In late November, 2011, my hometown South Carolina Upstate Newspaper breathlessly headlined that that enormous online retailer, Amazon was setting up shop in the county. Yep, they picked our humble little red-neck abode, to erect something called a Fulfillment Center. It’s two l’s with Amazon – they can sell, not spell. “May I fulfill your order?” This Fulfillment Center is otherwise known to normal people as a warehouse and distribution facility. This behemoth will bring with it 400 full-time jobs, hundreds more part-time (that I believe) and the promise of 2,000 more permanent jobs by the end of 2013. Pay? Probably around 23 – 15 grand per annum. That’ll buy a lot of Amazon shares at about $180.00 a copy.
In exchange for this mighty economic development coup, we would give them everything that wasn’t nailed down. We’re not even including the undisclosed state incentives. Remember, Amazon’s market cap is only $81 billion. They need all the help from these poor lil’ ole’ southern towns they can get.
There’s the inevitable fee-in-lieu of taxes gift and assorted other tax breaks contingent on a targeted jobs number. I remember being in Ohio when Siemens took a powder, not only did they fall well short of the jobs promised for their tax credits, they arrogantly pulled out without honoring their agreement to pay up for the shortfall. At least that’s what my County Commissioner friend told me at the time. I don’t know if the commish ever tracked Siemens down for the money. Where’s ‘Dog’ when you need him?
The local economic development gentry have already budgeted for nearly a half-million in infrastucture improvements; widening of the road, traffic signals and such. The final tally is estimated at $1.4 million. And who knows whether this mutli-billion dollar enterprise paid penny one for the substantial acreage they acquired for their wareh…’er Fullfillment center.
The rest of the incentives remain a mystery, probably never to be fully revealed. The head of the county counsel told me to send my FOI (Freedom of Information) request to somebody named Dupont, the Associate County Attorney. Given the fact that South Carolina government entities don’t have to disclose squat while such projects are in negotiation, a process they could stretch out for years, I’m not even going to waste a second of keyboard time emailing an FOI to anybody.
But think of all the jobs coming to our area, the insiders cry. Yeah, generally low-wage, temp and part-time work with, in the case with Amazon (according to their worker forums), a manager looking over your shoulder every second of the workday demanding you pack ‘x’ number of boxes per hour if you want to keep even this low-rent gig. Did I mention they actually give you a few minutes, twice a day to go to the can?
There is already a giant automaker in the area. BMW cranks out a bunch of fancy cars, none of which their average ‘associate’ could afford. They pay their American workers about a third of what their unionized brethren make in BMW’s home country of Germany. And, BMW adores ‘temps’. Easy to hire, easy to fire and the temp agency does all the heavy lifting with the paperwork. BMW can dangle the ‘full-time any day now’ carrot in front of a temp for years while still paying fast-food wages. God only knows what BMW drained out of government officials for the honor of paying non-union wages that would be double if South Carolina wasn’t a Right to Work state that didn’t despise unions.
Both company gift packages pale however, when compared to the Boeing take in North Charleston. For the privilege of hosting this giant airplane production company, the state, according to the Charleston Post and Courier, reportedly parted with nearly a billion dollars in incentives.
What’s really fascinating is that these giant job providers come in and the unemployment rate stays the same. That’s because their presence often forces numerous mom and pops to close their doors because they can’t compete.
Here’s what’s going on boys and girls.
America is about to become the new China. There are some economist who estimate that factoring in all variables, average U.S. and China wages will be equal in 5 years. That’s no accident. Some years ago, American manufacturers started moving overseas. Mostly to COMMUNIST China, where peasant wages were in the pennies per hour.
That spelled the death knell for unions – which was part of the intention in taking the plants abroad. After a few years of seeing thousands of their compatriots abandon their home country, the remaining companies would hold the threat of leaving over both non-union worker’s and union worker’s heads. And, by God, they made good on that threat. Unions lost their hold on the average worker who was terrified of losing his or her job if they dared approve of union representation.
A lot of those plants will stay overseas, but you’re starting to see many of them returning. Considering the lack of quality control and shipping nightmares, major manufacturers couldn’t be happier with that development. They get to come home (their profits will stay off-shore) and they don’t have to contend with unions or decent wages. Believe it or not, many brainwashed workers reflect what I recently read in an Amazon worker forum. Responding to employees bitching about their pay, one contributor said, paraphrasing here, to quit your complaining and be happy with your FREE MARKET wage.
How’s that for a Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Tea Party, right-wing propaganda success story? Be satisfied with your ever-declining, non-union FREE MARKET wage. That gent said all that needed to be said about today’s and tomorrow’s and maybe, if you’re dumb enough to keep putting Koch-controlled robots into office, an entire generation’s work and pay future.