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Foxconn Is Reconsidering Plan for Manufacturing in Wisconsin (nytimes.com)
230 points by mikek 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 224 comments

I have freely admitted for a while now that Wisconsin is a fairly corrupt place. (And WEDC, the guys who came up with this, has been among the organizations I've pointed out the most.) That said, the more this Foxconn thing goes on, the more I realize how much we've been screwed over in Wisconsin by Walker and his cronies.

The Foxconn thing never even sounded right from the outset. Four to five billion? To manufacture LCDs?

I mean, I know I'm a bit more technically inclined than most people in Wisconsin, but didn't anyone stop and think for a second, "Hmmm... Wait? Isn't the future supposed to be OLED? This doesn't make any business sense for them????"

Now these Foxconn guys come back with a story about "R&D"??????

I'm just saying, isn't their entire business model manufacturing other people's R&D? So the best you'd get is R&D to enhance their manufacturing processes maybe? Throw in a small chance at some business process R&D???? (I know, it's a stretch, but I'm trying to be generous.)

Now again, I realize I'm a bit more technically inclined than most Wisconsinites, but does anyone else find it more reasonable to do that sort of R&D in places closer to your actual manufacturing? Even suspending that disbelief for a moment, you have to ask yourself why you'd need 13,000 people to do that? You don't. You'd just never do that if you owned Foxconn.

This whole story just doesn't add up. Even from the start, it never did. How could Walker and his cronies have ever fallen for any of this?

As someone who grew up in rural Wisconsin, I can tell you that there has always been a streak of anti-intellectualism, but the past few years it has transformed into something even worse.

The suspension of critical thinking that comes from ingesting information, sourced from anything tagged as "Republican", has left the Wisconsin people vulnerable to being taken advantage of.

I speak from experience and discussions with people I had last summer. For example, some didn't believe me when I told them that Foxconn had to put suicide nets around some of their factories. They believed Foxcon is this shining star of a company come to save them, because that was what they were told by Republican leaders.

I also grew up in rural Wisconsin, but lived in Madison for several years as well, and I've seen the other side of that coin too. There's plenty of snobby progressives who live in their blue bubble, often working for the state gov't or university, and assume they know what's best for the hicks in the rest of the state. The /r/wisconsin subreddit is full of the type.

The tribalism from both ends is definitely disheartening.

Hey, I lived in Madison for a time too!

As a politically moderate person, I agree that there are neighborhoods in that one blue city in Wisconsin that have an air of snobbery and resentment, but I'm not sure how Madison has made the state vulnerable.

I also agree tribalism is part of the issue, but not in the way you do. Whenever I brought up these issues of confirmation bias, the immediate discussion following would be "well whatabout..." or "us vs. them", with them being the hypothetical liberal boogeyman. Or in this case, the "blue bubble".

While it is true that Madison is liberal, the Willy-street hippies didn't strip the incoming Governor of his powers, gerrymander political lines, or push to evict Wisconsites from their land so Foxconn could build a plant.

Saying "both sides" are the problem does a disservice to Wisconsin by ignoring who has been controlling and responsible for the state for the past decade - who need to be held accountable.

I think we can all agree that anyone trying to blame ANY of the people of Wisconsin at this point are just attempts at deflection. Clearly the fault lies with Walker and his cronies.

On that everyone can agree.

Here's the thing though, it's the people who will have to pay the bill. ALL of us. There's no getting around it. There are a thousand ways for Foxconn to hose us in this agreement, and almost no ways for us to get out of it if I'm understanding this correctly.

So you guys, in Madison and in rural Wisconsin, can sit and call each other names until the cows come home, but in the end you'll all be kicking in a sizable chunk of tax money to pay off Foxconn. Just like I will.

The best thing that could happen for us is for the whole thing to fall apart, Foxconn to walk away, and we just eat the losses we have taken to date. I know that doesn't give farmers their land back, or give people in southeastern Wisconsin their homes back, but it does allow us to forego any further losses on this thing. (And the families that have already been hosed out of their property were never gonna get their farms back anyway.)

Probably won't happen though, this is Wisconsin. Wisconsin politicians are in charge, and there is a lot of money up for grabs. So my own bet would be that come hell or high water, they're gonna find a way to trigger those cash payments to Foxconn. (And consequently, "service" fees I'm sure will be paid to-, and construction contracts will be signed by-, their cronies.)

Uhhh, the people of Wisconsin voted for those in power, several times, even despite fairly clear evidence that walker and others were of questionable morals out motives.

When are Americans going to take responsibility for the society they continue to create, or allow to be created?

>trying to blame ANY of the people of Wisconsin at this point are just attempts at deflection. Clearly the fault lies with Walker and his cronies.

...what about the voters?

In a democracy when has a voter base ever acted out of shame? I almost feel like it’s a socially impossible thing to happen given group dynamics.

Funny thing: often enough, in person or in the media, you'll hear ex-voters give their reasons for sitting out an election or quitting voting altogether. I've never heard anyone say "it became obvious I was not any good at it" or anything of the sort.

> Clearly the fault lies with Walker and his cronies.

Voters are the only people to blame, Walker was re-elected TWICE.

The fact that you label the two sides as "hicks" and "snobby progressives" only hurts your stance.

I think we can agree that both sides don't typically listen to each other, and if we're all using language like that then we never will.

Why should I debate you on medicare subsidies, e.g. if you've labeled me a "snobby progressive" and then have taken the victim role to boot?

I think the poster was using deliberately provocative words to call attention to the emotional angle of the debate, not making those judgements themselves.

This is what I was going for and I didn't realize my original comment would be misconstrued so badly.

Except that it was awfully one-sided and appeared to be labeling actual people directly (those in r/wisconsin)

It was one-sided because I was replying to a comment calling rural Wisconsinites easily-misled Republican voting robots. It was an attempt to show balance in the other side's perspective.

Madison isn’t called “The People’s Republic of Madison” for nothing.

Also the original "X square miles surrounded by reality" coined back in 1978 by Lee Sherman Dreyfus that similar cities have since borrowed. :-)

> As someone who grew up in rural Wisconsin, I can tell you that there has always been a streak of anti-intellectualism, but the past few years it has transformed into something even worse.

Not just Wisconsin. I grew up in a rural town in the South, and it was horrible. I'm back there teaching and it's even worse, if such a thing is possible. The only light I see is that a vast majority of the non-"yee yee" kids are fairly left-leaning, and nobody actually questioned me when I mentioned global warming yesterday. Shame is, those kids usually get the hell outta Dodge and never return.

re:suicide nets. Their employee suicide rates are equivalent to China. Its just that they employee so many people, its cost effective to place the nets. If only the rest of China was as cost effective.

re:re:suicide nets. The suicide rate in China is 8.0 per 100k people per year. In the US it's 13.7.

I trust the numbers coming out of the U.S., grim as they may be. China has a habit of massaging numbers in a way that would have made Soviet propagandists blush.

I agree that the numbers in the US are unlikely to be changed post-collection, but there are still pressures that lead to the under reporting of suicide rates here as well. For example, accidental overdose can be very difficult to distinguish from suicide. If there is any question, coroners will often err on the side of ruling the death an accident to spare the survivors additional emotional hardship.

A good point, but it means you can make a high estimate by including a statistical model accounting for a percentage of accidental deaths (including overdose) that are likely suicides. As long as you have all of the data, and it’s reliable, the rest is easy. Misclassification is a much easier issue to deal with than outright fiction. The problem with China is you can’t tell what if any parts of the dataset are reliable so no methods can be employed short of espionage.

Right, according to Foxconn. Employees and insiders have stated that there are suicides that have gone unreported.

This kind of selective thinking/reporting has definitely hurt credibility of the "intellectuals". Who has the time to figure out how you lied or wrongly implied certain things with your data?

anti-intellectualism has been a strong part of American history from nearly the beginning. It only went away for a while when the entire country was being drafted for wars.

Is that backwards? ISTM when we let the intellectuals run things, they come up with all sorts of plausible pretexts for wars... Right now the most anti-intellectual politician in several years is the one who happens to be bringing the troops home from Syria, Afghanistan, etc.

