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

The So-Called "Skills Gap" Is Complete Bullshit

Another "skills gap" crusader:

LaSalle Network CEO Says There's a Huge 'Skills Gap'

Such a good little soldier for the privileged.

Too bad reality doesn't comport with that tripe.

The problem is, when we look closely at the data, this story doesn’t match the facts. What’s more, this view of the nation’s economic challenges distracts us from more productive ways of thinking about skills and economic growth while promoting unproductive hand-wringing and a blinkered focus on only the supply side of the labor market—that is, the workers.
A Recession-Era Economic Myth Goes Up In Smoke
Throughout the slow recovery, journalists from major papers made a cottage industry of finding CEOs complaining that their hiring searches were coming up empty. Conservative commentators chalked up high unemployment to a so-called “skills gap”: companies needed more qualified workers, they insisted, than were currently on offer. 
But something wasn’t right. If companies really needed qualified workers, why weren’t they raising wages to attract them? Or why weren’t they lowering their qualification standards or offering training to less experienced new hires? If companies really did have jobs that desperately required filling, they would have been working harder to fill them.
Don’t Blame A ‘Skills Gap’ For Lack Of Hiring In Manufacturing
This “skills mismatch” theory is a favorite of corporate executives and the think tanks they fund. But it is based on scant evidence. Individual companies may be struggling to fill specific jobs, but the data shows little sign of an industrywide shortage of skilled workers. In fact, it’s not clear that companies are really trying hard to fill many of these jobs at all.
Talk of a skills gap in the labor market is 'an incredible cop out'
But is there really a skills shortage? If so, why have median wages been stuck in a rut for so long? Why aren’t companies investing more in training and labor-saving equipment? Why aren’t they asking workers to work longer hours? It doesn’t add up, says Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal think tank in Washington.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman calls the skills gap a “zombie idea” that won’t go away despite being routinely debunked. The reason has less to do with ignorance than with power. After decades of rising inequality and an eroding labour share of income, the skills gap mythology downloads blame onto workers and costs onto government. Jim Stanford, writing in the pages of Academic Matters, puts it well: “According to this worldview, the biggest challenge facing our labour market is adjusting the attitudes, capabilities and mobility of jobless workers…The problem is with the unemployed.” The skills gap takes the onus off employers to pay decent wages and train workers, blaming labour market failings on workers instead.
For Further Reading:
The Zombie Skills Gap Meme That Won't Die

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Trump's Tax Cuts: Reshaping The Economy For The Worse.

We're beginning to see how this giveaway to the rich will destabilize markets, increase deficits/debt, increase borrowing costs, cause a reduction in services and/or an increase in other taxes or fees.

The money has to come from somewhere. This is a society we are running here, people. Polices, road, bridges, air, water, schools, hospitals, buses, trains, airports ... paying for it is the bedrock of living in a society. 

If our current society has benefited a select few with the means to own yachts, jets, multiple homes and on and on, those select few can afford to return the favor to society by paying more in taxes to help the society continue to thrive and flourish. 

We cannot continue to poison the planet and pretend it's going to work out for the better. Continual deregulation only helps polluters and financial swindlers. We cannot continue to believe the mythology that is supply-side economics. Since, Republicans dropped this turd of an idea on society in the late 70s, early 80s, income inequality has risen, workers' rights have declined and wages have stagnated. Power to the people? More like, power taken from the people.

So sad to see a helpless country strong-armed by the will of such ignorance, led by a blow-dried, burnt, slovenly buffoon. 

For Further Reading.
Are Trump's tax cuts backfiring on Wall Street? “IT’S A PONZI SCHEME”: WALL STREET FEARS TRUMP’S DERANGED TAX PLAN COULD KICK OFF ECONOMIC EUTHANASIA U.S. tax plan could cause sugar high, then economic slump Tax Cuts, Growth and Debt

The Power Of The Bubble

Republicans have been giving credit, for any positive news regarding the economy, to Donald Trump since he took office.

Yet, the recent 1,600 point plunge in the Dow is Barack Obama's fault. That's Sean Hannity's conclusion.

