Foxconn Played Scott Walker for a Sucker

Charles P. Pierce
·7-min read
Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI - Getty Images
Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI - Getty Images

(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To This Post)

Being our semi-regular weekly survey of what’s goin’ down in the several states where, as we know, the real work of governmentin’ gets done, and where the festival is over and the boys are all planning for a fall.

The beginning of our tour will be delayed briefly while I collapse into helpless laughter over here in the corner. From Reuters:

Under a deal with the state of Wisconsin announced on Tuesday, Foxconn will reduce its planned investment to $672 million from $10 billion and cut the number of new jobs to 1,454 from 13,000. The Foxconn-Wisconsin deal was first announced to great fanfare at the White House in July 2017, with Trump boasting of it as an example of how his “America first” agenda could revive U.S. tech manufacturing.

No, seriously, stop it. You guys are killing me.

Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronic devices, proposed a 20-million-square-foot manufacturing campus in Wisconsin that would have been the largest investment in U.S. history for a new location by a foreign-based company. It was supposed to build cutting-edge flat-panel display screens for TVs and other devices and instantly establish Wisconsin as a destination for tech firms.

But industry executives, including some at Foxconn, were highly skeptical of the plan from the start, pointing out that none of the crucial suppliers needed for flat-panel display production were located anywhere near Wisconsin. The plan faced local opposition too, with critics denouncing a taxpayer giveaway to a foreign company and provisions of the deal that granted extensive water rights and allowed for the acquisition and demolition of houses through eminent domain.

To really appreciate the humor of the situation, you probably have to go back to the original deal in which Foxconn played Scott Walker, the goggled-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to run their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, and his running-dog state legislature—as well as former president Art O’Thedeal—as the biggest suckers in the history of American bunkum.

The original Wisconsin package also included local tax incentives and road and highway investments by state and local governments, which brought total taxpayer-funded subsidies to more than $4 billion.

You know the old saying—if you look around the conference room and you can’t tell who the mark is, it’s you.

Elsewhere in Wisconsin, the state is trying to take action against so-called “forever chemicals,” toxic material that keeps turning up in fish and in the state’s water supplies, up to and including Lakes Michigan and Superior. From the Mining Gazette:

PFAS, Per — and polyfluoroalkyl substances — are a diverse group of human-made chemicals used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products. Some PFAS have been more widely used and studied than others. Many PFAS are resistant to grease, oil, water, and heat.

PFAS and PFOS are referred to as “forever chemicals,” the Midwestern Environmental Advocates reported in the fall of 2020, because they accumulate over time in the human body, and do not break down easily due to a long half-life, rendering them dangerous to both humans and the environment, even in low concentrations.

These chemicals are so persistent and widespread that the CDC has estimated that 95 percent of us are carrying them in our bodies. This is particularly true in certain areas of Wisconsin, such as Marinette County. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

…the worst contamination has been found in Marinette County, in the area around the Tyco Fire Products testing facility, which was used to test firefighting foam for years, before the practice was ended in 2017. The contamination in Marinette requires remediation and that drinking water be delivered to several homeowners who can no longer safely consume the water from their wells. In August, Johnson Controls, Tyco's parent company, said it was setting aside $140 million in its fiscal third quarter on the cleanup.

From WUWM:

Marinette, on the shore of Green Bay, and the neighboring Town of Peshtigo have been particularly hard hit by PFAS polluting drinking water.

Jeff Lamont grew up a quarter of a mile from the bay, near what’s now UW-Green Bay’s Marinette campus. "As a kid, this was all park and open woods. We’d spear northern pike. This is one of the creeks that had over 3,000 parts per trillion of PFAS going out directly into the bay,” he explains.

Governor Tony Evers and the Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature are making another effort to ameliorate the effects of PFAS in the state’s waterways and drinking water. From WKBT:

The governor says drinking water in 50 Wisconsin communities, including Campbell, is contaminated with PFAS, which are man-made compounds linked to infertility, thyroid disease, and cancer. “Folks we have a problem,” Evers said.

During the last legislative session, lawmakers introduced the CLEAR act, a bill to establish and enforce environmental standards for PFAS. It died in the Republican-controlled State Senate. Democrats announced at the Town of Campbell library they are introducing the CLEAR act again.

Anyway, Happy Earth Day everyone, an annual event that was the brainchild of the late Senator Gaylord Nelson, Democrat of Wisconsin.

Photo credit: Sergei Fadeichev - Getty Images
Photo credit: Sergei Fadeichev - Getty Images

We move along to Washington, where Governor Jay Inslee and the state legislature seem to be undergoing a sudden attack of common sense. From the Seattle Times:

If signed by Inslee, the bill will ban the open carry of firearms or other weapons at or around public demonstrations, according to a legislative analysis. It also prohibits open carry on the west grounds of the Capitol campus, at buildings on the campus and at other legislative locations.

The bill also prohibits open carry at public demonstrations that have been issued a permit by a government agency, which are defined as a gathering of 15 or more individuals at a single event. Local government officials can also designate a demonstration as a permitted event, which would make the prohibition take effect.

So, if you’re keeping score nationally, you can’t bring your gun to a demonstration in Washington, but, in Florida, you can drive through demonstrators, scattering them like nine-pins, and walk away. America is very confusing.

Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images

Oh, and by the way, as of Thursday, you can go hunting for demonstrators in Oklahoma, too. Remarkably, Governor Kevin Stitt sounded like even more of a fathead defending this unique legal immunity than Ron DeSantis did in Florida. From The Hill:

"We are sending a message today in Oklahoma that rioters who threaten law abiding citizens' safety will not be tolerated. I remain unequivocally committed to protecting every Oklahoman's First Amendment right to peacefully protest as well as their right to feel safe in their community.”

How does an allegedly sentient, evolved primate make himself argue that immunizing hit-and-run drivers sends a message that citizens can feel safe in their communities?

The debate over driver protections in a protest was partially triggered by an incident in Oklahoma last year in which a driver pulling a trailer drove through a crowd of protesters on a highway in Tulsa. No charges were filed against the driver.

Oh, that’s how. Got it.

As long as we’re there anyway, let us conclude, as is our custom, in the great state of Oklahoma, whence Blog Official Brucellosis Contact Tracer Friedman of the Plains brings us the latest installment in The Continuing Adventures of Rep. Justin Humphrey, Galaxy Brain. In previous episodes, Humphrey argued in favor of issuing permits under which Oklahomans could hunt Bigfoot (Bigfeet?), and he also referred to pregnant women as “hosts.” This indicates that he should put down the Ancient Aliens DVDs for a while. Rep. Humphrey recently unburdened himself on the subject of trans citizens. From the AP:

Rep. Justin Humphrey, a Republican from the southeast Oklahoma town of Lane, made the comment in an email exchange with a woman who was urging him to vote against the bill. “I never mind helping to educate the uninformed,” Humphrey wrote in the email obtained by The Associated Press. “I understand ... transgender people have a mental illness.” Humphrey stood by his comments Friday. “I don’t have any problem backing up what I said,” Humphrey said in a telephone interview with the AP. “If you’re a male, you’re a male to the core. This is science and logic, and science and logic are on my side.”

There are two planets in our solar system with cores made of ice, as seems to be the case with Rep. Humphrey. One is Neptune. The other is Uranus. Make your own jokes.

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