Computer giant (and frequent subsidy recipient) Dell apparently tried to use an environmental initiative last week to deflect attention away from an announcement about ongoing financial difficulties. The company
made a big deal
over a plan to become “carbon neutral” at its corporate headquarters in Texas. But while its offices were going green, the company
it would be taking “green” out of the pockets of 900 workers at a nearby desktop assembly plant, which the company said would be shut down as part of a previously announced effort to eliminate 8,800 jobs. Or, as the Orwellian headline of the company’s
put it: “Dell Driving Actions to Enhance Competitiveness, Optimize Operations.”
When the identity of the plant slated for shutdown was announced, there was relief at some other company facilities—including the one in North Carolina being subsidized to the tune of some $270 million—that felt they had dodged a bullet. Yet a few days later, CEO Michael Dell
told investment analysts
that the job elimination target would be raised above the 8,800 figure. To make matters worse, he said Dell would outsource more of its assembly work.
Dell has a
of persuading local officials—in places such as Tennessee and Alberta as well as North Carolina—that giving the company generous tax breaks would be a virtual guarantee of supposedly high-tech prosperity. Now these deals look as prudent as a PC without virus protection.