It must be so comfortable in the Republican bubble. They're always right and everything works out as they predict it will...or so they say. They get credit for everything least they always credit themselves. Anything bad is obviously the Democrats' fault...and on this one, there can be no debate.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Buying Jobs Appears To Be The Scott Walker Job Creation Strategy

Looks like Scott Walker's jobs plan for Wisconsin is to merely bribe companies into staying and/or coming.

With another election right around the corner, alongside Walker's disgraceful record on jobs, he's going all-in with Wisconsin taxpayer money and buying all the jobs he can, at any cost.

He now wants to give Kimberly-Clark money to retain jobs in Wisconsin. Walker wants to work with the Legislature to approve an increase in the tax credits available for job retention from 7 percent in current law to 17 percent.

Seems Walker's plan is to run up the bill for Wisconsin taxpayers, under the guise of job creation, buying jobs for the State, just in time for his next campaign.

Trump Makes History

Dow Plunges Nearly 1,600 Points In Biggest Intraday Point Drop In History
U.S. stocks plunged in highly volatile trading on Monday, with the Dow industrials falling nearly 1,600 points during the session, its biggest intraday decline in history, as investors grappled with rising bond yields and potentially firming inflation.

Republicans, Back In Power, Running Up The Tab, Again

The U.S. government is set to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year, an 84 percent jump from last year
The U.S. Treasury expects to borrow $955 billion this fiscal year, according to a documents released Wednesday. It's the highest amount of borrowing in six years, and a big jump from the $519 billion the federal government borrowed last year.

In a report this week, the CBO said tax receipts are going to be lower because of the new tax law.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Taxpayer Investment In Sports Is A Massive Waste Of Public Dollars

Windfall For Super Bowl Hosts? Economists Say It's Overstated

Does Hosting The Olympics Actually Pay Off?

Sports, Jobs, & Taxes: Are New Stadiums Worth the Cost?

Publicly Financed Sports Stadiums Are A Game That Taxpayers Lose

Here’s How Much Money the NFL Rakes in From Taxpayers

America's Priciest National Pastime: Sports subsidies aren't worth the cost to taxpayers.

Should the Federal Government Be Funding Private Sports Stadiums?

Stop The Subsidy-Sucking Sports Stadiums

The Hidden Costs of Stadium Subsidies

How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers

Not So Prime

Unfulfilled promises: Amazon fulfillment centers do not generate broad-based employment growth
What this report finds: When Amazon opens a new fulfillment center, the host county gains roughly 30 percent more warehousing and storage jobs but no new net jobs overall, as the jobs created in warehousing and storage are likely offset by job losses in other industries. 
Why it matters: State and local governments give away millions in tax abatements, credits, exemptions, and infrastructure assistance to lure Amazon warehouses but don’t get a commensurate “return” on that investment. 
What we can do about it: Rather than spending public resources on an ineffectivestrategy to boost local employment (luring Amazon fulfillment centers), state and local governments should invest in public services (particularly in early-childhood education and infrastructure) that are proven to spur long-term economic development.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Foxes Watching The Henhouse

Good to see that the powerful conservatives of the Milwaukee Police Department and the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission are presently destabilizing the department they claim is beyond reproach and that they love so much.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn blasted the two-part search process for a new police chief, calling it a “cockamamie approach” that could disrupt the order and stability of the police department, in an exclusive interview with Urban Milwaukee. 
Flynn said he had never heard of doing a search for an interim chief “like you’re selecting a permanent chief,” followed by a second search for the more permanent leader. 
The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (FPC) has been conducting a search for interim chief for which 10 candidates applied and three finalists were chosen today: Inspector Michael Brunson, Assistant Chief James Harpole and Capt. Alfonso Morales. 
“They are pitting senior command staff against each other and basically destabilizing the department while everybody in the department is trying to back the person they think will win,” Flynn says. And that process could be repeated when the search for a permanent chief occurs.

Weekend Reading

Trump Again Sues Over Property Tax Bill For Jupiter Golf Course
The U.S. Can No Longer Hide From Its Deep Poverty Problem
Good News: Wages Are Up
Experts Say This Is The Ideal Retirement Savings Timeline
The U.S. Drops Out Of The Top 10 In Innovation Ranking
The Right Question About Inequality And Growth
A New Map For America
An Unwelcome Tax Surprise Could Soon Lurk In Your Paycheck
Big Money Rules
President Trump's First Year, In 14 Metrics
Kansas Provides Compelling Evidence Of Failure Of "Supply-Side" Tax Cuts

Not In My Backyard

Bay View is in a tizzy over a recent outbreak of burglaries and vandalism.

