Wisconsin Loses Race to the Bottom

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That GM chose to locate its new small-car production line in Orion, Michigan and not Janesville is painful for Wisconsin to be sure. But forget everything WMC tells you, winning a race to the bottom has always been a long-term losing strategy for working families.GM’€™s decision to base its new operation in Michigan and not Wisconsin isn’€™t much different than its decision to outsource jobs to other countries. And to the state that lures a company by tossing out as much in taxdollars as possible, you’re just a foreign nation with lower wages and working standards away from seeing that company leave you faster than you can light a cigar with a $100-dollar bill.

Chasing cheap labor across the globe from one “emerging” economy to the other doesn’t improve local economies as much as it inflates CEO bonuses. Moving manufacturing operations to third world countries that don’t regulate pollutants isn’t good business, it’s parasitic. And holding state governments hostage in an attempt to squeeze every last dollar from our shrinking treasuries isn’t creating a business-friendly environment, that’s extortion.

We need to focus on increased wages so that Americans have the buying power to purchase the products that Americans make. There is absolute correlation between the reduction in the percentage of union jobs and the longer hours and stagnant wages dominating the U.S. American workforce for the past 30 years.

If we decide that the relationship between business and government is strictly a financial one’€”where worker loyalty, local tradition, and societal priorities like public health, public education, reasonable work conditions, and clean air and water have no place’€”then we’€™ve doomed ourselves to a perpetual race to the bottom where every state constantly lowers its standards to appease corporations hell-bent on finding a state willing to do whatever is necessary to enrich shareholders instead of making our country stronger.

What WMC calls ‘€œbeing competitive,’€ working families call lowering our standard of living.

Wisconsin was right to make a generous offer to GM. Afterall, thousands of jobs were at stake. But lowering our standards for working families and abusing our taxdollars to the benefit of GM shareholders was not the right way to compete with Michigan.

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Cody currently oversees online communications, web development, and graphic design at One Wisconsin Now & the Institute, having served previously as Deputy Research Director.