This is partly about neoliberal corporate executives chasing non-union low wages, as Charles Mudede alluded to at Slog yesterday, but it’s also an attack on unionism itself. This isn’t about economics, it’s about an ideology that long ago concluded the very existence of unions is an affront. Face it, there are many, many people in our society who would gladly abolish unions if they could, but since they can’t, the next best thing is to create conditions where forming unions is next to impossible and put an Orwellian moniker like “right to work” on them.
So while the taxpayers of Washington state got to pay and pay and pay in a somewhat futile attempt to appease Boeing, now the citizens of South Carolina get to pay and pay and pay. Hell, we’ll all probably wind up paying still, because Republicans and the bidness guys and gals are already preparing to use this as an attack issue, claiming without any credibility that Washington state is somehow a bad place to do business, when numerous measures rank us fairly high. Plus we’ll all get to continue to pay for military work done by Boeing. (Earth to powerful US Senators, come in US Senators…)
Notice that in this “free market” economy, the transfer of wealth is from regular people to giant corporations, their shareholders and officers, and that tax dollars are extorted from all of us to make it so. Then when the system nearly crushes everyone and a neoliberal has to resort to extraordinary means to avert a world-wide cliff dive, he is attacked as an authoritarian tyrant in order to keep the peasants divided, even as he and his predecessor fork over billions of taxpayer dollars to prop up the decayed neoliberal order. It’s “socialism” if regular people get routine medical care, but it’s “free market” economics if corporations are not only awarded huge profits but literally paid off.
Capital, of course, is prized in our system above all else. Land, ie property and the means of production, also enjoys a high status. Labor is semi-disposable, and nothing infuriates neoliberals like workers who don’t realize their place in the pecking order. Boeing is putting labor in its place, both out of pique and as a warning to anyone who would challenge the existing order of things.
I’m quite certain skilled politicians instinctively understand the situation, and the interesting question is: now what? Boeing supposedly will still have a large presence in the state, and it needs a transition time to get the South Carolina facility up and running.
Since one of Boeing’s complaints is a lack of qualified engineers in Washington state, what say they pitch in now and help offset those massive tuition increases from last session? Surely Boeing won’t need all of that $3.2 billion in tax incentives over the next fifteen years or so, seeing as the people of South Carolina are being so generous.