Foxconn’s Secret Deal with UW-Madison

These last several years in Wisconsin have seen a politics of corporate manipulation of public spending and a retreat from principles of open government. Businesses and business lobbying groups routinely expect public money for business projects that should be wholly private. (Scheming development gurus often refer to taxpayer money as their ‘tools,’ as though the…

On New Market Tax Credits for a Fairfield Inn and ‘Community Engagement’

The use of government-issued New Market Tax Credits will bring Whitewater a Fairfield Inn and a building for the existing local campus to lease. Proponents of an ordinary hotel and a lease agreement for the university cannot offer any evidence that these projects will boost local individual or household incomes. What one can show –…

“Later This Year”

One reads that Foxconn [is] planning to buy land for innovation centers later this year. Read a bit closer, however, and one learns that ‘later this year’ is about as undependable as ‘the check is in the mail’ or ‘I gave at the office’: A question regarding innovation centers was one of many from Democratic Assembly Minority Leader…

A Tax Incremental Financing Review

Today at four o’clock, the Joint Review Board is scheduled to review Whitewater’s tax incremental districts. Views of tax incremental financing – especially in a place like Whitewater – are a good test of someone’s basic understanding of economic development. Indeed, the test reduces to a simple relationship: the more one contends that tax incremental…

Foxconn Deal Melts Away

Rick Romell and Molly Beck report Foxconn now declines to say it plans to build type of factory named in state, local contracts: But in a shift from its stance of two months ago, the company on Wednesday did not offer assurances that it still plans to build the type of liquid crystal display panel plant…

Trump, Ryan, and Walker Want to Seize Wisconsin Homes to Build Foxconn Plant

A video on how Trump, Ryan, and Walker are abusing eminent domain law and seek to destroy the homes of Wisconsinites to build the Foxconn plant is well worth watching. The short video was removed from YouTube over a bogus copyright claim, but it’s back online. (In the time since the video was first published,…

Coerced Beauty Isn’t Beautiful


For a thousand years, some men in China insisted that a woman wasn’t beautiful, desirable, and worthy unless her feet had been bound into an unnatural and distorted form.

Rather than allow women to develop normally, these men insisted that their own imposed desires were superior to the natural feminine form.  The price of this imposition was a woman crippled and dependent for life.

If it should be true – and it is – that big-ticket projects in Whitewater have failed the fundamental test of community development (improvement of widespread personal and household economic well-being), then what shall one say of a generation’s efforts in that regard?

If it should be true – and it is – that unfettered demand heavily favors rental housing over single-family units in Whitewater, then what shall one say of a generation’s obsession with promoting a less favored arrangement over a more popular one?

It’s fair to say that some in Whitewater have supported these efforts in the belief that such programs might somehow make life better here. Such support, running contrary to the free, voluntary consumer demand in the whole area, might have been well-meaning, but was no less misguided.

For others, however, there must have been – and must be – some awareness, either partial or complete, that their efforts could – and can – neither meaningfully improve individual well-being nor change appreciably the overall housing stock of the city.

Empty programs attract notice that diverts attention from actual needs, and send resources in the wrong direction.

Community development in Whitewater, as it has been publicly advanced for the last few decades, looks nothing like the development of personal and household economic well-being.  Time and again, public resources have been directed at the bidding of a private business lobby.  Indeed, Whitewater’s Community Development Authority looks as much like a private 501(c)(6) business league as anything else.

Perhaps some in this city can’t imagine otherwise, in the way that years ago some men in China couldn’t imagine beauty unbound.

When the Whitewater CDA’s executive director rattles off an alphabet soup of public agencies to meddle in the marketplace, he’s parroting the sham capitalism so popular among fast-talking officials statewide.  State &  crony capitalism have the same relationship to free-market capitalism as pig Latin has to genuine Latin: they share some of the same letters, but mean very different things.

For a fraction of the public funds wasted on sketchy tech ideas and out-of-town businesses wandering nomadically for a handout, our city might have developed directed programs for the poor, and for in-town enterprises.

If it’s ‘community-minded’ to spread economic myths and reinforce empty boosterism, then to be community-minded has an unworthy meaning.

There is, of course, community happily to be found now in Whitewater, but it rests in private undertakings, apart from those who have directed public institutions to narrow and futile ends.

PreviouslyTwo Truths of Whitewater’s Economy.

Two Truths of Whitewater’s Economy

  There are two truths of Whitewater’s economy, each fundamental and each a refutation to the last generation’s myth-making. For today, it’s enough to list the two fundamental truths.   Large Public Projects Haven’t Overcome Weak Household-Income Levels in Whitewater. This is true both in aggregate, and for age brackets (children, adults 35-64) not representative…

About that Trump Tax Plan

In Whitewater, by press release (twice), one can read about the supposed benefits of the Trump tax plan. The Whitewater Community Development Authority’s executive director, Dave Carlson, was quick to push a portion of the plan as good for Whitewater. In doing so, he conceded what anyone observing Whitewater with care and concern already knew:…

Whitewater Listed as the Poorest City in Wisconsin

Samuel Stebbins and Michael B. Sauter, from 24/7 Wall Street, report Which town in your state is the poorest? Here is the list @ Gannett’s USA Today. For Wisconsin, they contend it’s Whitewater: Town median household income: $30,934 State median household income: $54,610 Town poverty rate: 38.2% Town population: 14,840 Whitewater has both the lowest median household income and the…

A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA

Sometimes, however rarely, even in places with the most stubborn boosterism, an official admits – wittingly or unwittingly – the failure of longstanding policy. Dave Carlson, executive director of the Whitewater Community Development Authority, is such an official. In a press release from March 27th, lauding a provision of the Trump tax bill, Carlson quotes…

Another Pig at the Trough

Jason Stein and Rick Romell report Foxconn: Glass maker could want hundreds of millions of dollars to locate alongside massive Wisconsin factory: To locate in Wisconsin, a key glass supplier to Foxconn wants financial help from the Taiwanese electronics giant or state taxpayers that could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. … Corning…

‘Crony Capitalism and Social Engineering: The Case Against Tax-Increment Financing’

Whitewater’s residents may have heard, as I have, ignorant and false boasting about the benefits of tax incremental financing. It’s variously described as increment or incremental financing, but either way, it’s a plan to entice developers with taxpayer funds by segregating from the general fund, if any, the revenue generated from a development to pay…