I'm reminded of a great passage from ITBWTCL:

But more importantly, it comes out of the fact that, during this century, intellectualism failed, and everyone knows it. In places like Russia and Germany, the common people agreed to loosen their grip on traditional folkways, mores, and religion, and let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abattoir. Those wordy intellectuals used to be merely tedious; now they seem kind of dangerous as well.

[EDIT:] Of course, in the next paragraph Stephenson describes a different sort of intellectual devolution in USA.

>Is that backwards? ISTM when we let the intellectuals run things, they come up with all sorts of plausible pretexts for wars...

Is the premise here that plausible pretexts for wars are less preferable than implausible ones? That an anti-intellectual launching a war on an irrational or purely emotional pretext is better than someone led by reason?

Because we had that with George W. Bush, and I'm not sure it was an improvement.

>Right now the most anti-intellectual politician in several years is the one who happens to be bringing the troops home from Syria, Afghanistan, etc.

He also said we should torture the families of terrorist suspects because fear is the only thing they understand, and warned North Korea that "the button for nuclear war is on my table". He would probably invade Iran tomorrow if someone told him Obama wouldn't have had the guts.

>> In places like Russia and Germany, the common people agreed to loosen their grip on traditional folkways, mores, and religion, and let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abattoir.

Meanwhile, anti-intellectual zealots like Pol Pot forcibly relocated people from the cities to the countryside and murdered anyone who demonstrated any form of "intellectualism" including wearing glasses or literacy.

    ISTM -> It seems to me
    ITBWTCL -> "In the Beginning was the Command Line" By Neal Stephenson
In case anyone else was also puzzled.

The most anti-intellectual politician in years has also repeatedly asked his aides to provide him with military options for dealing with Venezuela so I'm not impressed with the quality of your analysis here - especially coupled with your deliberate misreading of other people's posts.

I don't have to look back too far to see that the last anti-intellectual occupying the hot seat had no problem getting us involved in more wars. ISTM that is not a defining characteristic.

You're right Libya was a terrible idea.

[EDIT:] You mean Iraq and Afghanistan, of course. Bush the Lesser was not so much anti-intellectual as he was easily suggestible. If a Wolfowitz or a Paulson or a Cheney had a horrible idea, he didn't have the resources to challenge that idea. Of course all the worst neocons have some sort of Ivy League credentials.

>Bush the Lesser was not so much anti-intellectual as he was easily suggestible.

How certain are you that those attributes aren't correlated?

I'm not certain of any of this, but if I may go by personal experience, I would say the two qualities are orthogonal. I have known intellectuals who could be bullied into just about anything, and I've known an "anti-intellectual" who wouldn't step out of the street if you told him there was a truck bearing down on him.

Wars are fought that are a net negative to the world and scratching out a win for even the victors in the long run is implausible as long as a minority that controls the levers of power stand to gain.

The troops aren't coming home because of trump. In the long run it was a fight that was never going to be "finished" and will to keep spending money indefinitely isn't there. As well blame the sunrise for clearing up your cold instead of your immune system.

> ight now the most anti-intellectual politician in several years is the one who happens to be bringing the troops home from Syria, Afghanistan, etc.

Trump said he wanted to pull of of Syria, but his cabinet second guessed it, it was a pure PR stunt. I would concede Afghanistan, but that has been the policy for years.

He is actively pushing for war with Iran and a commercial war with China, so the link between anti-intellectualism and pacifism does not compute. Let's not even get to Venezuela...

Correction: anti-intellectualism and the forces of ignorance have been a part of "history" from the beginning. I fail to see what makes America so special in this regard. There's plenty of ignorance everywhere you look. Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, South America. Yup.

I can't speak to other countries.

The conservative movement has a very vibrant intellectual sphere, particularly when it comes to economics, politics, and the law. Much of the Republican Party platform is nominally premised on the Laffer Curve (i.e. trickle down economics), "Taxation is Theft" (political meme delegitimizing government), Original Meaning (a particular vein of constitutional originalism), and Realpolitik (the zero-sum, might-makes-rights approach to foreign policy of neoconservatives).

IMO, these radical concepts (at least radical in the context of conservatism) were reactions to leftist intellectual movements, and also have served to supplant moralism.

The problem with intellectualism and moralism (which is being revived on the left with the social justice movement), whether from the left or the right, is that it makes is easier for people to think and speak in absolutes.

Absolutism is where intellectualism and anti-intellectualism can reinforce each other.

I wouldn't call neoconservatives realpolitik. They were idealist proponents of an activist foreign policy.

Realpolitik would have been leaving Saddam in place as less risky than invading.

Good point. I was being too loose with the language. But IME the two groups tended to mix. For example, John Bolton traveled in neoconservative circles during the run-up to the Iraq War even though he's rather Machiavellian.

I don't think this is a problem unique to Wisconsin

It’s not, but Wisconsin is an example of the secondary demographic that the Republicans target heavily — white blue collar people who have lost the stability that they had.

That may be true. I can only speak to my experience.

We were talking about this a year ago. And no doubt before that:


Foxconn is a bad business partner and that should have been more obvious to everyone. Self serving politicians like Walker and Trump are looking for a photo spray with golden shovels and a big American flag in the background to sell to people desperately looking for jobs.


It is transparent and a damn shame for the politicians and voters involved. It's like a Nigerian email scam bilking your grandma out of her savings.

I'm just saying, isn't their entire business model manufacturing other people's R&D?

I think it's a mistake to underestimate just how much native R&D goes on in the broad and deep ocean of China's modern manufacturing complex. That entire industry has been working hard for decades now at learning from its customers, continually seeking opportunities to "level up". The particulars of this specific, sketchy case aside, the idea that Foxconn hasn't invested in sophisticated R&D facilities at this point in the game is far less believable to me.

Indeed. What a lot of people don't get is that companies don't "buy American", because they can't. We simply do not have those manufacturing capabilities. It's not just the factories. It's the skilled, trained, and experienced workers needed to do that particular flavor of high precision work.

For the US to change this, to compete directly with China at large-scale electronics manufacturing, would take decades of work and untold billions of dollars of long-term focused government effort. And frankly, the US government isn't great at long term thinking. Makes you appreciate an old-school Marxist Five Year Plan.

This is just random nit picking but the five year plan is a stalinist concern to rapidly industrialize an agrarian to fit into a marxist model of having a means of production to conflict over in the first place. Marx had no such concerns.

Makes you appreciate an old-school Marxist Five Year Plan.

When does that sort of thing work, and when does it dramatically fail? I suspect that it's the looser forms of central planning that succeed and the tighter ones that spectacularly fail.

Never underestimate the capacity of government, in ALL its forms, to fail.

The fault lies not so much in systems as it does in people. Certainly some systems are a better "fit" for people than other systems, but to say that having a 5 year plan or not having a 5 year plan is going to be the key to success or failure is incorrect.

Even more than how they are incentivized, WHO the people are you have working on something is the key to its success or failure. A team of uninterested geniuses will be as useless as a team of diligent dullards, and in either case, there is a high probability of failure for your project. It won't really matter how you organize either of those teams to get the job done.

Never underestimate the capacity of government, in ALL its forms, to fail.

It's the Thermocline of Truth. The bigger and more powerful the organization, the deeper the thermocline and the more threats can be hidden therein. National governments are the biggest organizations around. Ergo, they can fail the most spectacularly.


The Soviets decided where the factories were built, how much to invest, in whom, what the products would be, quotas, volumes, suppliers, quality, etc. etc..

The Chinese gov. is mostly centrally planning strategically, i.e. with investments, loans, subsidies, de-facto monopoly rights - which is another thing entirely.

In some ways, what the Chinese are doing is kind of like what Japan, S. Korea and even Europe did after the war.

But it's likely they are heading into a 'different stage' now where that doesn't work so well.

Also, Foxconn is Taiwanese, worth noting.

My take on Soviet Five years plans and the like is a plan is usually better than no plan. Good plans usually spec the what not the how. Also Soviet stagnation occurred under Brezhnev's policies which de-prioritized consumer goods and infrastructure.

