Monday, August 13, 2018

Scott Walker Is A Creep

Scott Walker Boasts About the Sun Coming Up in the Washington Post
Politicians like to take credit for things they have little to do with it. Serious newspapers point this fact out when it happens. 
The Washington Post fell down on the job in a piece that quoted Wisconsin governor Scott Walker saying, "There are more people in the workforce in Wisconsin than ever before in the history of the state." 
This is an pretty empty claim since it will be true most of the time (except recessions) for most states. Since populations generally grow, unless there is a downturn, in most months the state will have more people in the workforce than ever before. 
A more serious analysis would look at the percentage of the population in the workforce. This is not at an all-time high. In June, 54.6 percent of Wisconsin's population was in the workforce. This compared to more than 55.0 percent in 2000. 
It is possible that this drop is explained by demographic changes (more older people and children today), but the percentage of people in the workforce would be the real question, not the number. The Post should have pointed this out to its readers so they would not be deceived by Walker's nonsense boast.

US-Iran Relations

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Weekend Reading: Kimberly Clark Corporate Welfare Edition

Tax Incentives For Kimberly Clark Could Hit Roadblock In Senate Heading Into Election
Tax Incentive Package For Kimberly Clark Faces Challenges In State Senate
Kimberly Clark Ready To Consider Incentive Package From State
More Questions, A Few Answers, As Uncertainty Swirls Around Kimberly Clark's Wisconsin Mills
Kimberly Clark Says It's Open To Talks On State Incentives Package

Weekend Reading: The Myth Of Voter Fraud Edition

Mass Voter Fraud Is A Myth - And Kris Kobach Just Got Sanctioned Trying To Defend It
The Misleading Myth Of Voter Fraud In American Elections
Purges: A Growing Threat To The Right To Vote
Resources On Voter Fraud Claims
Debunking The Voter Fraud Myth
The Voter Fraud Myth Is Just Embarrassing At This Point
The Bogus Voter Fraud Commission Is Dead, But The Myths Aren't
A Trump Nominee's Illegal Vote Exposes The Voter Fraud Charade

Weekend Reading

State Shared Revenue: Not So Much Going On
The Story of Stagnant Wage Growth
An Unlikely Group Of Billionaires And Politicians Has Created The Most Unbelievable Tax Break Ever
So Many Seats, So Many Tax Breaks
This Is Why Lawmakers Want To Gut The Endangered Species Act
White Americans Support Welfare Programs - But Only For Themselves, Says New Research
Koch-backed Study Finds Medicare For All Would Save U.S. Trillions
Much Of The U.S. Electric Grid Could Go The Way Of The Landline Phone
Most Wealthy Countries Aren't Religious. Then There's The U.S.
Billionaires Gone Wild
How Government Helps The Economy
Rulers Of The World: Read Karl Marx
A Radical Defense Of The Right To Strike
Stock Buybacks, Explained
The Trump Administration's Giant Fuck You To Working People
Chris Abele Suspending Values Tour

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Crony Capitalism

Scott Walker and Republicans keep cheerleading their Foxconn con.  Chris Kapenga (WI - State Senator) was just on Up Front With Mike Gousha talking up what a great investment Foxconn is for Wisconsin. 

The "deal" is $4.8 billions dollars for 3,000 jobs with the potential of 13,000 jobs.  For 3,000 jobs, that's $1.6 million per job.  Or another way, a 30-year career, making roughly $53,000 per year.

If Wisconsin simply employed workers, for $4.8 billion, it could provide a 30-year career, $50,000 per year job, for 3,200 people.

At the end of the day, if it's taxpayers' dollars we're spending, shouldn't we keep the decision-making capabilities in the hands of Wisconsin taxpayers?  Why provide such lavish subsidies to a private company when the economics clearly show that a public entity could create jobs for much less?

Rather than providing corporate welfare to a billion-dollar "modern" company, modernize our public transportation; green our public buildings; and upgrade our water, sewer and electrical systems.  This creates jobs short- and long-term.  It also improves the entire state's economic competitiveness.  This is what attracts residents, retains and grows business, moves products and people, and ultimately leads to a higher quality of life.

If we're going to be spending billions and the pay-off of 3,000 is worth the cost...then why not just create 3,000 state jobs - of engineers, construction workers, scientists, builders, etc. - for the job of taking care of and improving our state and our public assets?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Last Straw

Chrisitan Schneider, in-house agitator for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, had another nonsensical rant, regarding the recent movement to ban straws, as an avenue to spout worn-out and unfounded right-wing complaints.

According to Schneider, Straw bans are just another bogus eco-fad. Damn environment! It's been holding us all back for far too long!

As Radhika Viswanathan notes, the straw ban is not the answer to all our problems, but it will help in combating plastic pollution in the oceans. Chemotherapy might not cure your cancer, but it's a good start and it's the best option we have right now. Banning straws aren't the end-all-be-all, but it's a good start.

Schneider feels that since the U.S. isn't responsible for the majority of plastic straw pollution, we shouldn't bother changing our behavior. He labels this another eco-fad. 

Saving the planet we all depend on is an "eco-fad" for Republicans. Stupid planet!

Also, does anyone actually have straws in their home? I can't recall ever using a straw in my life at someone's private home. Why does Schneider feel so entitled that private businesses need to provide him a straw? Suddenly when he's out in public he has to drink through a straw? Talk about a snowflake.

Schneider even implies this straw ban will create a black market for straws. Yeah, he really wrote that.

