Dems to Apple: Hire the 'economically disadvantaged'

Apple Inc. is getting a lesson in liberal social engineering in Austin, Texas. The hi-tech giant is considering a new facility there, but haggling over various tax breaks has taken a strange turn. Some Democratic officials are demanding that Apple -- in exchange for millions of dollars in tax breaks from Travis County -- hire residents who are "economically disadvantaged."

Austin is a liberal mecca and a high-tech one. But it's not the only place Apple might go. It's also debating whether to locate its new facility in Phoenix.

Officials in Texas have been working hard to woo Apple, with the state-run Texas Enterprise Fund reportedly proposing a $21 million incentive package. Travis County, for its part, "is considering giving Apple an 80 percent rebate on its tax bill for 10 years -- up to $7.4 million with a potential five-year extension -- if the company locates a facility here that could create up to 3,600 jobs," reports the Austin American-Statesman.

As for the city of Austin: it has pledged $8.6 million in breaks in property taxes, report local media outlets.

Getting Apple to Austin, however, could hinge on the demand from some Travis County Democrats that Apple's tax breaks be contingent on it hiring a certain percentage of economically disadvantaged residents. Local TV station YNN explained that Apple would have to "give preference to qualified applicants who are at or below the poverty line rather than those who may come across as the most attractive job candidates."

Democrat Sarah Eckhardt, a Travis County commissioner, complained to YNN that Apple will thus have to change its hiring practices. "They will-hire the low-hanging fruit, and the low-hanging fruit in our community don't need the hiring preference."

Austin has much to lose if Apple decides not to allow Democratic officials to dictate whom it must hire. As the Statesman reports:  "Apple's project would be built in two phases in Northwest Austin, near its current customer support center, first with a $56.5 million, 200,000-square-foot office, then a $226 million office up to 800,000 square feet. The 3,600 jobs are expected to be filled over the course of 10 years, with county officials saying the average salary for those jobs would range from $54,000 to $73,500."

Those sounds like pretty nice hi-tech jobs -- not what you'd expect somebody at or below the poverty line to jump right into. Some Apple executives must be thinking about now that some of Austin's Democrats are a little over the top -- clueless about how a business operates. It would be no surprise to learn that Apple is taking a closer look at Phoenix.