On the other hand Communist China seems to have gotten better at planning over time. (What you do you get good at)

'No plan' would describe US industrial policy since Reagan.

When does it fail, and why does it fail? As I've noted elsewhere, per capita income in China has increased about 130x (in constant dollars) since 1960. They've gone from abject poverty to Western standards of living for most of their citizens. That's astounding.

Small nations that have stayed with old-school communism and are mired in poverty - North Korea and Cuba at this point - have been almost totally isolated from the rest of the world for decades, unable to trade with large, obvious, prosperous neighbors. Is it the five year plan, or the sanctions?

The USSR eventually failed, but they did improve a great deal over the economic situation Russia was in at the time of the revolution. And honestly, there's no guarantee that a financial collapse won't wipe out the world of western capitalism, either. The US came perilously close to that in 2008.

Deng Xiaoping and his advisors actually didn't turn to Marx for his 5 year plans. He looked at capitalism. Education, infrastructure and the rule of law would make Western/Japanese companies invest and they did.

I think a lot of people haven't realized this yet

gotta upvote this, even a smart guy like Elon Musk had to sleep on factory floors to push forward the native R&D.

> How could Walker and his cronies have ever fallen for any of this?

Maybe they didn't fall for anything? Who did Foxconn buy the land from? They presumably did OK in the deal, as did any of the parties (i.e legal/accounting/lobbying firms) who facilitated the deal. Walker lost his governership in the last election, but that was before the magnitude of Foxconn's reversal was clear, so it's not directly attributable to that.

Looks like the people duped here might just be the taxpayers who payed for it all, and the would-be manufacturing workers for whom the jobs haven't materialized. I'd guess those groups' interests weren't being represented by their elected officials when the deal was struck.

I was going to say, they didn't exactly buy the land on the open market...

I feel really bad for the people who lost homes so that the WI Republican party could pull this publicity stunt. It's hard to even fathom

Reading the transcripts from the board meetings is a pretty bad time, but it reminds me of the board meetings in my neck of the woods. It sucks.

It's not just land that was given to Foxconn. They were also relieved of a variety of environmental protections -- LCD manufacturing is a dirty industry that requires an enormous amount of water. Nobody did OK on that deal.

People pretty much knew the Foxconn deal was a fraud, because Foxconn, and the state government, both have a history of similar deals. There were some mining deals in northern Wisconsin that would make your hair stand on end.

> There were some mining deals in northern Wisconsin that would make your hair stand on end.

Go on...

This captures some of the goings-on, albeit not into much depth:


For something situated on a Great Lake, the question is whether it has sufficient wastewater treatment, pumping the water in and out isn't a big deal, it's how dirty it is when you pump it back into the lake that matters.

Well, apparently they needed the existing environmental regulations to be waived. It was never revealed why, e.g., what chemicals they wanted to dump. They could simply be required to re-use their wastewater in a closed system, like nuclear power plants (for a different reason, heat generation). Then it can be as dirty or clean as it needs to be.

Also, the water doesn't belong to us. Use of Great Lakes water is governed by a treaty with Canada and administered by an international body that includes the states and provinces in the Great Lakes watershed.

Nuclear plants often have an open outer loop for their cooling. It's cheaper.

Like if you grab the environmental impact study from this license renewal for Point Beach Nuclear Plant near Green Bay, at maximum capacity it draws 1433 cubic feet per second from Lake Michigan and discharges it 23 degrees Fahrenheit warmer:


"This whole story just doesn't add up. Even from the start, it never did. How could Walker and his cronies have ever fallen for any of this?"

Just a guess, sadly, they probably had the financial lubrication to fight for it. Not to mention that the "big numbers" play to their political audience, my Reagan Republican father, for one. Sure, someone who's a little more insightful about technology might be skeptical, but that wasn't Walker's audience.

Probably but I'm starting to think the corruption bar might be pathetically low for a lot of these people as well. As in, what they want most is to feel important - put them in a private jet, buy them fancy dinners and I suspect you don't actually have to pay out all that much cash.

Hunting trips and golf, is the impression I get is the lubricant of choice around here.

This isn't the first time politically connected cronies sold a state on in-sourced manufacturing. Greentech [1] was going to make pitiful NEVs and sell them domestically plus export to China. No one seemed to balk at the stupid idea and funded a factory that produced nothing.

[1] https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/whatever-happened-to-terr...

> "Hmmm... Wait? Isn't the future supposed to be OLED? This doesn't make any business sense for them????"

There's at least some life left in LCD. CES had some pretty interesting stuff like a TV that took a black and white 1080p panel and used it as the backlight for a 4k panel giving it really good contrast.

And I don't think anyone is absolutely sure that OLED is the future. It suffers from burn-in so it's really only great for smart phones and movies, for everything else LCD is king for the foreseeable future because there's no guarantee they'll solve the burn-in issues before the next great tech comes along.

I think burn in makes it a worse candidate for smart phones! There are a lot of static images (icons, clock, weather) that will burn-in over regular usage.

I love the OLED demos, but modern LCD screens these days are pretty solid. ~$2700 for a near flawless 75" LCD. That's crazy cheap compared to the ~$7000 a 77" OLED costs. And that's ignoring the completely watchable ~70" panels you can get for under $1000.

But like others in this thread have said, it never made sense to me for FoxConn to build LCD's in WI. Basically WI gave away land and access to freshwater for FoxConn could "bring jobs."

Some counterpoints:

Large format displays will be LCDs for many years due to inherent yield issues. (60” OLED displays is analogous to Intel trying to make a CPU the size of a full 300 mm wafer, one dust particle...). As the middle class grows, they will purchase large format displays.

R&D investment is Foxconn trying to move up the value chain. A dollar spent on R&D in China on innovative new ideas is less effective than that same dollar in the U.S. Especially since leading top tier LCD technology suppliers reside in the U.S./Korea/Japan.

> Large format displays will be LCDs for many years due to inherent yield issues.

There is nothing inherent in OLED having lower yields.

Two TFT layers, metal , PEDOT, oled layer ,ITO, metal

Not much different from LCD in its basic form.

I'd say that there is a potential to make them even cheaper when printed OLEDs will finally get production ready

Yes, I should have mentioned that wOLED is the way around the yield issue, but you don’t gain much. That is why srgb is what Samsung uses for small displays and which look much better than srgb (because woled is essentially lcd, just replacing white with a giant white pixel with the rest of the LCD stack the same, which can handle defects because you can hide where it is dark with the layers above)

Ha! ... you think the middle class is growing ...

They said they were going to build 8K displays and tons of new jobs. Then they said okay maybe not 8K displays but definitely some awesome displays. Now they're saying they can't even build TVs there. They cite "new realities" in the global marketplace, but this always looked like a scam.

We can blame trump and his ignorant tax policies, but the reality is that Walker scammed the taxpayers. The only question is, was he getting kickbacks? Or was it just to look good to voters?

And then, of course, once his crew gets voted out, they reduce the power of the incoming administration. And then blame this whole mess on the "uncertainty" of the incoming administration. What a joke.

I don't think "Joe the Average Wisconsinite" really had a say in this deal.

Yes yes, elected officials are SUPPOSED to represent their constituents, but no number of people protesting outside his office is legally capable of stopping Walker and Co. from misrepresenting their interests while they're in office.

And I mean, if there was some kind of quid pro quo between Foxcomm and Walker and Co., all the more reason for this not to benefit Joe Average.

They had a say. There was a recall election because of all the bullshit he had pulled before the Foxconn deal. Once it became clear he would keep his position he opened the spigot all the way up. In his mind he had the full support of Wisconsin voters.

> why you'd need 13,000 people to do that?

From my understanding, creating 13,000 jobs means you will create 13,000 person-years worth of jobs. If you employ 1,000 people for 13 years you have satisfied the definition.


The news gets better and better.

So essentially, Foxconn could build a small building, hire 1000 people, and after 13 years the state of Wisconsin would be legally obliged to pay them the full USD4 billion in guarantees?