Here's an idea for the drinking-without-a-straw challenged -- carry your own fucking straw around with you if you need it so badly! It's not as though there are no longer any straws available. It's just that restaurants are moving away from providing them. You can still bring your own if you need it that badly. Where's that independent, can-do attitude the Republicans are always blathering on about?

For Further Reading:

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Skills Shortage, Labor Shortage, Skills Gap ... All Bullshit

The dutiful parrots of the media continue to push the "labor shortage" myth. Unemployment is near an all-time low. Yet, we still hear the cries of "labor shortage" and "skills shortage" in the media.

CNBC recently wrote The U.S. Labor Shortage Is Reaching A Critical Point. Employers are supposedly having trouble finding qualified employees to fill 6.7 million job openings.

Lacking self-awareness, the article stated, "Employers are going to have to start doing more to entice workers, likely through pay raises, training and other incentives."

Just as basic economics would predict.

As Dean Baker wrote, "We aren't seeing large-scale increases in pay despite near-record profit shares. This suggest that either employers are really not short of workers or that they are too incompetent to understand the basics of the market."

Baker continued, "The implication of the CNBC piece that claims that hiring is down because businesses can't find qualified workers. If this really is the problem, then the solution, as everyone learns in intro economics, is to raise wages. For some reason CEOs apparently can't seem to figure this one out, since wage growth remains very modest in spite of this alleged shortage of qualified workers."

For Further Reading:
The Washington Post Really Really Hates Markets When It Means Higher Pay For Ordinary Workers
Americans Need To Stop Obsessing Over The Unemployment Rate

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Weekend Reading

White Flights Returns, This Time From The Suburbs
Big Business Tax Breaks May Worsen Income Inequality
Big Coal Is Using This Small Oklahoma Town As A Toxic Waste Dump
Why Poverty Is Rising Faster In Suburbs Than Cities
Japan's Recovery Is The Greatest Economic Success Story Never Told
If The Economy Is So Great, Why Are 78 Million Hustling For Dimes?
The Financial Scandal No One Is Talking About
The Baby Boomer - Not Millennials - Screwed America
A New Genetic Clue To How Humans Got Such Big Brains
The Numbers That Explain Why Teachers Are In Revolt
No One Answers Their Phone Anymore
Why We Should Bulldoze The Business School
Mourning In America: What My Father, Ronald Reagan, Would Say

Kris Kobach Is A Creep

Maybe if Kris Kobach wants to drive around in a machine-gun outfitted Jeep, his blow-hard, snowflake ass should join the military. If he's such a tough guy, patriot, enough with all the grandstanding. He should take his beloved guns and go get into an actual battle.
#phony #douchebag #hypocrite #alltalknoaction #gofightanactualwar

Also odd that Kobach attacks the Left and uses the alt-right (racists, nazis) "snowflake" term, since he's a Harvard, Yale and Oxford know, just a typical salt-of-the-earth type of guy.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Buying Jobs

Corporate welfare is abundant in Wisconsin.

As the Milwaukee Business Times reported:
The $2.85 billion in tax credits offered to Foxconn Technology Group is nearly 25 times more than the total incentives offered to the next 49 largest projects the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. supported this year... 
The remaining 49 projects in the top 50 are eligible for roughly $114.2 million in incentives, primarily through tax credits, although three projects are receiving loans.
Here's the top 10 corporate welfare bribes awards:

Here's a breakdown of the cost per job for the top 10 welfare recipients:

Scott Walker really loves handing out millions of Wisconsin taxpayer dollars to his corporate cronies. So, it's not that Republicans don't like spending money and using the government as a piggy bank, as they claim. They just prefer that low-income, working-class and middle-class go without, while giving most of the bounty to their corporate paymasters.

Republicans constantly bark about the Democrats "taxing and spending." Yet, Republicans do they same thing. The difference is that when Republicans do it, the benefits go to millionaires. And, instead of keeping taxes at a responsible level to pay for it, Republicans just run up the tab for someone else to figure out how to pay for it somewhere down the road. 

Republican policies are bad at creating jobs. They're really just using taxpayers dollars to reward their contributors. Republicans tax cut fetish is only indebting the country and preventing us from making necessary improvements and infrastructure advancements. 

We should be using our tax dollars to invest in better transportation options, greening of buildings, improving the electric grid and replacing our sewer and water systems. These, and other investments like these, are what will attract businesses and residents. This is what a broad-based plan for shared prosperity looks like.

Rather than short-sightedly picking winners and losers - the crony capitalism bribery that is the Republican plan for economic development - we should be making the general investments in our society (schools, workforce) and our infrastructure (road, trains, airports, water, energy) which benefits all and enables growth for the long term.

Scott Walker Is A Creep

Koch Brothers Group Applauds Walker On Welfare Bills
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Signs New Limits On Welfare Programs Into Law
Walker Signs Bill Sought By Landlords
Walker Signs Restrictions On Pro-Worker Rules

Monday, April 30, 2018

Subsidizing Billionaires

Comedian Sarah Silverman Absolutely Destroys Billionaire Jeff Bezos For Post On Lavish Vacation
"Official statistics suggest that 11.8 percent of Amazon's 6,000 Ohio workers might receive food stamp benefits," Snopes has reported. 
"In five out of these six states, Amazon cracked the top 20 list of companies with the most employees enrolled in the SNAP program," The Intercept reported, using the acronym for food stamps. 
The numbers show that the company relies disproportionately on the program even accounting for its size: Amazon was the 28th largest employer in Arizona last year, but it ranked fifth for the number of employees enrolled in SNAP. It held the fifth slot in Pennsylvania as well, though it’s only the 19th largest employer. In Kansas, where Amazon isn’t even among the top 50 largest employers, it still ranked 17th for the number of employees using SNAP at the beginning of this year. Similarly, the company ranked 53rd in overall employment numbers in Ohio last year but 19th when it came to employees using SNAP. In Washington, where Amazon’s headquarters employ many white-collar workers, its employees were still the 17th most reliant on SNAP over the past four years.

