Sunday, November 14, 2021

Foxconned: Imaginary Jobs, Bulldozed Homes & the Sacking of Local Government

Journalist Tabak (In Real Life) offers a stark cautionary tale of the murky practices, questionable economics, and political wheeling and dealing done in the name of economic development and job creation by manufacturing giant Foxconn, the Taiwan-based company that makes “some of the most popular electronics in the world,” including iPhones, Kindles, and PlayStations. In 2017, Donald Trump and Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s governor, announced the company would build a factory there, bringing 13,000 new manufacturing jobs to the state. Tabak highlights the costly accommodations necessary for that, powerfully demonstrating how the complex trade-offs that accompany speculative efforts to deliver new jobs can ultimately be just “a desert mirage to a thirst-crazed traveler.” He illustrates the human impact of economic development, as homeowners and small business owners risked losing their homes and livelihoods in the name of infrastructure expansion, and details the environmental compromises required to land a major job creator (environmentalists worried the state’s “rash” behavior would be “opening up lake water to aggressive and unregulated expansion”). Potentially dry economic concepts are accessible and eye-opening in Tabak’s hands, while the events of small-town board meetings are simultaneously infuriating and page-turning. Tabak’s impressively researched and investigated narrative is as timely as it is gripping. (Nov.)


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