I'm a little more educated, and a bit nicer than most Wisconsinites. I'll tell you right now though, if that's truly the case, you'd better make sure that doesn't become general knowledge here in Wisconsin. Most Wisconsinites are not gonna just sit back and accept that the way I do. Walker and his cronies would need round the clock security.

There are a lot of people around here who really bought in to the whole "13,000 jobs" thing.

People would get emotional. It would not be a good time in Wisconsin.

creating 13,000 jobs include all supporting business (e.g. cook, servers, bus drivers, etc..). Not all of them are hired by foxconn.

This is similar to the math used to sell Keystone XL. A temporary job that lasted 2 years was calculated as 2 jobs created.

A lot of us knew it was bullshit from the start. They didn't even bother disguising the smell.

I knew Rod Blagojevich was a heel about 5 minutes after moving into his congressional district, in Chicago. When he got elected governor, I moved across the border to Kenosha, and was not surprised one bit when he went to prison.

I first heard about Walker in 2006, as a primary candidate for governor, and thought he was an ass then. Wisconsin was still fine under Doyle and Kohl and Feingold, though, and Paul Ryan was basically a do-nothing nobody (in my humble constituent's opinion) long before he somehow became speaker, out of nowhere. I moved to Tammy Baldwin's district in 2005, and left the state entirely in 2010. When Walker got elected governor, I suspected his tenure would be bad for the state, and especially bad for progressives. When the recall failed, I declared Wisconsin done. My Wisconsinite in-laws (and ex-Wisconsinite Arizonan in-laws) grew more Trumpy. Then the state legislation and executive policy turned into an avalanche of conservative favorites: union busting, ACA undermining, abortion restrictions, voter suppression, anti-pollution undermining, gun defending, immigrant intimidation, gay-marriage opposition. Dane county might hold out for a while yet, but Wisconsin is now a red state until further notice.

When the Foxconn thing came up, I guessed that it was all hot air and corruption, and that my Republican-supporting in-laws in the 1st would finally see first hand what they had all been voting for over the last 20 years.

Walker and company didn't fall for it. They engineered it for their own gain. Follow the money.

You forgot gerrymandering.

what are your in-laws saying now about this?

Still touting the 13000 jobs, and the $10 billion plant, and the 8K television panels. Reality has not intruded upon their beliefs and perceptions.

From the article, sounds like they'll soon be blaming the occupant of the Governor's mansion for this deal falling apart..

Give the state some credit. It voted for Evers by a larger margin than Trump won and voted for Baldwin by a larger margin than she won in 2012.

Baldwin is a blessing to WI but you can't give the voters too much credit. They chose Ron Johnson over Russ Feingold twice.

And to be fair, even Baldwin's terrible.

She's in no way a unifier, and has absolutely no support outside of her base. Which wouldn't be so bad, but she doesn't even try to reach out to anyone outside her base.

I mean, ok, maybe you don't want to try to bring conservative rural people on board because you think they're never gonna support you. I get that, I don't agree with it, but I get it. Baldwin goes further though. You won't even see Baldwin interact with, say, young urban minority adults in Milwaukee, Kenosha, or Racine. You'd think that would be a natural democrat demographic, the woman never even talks to them. Sheez, even Paul Ryan would at least talk to everybody.

This state is in dire need of decent leadership. Someone who doesn't hold entire segments of our population in contempt. Baldwin, Johnson, Ryan, Walker...

those guys just don't fit the bill.


Believing that Walker and his cronies fell for any of it versus were in on it might be a little naive.

> isn't their entire business model manufacturing other people's R&D?

I tend to assume that everyone with that business model dreams of getting out of that business model. You want to develop your own tech and move upmarket somebody else bids a penny less per widget to steal your manufacturing customers.

From the article it sounds like they were planning to manufacture large screen TV's. That does make some sense because the cost of shipping large items often outweighs the cost advantage of manufacturing overseas.

In the case of flat panel displays, I don't think overseas shipping is an issue. Sea freight is priced by volume (not weight). Foreign TV manufacturers built factories in the US in the 80s because they were paying a lot to ship picture tubes, which are big, empty glass bottles. But flat panels are much denser; shipping flat panels overseas can't be that much more expensive than shipping the raw materials for making them.

I have direct experience with building and selling a low density product in the US and found I could substantially undercut Chinese offerings on price because domestic shipping costs were so much cheaper.

The story adds up from a technical point of view and from a political point of view. Just because the future is OLED doesn't mean LCDs are going to disappear overnight.

Regardless, it was obvious foxconn intended to open operations in the US because of the political climate. The same reason japanese automakers opened up shop in the US and the south koreans and the germans and so forth. It's partly to win political favor, gain market access and for good public relations.

My guess is that china is using foxconn ( I know it's a taiwanese company ) to put pressure on Trump after canada arrested one of their executives. I'm guessing there will be more tit for tat ( arrests, projects delayed, etc ) going forward between the US and our allies and China until this trade war is resolved.

> Wait? Isn't the future supposed to be OLED

Depending who you ask OLED is just a stopgap measure before mLED. Thay being said LCDs still have a long life ahead of them. Not sure if anything worth such an investment but they're definitely not going away anytime soon. They offer a combination of cheap and good enough for most purposes.

This is not an issue of corruption or necessarily incompetence of either party.

1) 'Tent pole' installations that employ a lot of people create substantial benefits way beyond whatever the investment is, at least on that basis subsidies can be rationalized. Of course there can be debate over whether they should be employed, the amount, and the means - and those details matter. But superficially, this is fairly normal practice.

2) You are probably smarter than 'most citizens of Wisconsin' but you're definitely not smarter than Foxconn's strategic planners :). A factory that makes one kind of screen can be adapted to another, and the world is massively bigger than modern markets and there are tons of applications for non-oled screens.

Superficially, again, their plans were within reason.

3) The political logic here, is that Trump was looking to make a 'big announcement' and 'foreign' companies wanted to placate him and give him his needed tweet, and then wait until the wind blows over to change their minds. An 'announcement' to me doesn't really have that much value anyhow, when they 'walk the talk' then we can count.

Remember that none of the '4 Billion' etc. will be realized unless Foxconn does make the investment, so it's not as though there's some kind of incurred debt, just possible lost opportunity cost.


Assuming the incentives are reasonably structured, and assuming Foxconn does actually start to hire in Wisconsin, well this might work out well. They may only end up hiring hundreds or a couple of thousand of people which case I suggest they aren't able to grab at the 'bilions' in incentives anyhow.

Consider that if Foxconn does not make an investment - even with billions of incentives on the table ... then it almost assuredly is not in their best interest anyhow.

Take these statements mostly at face value, with a grain of salt, but there's no reason to scream corruption or incompetence. There may be some ugliness in the terms of the subsidies, if someone wants to point those out that would be great, I'd love to hear about them.

It's not just guarantees; it's also stuff like people having their homes declared "blighted" so that they can be taken away: https://beltmag.com/blighted-by-foxconn/

> Isn't the future supposed to be OLED?

They're not bright enough for sunlight readability - yet

They didn't fall for anything. They intentionally laid alongside Foxconn.

Wisconsin doesn't really sound like a big R&D hub to me. How would they get all those MIT grads to move to Wisconsin? I'm sure its a great place for various economic activities but tech?!

Eh, you're underestimating the "In between Minneapolis and Chicago" aspect. Tech has risen here, and SE Wisconsin is the home of a lot of large tech-based companies like Rockwell Automation, Fiserv, Cherry. MSOE is also pretty well regarded as one of the most prestigious engineering schools in the country.

High salaries with low cost of living? Also, MIT isn't the only university with STEM grads. UW is right there in Madison and U of I, Northwestern, Purdue, ND, Michigan, etc are in the vicinity in terms of recruiting.

>This whole story just doesn't add up. Even from the start, it never did. How could Walker and his cronies have ever fallen for any of this?

It's difficult for Scott Walker to understand things when his steady stream of bribes (err, campaign "donations"?) depends on not understanding them.

This is a fantastic Podcast on the situation and what went down in Wisconsin. The NDA Foxconn made council members sign to where the council couldn't even talk to their citizens about it will really rub you the wrong way;


The 2 things that will make your blood boil is when the city counsel couldn't get some residents to sell their property b/c they had nowhere to go, they declared it blighted/contaminated and forced eviction into actual blighted homes.