For Further Reading:
Economic Development, Tax Incentives and The Plutocracy It's Creating

Republicans Offended By The Truth

Internet Cheers Rob Reiner's Dead-On Tweet About Comedian Michelle Wolf, Trump and the White House Correspondents Dinner

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Weekend Reading

The Myth That Markets Get Prices Right Won't Die
Who Creates A Nation's Economic Value?
Donald Trump And The Next Big Crash
Kansas Rancher Explains How Trump Has Betrayed US Farmers
Michael Cohen Case Shines Light On Sean Hannity's Property Empire
The Dumb Money
Smearing Robert Mueller
A Critical Look At Suburban Triumphalism
Richard Florida Can't Let Go Of His Creative Class Theory. His Reputation Depends On It.
The GOP Has Become The Caricature The Left Always Said It Was
Trump's Company Is Suing Towns Across The Country To Get Breaks On Taxes
The Oil Pipelines Putting The Great Lakes At Risk
The War On Pensions Continues
Where The Great Lakes Compact Ends And Wisconsin Law Begins
Hidden Figures: How Donald Trump Is Rigging The Census

Walker Removes Abortion Coverage For Public Workers

Assembly Bill 128 prohibits government-provided health insurance plans from paying for abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to preserve the life of the mother. The restriction would apply to state workers and thousands of local government employees who get their coverage through the state Group Insurance Board.

Democrats said the measure was unnecessary because under previous state law state health plans would pay for an abortion only if a doctor has determined it is medically necessary. But supporters argued that the state needed to tighten the policy to protect taxpayers who have religious objections to their money being used in this way.
So now we're changing policy because some people have objections to how the money is used?

Give me a fucking break!

Religious organizations are already allowed billions in tax exemptions. I have objections to this. So can we start taxing churches now?

Can every childless taxpayer quit paying taxes for schools? Can people without a driver's license stop paying taxes for roads? Are pacifists allowed to quit paying taxes for the military?

Walker's entire political mission has nothing to do with public service and everything to do with cronyism. Walker is only interested in rewarding his contributors and boosters.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

"Liberals 'Deserve' Trump"?

Meghan McCain Shouts That Liberals 'Deserve' Trump During Fight with Joy Behar Over Paul Ryan's Retirement
“What do you want? If Paul Ryan isn’t good enough,” McCain shouted, and Behar said she wanted him out of the House. “But that’s not logical. We live in a democracy, we should want two healthy parties. They are against each other, but if Paul Ryan is the greatest sin, this is how we got Trump because if Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney and people like this are the worst politicians, then you deserve Trump. He was trying to fight for democracy and ideals. Now I have no idea.”
So, because the Republican party, which is supposedly full of so many good and well-meaning people, has been taken over by Donald Trump's all-encompassing shit-show, the "Liberals" deserve Donald Trump?


Because Republicans aided and abetted Trump in obtaining the White House, somehow the Democrats are getting what they deserve?

What kind of fucking logic is this?

During the presidential campaign, some Republicans did voice displeasure and disbelief in Donald Trump. Yet, as soon as Trump won, nary an oppositional word could be heard from Republicans. They went out of their way to make excuses for Donald Trump, his tweets, his policies and his inane ramblings.

Sorry, Meghan McCain, "Liberals" do not deserve Donald Trump. You, Paul Ryan and your whole baseless, soulless party deserve Donald Trump. "Liberals" and this country deserve much better. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Trump: Conman

The Suburban Mystique

The Suburban Mystique
For decades, the suburbs were seen as havens where people moved to escape the crowding, poverty, and problems of the inner city. Despite the pervasive stereotype, the suburbs were never universally affluent or white, and since the 2000s, as a majority of Americans have settled in suburbs, the “burbs” have become increasingly diverse, both economically and demographically. Poverty has concentrated increasingly in poor suburbs, surpassing low-income populations in urban and rural areas and upending assumptions about what it means to “move to opportunity.”

As Scott Allard points out in his book Places in Need, despite the fact that white Americans make up the majority of the U.S. poor, and that poverty now concentrates in suburbs, media and scholarly portrayals still disproportionately focus on the “urban poor,” and white people settle in white neighborhoods because they associate black residents with poverty.

Suburbs—where most Americans, impoverished or otherwise, live—are increasingly the locus of work-life conflict and economic insecurity.

And since suburban identity is culturally tied to a myth of the American dream, not to mention a long legacy of racism—a space where the affluent have historically segregated themselves from the black and poor—admitting there is a problem, and creating policies to help poor and middle-income struggling families, requires introspection and new political will.

As Storms Get Stronger, Building Codes Are Getting Weaker

As Storms Get Stronger, Building Codes Are Getting Weaker
A report being released on Monday shows Florida isn’t alone in easing up on building regulations even as the effects of global warming escalate. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety examined building policies in 18 Atlantic and Gulf Coast states and found that despite the increasing severity of natural disasters, many of those states have relaxed their approach to codes -- or have yet to impose any whatsoever...

States’ reluctance to adopt building codes has worried federal officials, who are stuck paying to rebuild homes that get wiped out by natural disasters.