Smashed windows, stolen goods, and on and on. None of that is fun or fair. But life's not fair. Being born into and living in poverty isn't fair. (Yes, I know, this isn't all impoverished youths. Some of it is, no doubt, dirtbags being dirtbags for entirely different reasons.)

The answer to increased crime isn't "we must cut everything except for the police." Yet most of what passes for discussion on this matter is - "more police!"

The police and fire departments in the City of Milwaukee already garner nearly 90% of the entire City budget!

Milwaukee also has twice as many police officers as similar sized cities.

The answer isn't more money for police and more police.

Why don't we try policies that benefit education, health care, infrastructure and those most in need? Rather than giving millions and billions to the Brewers, the Bucks, Foxconn, Harley Davidson, Mercury Marine, etc. How about the ridiculously rich of the community help to teach the under-educated, provide transportation options to available jobs and arrange gainful employment? Having such a privileged place in society, how about helping to be part of the solution, rather than just pointing fingers, screaming about the problem and only seeing "lock 'em up!" as the solution.

How can we ask working-poor and working-class people to pay taxes for Foxconn billionaires and then lose our shit when some poor kid steals or ruins something nice? Can we devalue life any more? Oh, such a lovely, caring Christian country. Give to the rich, take from the poor and then get all bent out of shape when the poor person decides they'd like a piece of the pie, too. If you think this is making American great again, you're a fucking idiot!

The other sad part of this drama (as it plays out on neighborhood groups on Facebook among the victims of robbery or vandalism) is how the same people decrying the increase in crime, didn't give a shit when it was happening in other parts of town. Then, it was somebody else's problem.

But now that their shit is getting stolen, we all need to pitch-in to buy more police to protect their matter the cost. Suddenly these bastions of conservatism, low-taxation and a hands-off government, now they're full-blown socialists dependent on the government to protect their property. Costs no longer matter. Spend whatever it takes!

Are we under some delusion that we can hire a police officer - without any increase in taxes - for every street, every alley, every block and that, somehow, we're going to eliminate all bad things?

Too much of my taxes already go toward the Pentagon and the local police presence. More men (88% of officers are men) walking and driving around carrying guns doesn't solve any of these problems. It just squeezes budgets with increased police costs.

If you don't solve why people aren't working, why the jobs aren't there, we're just continuing a cycle of crime and incarceration. If you don't give a person something to live for, a reason, something to have some sense of self about, what do you expect from that person? How do expect that person to function in society?

All we ever hear about is how high taxes are. Taxes must be cut. They are such a burden. Politicians get elected promising to cut taxes.

Yet, somehow more money needs to appear so we can police our way out of the problem. How much are you willing to have your taxes raised?

Those of you that feel more police are the answer, start sending those checks to the City. The tax return you're about to get - send it to the City. The next raise you get at work - fork that amount over to the City. You get the point - put your money where your mouth is. Services (like the police...especially the police) cost money.

We already pay too much and have too many police. If you'd like to double-down on this always-more-police experiment, you know where to send the money.

Misplaced Priorities

$750 Million To Replace Lead Pipes

That's the estimate for replacing lead pipes in the City of Milwaukee.
The city currently has identified 77,585 lead service lines, roughly 46 percent of all the 169,816 service lines in the city. The lateral pipes connect properties to water mains and are owned by the city until they reach the property line. The split ownership structure complicates their replacement, with the city facing substantial legal issues in using city funds to replace privately-owned pipes. 
The city stopped using lead on their portion of the lateral in 1951, with private contractors banned from doing so in the early 1960’s. Multiple studies of properties from the interim decade — 1951 to early 1960s — have found that less than five percent of those laterals contain lead.
And, after many unwanted diseases and deaths, I'm sure we'll have all the pipes replaced by around 2050 or so, maybe. Or maybe Milwaukee can be the next Flint.

Yet, we've found more than $250 million for Miller Park, $241 million for Lambeau Field and at least $250 million for the new Milwaukee Bucks arena. And there's also the hundreds of millions Wisconsin has found for corporate welfare.

But we can't find the money to replace the water infrastructure which impacts nearly 10% of the State's population?

