WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg and Director of Public Engagement Collin Roth write in National Review Online on the market distorting effects of tax incentives and crony capitalism that is being proposed by legislators in Madison for Kimberly-Clark.
Every so often, life hands us a lesson in why principle matters. While compromise is often necessary, it comes at a cost: When we abandon a strongly held commitment to something — say, free markets or fiscal responsibility — we weaken our ability to insist upon it in the next case. If you don’t believe us, just look at Wisconsin.
In January, Kimberly-Clark announced plans to cut 13 percent of its global workforce. This was likely the result of two straight years of disappointing growth in a difficult market for the paper products that the company manufactures. Kimberly-Clark’s restructuring plan would result in the loss of up to 5,500 jobs nationally and the closing of ten of its 91 manufacturing facilities — including one plant in Neenah, Wis., and another in Fox Crossing, Wis., which together support 600 jobs.
The timing of Kimberly-Clark’s announcement is critical. Wisconsin recently finalized a massive $3 billion incentive package for technology company FoxConn, which plans to build an enormous $10 billion facility in the state that could employ up to 13,000. The cost of the package is staggering — somewhere between $219,000 and $587,000 per job. But supporters argue that FoxConn offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and Governor Scott Walker has made it a centerpiece of his campaign for a third term, gambling that it will spur the development of a new Silicon Valley along the western shore of Lake Michigan.