Phoenix: The World's Least Sustainable City

Plight of Phoenix: how long can the world’s 'least sustainable' city survive?
Phoenix gets less than eight inches of rainfall each year; most of the water supply for central and southern Arizona is pumped from Lake Mead, fed by the Colorado river over 300 miles away...

That river is drying up. This winter, snow in the Rocky Mountains, which feeds the Colorado, was 70% lower than average. Last month, the US government calculated that two thirds of Arizona is currently facing severe to extreme drought...

And yet despite the federal Bureau of Reclamation reporting in 2012 that droughts of five or more years would happen every decade over the next 50 years, greater Phoenix has not declared any water restrictions. Nor has the state government decided its official drought contingency proposal...

Meanwhile, despite enjoying more than 330 days of bright sunshine a year, Holway estimates that Arizona only derives 2-5% of its energy from solar power.

Foxconn Folly Update

Foxconn Industrial Operations Would Represent A Major New Source Of Air Pollution In Region
Emissions from the company’s operations in Mount Pleasant would rank among the highest in southeastern Wisconsin for pollutants that create smog, also known as ozone pollution, state documents show.
Foxconn Keeps Racking Up Taxpayer-Funded Help
Which leads to an obvious question – why do numerous levels of Wisconsin government continue to bend over backward to shovel billions of tax dollars to help this one company, when we could pay to meet many other needs in the state that would benefit far more people for a much lower cost? The insanity of the Fox-con continues to grow with each story you read.
Journal Promotes Phony Foxconn "Report"
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has promoted, without questioning, a “report” on Foxconn by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce that seems more like a PR piece than a study. With the headline “Foxconn would provide $51 billion boost, report says,” JS reporter Rick Romell regurgitates the MMAC press release as if it were hard news, rather than a transparent attempt to sell the more than $4 billion in government subsidies going to the Taiwanese company. 
Both Romell’s article and the MMAC release refer to a “report” done by it, but there is no link to any report in Romell’s online article (isn’t that a basic requirement for a newspaper story these days?) and the MMAC website reveals the analysis has no named author and consists of a one-page breakout of what it contends is the likely economic impact. 
This is not a study. It’s more like a marketing tool by a Foxconn cheerleader. 
Simply stated, the MMAC’s claims seriously exaggerate Foxconn’s potential impact on the Wisconsin economy.
Foxconn In Choppy Waters Over Plan To Drain The Great Lakes
Perhaps the biggest question, however, is whether the deal violates the Great Lakes Compact, a 2008 deal signed between the eight Great Lakes states and whose governing body includes Ontario and Quebec. The agreement aims to keep Great Lakes water from being diverted to areas far beyond the Great Lakes Basin, but it also requires that any water that is diverted be used to serve mainly the public, not industry.
Scott Walker, Foxconn, And The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
The money spent on the Foxconn project will affect the state’s economy for the next several decades. The massive amounts of subsidies could create a higher tax burden and could divert resources from other state projects, especially because the deal would not begin to be a net return to the state until around the 2040s.

Even supposing that Foxconn employs the full 13,000 they say they will, if they fully meet capital investment requirements, the deal is far more expensive than is typical for incentives packages negotiated by the WEDC. For economic development programs that require job creation and capital investment, the WEDC, on average, plans to spend around $12,400 for each job created. The Foxconn incentive package would cost around $200,000 per job if only the tax credits are taken into account. That number rises to well over $300,000 if all aspects of the incentive package are included. This number could continue to rise if Foxconn does not follow through on its obligations, or if it continues to extract concessions from the WEDC and Governor Walker’s office (as they have already begun to do). Further, while Foxconn gets a large package of free land, infrastructure subsidies, and tax breaks, local businesses do not get the same. On top of that, Foxconn is not required to source materials from inside the state, so it will potentially bypass in-state suppliers. 
The Foxconn Deal would place unnecessary strain on the local economy. It will give a large foreign corporation a huge subsidy at the expense of everybody else. This unfair transfer of state funds happens as 27% of roads are in need of repairs, and schools need $800 million in additional capital funding. It is important that state economic development programs are transparent in their implementation, and that all contractual obligations are adequately enforced. Further, it is important that the Wisconsin government meet current funding obligations before smokestack chasing.

Friday, March 30, 2018

From 2006 to 2012, At Least Two-Thirds Of All Active Corporations Had No Federal Income Tax Liability

In each year from 2006 to 2012, at least two-thirds of all active corporations had no federal income tax liability. Larger corporations were more likely to owe tax. Among large corporations (generally those with at least $10 million in assets) less than half—42.3 percent—paid no federal income tax in 2012. Of those large corporations whose financial statements reported a profit, 19.5 percent paid no federal income tax that year. Reasons why even profitable corporations may have paid no federal tax in a given year include the use of tax deductions for losses carried forward from prior years and tax incentives, such as depreciation allowances that are more generous in the federal tax code than those allowed for financial accounting purposes. Corporations that did have a federal corporate income tax liability for tax year 2012 owed $267.5 billion. [source]

Weekend Reading

Foxconn Keeps Racking Up The Taxpayer Funded Help
Journal Sentinel Promotes Phony Foxconn "Report"
Scott Walker's Big Lie
Chevron Just Agreed In Court That Humans Cause Climate Change
Despite New Rules To Disclose Corporate Tax Breaks, Just Half Of Local Governments Are
Commuter Rail To Foxconn Proposed
Foxconn Industrial Operations Would Represent A Major New Source Of Air Pollution In Region
Paul Ryan Calls Eminent Domain Takeovers Wrong, But Won't Help Homeowners In Foxconn Case

Household Net Worth

Despite all-time highs in stock and home prices, household net worth is down — except for the Top 10%

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fox News Personalities Slam Obama And Praise Trump Over The Same Thing


Backdrop Boy Involved In Another Possible Backdrop

Milwaukee Police Union Accused Of Peddling Plan Like Infamous County Backdrop Scheme

Okay. Can we agree that it's time to rein in the Milwaukee Police Department?