For Further Reading:
Why Your Stadium Sucks: Miller Park
Documents show Bucks' $524M arena cost goes beyond arena, includes professional fees
The City’s Real Costs for Bucks Arena
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has had terrible consequences for residents’ health

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Government For Sale or: How The Republicans Stole Democracy

1 in 3 of Walker’s Donations from Out of State
Walker’s latest campaign finance report filed with the state by his campaign committee, Friends of Scott Walker, showed he raised nearly $7.2 million, including nearly $6.6 million from individual contributors. About $4.2 million – or 64 percent – came from Wisconsin donors and nearly $2.4 million – or 36 percent – came from individuals outside the state. 
Looking back further than 2017, Walker raised even more from out-of-state individuals. Since the start of Walker’s second four-year term in January 2015, through December 2017, Walker raised more than $13.9 million in individual contributions. About $8.1 million – or 58 percent – came from out-of-state donors and about $5.8 million – or 42 percent – came from Wisconsin contributors.
Walker’s Hands Dirty on Political Purge
Walker repeatedly refused to offer an opinion on whether Elections Commission administrator Michael Haasand Ethics Commission administrator Brian Bell should be removed from their positions, as the Journal Sentinel’s Patrick Marley recently reported. “I’ll leave that up to them,” Walker said, referring to Fitzgerald and state senators. 
You might think this is the governor deciding not to meddle in a legislative issue. Except that it is just as much the governor’s issue. It was Walker, after all, who, along with Republican legislative leaders, decided to overthrow the Government Accountability Board (GAB). Never mind that Republicans were part of a bipartisan legislative majority that created that entity, with the law getting overwhelming GOP support. Never mind that its board members were retired judges, more than half of whom had Republican backgrounds. Walker, Fitzgerald and other GOP politicians were convinced the GAB was somehow running an anti-Republican agency. 
So the Republicans, with no support from Democrats, replaced the GAB with the Elections and Ethics Commissions, and Walker signed this measure into law. As governor, Walker also appoints two (of six) board members who serve on each commission. These were commissions the governor and legislature structured not to be answerable to legislators or any politicians, but to be independent agencies whose bipartisan boards set policy. Could anything be more important to the Wisconsin governor than the proper functioning of citizen boards entrusted with overseeing the state’s electoral system and enforcing ethical behavior by politicians? 
So why then was Walker staying on the sidelines in this controversy? Recall that the reason for replacing the GAB was because it was assisting the John Doe probe of his campaign. In short, no one had more reason to be angry at the GAB than the governor and more reason to welcome the recent report attacking the Doe investigation by Attorney General Brad Schimel.
So, Big Money is basically buying their talking heads, their puppets. These puppets then perform Big Money's bidding (tax cuts, deregulation, etc.) whilst rigging the game - squelching any push-back or opposition or defeat.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Further Down The Rabbit Hole

Those righteous evangelicals say it's alright for the president to have extra-marital relations.

And, Republicans, formerly law-and-order stalwarts, are now claiming there is a secret society in the FBI to overthrow Trump.

Holy fuck! This is insane! How blatantly hypocritical are the Republicans going to get? Is there anything they won't lie about or find an excuse for?

I really don't know what to say about the Republican party anymore. They've slowly been destroying the country since Reagan, yet since Donald Trump they've taken stupidity, absurdity and ineptitude to a whole new level.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What Would Jesus Do?

According to Scott Walker, Jesus would:
  • require able-bodied parents of children on food stamps to work or get training to receive more than three months of benefits
  • increase the existing work requirement for all able-bodied adults from 20 hours a week to 30
Walker added, "“With more people working in Wisconsin than ever before, we can’t afford to have anyone on the sidelines: we need everyone in the game. We want to remove barriers to work and make it easier to get a job, while making sure public assistance is available for those who truly need it."

Maybe instead of "training" and "removing barriers," Walker should be helping to create family-supporting jobs. Like the 250,000 he promised. Instead, he seems more interested in cutting taxes on the rich, gutting regulations for his donors, and lavishing subsidies on his cronies.

Such good Christians those Republicans. Those god-fearing, god-abiding moral long as you're not poor.

Their blatant disregard for most humans and the environment, alongside their unwavering support for their rich campaign financiers, one has to ask Why Do Republicans Hate America?