The second is the town took on a massive loan to buy all the land it needed, it will now default. The state of WI backed the town in the loan and will now have to pay out for this nonsense.

This is an inherent problem with city governments. I don’t know how rural Wisconsin city councils work but I know for damn sure Berkeley’s city council would be completely out of their depth negotiating a multi billion dollar deal with the likes of a Foxconn.

It wasn't a rural city council that made this deal. It was Gov. Scott Walker. The executive for the entire state.

>The 2 things that will make your blood boil is when the city counsel couldn't get some residents to sell their property b/c they had nowhere to go, they declared it blighted/contaminated and forced eviction into actual blighted homes.

Not that it makes it less terrible but backhanded stuff like this is not uncommon at all. If you run a business in my state you basically give up your right to stand up to the state/local government about anything (because they will use its power of discretionary enforcement to destroy your business).

If you're in the right you can win the head on fight (well, win it 10yr later in court, if that counts) but the government will always out flank you if they want something done but you are in their way. Sucks but it's reality.

These Wisconsin residents are getting the government they voted for.

49% are not getting the government they voted for.

And it might be more: the number of [Voted For Something Else] + [Didn't Vote] + [Not Eligible To Vote] is probably far greater than 49% of all residents.

Alternative thought: this is the way China does business, full stop. Who exactly was in council at the time would not have mattered because the media headline "Council torpedos Foxconn factory deal that would have created X thousand jobs" is about as bad as what happened.

I don't think so. Mount Pleasant wasn't the only city being considered, and it was all behind closed doors until it was a sure deal. We don't hear about the headlines for the cities that were passed over in this instance.

Those who didn't vote cannot be counted - they have decided that they don't care one way or the other. Likewise those who are not eligible cannot be counted - they cannot vote because their voice is being intentionally ignored as not relevant (it is fair to argue they shouldn't be excluded but that is a different issue).

>it is fair to argue they shouldn't be excluded but that is a different issue

It is, but for many of them they really should be excluded. How exactly is a 2-year-old going to make an informed vote, after all? How is an infant going to even fill out the ballot?

I would argue, however, that prisoners should be able to vote.

Just a note about prisoners voting, in case anyone has any negative opinions on that:

If you have so many prisoners in your society that it's substantially affecting the outcome of an election, then your society has a real problem, and it's not the prisoners.

That's the nature of living in a democracy. What's your alternative?

> they declared it blighted/contaminated

Wtf? They could have just used eminent domain. Probably wouldn't have had to pay as much too.

Declaring a region blighted is a method for triggering eminent domain.


Yes, and the stories of people getting completely screwed over to make way for Foxconn

>The NDA Foxconn made council members sign to where the council couldn't even talk to their citizens about it

Gotta think that would run afoul of open records laws and open meetings laws and etc...

Not always. There's usually exemptions, not that I know how that applies here.

I used to (mid-2000s) work for a SaaS company whose main customers were municipalities and universities in the US. We always had NDAs on file for customers we did business with. It was SOP.

We weren't swindling them out of billions of dollars, though. It was something that had prices in the 30k-40k annually range.

I can certainly see room for exemptions. Like if your SaaS covers police investigations in progress and such, makes a lot of sense that they don't fork over anything with that or sensitive architecture information.

But general terms of a deal and etc.... that's just gotta be known.

I can't speak for Wisconsin, but the laws are usually riddled with exemptions. E.g. records sensitive to a 3rd party.

The podcast really illustrates the anti-intellectualism that has overtaken politics (especially on the right-wing). Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. When questions were asked concerned citizens were shut down. Why listen to economists, technology experts, historians, and well informed citizens? When you can just go with your gut (really greed) and just disenfranchise the people in your constituents.

The secrecy was telling; if they actually had an informed democratic debate, the proposal would not cut the mustard.

The worst part is this really plays into the hands of the right-wing. Of course no one is going to trust government if they keep sabotaging it.

roenxi 16 days ago [flagged]

> especially on the right-wing

You just took a great message and made it partisan. Why would you do such a thing? :(

Looking at some stats [0] it is plausible that education levels have some influence on voting, but realistically it is probably going to be a proxy for socio-economic status.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by anti-intellecual, but the left has the same tenuous relationship with science as the right. The right just tends to be more obvious, because "science" has become a tool for telling poor people that the moral option is to accept lower living standards (eg, climate change => you are a bad person for consuming, but the rich aren't making sacrifices. Economics -> bankers get government protection from going bust, poor people get ruined with debt). I suspect these people aren't anti-science so much as they are pro-fairness, there are clearly massive class biases in the science that gets foisted on the political discourse.

[0] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/11/08/the-2018-mid...

There is no comparable anti-intellectual streak in the American left as there is in the right. Attempts to equate the two is pure bothsiderism, as insulting as it is wrong.

This is a deeply unproductive argument.

Not sure about the productivity of it, but is it wrong?

Consider the belief, widely held by American conservatives, that destructive weather cannot possibly be related to climate change, but rather is God's punishment of America for legalizing gay marriage. As stated publicly by such conservative icons as Tony Perkins, John Hagee, and Franklin Graham. It's easy to passively dismiss these guys' views as fringey, but they are definitely not fringe actors in D.C. All are influential in mainstream republican politics, and all are staples of mainstream conservative media.

Perkins is perhaps the most powerful evangelical lobbyist in America, whose endorsement has long been practically requisite for repubican candidates for both congress and the presidency. Hagee leads another of the largest political organizations in the country, was an ally and confidant to the Bush white house, and is now enjoying a surge in popularity due to Trump's enthusiastic support. And Franklin Graham, nearly as famous and influential as his father.

This is just one example I picked at random. There are many, many more. I can't offhand think of a comparable example from the liberal side of mainstream American politics. The nearest I can conjur is from Britain: Jeremy Corbyn's support of the Chavez/Maduro regime in Venezuela.

I wasn't hoping for a recapitulation of the argument.

Yes, I understand that, but my question up there wasn't just rhetorical. I'm asking your opinion.

It's not productive because it doesn't matter how much you're right and they're wrong. Yes, mainstream Conservatives and the GOP are anti-science. If they deny it and you try to argue, what is the point? What are you going to achieve by arguing with them about what side is worse?

You should be focusing on how to reduce GOP political power. How can we actually get people elected who won't be anti-intellectual? How can we turn out more voters? How can we elect people who aren't corporate stooges?

Another route: think about how you can better communicate with Republican voters that the Democratic party better represents their interests than the GOP. You definitely aren't winning their votes by telling them that they're the whole problem.

I don’t think it’s right to avoid pointing out the responsible party just because their partisans will dispute it and the discussion will devolve from their.

It’d be like a conference on measles and not mentioning vaccines because it makes 20% of the delegates filibuster the parties with speeches on autism.

> Attempts to equate the two is pure bothsiderism, as insulting as it is wrong.

I'm not letting the irony escape here; you've found the time to express a strong emotional response, but not enough time to actually explain or argue.

> There is no comparable anti-intellectual

As I hinted at above, how are we defining anti-intellectual today? Because a very quick check suggested to me that "anti-intellectualism" is defined as "republican party policy". Eg, I found a Quora article [0] where someone attempts to spin homosexuality as an intellectualism issue (second point, ironically dismissing the opinions of a neurosurgeon as unscientific in the process). That is off the rails; being homophobic is just plain bigotry. Homophobia is a symptom of intolerance, not anti-intellectualism. The scientific status of homosexuality is probably irrelevant to most bigots.

If we define anti-intellectual as anti-science, then it is plague on both houses territory. Both wings of politics have hot-button issues where any attempt to use science will result in angry crowds forming.

If we are defining that as right-wing people don't like academics then that seems plausible to me, but also not exactly a problem. Academics can be wrong politically just like the rest of us (academics were famously pro-communism as a body, and look where that went!). With that in mind, it isn't anti-intellectualism as such rather than a recognition that academics aren't supporting issues that right wing voters think are important. Pretend that 60% of plumbers associate right wing - nobody on the left is anti-plumber because they are on the other side of the political spectrum. At worst their political beliefs would be ignored.