Neither the County or the City needs another retirement scandal.

And, the "Backdrop Boy," Tony Zielinski, who voted for the County pension backdrop, has been involved in this latest scheme:
At the union's request, Ald. Tony Zielinski asked city attorneys in November if Milwaukee could increase the city's property tax levy to help defray the city's pension obligations. 
City Attorney Grant Langley said the only way to exceed the levy limits was through a vote of city residents in a referendum. But doing this, Langley wrote, could jeopardize how much money the state gives to Milwaukee each year.

Two days after the city issued its opinion, the Milwaukee police union endorsed Zielinski in his mayoral bid against Barrett in 2020.

But Zielinski said there was no connection between the endorsement and the letter, labeling the notion "preposterous." He said his support for Milwaukee cops is well known. 
Zielinski said the city attorney's letter was "off my radar" since November.
"Did I do anything with this?" he asked. "I didn't do anything with this." 
Reminded that he twice voted for the backdrop program as a county supervisor — a sore spot with the alderman — Zielinski said the staffer who created the Milwaukee County plan was convicted of misconduct in office. Also, he said, supervisors were misled by the county's pension actuary, which later paid the county $30 million to a settle a lawsuit.

Zielinski criticized the mayor and his people for trying to tar him by making an issue of the deferred retirement plan. He said Barrett should focus on his poor record on crime, not Zielinski's letter to the city attorney. 
"I do my due diligence," Zielinski said.
Two things we now know for sure: 1) the City of Milwaukee needs to restructure and rein in the salaries, pensions and costs of the Milwaukee Police Department and 2) Tony Zielinski is, by all appearances, sleazy and corrupt, and the last person Milwaukee should elect mayor and allow to guide the City budget.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Pay To Play With The "Backdrop Boy"

"Tony The Tiger." Milwaukee Magazine. March 2018.
The Bay View alderman chairs the city Licenses Committee, which holds sway over tavern, restaurant and other licenses in the city. It's a demanding but powerful post with great fundraising potential: In 2017, 34 of 154 people who donated to his campaign fund did so either before or after they sought approval from his committee in 2016 or 2017. Some of these folks appeared before the panel more than once, making for a total of 54 occasions in 2017 when past or future donors were on the agenda for license matters, the vast majority of which were approved. 
A nice nugget from Milwaukee Magazine's article on Tony "Backdrop Boy" Zielinski. This insight shows the pay-to-play politician that Zielinski is. Another worthless public servant using the office to enrich himself and further his career [very similar to Scott Walker]. A reality far different than his scripted sound bites and oh-so-earnest press releases.

Weekend Reading

Wisconsin's Unprecedented Welfare Reform Could Inspire Conservative Changes Elsewhere [And That's Not Good]
Wisconsin Is Shifting Up To $90 Million In Local Road Funding To Foxconn-Related Projects
The Metamorphosis Of Scott Walker
David Brooks Radical Dishonesty
Wisconsin Labor Unions File Lawsuit Over Act 10, Saying It Violates Free Speech
As Manufacturers Get Tax Reductions, Wisconsin Homeowners Pay More
The Supreme Court's Latest Union Case Is Designed To Kneecap The Democratic Party
Could The Supreme Court Really Bust Public Sector Unions?
Trump's Tax Cuts In Hand, Companies Spend More On Themselves Than On Wages
A Wave Of Corporate Propaganda Is Boosting Trump's Tax Cuts
Mueller And Trump: Born To Wealth, Raised To Lead. Then, Sharply Different Choices

Victims And Offenders

During 2012-15, the rate of white-on-white violent crime (12.0 per 1,000) was about four times higher than black-on-white violent crime (3.1 per 1,000). The rate of black-on-black crime (16.5 per 1,000) was more than five times higher than white-on-black violent crime (2.8 per 1,000). The rate of Hispanic-on-Hispanic crime (8.3 per 1,000) was about double the rate of white-on-Hispanic (4.1 per 1,000) and black-on-Hispanic (4.2 per 1,000) violent crime. [source]

According to the FBI’s uniform crime-reporting data for 2016, 90.1 percent of black victims of homicide were killed by other blacks, while 83.5 percent of whites were killed by other whites. While no life is inconsequential, the statistical evidence shows that—just as for blacks when it comes to black-on-black crime—whites are mostly victimized by other whites, with the vast majority of white murders committed by whites. This is because most victims of crime personally know their assailants. And while this is a truth across racial boundaries, no one ever talks about “white-on-white crime.”  Furthermore, the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ arrest data analysis tool shows that less than 1 percent of blacks overall (about 2 percent of black men) commit a violent crime in any given year. This means, factoring in interracial violent offenses, 99 percent of black men do not commit black-on-black crime. [source]

Tony, Do You Have Any Ideas And A Way To Pay For Them? Or Just Criticisms?

