makes things easier.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            David, 19 Dec 2019 @ 8:42am

            Re: Re: Re:

            All the word salad boils down to the fact that no one is above the law.

            Absolute immunity means that the president is above the law. What is new is that the government claims it is also above the House of Representatives regarding subpoenas for witnesses and records.

            The really funny thing is that the Republicans decried the House impeachment for not talking to the important first-hand witnesses (because the government said that it prohibits them participating in an "unfair" inquiry, as if an inquiry was about fairness) and now the Republicans in the Senate want to avoid calling witnesses by claiming it would have been the House's job to perform the trial replete with witnesses.

            So according to the Constitution, the president is above the law. According to the government, the president is above the House. And according to the Republicans, the president is above the Senate.

            Basically he is accountable to nobody. A king. The principal question then raises itself: what is the meaning of "Republic" in the word "Republican"? And what was the Tea Party about? The one in Boston harbour, I mean.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 10:08am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The prez does not have absolute immunity and no one is above the law, nice try donald.

              I'm sure that donny would like to be king .. however there are a few people who would not be very pleased about that.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Dec 2019 @ 6:15am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Absolute immunity means that the president is above the law."

              No. Nixon tried barrelling down that road and SCOTUS determined that the president was only immune to liability arising from civil suits.

              In other words, you can't sue a sitting president.

              However, it's damn hard to actually get to the point where the US president must face criminal charges, which is what most people conflate absolute immunity with. He can still tell any prosecutor to get stuffed, with or without an executive order. Alternatively issue himself a full pardon and keep on truckin'...

              "he principal question then raises itself: what is the meaning of "Republic" in the word "Republican"?"

              It used to mean someone who was intent on maintaining a government unable to exercise too much power over the population. That definition more or less died with Eisenhower, at which point Rooseveldt's "New Deal", had forced all the racists to switch from democrat to republican and all the non-ultra conservatives in the republicans to switch to democrat.

              And that leads us to today where what remains of the GOP is a party which yes, does want a sort of authoritarian king. Preferably a religious one, sworn by God's grace, who is able and willing to get rid of all the black and brown people running around.

              "And what was the Tea Party about? The one in Boston harbour, I mean."

              For all intents and purposes, scenting the ripe harbor air? The US today has more similarities to Great Britain in colonial times than it does even the modern UK...

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2019 @ 7:26am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                afaik, a president giving themselves a pardon has not yet been tested in the SCOTUS.
                If allowed, such a ruling would authorize future presidents to do anything they want. Like murdering someone in the middle of 5th avenue.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 19 Dec 2019 @ 11:59am

          Re: Re:

          I have come to understand with some displeasure that the Republicans are perfectly correct in decrying the whole impeachment process as a purely partisan process.

          Which is sort of like the old joke about the man murdering his parents and then begging for mercy because he's an orphan.

          Trump stands for the total progressive corruption of government and legislation, and in that sense indeed the Democrats are trying to undo the 2016 presidential election.

          The trouble with the "trying to undo the 2016 election" talking point is that it ignores we had an election in 2018, too, and (unlike 2016) we're getting exactly what the majority voted for.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Dec 2019 @ 12:54pm

            (unlike 2016) we're getting exactly what the majority voted for

            This is a good time to remind people that because Donald Trump didn’t win the popular vote, he was constitutionally elected to office.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              David, 19 Dec 2019 @ 1:10pm

              Re:

              The Constitution intended for the Electoral College to vote according to their individual judgment, not according to the respective state majorities.

              So there has been some shortcircuiting of the original procedures for more direct democratic choices. Due to the Electoral College setup, this now factually defunct additional step does not just granulate the votes on state level, but also leads to voters from different states having different weights in the presidential elections.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 2:28pm

                Re: Re:

                The Electoral College would be more accurate if each elector voted as their district voted, with the overall winner of the state getting the two additional votes.

