Sunday, November 01, 2009

Is the Boeing 787 an Edsel or a BMW?

Both of my non-Episcopalian readers are now gone, bored by two solid weeks of all Bishop's race all the time. So now for something completely different: Boeing comes to South Carolina. Like everybody else with a Twitter account my inbox quickly filled up Wednesday with dozens of messages from politicos taking credit for bringing "3800 jobs to South Carolina."

I am wondering if any of them know what it is exactly they are buying for 25 times the sum they spend on early education through First Steps. I wonder if any of them know the history of the plane airline industry insiders call the "7-late-7?" I wonder if they know that the plane has never flown and that production has been plagued by a nearly endless series of problems, from design flaws to sub-contractors that never seem to deliver.I wonder if they know that Boeing has lost billions on the non-existent plane from contract penalties for non-delivery? No, probably not. And even if they did, these are people who keep taking about lower taxes and smaller government as the solution to everything, except when it isn't.

All they saw was a big company in search of cheap labor and no union presence. So they put on their lipstick, fishnet stockings and blue eye-liner for the boys from Boeing, hiked up their skirt and planted a big wet kiss on their mouth. But you have to wonder, what kind of company would dump the community it had literally grown up with since 1916? Why would they be loyal to South Carolina, when they know that we are so desperate that we will spend money we don't even have to seduce them? The good news is that I can now laugh out loud when one of our elected officials tells me that he or she is committed to "putting taxpayers first."

I hope that the $450 million welfare check (Does that come with food stamps, too?) for Boeing's stockholders actually does create the promised 3,800 jobs. I hope that the 787 Dreamliner is more than a waste of tax dollars that we can ill afford to spend on dreams. But I have an uneasy feeling that this is like Ford announcing that its new model, the Edsel, will not be made in Dearborn, but in the sleepy Southern port of Charleston.

3 comments:

William Hamilton said...

I understand how desperate the State is. I see huge suffering. I also understand how being a crack dealer can help someone make a car payment.

However, at $14 an hour a worker can't possibly support a single child, much less a household. If the goal here is to help create stable, middle class families with 2 kids, 2 cars where mom stays home and makes meatloaf, these numbers won't do that. These families won't be able to fully participate in the social and civic life of our communities. They'll struggle, skip PTA and take second jobs.

A politician, who fondly remembers their youthful struggles 30 years ago, might see the math differently, remembering a world of $15O a month rent, but that Charleston disappeared decades ago.

This may be the best we can do, but I'm sure nobody ever worked out the long term math here. Hundreds of millions of dollars in future tax revenue had to be sacrificed. Other people will have to pay for schools and roads now.

Snead said...

South Carolina elites have taken advantage of cheap labor for hundreds of years. Why stop now?

T.J. Harrington said...

I'm still here. I'm not Episcopalian. Although I could probably persuade my wife to convert if y'alls daycare is any good.

As to the topic, jobs that don't provide a living wage can't really be considered a net positive. The side benefits of additional spending on ancillary jobs are where the impact occurs. But again, its corporate welfare on the backs of the most vunerable in our society.