Mayor Barrett recently gave a speech addressing guns, affordable housing, lead laterals and other developments in the City of Milwaukee. And, of course, Alderman Tony "Backdrop Boy" Zielinksi had to give his usual negative comment. This has kind of become his thing. Any event, any policy, any news - there's Tony with a comment, pointing the finger and blame at anyone but himself, and never offering up anything other than platitudes.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett renews call for more background checks for gun purchases, slams arming teachers
Barrett also called for building or improving 10,000 housing units over the next 10 years, a plan the Journal Sentinel first reported Sunday.

The mayor also highlighted plans to expand Milwaukee's RiverWalk, touted a partnership with Associated Bank to increase funding for the city's STRONG Homes Loan program, and said he plans to use $2.5 million from the city's new water deal with the City of Waukesha to replace lead laterals in Milwaukee. 
"While other communities are not addressing this problem, Milwaukee has been recognized as one of only 21 cities nationwide that has taken steps to address lead service lines," he said... 
Barrett's affordable housing plan includes building new developments, including locations in and around downtown.
"I'm especially interested in seeing more affordable housing in the heart of the city," the mayor said. "Growing affordable units in these areas will make it easier for workers to get to nearby jobs." 
The downtown development boom has allowed his administration to do more work in the neighborhoods, he said.
Ald. Tony Zielinski, a 2020 mayoral candidate, criticized those comments, accusing Barrett of making Milwaukee' crime problems worse by neglecting the city's neighborhoods. 
"I cannot believe the mayor expects us to believe the neighborhoods should take a backseat for 14 years," Zielinski said. "No wonder Milwaukee is one of the worst places to live in the country if you are African-American."
So, the Mayor wants to build or rebuild housing units, focusing on affordable housing, expand the RiverWalk and fix lead laterals. From this, the "Backdrop Boy" claims the Mayor is neglecting the City's neighborhoods. Huh? Also, what has the "Backdrop Boy" done for Milwaukee African-Americans?

But, just for a second, let's assume the "Backdrop Boy" has a point. First, what is Tony's solution? Second, where is Tony getting the money to fund his earth-shattering policy prescriptions? This is where Tony's pomp and circumstance falls apart. He has no plan. He has no answer to any of this. Primarily because he doesn't know what he's talking about.

It's easy to just poke the boss and criticize his decisions. But criticism can only be helpful when it's constructive. When a situation has been analyzed and one can offer an explanation for what went wrong and how those problems can be fixed, positive steps forward can be taken. But just trying to knock down someone else's ideas, without any substance or alternative action, is purely grandstanding. This is just Tony trying to draw attention to Tony so some in the City, outside of Bay View, might recognize his name in time for the mayoral election.

Tony has been standing on the street corner, pointing the finger at the Mayor, shouting, "You stink! That's no good! That was wrong!" But he hasn't offered a concrete solution to anything or any explanation of how he would pay for any idea he might have.

Typical "Backdrop Boy" move - exploiting the idea of neighborhood improvement for his own political advancement. Stay classy, Tony.

Republicans No Longer Worried About Deficits, No Longer Believe In Free Market

What happened to the free market? “Competing” for business? The free market is all about competitive advantage and specific strengths about specific locations for specific businesses. States “competing” for business, is not only sub-optimal for the business itself (if market theories have an ounce of credibility at all), it is unnaturally shifting "market" outcomes.

It’s one thing if we have advantages in an industry that we want to invest in or build upon; or we see, because of certain labor skill-sets, etc., we believe we can grow a specific sector quickly and we need it badly - such as when trying to get out of the Great Recession.

Sadly, none of these seem to be the case this time. And, even though this multi-billion dollar investment could end up creating jobs, spin-offs and ancillary businesses, it could still be a loser. At over $300,000 per job (best case scenario - 13,000 jobs), there is almost no way this is a smart investment. The opportunity cost is too high and the time-horizon too long.

And now we're taking money away from other developments and infrastructure projects, giving even more to Foxconn.

For Further Reading:
Democrats Question State's Ability To Track Foxconn Job Creation
What Foxconn Means For Wisconsin
WEDC Won't Release Foxconn Contract Before It's Signed
The Secrets of Foxconn
Start Me Up: Wisconsin Needs More Than Foxconn To Fix Its Economy
Fox-con Secrecy And WEDC Arrogance Continues
How Legislature Is Bypassing The Courts
Foxconn Water Diversion Story Needed More Attention
How To Build Wisconsin's Economy
Why Foxconn's Wisconsin Promise Of 13,000 Quality Jobs Is An Empty One
Walker's "Wisconn Valley" Is A Con All Right
Paper Peddles Bogus Foxconn Report
Trump, Walker and The Foxconn Con
Foxconn Deal Suspends Judicial Rules
Newest Deals Shows Foxconn Flaws

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Scott Walker Is Bankrupting Wisconsin

The Governor of Giveaways:
Walker is using government to build the economy, and on a scale that has never been equaled in Wisconsin history. No governor in state history, Republican or Democrat, has come close to spending so much in taxpayer dollars to subsidize one business, with the total handout for Foxconn now at nearly $4.1 billion. In fact, no government in America has ever spent this much money to subsidize development by a foreign business. 
Under Walker, it’s almost as though the private sector can no longer function without government handouts. The state handed out subsidies to 59 companies in 2017 alone.
And the amount of subsidy keeps growing. Walker, is spending eight times more tax dollars per job created for Foxconn than he was previously spending, as the Journal Sentinel found. But the actual total of $315,000 per job spent on Foxconn’s promised 13,000 jobs is 12 times higher than Doyle spent per job (about $25,000) for Mercury Marine and 217 times higher than Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson spent ($8.25 million for 5,700 jobs) to subsidize General Motors In Janesville in 1988.
Go read the entire article. Walker and his Wisconsin Republican cronies have no clue regarding economic development or the economy. They are simply dutiful little soldiers using Wisconsin taxpayers' dollars to enrich their cronies and campaign contributors.