For Further Reading:
Why Claims of Skills Shortages in Manufacturing Are Overblown
After All the Talk About a Skills Shortage in the U.S. Job Market, the Real Problem May Be an Employer Shortage
Wisconsin, under Scott Walker, no longer leads in conservation
Wisconsin Foxconn Deal Waives Environmental Regulations
Scott Walker Cuts Higher-Ed Budget, Funds Corporate Welfare
Walker shows his priorities with $250 million subsidy to NBA billionaires
Water Pollution Skyrockets Under Walker

Saturday, January 13, 2018

You'll Get Your Medicine When You Finish Mopping The Floor

Able-bodied Adults Will Have To Work For Medicaid, Under Plan From Gov. Scott Walker, Trump

Yet ...

Work Requirements Don't Work


Medicaid Work Requirement Would Harm Unemployed, Not Promote Work

As usual, Republicans are rewarding their rich donors and hurting those who need it most. How Christian of them.

Weekend Reading

Amazon Is Thriving Thanks To Taxpayer Dollars
The Mathematicians Who Want To Save Democracy
High Speed Rail Study Shut Down In The Midwest
The NFL's Secret Formula For Saving The U.S. Economy
No, Donald Trump Has Not Made The Economy Great Again
Foxconn's Low Return On State Investment
Bill Helps Real Estate Industry
Massive New Data Set Suggests Economic Inequality Is About To Get Even Worse

So Much For The Local Control Republicans Are Always Preaching

Here they go again. Republicans love to say one thing and do another. They love to accuse the Democrats of doing something that the Republicans are actually committing. Republicans are always giving lip-service to local control, the will of the people and localities being able to govern as they best see fit. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Republicans are opportunistic, duplicitous, self-serving liars.

Republican Bills Prohibit Local Labor Rules

In Wisconsin, especially the administration of Scott Walker, the state feels an endless need to meddle in local control. Again, the exact opposite of the bullshit they spout when they're in front of the camera, stumping during campaigns or writing their opinion pieces in the local papers.

Just as they meddled in Milwaukee's residency requirement (against their supposed dogma), they now want to forbid local rules for wages, hours, overtime, benefits and discrimination for businesses being contracted by those localities.

This only benefits labor exploitation. This suppresses wages. As usual, this gives the upper hand to those who've already got too much hand.

For Further Reading:
What Will Local Control Hypocrisy Cost The GOP In North Carolina?
Local Control Takes Backseat To Power For State GOP
GOP Abandons Local Control For Top-Down Governance
Hypocrisy In GOP-led State Government Overreach
Conservative Hypocrisy On Local Power
States Rights For Bathrooms, But Not For Marijuana
Blue Cities Want To Make Their Own Rules. Red State Won't Let Them.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Privatization, Increased Costs And Income Inequality

The Journal Sentinel recently reported that, State of Wisconsin's Spending On Private Workers Up 57% Since 2010.
From laundry and legal services to computer upgrades and health care, state taxpayers spent $653 million last year on private workers, part of a growing reliance on outside firms to do public business. 
In the final term of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, these payments dropped, falling from $490 million in 2006 to $417 million in 2010, according to figures from the state Department of Administration.

But under the first six years of GOP Gov. Scott Walker, spending on contractors rose by 57%, or several times the rate of inflation for that period. Contractors are often more expensive than state employees — but not always, officials said.
Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said that she would seek a nonpartisan audit of the spending on contractors, saying she's worried taxpayers are paying more than they would for state workers.

"Positions have been cut and outsourcing has happened and we have seen the price tag increase," Shilling said.

Overall, state jobs haven't been cut under Walker — they've actually risen by nearly 3% during his time in office to 70,400 full-time positions, according to the Legislature's budget office.

But outsourcing has risen more quickly. The Walker administration says the increase has been driven in part by a once-in-a-generation overhaul of state computers and by a shortage of state workers in some jobs.
And, this really isn't news. The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) found:
The government actually pays service contractors at rates far exceeding the cost of employing public employees to perform comparable functions.

