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Saturday, November 6, 2021
Foxconned: Imaginary Jobs, Bulldozed Homes, and the Sacking of Local Government
Powerful and resonant, Foxconned is both the definitive autopsy of the Foxconn fiasco and a dire warning to communities and states nationwide.
When Wisconsin governor Scott Walker stood shoulder to shoulder with President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at the White House in July 2017, they painted a glorious picture of his state’s future. Foxconn, the enormous China-based electronics firm, was promising to bring TV manufacturing back to the United States with a $10 billion investment and 13,000 well-paying jobs. They actually were making America great again, they crowed.
Two years later, the project was in shambles. Ten thousand construction workers were supposed to have been building what Trump had promised would be “the eighth wonder of the world.” Instead, land had been seized, homes had been destroyed, and hundreds of millions of municipal dollars had been committed for just a few hundred jobs—nowhere near enough for Foxconn to earn the incentives Walker had shoveled at them. In Foxconned, journalist Lawrence Tabak details the full story of this utter collapse, which was disturbingly inevitable.
As Tabak shows, everything about Foxconn was a disaster. But worse, he reveals how the economic incentive infrastructure across the country is broken, leading to waste, cronyism, and the steady transfer of tax revenue to corporations. Tabak details every kind of financial chicanery, from eminent domain abuse to good old-fashioned looting—all to benefit a coterie of consultants, politicians, and contractors. With compassion and care, he also reports the distressing stories of the many individuals whose lives were upended by Foxconn.
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