This is not leadership. This is not governance.

You Can Run But You Can't Hide

If Scott Walker has billions for Foxconn, millions for Kimberly-Clark and millions in corporate tax cuts and other giveaways, he can find the money for special elections.

It's called representative democracy for a reason...and we need each representative in his/her respective office.

This stalling has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the fact that Democrats have momentum on their side and Scott Walker and his Republican cronies don't want to lose anymore seats.

Republicans are petty, vile, selfish pigs.

Sunday Reading

To Get Into The 1%, You Need Adjusted Gross Income Of $480,930
Wisconsin Attorney General Open To Allowing Guns In Schools
Citing Costs, Some GOP Governors Refuse To Hold Special Elections
New Spending And Tax Cuts To Cost More Than $700 Million Under Actions By Wisconsin Lawmakers
WisGOP Pre-Election "Cut And Borrow" Spree Will Hurt Us After November
The NRA Was Waging War On Facts Long Before The 'Fake News' Boom
Supplements Are A $30 Billion Racket - Here's What Experts Recommend
The Governor Of Giveaways
Eminent Domain May Be Use To Acquire Land For Foxconn From Holdouts
On The Link Between US Pay And Productivity

Income Inequality

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Train Of Consequences

Back in 2010, the Feds were going to give Wisconsin $810 million for train projects in Wisconsin.

Fed To Take Wisconsin's High-Speed Rail Money, Give It To Other States
The Obama administration is taking back the $810 million awarded to Wisconsin for train projects after Republican Gov.-elect Scott Walker made it clear he will not waver in his opposition to the project.

With almost all of the money now going to 13 other states, Walker lost a high-stakes gamble — played throughout his campaign for governor — that he could persuade Congress to redirect the money to fix Wisconsin’s crumbling roads and bridges. Federal officials repeatedly said that wasn’t an option, and the money would be sent to rail projects elsewhere.
Now, instead, Wisconsin will have to come up with $195 million for expansion of the Hiawatha service.

Expanding Amtrak Service To Chicago Would Require $195 Million In Track Upgrades
Funding for the expansion of Hiawatha service would come from a combination of federal and state sources, but could also include private investment. Rao acknowledged one of the challenges the project faces is there’s no current federal funding opportunity for the department to apply for. 
The department applied last fall for a roughly $250 million federal grant to support the expansion of I-94. The Foxconn special session legislation authorized around $250 million in state bonding for the project, but required the DOT receive federal funding as well before spending any of the money. 
A decision on the federal grant is expected later this year. The DOT’s estimated schedule has the mainline I-94 work being completed in 2019 and 2020. 
If a federal funding opportunity did emerge for the rail project in the near future, it could still be five years before the project is complete and operational, Rao said.
Another great policy decision from Scott Walker and his Wisconsin Republican cronies.

Wisconsin's Public Sector Is Smaller Than Most States'

Weekend Reading

Born-Again Fiscal Hawks Turn Into Doves
The Economy Is Soaring, And Now So Is The Deficit.
GOP Abandoning The Free Market
Kimberly-Clark Proves Tax Giveaways Don't Stop Layoffs
Wisconsin's Public Sector Is Smaller Than Most States'
Jeff Bezos' Quest To Find America's Stupidest Mayor
Foxconn Package Cost Wisconsin Eight Times As Much Per Job As Similar 2017 State Jobs Deals
Let's See How Low The Unemployment Rate Can Go
How Progressives Can Criticize Trump’s $7 Trillion Deficit Without Preaching Austerity
Why American Workers Aren’t Getting A Raise: An Economic Detective Story 'Morally Bankrupt' Budget: After $1.5 Trillion Gift to Rich, Trump Demands $1.7 Trillion in Safety Net Cuts

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Walker’s Work Rule Makes No Sense

Two-thirds of FoodShare recipients are blind, elderly, disabled or children and can’t work.
About two-thirds of the people who get help from FoodShare cannot work. They are blind, elderly, disabled or children. Of the one-third left, nearly half are already working. Most folks are working part-time, low wage jobs. They want more hours, but can’t get them...
I began to wonder, who’s working here and at what cost to taxpayers? Do we know if this program works? Has it been evaluated? 
In brief, I learned that Wisconsin moved to a voluntary FSET program in 2008. In 2013, lawmakers asked for a yearly evaluation of the program. Walker vetoed the evaluations. In 2015, money was budgeted for a program evaluation. However, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, by May 2017, no evaluation was completed. When I asked where was the $850,000 budgeted for evaluation, no one could answer the question. 
Why wouldn’t the state want to know if the program is working? When I finally obtained the fiscal estimates, I began to see a very different story of who works and who pays. 
If all 10 special session bills are enacted, the implementation and ongoing costs will be nearly $240 million in the next budget. In eight of the 10 bills, the state will pay a significant amount of new money to outside contractors. For example, mandatory FSET participation and incentive payments would add almost $50 million for the FSET contractors. 
Many of the bills will allow the contractor to collect public money for program changes not currently allowed under federal law. The state will seek special permission from the Trump administration to make the changes. 
Now, I see a new story. Private contractors stand to gain. Governor Walker has new initiatives he can brag about across the state. New employees will work for the now wealthier contractors. 
But is Wisconsin Working for Everyone who is hungry, in need of health care, or child care – not so much. All of the organizations focused on helping the working poor testified against the bills.