POGO estimates the government pays billions more annually in taxpayer dollars to hire contractors than it would to hire public employees to perform comparable services. Specifically, POGO’s study shows that the federal government approves service contract billing rates—deemed fair and reasonable—that pay contractors 1.83 times more than the government pays federal employees in total compensation, and more than 2 times the total compensation paid in the private sector for comparable services.
The Journal Sentinel actually researched the privatization issue years ago and found that Wisconsin transportation contracts would have been cheaper in 125 out of 214 cases if the work would have been done by state employees rather than a private contractor.

Good Jobs First's research into the privatization issues has discovered:
Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs: The Failures of Privatized State Economic Development Agencies 
“In 2007 we consolidated Wisconsin’s economic development efforts, including terminating a state-created private economic development entity, Forward Wisconsin, in order to reduce political favoritism and misuse of public funds,” said State Senator Mark Miller. “Unfortunately we reverted to old-style cronyism in 2011 with the creation of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation which has been plagued with predictable ethics improprieties and gross mismanagement.” 
The report finds that: 
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) was accused of spending millions of dollars in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development without legal authority, failed to track past-due loans, and hired an executive who owed the state a large amount of back taxes. 
Based on this persistent pattern of abuses, the report concludes that the privatization of economic development agency functions is an inherently corrupting action that states should avoid or repeal. With the “economic war among the states” already dominated by corporate interests and bargaining dynamics made worse by a long-term drop in job-creation deals, taxpayers are best served by experienced public-agency employees who are fully covered by ethics and conflicts laws, open records acts, and oversight by auditors and legislators.
There is no free lunch. This boils down to a choice between living wage, public jobs or siphoning that money to less accountable and more costly private actors, where most of that money goes to fewer workers or even fewer private business owners.

Continuing this "privatizing will save money" charade only benefits the select few receiving the contracts at the expense of the community and the good jobs that could be created for residents.

If we're really concerned about good jobs and good neighborhoods we would be wise to allow public workers to provide the needed services rather than contracting more costly private companies.


This privatization scam also ties in with the recently overturned City of Milwaukee residency requirement. For 75 years, if you wanted to receive a paycheck from the City, you had to live and pay taxes in the City.

But Republicans are racist (not all, but seemingly most) and don't want to live near people with darker skin than them. They like the good paying job, with good health care and retirement benefits. They just don't want to live near all those undesirables in the City. And, just because the City pays their way, they still have no responsibility for anything that happens in the City.

Yet, they also love to belittle government as out-of-touch, inept and over-reaching. But they'll gladly cash that check and enjoy those pension benefits. David Clarke and his $100,000 pension is a great example of this hypocrisy.

So, they should be able to have all the benefits but none of the responsibility. So much for the mouthpieces of personal virtue and duty to your fellow man.

And, just as the City predicted, 22% of City workers now live in the suburbs. In essence, 22% of labor costs for the City, which could have been spent, most likely, back in the City, now goes outside the City. Thus less revenue (those 22% of workers spending their earnings) percolates within the City, which ends up costing taxpayers more in the long run.

Weekend Reading

Passing Through To Corruption
Trickle Down? Not Now, And Not For A While At Best
The Uninsured Are Overusing Emergency Rooms - And Other Health Care Myths
8 Bad Science And Health Ideas That Should Die With 2017
The Places That May Never Recover From The Recession
In A 30-Minute Interview, President Trump Made 24 False Or Misleading Claims
How America Got Addicted To Road Salt - And Why It's Become A Problem
Does Social Media Make People Less Social?
Ex-Sheriff David Clarke To Receive $100,000 Per Year Government Pensions
City May Contest Foxconn Electricity Deal
City Kills Contract With American Sewer
Why Inequality Predicts Homicide Rates Better Than Any Other Variable
Economists Are Obsessed With "Job Creation." How About Less Work?
How Market Competition Really Works
Most Wealth Isn't The Result Of Hard Work. It Has Been Accumulated By Being Idle And Unproductive
If You Look Behind Neoliberal Economists, You'll Discover The Rich: How Economic Theories Serve Big Business

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

S&P Stock Index 1949-2016

*The chart above is one of my favorites. It shows what market returns look like following a major crash. 
The usual caveats apply — post Great Depression took 25 years to return to breakeven, and Japan circa 1989 still needs the Nikkei Dow to almost double to get back to the high from almost 30 years ago. If you were retiring during those periods you were pretty much hosed. 
Still, the cyclicality of markets is very worth noting.