                Neither party is going to support that because it would also weaken their grips on their gimme states.

                But the alternative of trying to abolish the electoral college is almost as bad. After all, once a Constitutional Convention is called to amend it, there's nothing stopping them from fucking with other parts of the Constitution.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Thad (profile), 19 Dec 2019 @ 2:42pm

                Re: Re:

                I think it's pretty clear the framers intended for our presidential elections to look a lot more like parliamentary elections than the system we've ended up with. Voters would choose electors; electors would vote for the president; if no candidate got a majority of the electoral vote, it would go to the House.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                That One Guy (profile), 20 Dec 2019 @ 4:03am

                Re: Re:

                The Constitution intended for the Electoral College to vote according to their individual judgment, not according to the respective state majorities.

                Which basically nullifies the entire reason for the public to vote in the first place if they can be overruled like that on a whim, turning the voting box into the equivalent of a 'Suggestions' box at a job, where the boss can implement what people are asking for but they can also ignore them entirely and do whatever they wanted.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Thad (profile), 20 Dec 2019 @ 7:27am

                  Re: Re: Re:

                  Which basically nullifies the entire reason for the public to vote in the first place

                  Not any more than having your prime minister selected by a parliament does.

                  The idea was that you vote for an elector to represent you, and the elector votes on behalf of your interests. If you don't like the job the elector does, you can vote against him next time.

                  The major difference between a parliament and the EC as originally conceived is that electors don't legislate; their one and only job is to vote for president. (And if no candidate wins a majority of electoral votes -- which the framers thought would be a much more frequent occurrence than it's actually turned out to be -- then the legislators do choose the president.)

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    That One Guy (profile), 20 Dec 2019 @ 12:42pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    The major difference between a parliament and the EC as originally conceived is that electors don't legislate; their one and only job is to vote for president.

                    And that, I'd argue, is what differentiates them from politicians. It's one thing to vote in a politician to act as a representative(ideally) and handle the things that the general public doesn't really have time for, but if the only thing that the EC does it vote for president/vice president, something that the public is already doing then what exactly is the point of having them?

                    Not only are they performing a redundant action at that point they are also in a position to nullify the votes cast by the general public, which makes the idea that they're there to represent the public kinda absurd.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Thad (profile), 20 Dec 2019 @ 3:21pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      I think the premise is that legislators have a conflict of interest and will put their own political agendas first, whereas electors are likelier to be impartial members of the public.

                      In practice, I'm inclined to agree that it doesn't sound like it makes a whole lot of sense, and I expect that's why we don't do it that way anymore.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2019 @ 7:30am

                  Re: Re: Re:

                  Income tax is not a suggestion and neither is the draft. But rich politicians are not forced to deal with such annoyances.
                  The system of voting gives people the feeling of participation while not actually listening to them at all. This tired and old system is seeing its demise, maybe.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 20 Dec 2019 @ 7:13am

            Re: Re: Re:

            The trouble with the "trying to undo the 2016 election" talking point is that it ignores we had an election in 2018, too, and (unlike 2016) we're getting exactly what the majority voted for.

            More than that I'd argue that a bigger problem with that talking point is that it shifts the discussion, allowing the one making it to dismiss actual concerns and frame everything as 'they're just trying to get rid of him because they didn't want him to be elected in the first place'.

            Treating that talking point as valid rather than a strawman is a tactical mistake I'd say, and one that shouldn't be given a pass in discussions as it allows the focus to be moved away from real concerns onto what are almost certain to be bogus ones that can be dismissed easily.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2019 @ 9:52am

          Re: Re:

          Democrats are trying to undo the 2016 presidential election

          So then, when/if Trump goes, we get Hillary?

          That's a cute little sentence you got there, but in reality, then we would get Pence. Republican simpletons seem to have forgotten that they voted for the Trump/Pence ticket when writing that little nugget.

