#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor
Josh Dzieza offers the setup, for The Verge:
Hopes were high among the employees who joined Foxconn’s Wisconsin project in the summer of 2018. In June, President Donald Trump had broken ground on an LCD factory he called “the eighth wonder of the world.” The scale of the promise was indeed enormous: a $10 billion investment from the Taiwanese electronics giant, a 20 million-square-foot manufacturing complex, and, most importantly, 13,000 jobs.
Which is why new recruits arriving at the 1960s office building Foxconn had purchased in downtown Milwaukee were surprised to discover they had to provide their own office supplies. “One of the largest companies in the world, and you have to bring your own pencil,” an employee recalls wondering. Maybe Foxconn was just moving too fast to be bothered with such details, they thought, as they brought their laptops from home and scavenged pencils left behind by the building’s previous tenants. They listened to the cries of co-workers trapped in the elevators that often broke, noted the water that occasionally leaked from the ceiling, and wondered when the building would be transformed into the gleaming North American headquarters an executive had promised.
The renovations never arrived. Neither did the factory, the tech campus, nor the thousands of jobs. Interviews with 19 employees and dozens of others involved with the project, as well as thousands of pages of public documents, reveal a project that has defaulted on almost every promise. The building Foxconn calls an LCD factory—about 1/20th the size of the original plan—is little more than an empty shell. In September, Foxconn received a permit to change its intended use from manufacturing to storage.
Even the handful of jobs the company claims to have created are less than real: many of them held by people with nothing to do, hired so the company could reach the number required for it to get tax subsidy payments from Wisconsin. Foxconn failed at that objective, too: last week, Wisconsin rejected the company’s subsidy application and found it had employed only 281 people eligible under the contract at the end of 2019. Many have since been laid off.
The punch line, of course, is not funny, and more of a kick in the teeth. Some part of me wonders at a performance art scandal from once upon a time, and it ought not be so obscure a memory when Steve Jobs told President Obama certain jobs weren’t coming back°. The prospect of inevitability, that of course it’s Foxconn, should be absurd, but this is also the Trump administration, and of everything else under the sun during the game show host’s presidency, his petty obsession with somehow undoing his predecessor is neither an obscure observation nor the strangest possible explanation for the nearly ineffable mess in Wisconsin: “This is something I can’t talk about ever again,” one employee told Dzieza, “because people think you’re crazy, like none of this could ever happen. How could this happen in the US?”