Daily Bread for 9.5.22: The Grandiose

Good morning.

Labor Day in Whitewater will be party sunny with high of 74. Sunrise is 6:24 AM and sunset 7:21 PM for 12h 56m 42s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 69.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1942, the Japanese high command orders withdrawal at Milne Bay, the first major Japanese defeat in land warfare during the Pacific War:

The battle is often described as the first major battle of the war in the Pacific in which Allied troops decisively defeated Japanese land forces. Although Japanese land forces had experienced local setbacks elsewhere in the Pacific earlier in the war, unlike at Milne Bay, these earlier actions had not forced them to withdraw completely and abandon their strategic objective. Nor did they have such a profound impact upon the thoughts and perceptions of the Allies towards the Japanese, and their prospects for victory. Milne Bay showed the limits of Japanese capability to expand using relatively small forces in the face of increasingly larger Allied troop concentrations and command of the air. As a result of the battle, Allied morale was boosted and Milne Bay was developed into a major Allied base, which was used to mount subsequent operations in the region.

The Foxconn project in Wisconsin wasted money, destroyed people’s homes, and saddled nearby communities with decades of municipal debt.  It would not have happened had people not been susceptible of the grandiose (lit., characterized by excessive self-importance or affected grandeur; pompous.) Yet they were. 

Corrinne Hess reports ‘Grandiose expectations’ brought Foxconn to Wisconsin, participants in town hall discussion say:

RACINE — Unrealistic, grandiose plans with a touch of greed is how panelists at a Foxconn town hall meeting described the last five years since the mega factory was announced. 

Mount Pleasant, a bedroom community of Racine, was catapulted to international prominence in 2017 when the Taiwanese-based manufacturing company announced its plan to invest $10 billion and create 13,000 high-paying high-tech jobs there. 

Foxconn has massively scaled back those plans and it is unknown what the company is doing in Mount Pleasant in the four buildings it has constructed. 

Lawrence Tabak, the author of “Foxconned: Imaginary Jobs, Bulldozed Homes, and the Sacking of Local Government,” said every economic developer is looking for the next Silicon Valley. That’s what Mount Pleasant and Wisconsin hoped it was getting with Foxconn. 


[Professor of urban planning at the University of Illinois Chicago David] Merriman, who has studied tax incremental financing since the 1980s, said it doesn’t seem like it’s in Foxconn’s interest to continue making payments to the village. 

“We don’t know what will happen — people can tell you they know, but they don’t,” Merriman said.

“The basic question is, is the community better off than it was before? The burden hasn’t fallen on the community, but the risk has. If Foxconn decides to default, Mount Pleasant is not in a good space.” 

For an entire category at FREE WHITEWATER dedicated to this wasteful project, see Foxconn

Whitewater’s suffered, and sometimes still does, the affliction of grandiosity. Old Whitewater, a state of mind more than a time or person, produced nothing so much as boosterism’s grandiosity (accentuating only the positive and exaggerating the importance of whatever public project the boosters were promoting). In Whitewater, the years 2006—2007 were its high water mark. The public officials of that time — Brunner for the city, Coan for the police department, Steinhaus for the school district, and Telfer for the university— were exemplars of small-thinking and big-talking.  One looks back and thinks: not one of these officials or their hangers-on was worthy of his or her position. 

(The City of Whitewater recently decided against choosing Brunner’s consulting firm to gather candidates for its next city manager. Honest to goodness, that was an easy, sensible decision. To have chosen otherwise would have opened the city to a lengthy recitation of Brunner’s past managerial mistakes while in Whitewater’s or Walworth County’s employ. Ignoring the past, condemned to repeat…) 

Gains that the boosters touted as extraordinary and eternal (e.g., campus enrollment, a so-called Innovation Center, various road projects) have proved exaggerated and ephemeral. Although their outlook continued for many years after ’06—’07, and even now has a grip on a few, in each subsequent year boosterism has grown less credible.

The Great Recession of ’07—’09 set Whitewater on a course from which she has yet to recover. The boosters had no cure for that downturn; on the contrary, their outlook exacerbated the city’s ills through willful ignorance. An accurate understanding of the city’s political and socio-economic condition requires that one see this clearly. Alternative explanations are erroneous to the degree of their departure from this understanding. 

Government should have been, and should be, limited, responsible, and humble.

Grandiosity? It was a problem in Whitewater long before Foxconn came along. 

How This Florida Town Became the Sea Sponge Capital of the World:

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