          Maybe the person who wrote this is the same staffer that came up with the "0 Days since Schiff followed house rules" poster. Republicans frankly aren't well known for being overly intelligent or being proficient in reading comprehension.

          https://americanindependent.com/impeachment-hearings-adam-schiff-republicans-house-in telligence-committee-donald-trump-ukraine/

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 19 Dec 2019 @ 7:45am

    It would be interesting...

    I imagine it would be interesting to get a copy of the contract between Foxconn and the state...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 8:05am

    Foxconn is not getting free money from the state. It's just a reduction in the taxes they would normally be paying. If Foxconn broke the contract, then those Tax Breaks no longer stand. At least that is how it should be.

    I know some work was done and so some people had jobs at least for a while. That brought in some tax money. Hopefully, the state didn't sign a contract that didn't make sure the company did what they were supposed to do to receive those tax reductions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 8:15am

      Re:

      "Foxconn is not getting free money from the state. It's just a reduction in the taxes they would normally be paying. "

      That's not the way I remember it being described.
      I remember the word "subsidy" being used to describe the deal. Now I am no accountant but I'm pretty sure that subsidy is not the same as tax break. These subsidies were to be paid as certain milestones were reached, this is not the same as writing off earned income as a promised tax break.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 9:19am

        Re: Re:

        Reading between the lines on https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2019/12/17/foxconn-wisconsin-taxpayers-could-pay-work-d one-outside-wisconsin/2674915001/ it looks like it's done via tax credits and Wisconsin hasn't actually paid anything yet. It looks like Foxconn things they should get some this year, but the new agency in charge of given them out isn't so sure.

        Meanwhile, an audit determined that the contract, the state law to enable it, and the policies of the agency that administer it are all different. So in other words it's a big mess that will likely either end up in court or with the state just capitulating to Foxconn. In either case, the tax payers are probably going to get the shaft.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2019 @ 7:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Tax credits are not tax breaks.

          Credits are tacked on after deductions and typically have no link to earned income, as a simple example look at child care credit.
          So, the argument they get nothing from the state if they do not create jobs is maybe a bit wrong?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2019 @ 4:57pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Read the link above. FoxConn has to apply for the tax credits and none have been issued yet. Wisconsin set up an agency to take the application and issue the credits. FoxConn is expect to apply for some credits for tax year 2019. The agency is expected to deny the application. What happens next is up to FoxConn.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 8:58am

    300-500k per job?

    How about just employing those people directly for 10 years?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 9:17am

    If only there was a place you could go to look up the history of a company and see their past dealings on things like that?

    Maybe spend 5 minutes and, well, you'd have known how this was going to end.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 19 Dec 2019 @ 10:12am

    Walker lost his job-- what is new Democratic Gov's view?

    Is the State still trapped in this deal by the gerrymandered Republican legislature? Or is something else going on?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jay Lahto (profile), 19 Dec 2019 @ 10:19am

    I guess...

    Wisconsin is now regretting signing up for "Art of the Deal 101" from Trump University.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 12:53pm

      Re: I guess...

      It could be worse: they could have gotten the course from ICE University instead; if that were the case, they'd be deported instead of just getting scammed.

      Wait, why did I type "worse" when I clearly meant "better?"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 5:03pm

    'we may just want to reconsider this generation-long habit of throwing billions at giant corporations for doing nothing'
    And it maybe just as wise to look at who outside of Foxconn, in this instance, also had public money thrown at them to authorise the deal! Let's face it, something of this magnitude never gets sorted unless the politicians involved get paid thousands in 'campaign contributions'!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Dec 2019 @ 3:57am

    ... why would they want that?

    Our expectation has been, and continues to be, that they should want to come back and have discussions about this."

    The current deal is great for them, any modified deal is likely to be notably less great. Why exactly would they 'want to come back' when all they have to do is stick to their guns and have good odds that spineless politicians who can only ask for them to come to the table to renegotiate fold like a house of cards and give them what they want?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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