Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thoughts from a former Wisconsinite

I spent 20 of the first 23 years of my life in Wisconsin. In some ways, it is still home, even though I haven't lived there since 1979. Perhaps that is why what is going on in Madison bothers me so much. Or, more likely it is this kind of stuff:

The call, which surfaced Wednesday, also showed Walker's cozy relationship with the billionaire Koch brothers, David and Charles - who have poured millions of dollars into conservative political causes, including Walker's campaign last year.

Walker compared his stand to that taken by President Ronald Reagan when he fired the nation's air-traffic controllers during a labor dispute in 1981.

"That was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and led to the fall of the Soviets," Walker said on the recording.

Murphy told The Associated Press he carried out the prank to show how candidly Walker would speak with Koch - even though Democrats say he has been refusing to return their calls.

Murphy said he spoke Tuesday with two Walker aides, including the governor's chief of staff. He placed the call using the online service Skype and recorded it.

Mind you, I don't approve of the deception, but it does show the degree to which one person, one vote has become one dollar, no vote, one million dollars, all the votes. Of course, the $137 million shortfall is because the legislature voted a $140 million tax cut for corporations. You know, political contributions must be a pretty good return on investment: the Koch brothers donated about $2 million and got a $140 million tax break! Nice ROI. Not ethical, but hey! when you worship the dollar and power, who cares, right?

Anyway, I digressed...I was musing about the legacy of Wisconsin. It is the home of the Republican party, back when they were the progressives (!); it is the home of Robert La Follette and the Progressive party; it is the home of the anti-war protests of the 1960s-early 70s. Of course, on the flip side, it is the home of Joseph McCarthy.

Guess which side is winning now?

Ever notice how often the rich are chided in the Bible? And, how many times God is called the defender of the widows, orphans, and the helpless? Well, why do we worship the powerful, rich, and influential? Just asking...


John Cook said...

It is upsetting, but lets also remember that there is plenty of guilt (corruption) to go around. Having benefited from state health insurance while in Madison (and never paid a cent for the birth of two of our sons there), the call for state employs to shoulder *some* of their benefit costs is not unreasonable. What is unreasonable is the insistence of these unions that they be enabled to continue stealing money from union employees for political gain: i.e., essentially mandatory membership with mandatory dues that are used for political gain without the approval of the employees. At least when corporations give money to political parties no one is forcing them to give it to one or the other party without their consent.

jps said...


No doubt there is corruption. I'm not a big fan of unions—I was a Teamster, so I know corruption. Anytime you have that much money lying around you are inviting corruption. But, when a corporation gives money, it is stealing from its customers and employees, and if it is a publicly traded company, it is stealing from its shareholders.

I know you won't agree with me on this, but there it is...

By the way, When I mentioned to Andy the two extremes of Wisconsin, he summarized it nicely, "Oh, so you have people who really don't like the system—on both sides."


John Cook said...

Andy's comment summarizes it nicely!

You're right . . . I won't agree with you on this. On the one hand, my employer may wish to use his fairly earned profits, in part brought about from my hard work, to influence politics in the interest of his business, and in so doing his business will improve, the situation of his employees may improve, and his contribution to the state will increase through taxes as his profits increase.

On the other hand, the unions of state employees demand dues from employees to have their jobs and then use those dues to influence politics in the interest of their members to the end that they get a bigger piece of the tax pie for their members. However, in the process they make no greater contribution to the government because their entire existence is dependent upon it already.

Thus, there is greed in both scenarios, but the private for-profit business scenario is greed harnessed for relative benefit of all involves while the state union model benefits no one but (as we see now) threatens to economically sink the state.

Jim E. said...

Y'all might enjoy this (dyspeptic) view of things in Ohio:

(Of course, I'm coming to this discussion quite late.)

jps said...


I'm sure John won't like it :) But, it pretty much sums up reality right now...


John Cook said...

Well you've pegged me there James . . . you knew I would not agree with that version of reality, but perhaps not for the reasons you think. I find this convenient political labeling of "rich," "middle class," and "poor" overly simplistic and convenient for stirring emotion rather than reason in political debate. To my mind, any policy that promotes the fair creation of wealth will benefit the country overall: e.g., less regulation on a business lowers cost of production which enables growth of business which manifests in more hirings which results in more families earning a living, which produces excess wealth to share via charity, etc. Of course one can protest this is an idealized picture since sinful humans bring corruption to the system, but just as much as government has corruption. And at least when business is corrupt I can hope to turn to the government for redress; to whom can one turn if my government is corrupt?

jps said...


I noted your use of the adjective "fair" but who enforces fair? And, what is fair? And if less regulation lowers cost, who gets the difference? Why?

As you mention, sinfulness plays into this. That is where we need some form of regulation. Who? And how do you regulate the regulators? Right now, the gov't is in the pocket of the people they are supposed to be regulating.

Lower taxes won't help; somebody somewhere has to pay the bill—probably your kids and my grandkids :( Someday China will come knocking with their bill. Cutting costs won't happen—at least not real costs. The Republicans will cut social programs and keep defense programs. The Democrats will cut defense (maybe!) and raise social programs. Nobody will touch benefits that affect a large voter block. Destroying the public unions won't save anything; those costs are minuscule compared to real costs in gov't. And, if the governor and assembly are so concerned about costs, why don't they take a pay cut?

These are all just idle musings that are going nowhere...


Joel and Renée said...

Interesting that you have the most comments on your one blog post containing politics... :)