[0] https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-think-the-GOP-is-anti-in...

> ironically dismissing the opinions of a neurosurgeon as unscientific in the process.

Ah yes, you're referring to Ben Carson, the famous neurosurgeon. Let's take a look at one of his more prominent scientific statements on homosexuality:

> "[homosexuality] is a absolutely a choice (...) because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight—and when they come out, they're gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."

Brilliant, right? In a subsequent defense of his statement (couched in an apology of sorts), he went on to deny the very existence of transgender and intersexual people:

> "I'm a doctor trained in multiple fields of medicine. Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality. We do know, however, that we are always born male and female."

Unfortunately his vast medical knowledge and experience seems to have left him completely unaware of the numerous people born physically hermaphroditic, or the much greater numbers of people whose non-binary sexual development is caused by hormonal conditions such as Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.

That such profoundly ignorant statements lead many people to discount Dr. Carson's opinions is thoroughly unsurprising.

Why would the opinion of a neurosurgeon on homosexuality be relevant or interesting? It’s not as if homosexuality is apparent in the large-scale structures of the brain that are visible to a surgeon.

Wait, what?

The raging measles epidemic in my state came, in large part, from granola munching upper west side moms. (The balance came from the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn.)

They have absolutely nothing in common except their rabid disavowal of modern medical science when it interferes with their pre-existing prejudices.

And yet you’ll find essentially no anti-vaccination sentiment among left-wing politicians. (In fact, by far the most prominent politician to espouse anti-vaccination views is the Republican President.) Left-wing anti-intellectuals certainly exist, but they have little traction.

Contrast this with the right wing, where things like denial of climate change are a major part of the party’s platform, to the point that you’d hard time getting elected as a member of that party if you express confidence in the scientific consensus.

" no comparable anti-intellectual streak in the American left as there is in the right"


Intersectionalism, as it is applied popularly, is a massively 'anti intellectual' exercise.

Authoritarianism, controlling speech, banning speakers etc. at campuses all across the US is largely driven by a specific group of leftists.

Those actions are quite fundamentally 'anti intellectual' and 'anti liberal' to the point wherein it has quite a number of people in those communities afraid to speak out.

This has spread from academia into other institutions such as government and media and has significant impact upon us all.

I'm not taking sides, other than to point out that there's some roughshod everywhere you look, it just takes different forms. The hard part is most people might not want to have the self awareness to consider that some actions may be corrupt, i.e. banning 'Jordan Peterson' from speaking may be considered a moral act by some, hence, they see nothing wrong on 'their side' only 'the other'.

You'll notice that only stories that make some Republican look bad stay on the front page for very long. The American left isn't so much anti-intellectual as they are anti-inconvenient-facts, although the end result is largely the same.

Both sides ignore 'inconvenient facts'. Neither side seems to be willing to admit it. And framed using certain language i.e. 'anti-intellectualism' then one side can frame themselves as less ignorant than the other, even if it's not true.

Interesting how the podcast mostly concentrated on the petty mayor as being responsible for cramming the deal through. Many of the comments here, though, put the blame up to the governor level. (Which probably makes more sense for something this big)

Except this podcast is not entirely true. https://www.reddit.com/r/gimlet/comments/a4hcv9/reply_all_13...

Did you read the comments there? The OP doesn't have it right.

I did read the comments. Keep in mind that it's a subreddit for that particular podcast and the members will be partial to it. Still, the fact remains (I heard that episode too) is that the show portrayed the fellow in the wheelchair as being screwed over by the village, when his mother pocketed the entire amount allocated to the household.

See this news release by Mount Pleasant:

"...The local development agreement stipulates that, if, for any reason, Foxconn’s investment on the campus falls short, the company remains obligated to support a minimum valuation for the project of $1.4 billion, which will more than pay for all public improvements and development costs for the project."


Is there a timeframe on this obligation?

And if the project is cancelled, it'd be logical that Foxconn will be limited to costs incurred to date. It's not like 1.4B is an open unconditional check.

I will never get over how "reporting" seems to amount to publishing a bunch of quotes by people without assessing their credibility. Why give Wisconsin Republicans, noted bad actors, a free mouthpiece in this article at all, let alone without context for whether their comments about "economic uncertainty" under the Dem governor hold any water?

Alternatively, the reporter is giving those Republicans rope to hang themselves. It all depends on how many people in the audience are capable of recognizing the bullsh*t for what it is.

And don't forget, that number might be small today but could grow much larger down the road. One aspect of reporting is creating a record. Without a record there can be no accountability. One function of a newspaper article is to provide context for quotations, and in particular a timestamp.

yes, but that can all be accomplished while also contextualizing their comments with the facts of the situation.

It’s a tenet of responsible journalism to allow those involved in a story to comment on it. Which is why mainstream news stories so often contain a line about “XY did not respond to a request for comments” or similar.

While journalists do choose who to talk to when seeking, for example, experts in a certainty j field of science, politicians are regarded more as the holder of their office, and not evaluated individually.

When they are lying or incompetent, the reader needs to be able to see so for themselves using the reported facts, I. e. “Show, don’t tell”. Anything else would rightfully be accused of editorializing.

And I expect that the report would include those facts alongside the quote so I could make that decision. This does not. Readers are not going to go on their own investigation.

So a lot of people seem to be saying something along the lines of "Wisconsin spent 4+ billion and now they're getting nothing in return."

But WI didn't write a 4 billion dollar check or anything. It was a promise of tax credits. If it turns out that Foxconn basically doesn't do anything in WI, then they won't make any money there so they won't owe any taxes so they won't use any of the credits.

So the whole thing becomes a much ado about nothing sort of situation (aside, I suppose, from the big waste of time spent negotiating everything).

Is this basically right, or am I misunderstanding something?

From what I understand, this isn't the case on two points. One, the incentive package includes hundreds of millions in construction (road building, utilities, etc) that would otherwise be unneeded and is being paid for out of pocket by the state government instead of Foxconn. Two, because Wisconsin doesn't have a corporate income tax, the subsidies would occur in the form of cash payments to Foxconn that the Walker administration claimed would be repaid via personal income taxes on the new Foxconn workers.

And Wisconsin is on the hook for around ~$1B in cash regardless of Foxconn's actual investments.


The more important aspect of this story IMHO is that the Foxconn factory was used as a disingenuous political tool.

You're correct but don't let anything get in the way of ycombinator users blaming evil large corporations for problems. Most of the top posts appear to have not even read the article that was posted.

The reason things have changed is because of knock-on effects from Huawei, IMO. Foxconn would be in a very similar situation if they had proceeded.

I’m as willing to blame anything on big corporation as a Marxist flying United. But in this case I strongly feel responsibility lies with the state government, which should never have maneuvers itself into a position where it could be harmed in such a way. That’s what contracts are for, after all.

HN was also harshly critical of Amazon’s HQ2 search/reality show and the willingness to subsidies successfull corporate giants with race-to-the-bottom tax incentives.

They got their $4billion handout from Scott Walker and are predictably walking back on it.

Corruption from the so-called party of "fiscal responsibility"

Actually, they didn't get it yet.

That said, yes, there are already millions in "sunk costs" that have already been borne by the people of Wisconsin. But at a time like this, it's probably best not to let the "Sunk Cost Fallacy" get the better of you.

They _finally_ finished construction on the I-94/I-41 upgrade (also accommodating a new Amazon warehouse near Kenosha) a couple of years back, and this Foxconn agreement meant having to tear it all up again and redo it even wider than before. It's (IMO) unsafe to drive through in the Winter time.

It's a perpetual mess in Southeast Wisconsin. The problems extend far further than just the economics of the deal, into perpetual construction, shady eminent domain and reclassification of generational farms as "blighted", etc. It's criminal how much this one "deal" cost the area.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm a Wisconsinite as well. So I'm incensed by this whole cluster-F. I was just pointing out that while we have spent millions on construction and royally screwed over a lot of farmers and people in southeastern WI, we haven't actually handed over any money to Foxconn yet. So we may be best advised to take our losses, which I concede are considerable, and leave the table so to speak.

