What would you do to a couple of rich guys who brought workers in from Mexico illegally to work in their state of the art manufacturing plant and paid them only $2.66 an hour? What if they brought them in on a travel visa, not a work visa, making it illegal for them to work in this country? What if they paid them by direct deposit into a bank in Mexico, as opposed to an American bank subject to American regulators? Do you:
A: Fine them into bankruptcy for violating U.S. immigration laws and ripping off hard-working laborers?
B: Fine them into bankruptcy while fully prosecuting them and using them as an example with a multimedia national PerpWalk?
C: Quietly let them off with a $6,100 civil penalty fine?
The reason this column exists is because you are not in a position of power to pick “A” or “B.”
Eric Kurhi and Brandon Bailey reported in the San Jose Mercury News that Mexicans were bussed 1,300 miles into northern California to do welding and other jobs for Bloom Energy, a “green” company that has received a lot of praise for its fuel-cell technology. I presume it was for jobs U.S. citizens within a 1,300-mile radius of heavily liberal, wealthy Democratic Sunnyvale, California, refuse to do.
The men worked 51 hours a week and were not paid overtime. They were provided fabulous motel accommodations and 50 dollars cash each day for meals. Cash is, quite coincidentally, difficult to trace. If any of this appears to be accidental and certainly nothing like high-end human smuggling, consider the method of payment. The workers were not paid in U.S. dollars or in U.S. checks that might be easily traced. They were paid their handsome $2.66 per hour in pesos via transfers to a bank in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Bloom insists the illegal visas, the low pay, the bus, the bank transfers in Chihuahua, the cash for meals – every bit of it is just some terrible coincidence that could not possibly be planned, otherwise they’d be guilty of illegal immigrant smuggling. We certainly cannot believe that the wonderful people who happen to deposit millions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers to offset the real cost of the energy they sell would do anything untoward. After all, Bloom Energy is “green,” well-connected to the Democratic Party and its crony capitalist connections stretch from Sunnyvale, California, to Delaware.
Delaware, Governor Jack Markell was so impressed with Bloom Energy’s “green” marketing that he compelled his fellow Democrats, who control every branch of state government, to declare Bloom’s natural gas fuel a “renewable energy.” Considering natural gas has a tendency to dissipate, the state legislature in your state could use the logic of Delaware Democrats and declare oil to be renewable, too.
Please pay no attention to the campaign contributions made to Markell from one of Bloom’s biggest investment firms. Please also disregard the Governor’s payments to a PR firm and activities to create his “national brand.”
While Fisker is often called the “Green Car Solyndra,” the Bloom funding scheme could be the “Bloomdoggle.” Funding their big boxes of chemical reaction energy production wouldn’t be problem if traditional investment vehicles, tax breaks and infrastructure incentives were involved.
Instead, the state government in Delaware has simply commanded a single power company, Delmarva Power, to bill its customers a little extra and pass that money straight through to Bloom. No one else in the state pays. Only Delmarva Power customers, who have now become unwitting venture capitalists without dividends or stock to cash, whose monthly investment is not even shown on their monthly bill.
The Bloomdoggle is not as ham-handed as the “Sunnyvale Smuggle,” and certainly not as obviously prosecutable, but it does make one wonder, “How do they get away with it?”