Counting our chickens before they're hatched

All of Wisconsin is apparently agog over the Foxconn plant announcement that is coming this afternoon. Still, color me skeptical. Rumors are that Wisconsin is offering a huge tax break to Foxconn in return for building the plant, and the state has certainly paved the way by stomping on unions and generally making the living wage a past dream, something that Foxconn is certainly going to appreciate. But rumors abound that the state is offering somewhere between $100,000 and $300,000 per job in tax "bounty" for the plant. I'm not sure that the state will be able to actually agree to pony up a tax break that big, particularly in view of the current inability to pass a state budget even without the complication of a huge tax break for business. It's not at all clear where this leaves the local governments that will still need to provide services for the plant, their employees, and more.

But perhaps more concerning is that Foxconn has a history of announcing plants in various countries, including in the US, and not following through. Note this article in the Washington Post about the plant in Pennsylvania that was announced int 2013 to great hoopla) that has still not been built.

Locals were giddy. Foxconn had a small office here, but this seemed like the start of an entire new industry. Pennsylvania’s governor boasted about the deal. The Brookings Institution think tank hailed Foxconn’s decision as a sign of U.S. manufacturing’s strength.

But the factory was never built. The jobs never came. “It just seemed to fade to black” after the announcement, recalled a local official. It was the start of a mystery, created by a chief executive known to promise projects all over the world that never quite pan out. Yet few people seem to notice. Foxconn and others continue to get credit for deals that never take place. In December, Pennsylvania’s economic development staff was still touting the $30 million factory that never wa

Don't get me wrong on this - I would love to see a wide expansion of high tech jobs in the state (even though most of these jobs are likely to be relatively low in pay - don't kid yoursel that this is a replacement for, for example, the jobs lost in Janesville when GM left). But this is a hastily-assembled announcement of a tentative agreement - it may or may not go through, and may or may not involve the number of jobs being bandied about by Trump and Walker. Let's not count those jobs just yet.

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