I'm just trying to be rational.

It's definitely not a knock on you or your position; it's more a knock on these sorts of politically-motivated, but empty, sweetheart deals. Walker's a particularly efficient trigger when the subject comes up.

Also, I'm just a bit bitter as someone who travels back to my hometown area (the Fox Valley) often from Chicago and it's never the same thing twice. ;)

I'm not so much bitter as filled with pity, to see all the effort Kenosha went to to try to recover from the loss of AMC, and then the remaining Chrysler factory jobs. But the downtown streetcar from nowhere to nowhere takes the prize for worst idea. The only way for it to be sadder is if it were an elevated monorail.

The reason people stay is that nowhere better wants them to come. And they can at least scrape some value out of the traffic between Chicago and Milwaukee, and from the far-flung commuters, and Chicagoans looking for a cheaper place to tie up their weekender sailboats during the summer.

13000 jobs would have been a real boon for the area, if they were ever real. But the Rust Belt is rusting, and states and communities are competing against one another to be the last spots of steel left, when everything else around is grimy red holes. Kenoshans will vote for anyone that promises more jobs or better jobs, no matter how transparently false the story may be. Their dads built cars, and now they're stuck cleaning the go-karts at Action Territory, or waiting tables, or commuting for an hour or more each way. So the one who tells them the most comforting lie wins.

I think it's probably the exact same story in Janesville, after the GM plant is finally closed for good, with no backsies. In another 10 years, someone will promise them a big manufacturing plant there, and the voters will fall for the exact same trick, all over again.

> and reclassification of generational farms as "blighted

Not that I'm defending this obvious abuse of power but most multi-generational farms have enough old vehicles and equipment sitting around that most white collar people would call them "blighted" if the context were different.

IDK that it's an option. Is the current administration in Wisconsin able to walk away from the deal they made with Foxconn? If so, then great, they can ignore the sunk cost fallacy and walk away only slightly injured.

But, and I'm not an expert here, I assumed that deals like these have some kind of protections in place to limit exactly that sort of course reversal from happening. From an outsider, this appears to be a situation where they may not be getting handed the full 4 Billion Dollars that everyone mentions, but they still used deceptive tactics in order to receive a sweetheart deal from the Wisconsin government.

My current understanding is that this isn't as good as some people are trying to make it seem (Net positive for the state! Much Gains!) but also not as bad as others seem to assume (we paid 4 billion dollars and get 0 return on that during the lifetime of the deal) and instead seems to be somewhere in the middle (we are paying more money than this deal is actually worth)

That's a rather interesting question... maybe.


> First, the fact that state passed a law with special benefits for only one party. “It’s a principle of law that you can’t pass a law for the benefit of only one business or person,” Flynn says.

> Specifically, the Wisconsin Constitution has a provision prohibiting special laws to benefit a particular party that are not general in scope. And the law providing a subsidy for Foxconn gives the company different legal treatment than any business in Wisconsin:

> -Foxconn is exempt from state law requiring an Environmental Impact Statement to be filed by any new company building a plant;

> -And Foxconn has been awarded special legal treatment under the courts, whereby any legal claims made against it can bypass the state court of appeals and go straight from circuit court to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In fact, any decision by a circuit court is automatically “stayed” or delayed, until the Republican-leaning Wisconsin Supreme Court takes up the case.

> No other business in Wisconsin has been accorded these benefits. The Republican-dominated legislature sought to disguise this, Flynn notes, by targeting the benefits to any company in a designed investment area, “but then they said there can be only one company allowed in this area. That’s tantamount to saying only Foxconn can benefit from this, which is unconstitutional.”

> ...

> A second challenge to the legality of the Foxconn deal, Flynn notes, is for breach of contract. The company promised to build a Generation 10.5 plant, with a factory of workers building panels for 75-inch TVs, but it now says it will build a much smaller Gen 6 plant, with most of the manufacturing done by robots.

> The deal, moreover, was supposed to provide a state subsidy in return for 13,000 jobs going to Wisconsin workers, but Foxconn is now considering bringing workers from China, as the Wall Street Journal has reported. The company denies this, but had earlier denied the change away from 75-inch TVs, only to later concede these news reports were correct.

> Moreover the company said that while Wisconsin workers will be the first priority, “We will supplement that recruitment from other US locations as required.”

One extra problem here though is that the outgoing Wisconsin government made several changes to the powers of the Governor during the lame duck period. It wasn't a gut job, but they did kick the legs out of a few powers that could have helped.

There's no "sunk cost" here. The billions Foxconn would get are in lack of taxes. If there's no profit made there's no taxes to collect and give rebates on.

I'm really getting tired of people confusing tax rebates vs tax deductions vs outright grants.

Tax rebates are you get $X off your taxes. No profit, no rebate. There's no grants going on here.

Assuming the only other alternative to making the Foxconn deal is "and nobody else wanted to use the land for anything that would have created any revenue or jobs or benefit to society" you're still not right.That's rarely the world we live in though, so it's worse than that best case scenario.

As part of the deal, it has seemed very likely that Foxconn will use eminent domain to seize property from people. If the whole debacle really does shit the bed and "no profit, no rebate" then I think there's a valid argument to say that there was no "public good" need to seize that land. This isn't even getting into the infrastructure costs the state has to lay out on road work/etc, or the cost of legal fees, court time, etc this project draws.

There are costs. They have nothing to do with rebates. This deal has a really high probability of being a net loss for the state (plus creating a likely "fool me once..." feeling with the voters for the next project that feels similar).

Cool. Let Wisconsin recoup those costs with tariffs (through the Federal gov) on Foxconn products crossing the US border.

>Let Wisconsin recoup those costs with tariffs (through the Federal gov) on Foxconn products crossing the US border.

i.e. from US iPhone users. I'd prefer that Wisconsin bear the costs on their own - they would think better next time when electing people like Walker as the right to elect your representatives is free like speech not like beer. There is a reason California for example doesn't elect those "pro-business low taxes" self-styled magicians.

Electing a governor is one thing, and notably, we just elected a new one. But representatives are protected by gerrymandering and are thus not "elected" in a completely straightforward sense. At the very least, overturning the composition of the legislature could be a more complicated matter.

Gerrymandering doesn't affect votes, it just affects how they're counted. The people of the state are still electing those representatives, the gerrymandering is just a mechanism whatever party is currently in power uses to give themselves an edge in staying in power a little longer. It's still up to the people to provide the votes for that party, and they do. Voting districts still have to be roughly equal in population (which is why they're redrawn periodically), so if that party stays in power, it's because a majority of the people in that state have voted for that party.

As always, the people are getting the government they elected and that they deserve.

In 2018, 53% of votes for Wisconsin State Assembly went to Democrats, and Republicans won 64% of the seats (see https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/blogs/wisconsin-voter/20...). So in this case it's not true that "if that party stays in power, it's because a majority of the people in that state have voted for that party".

> Gerrymandering doesn't affect votes, it just affects how they're counted.

No, gerrymandering doesn't affect the raw number of votes for each candidate, but it undeniably affects the outcome of elections.

> it's because a majority of the people in that state have voted for that party.

That's not true, because of the affect gerrymandering can have.

>No, gerrymandering doesn't affect the raw number of votes for each candidate, but it undeniably affects the outcome of elections.

Oh, absolutely. But still, if Party X has a majority in the legislature, that still means that a very, very large number of your fellow citizens (possibly not an outright majority, depending on just how the gerrymandering worked out, but probably still very close to a majority) voted for Party X.

Another thing to note is that gerrymandering does not affect all elections. For a state, gerrymandering has zero effect on the governor's election, since all votes are counted equally in that race. So Wisconsinites are entirely to blame for their choice of their governor.

> so if that party stays in power, it's because a majority of the people in that state have voted for that party.

False. Depending on how well you can gerry-mander, you can easily get a situation where in a two-party system, the party that gets the minority of the vote gets the majority of the seats, and a super-majority of the power.

That can only happen when the minority of votes is small though. A large majority of votes eventually cannot be contained.

