Thursday, November 09, 2006

Chip . . . Not So Fab?

In all the post-election euphoria (or depression as the case may be) this little story about about the Chip Fab plant that we "lost" to Saratoga County should not be overlooked. Susan Lawrence of the Hudson Mohawk Group of the Sierra Club has come out against putting the Chip Fab there.

""We just think it's an unwise use of the public's money when you have to build infrastructure and encourage sprawl," Lawrence said. . . .
"Lawrence and other activists argued upstate communities such as Utica, Marcy, Schenectady and Troy need development, and sites in those cities would have a less impact on the environment, she said."

Obviously we agree ... and we already know that the taxpayer would save $300 million in infrastructure costs by putting the Chip Fab here in Marcy.

"The company said it plans to create 1,205 jobs by 2014."

2014? Did we hear that right? 2014 is 7 years from now. Seven years is an eternity when computers are concerned. It will be anyone's guess if the plant will even be viable by then.

Some math helps put things in perspective. Divide the hoped-for jobs by 7 and it works out to adding an average of about 172 jobs per year. 172 ? We seem to lose that that number of jobs locally several times a year.

We love math. Here's the real interesting calculation: Divide the $1.2 Billion in taxpayer funded assistance by the number of jobs we will wait 7 years for and we come up with almost a Million Dollars per job. . . .again, that's Taxpayer Dollars mind you.

Yep. If our elected officials are going to throw that kind of money around, we want it thrown our way . . . and if they cared about the taxpayers, they should want it thrown our way, too, since they will get more "bang for the buck" here.

However, the whole idea of lavishing such huge sums to benefit one company is disturbing (if not illegal under Article VIII of the State Constitution -- but who's watching? Apparently not the Attorney General or the Comptroller). Wouldn't this money be better spent by leaving it in the taxpayer's pockets? Given the common knowledge that NY Taxes are what drives businesses out of state, wouldn't leaving the money with the taxpayers achieve better economic results? Why should other business segments be forced to subsidize nanotech? Like Rockefeller a generation ago, perhaps our elected leaders have an "edifice complex" and need to leave buildings behind as a sign of their achievements. Such psychotherapy is too costly.

We know that Mr. Spitzer has mentioned spending initiatives that sound similar to Mr. Pataki's, only favoring stem cell research instead of nanotech. We hope that Mr. Spitzer's administration will rethink this approach to business development.

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