Lead For Brains

The Milwaukee Common Council, as of late, has been feeling their oats. They've been piling on the Mayor regarding any issue that arises. Specifically, the most recent dustup involves the Milwaukee Health Department and its management of the city's lead abatement efforts.

As any grandstanding, self-absorbed, petty bunch of know-nothings that the Common Council is, they used this latest instance for personal gain and political points rather than trying to solve the problem.

This spectacle has caused some to wonder, Mayor Barrett’s Power in Decline?
The council refused to approve his appointment of Paul Nannis as interim health commissioner. Worse, it was clear Nannis was rejected simply because he was “the mayor’s proxy,” as Nannis put it, meaning any choice of the mayor’s would have been rejected. But even worse, the council came up with its own choice, Patricia McManus, for interim commissioner and proceeded to approve her 13-1, with only Ald. Terry Witkowski objecting. Morever, some council members seem open to sticking with McManus for the rest of Barrett’s term, meaning any attempt by the mayor to appoint a permanent commissioner could be blocked. 
This was an unprecedented, all-out rebellion against the mayor. Some question whether the council’s action of appointing its own interim choice is even legal.
Yes, suddenly Mayor Barrett became inept and he, personally, "dropped the ball" with regard to lead pipes in the City.
Barrett then proposed Nannis as interim replacement, which seemed like a no-brainer, as Nannis had previously served as commissioner and could hit the ground running. “Initially, I thought it was a logical choice,” Ald. Bob Bauman says. 
Except that Nannis was a good friend of Barrett’s chief of staff Patrick Curley. And a longtime ally of Barrett’s. And had been a consultant who had earned $556,000 since 2008 doing work for Baker’s department, which suggested Nannis might be too close to Baker as well. Not to mention that Nannis didn’t disclose he had done this consulting when meeting with members of the council’s Public Safety and Health Committee. For council members seeking objective answers about problems in the health department, Nannis seemed all wrong, and the choice suggested Barrett was tone deaf on this issue. 
“The mayor didn’t recognize soon enough how much trouble he was in,” Witkowski says.
More like, the Mayor didn't realize the Common Council would use a City health issue to leapfrog to some political points for themselves.

To propose that Mayor Barrett doesn't want to replace lead pipes or to prevent any health issues concerning such is ridiculous. Suddenly Mayor Barrett has turned into some cold-hearted tyrant, hoping for a health crisis involving lead pipes for his City?

The lead pipe issue is well-known. As with all issues in our 'subsidize the rich and the let the rest go without' paradigm of public policy, this is a money issue. As in, we need $750 million to replace the lead pipes within the City.

This is the same Common Council that wants to keep giving raises to the Police and Fire Departments every year, even though these two departments already take up nearly 90% of the entire City budget. These are supposedly the visionaries that are going to lead us forward?

So...Barrett's pick was thrown to the wayside and the Common Council has selected their own choice.
The council voted 13-1 on Tuesday to approve McManus’s appointment. Ald. Terry Witkowski, who asked pointed questions about her previous public health work, cast the lone ‘no’ vote. Ald. Michael Murphy abstained. Murphy said he didn’t agree with the speed at which the council moved forward with a new appointment.
Patricia McManus is the president and chief executive officer of the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin. No biography or credentials for McManus were available on their website.

But, what we do know about McManus is that she believes the science in still out on vaccines.
“I don’t think the answer is yet there. I mean, there’s still people who believe it," McManus said on "The Forum" talk show on WNOV-AM (860). "And so I don’t know. I think the science is still out. I think that’s a decision that these families are going to have to make on their own at this point.”
Um, no. The science isn't out on that topic. So, if being friends with the Mayor's Chief of Staff kept Paul Nannis from holding the position, ignorance of vaccine science should definitely keep McManus from holding the position.
"Unfortunately, she couldn't be more incorrect," said James H. Conway, a pediatrics professor at University of Wisconsin-School of Medicine and Public Health. "The science is clear and has been reviewed over and over not just by the CDC, but by NIH and numerous studies. The information is clear that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine does not cause autism."
Maureen S. Durkin, a professor of public health and chairman of the department of population health sciences at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, said, "The scientific evidence is very clear at this point in showing no association between childhood vaccines and the risk of autism."

And officials at the National Institutes of Health referred to a statement on the institute's web page: "No link between autism and vaccines containing thimerosal, a mercury-based compound, have been found."
And, as with every fart that is heard in Milwaukee, Alderman Tony "Backdrop Boy" Zielinski had to weigh in:
Milwaukee Ald. Tony Zielinski applauded her track record of helping increase transparency on the city’s lead issues. 
“If we’re going to get someone who is going to turn that department around, we need someone with a track record of standing up to the health department and saying, ‘You were wrong,'” he said.
Well, Mr. Zielinski, you were wrong...again. So, just as you are so willing to point the finger at everyone else in the City, hopefully you can take some of your own medicine and admit this was an ill-informed and bad decision on your part and the 12 other council members that voted for McManus. And, it surely signals that you are definitely not ready to be the Mayor of Milwaukee.

How about our political operatives work together to try and solve this problem? They need to devise a way to fund this crucial infrastructure initiative. Those who've made mistakes should be held accountable. But, beyond that, the focus should be on resolving the primary issue here - replacing lead pipes in the City of Milwaukee. This is no time for grandstanding and political opportunism.

For Further Reading:
Role of vaccination in the sustainability of healthcare systems
Vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death and inequity worldwide
The True Cost of Not Vaccinating Your Children: Reviving a Dead Disease
The high costs of not vaccinating