What do you consider a large majority? Consider a three mathematically ideal gerrymandered districts. Two are engineered to have 50% + epsilon supporting party voters. "Burn" the third by stocking it with 100% dissenting party voters. 1/2+1/2=1. 1/2+1/2+2/2=2. A 2:1 majority of voters receives a 1:2 ratio of representation.

That is a complex question. Your simple math doesn't work out in the real world. There is no way to know for sure that someone who you think supports you actually does and will vote. Voters (and courts) look down on districts that are too irregular and a few will change based on that (including not vote for someone they otherwise like). The party out of power can run someone moderate and thus flip a few voters. When your party is in power you are more likely to stay home and not vote. All of these mean that practically your epsilon needs to be fairly large.

Note, the above is for a large set of districts. Gerrymandering does work well to keep one politicians in power.

>>> As always, the people are getting the government they elected and that they deserve.

No, there's no mechanism for "the people" to vote for a party in the legislature, as the people are divided up into districts.

The candidates whom I voted for, all won: Governor, assembly, senate. I didn't elect the government, and I don't deserve it. Who does?

Of course that's true for anybody who votes for any losing candidate. I think the problem for voting systems is to ensure that, if a vote falls short of a 100% consensus or massive landslide, can the government claim to be legitimately elected with no asterisk? I don't think this is a black and white question, and there is no perfect voting system, but my own opinion is that gerrymandering weighs against that claim of legitimacy.

gerrymandering is obviously a huge problem. What i wonder is why wouldn't voters put an initiative on a ballot to fight the gerrymandering. I mean for example some simple party-agnostic algorithm along the lines of maximizing clustering and convexity of districts (a mix of something like Voronoy and K-means).

>What i wonder is why wouldn't voters put an initiative on a ballot to fight the gerrymandering.

This is exactly why my favorite saying, "every nation gets the government it deserves" is so true. If the people don't like the way their democratic government is working, it's their job to demand a change. In states where ballot initiatives exist, this is even more true, as the people have a mechanism in place to go around the elected officials if necessary. If they aren't taking advantage of it, it's their own fault.

It's just like the Electoral College at the federal level. People whine and complain about it all the time, but does anyone ever push to have it changed? There's action right now to push the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment, guaranteeing women equal rights) through the ratification process as it's been short a few states for decades now, but where's the action to demand a Constitutional Amendment to rework the electoral system? There isn't any. The people are getting the government they deserve.

I've pushed to get rid of the Electoral College for years. There are also people who want to keep the Electoral College.

What government do I deserve?

The one you have, just like everyone. It's a collective thing.

I don't know if Wisconsin has voter-initiated ballot referenda at the state level. We can have county wide "advisory" referenda that are non binding on the state government.

What is wrong with Pro-Business representatives? Things are not super hunky dory with CALIPERS, the budget gymnastics of California are world renowned.

California is a such a top heavy reliant state, one brutal year in the stock market and returns of ultra rich, California will have a really bad time.

CA is not a model governance state, not even close.

They didn't get anything.

In fact, if a company is not going to invest after such massive subsidies are offered, then it's probably a huge valid signal that it really doesn't make sense for them.

I think "fiscal responsibility" isn't the term Republicans really operate under anymore.

They seem to be more "anti-tax" and "anti-entitlement" at this point.

fiscal responsibility is something the Republicans have only operated on when not in power. The democrats were making fiscal responsibility noises while out of power [on a national level], if it continues at all it is only because there is a division of power.

I think "fiscal responsibility" is absolutely a code-word for "minority party obstructionism".

That is one of the code words. All parties have code words that will fire up the base, but they don't really believe in.


wöwwwww just wow

It's helpful to look past the illusion of the two parties and realize that most of the politicians in each party are more on the same side in the big picture stuff than not.

This is an oft trotted out saying that completely lacks any substance and serves as a distraction to keep people from recognizing how much more some politicians are working against their personal interest than others.

WI (the topic of this discussion) is a perfect example. We went from having Russ Feingold (a true shining star of progressive politics and the only senator to vote against the PATRIOT act) to Ron Johnson who is a true weasel.

Don't try and tell me that the guy who voted against the Iraq war, thought Dodd-Frank didn't go far enough, and worked actively for campaign finance reform is the same as a climate change denying, anti-abortion, anti-EPA shill.

You pointed out one individual, that hardly proves your point.

There was a good Reply All podcast episode about this story in early December: https://www.gimletmedia.com/reply-all/132-negative-mount-ple...

The inevitably was sadly clear to all but those who had the power to make it happen.

Also worth listening is a follow-up with the reporter (Sruthi Pinnamaneni) on The Verge podcast:


This whole sordid affair is so reminiscent of how wealthy sports team owners play cities against one another to see which of them is willing to finance the most of their billion dollar wet dreams. Las Vegas, I'm looking at you! And Phoenix, you're next. Seattle, well, it's too late. You've already be scammed. Invariably, its a classic case of socializing the costs and privatizing the profits.

As someone who lives in Phoenix, I'm pretty certain it's too late for us as well...

Corruption started its latest incarnation in Wisconsin with Tommy Thompson. Approved the state lottery which led to casinos ( Chicago mafia controlled). Now, almost every month their is a fiduciary in some county or city government that gets caught with their hands in the till because of their casino losses. As for Foxconn... I keep saying this. We have almost all of the tech you need here in Wisconsin (or the upper midwest) for making our own lcd industry. 3M in Menomone Wi makes the Vikuity backlight material. We have pc board manufacturing (TTMI) in Chippewa Falls. Lots of electronic design talent at companies like Cray and HPE. So. Get in line and order the LCD production equipment from Nikon in Japan and start making some. What exactly do you need a contract manufacturer like Foxconn for?

The numbers here are staggering. The state of Wisconsin under Scott Walker subsidized this project at a rate of $14,000-$19,000 per citizen, not including the environmental and infrastructural impacts.

I wonder how much economic stimulus to existing businesses would be created by dropping $15k into everyone’s pocket.

Giving a tax break to get a company to move to your state doesn’t cost you anything if not offering it means you get no new jobs.

Basic game theory: you should always defect, because you’re always better off. Yet the ideal outcome happens when nobody defects.

This is why the states should agree (or the Feds somehow impose restrictions) not to make these sorts of deals.

So what’s the incentive for governments to become more efficient, need less tax money and attract more business?

I like the fact that states can choose to compete for companies.

I’m not proposing to ban lower taxes, just company-specific deals like these. A state wants to have a more friendly business environment to attract companies? Great! Just don’t negotiate tax breaks for a single factory.

> I wonder how much economic stimulus to existing businesses would be created by dropping $15k into everyone’s pocket.

Probably not as much as just leaving $15k in everyone's pocket in the first place. It's really insane to think that they created a $60k liability for a family of 4.

No it was not subsidized. You're making the same claims as those that claim that Nevada subsidized the Tesla Gigafactory that the backwards right likes to make. Don't fall for the same fallacies.

How many people here actually realize Foxconn is not a company from China, but from Taiwan?!!

"Taiwan, officially the Republic of China"...[0]


I'm glad political posts are rarely brought up here, because this place can be every bit as insufferable as reddit.

"new realities" = -60F wind chill

Yeah lol I can imagine the Taiwanese execs used to a tropical climate getting off the plane thinking WTF.

Well, a lot of people had said this plant was a bad deal for Wisconsin when it was announced. So they can now rejoice.

Not reconsidering anymore, Foxconn will be building Gen 6 LCD plant.

Feb 1st, 2019


" Foxconn Technology Group said Friday it will indeed build a liquid crystal display manufacturing plant in Wisconsin, following talks between President Donald Trump and company CEO and Chairman Terry Gou.

The Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer said it will move forward with construction of a so-called Generation 6 factory, or "fab," which typically produces screens for cellphones, tablets and small televisions.




Conned by the Fox.

I wonder if this is Foxconn's way of signaling to Trump that Foxconn wants the Wisconsin factory to be exempted from paying the new tariffs on imports of Chinese parts.

Crony capitalism, the Republicans here were awful. I hope others learn from the mistakes

Now now, this is plain ole capitalism.

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