Saturday, April 28, 2012

U.S. Firms Adding Jobs ... Overseas

The Monopoly Economy

Austerity U.S.A.

Paul Krugman - again - dismantles the meme of an expanding and frivolously spending government: 

"Disappointing GDP number — we’re not growing fast enough to make any significant headway on reducing the output gap — but hey, no need for further Fed action.

But let’s talk right now about fiscal policy. I wrote this morning about our de facto austerity. Here’s another indicator. Look at government (all levels) purchases of goods and services, that is, actually buying stuff as opposed to transfer payments like Social Security and Medicare. Here’s the past decade:

Obama, far from presiding over a huge expansion of government the way the right claims, has in fact presided over unprecedented austerity, largely driven by cuts at the state and local level. And it’s therefore an amazing triumph of misinformation the way that lackluster economic performance has been interpreted as a failure of government spending."

Productivity & Compensation

Paul Krugman comments on Larry Mishel's (of the Economic Policy Institute) latest research, "Larry Mishel has a systematic breakdown of the reasons for worker income stagnation since 1973. He starts with the familiar divergence: productivity up 80 percent, the compensation (including benefits) of the median worker up only 11 percent. Where did the productivity go?

The answer is, it’s two-thirds the inequality, stupid. One third of the difference is due to a technical issue involving price indexes. The rest, however, reflects a shift of income from labor to capital and, within that, a shift of labor income to the top and away from the middle.

What this says is that widening inequality makes a huge difference. Income stagnation does not reflect overall economic stagnation; the incomes of typical workers would be 30 or 40 percent higher than they are if inequality hadn’t soared."

Historic Milwaukee Architecture

Designed by H.A. Betts (1907) and Herman Buemming (1919) in the Elizabethan Revival style, the exterior of the home is limestone with a green glazed tile roof. 

Elizabethan Revival occurred initially in the 1830s, with a second revival around the 1920s. It's precedents are the architecture predominant during "the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603), regarded as within the last phase of the Tudor period, but showing the influence of European Renaissance styles, though often somewhat provincial in treatment...Late Gothic features such as large mullioned and transomed windows, the E-shaped late Tudor plan, elaborate upperworks such as arrays of tall chimneys, turrets, etc., and even the occasional spire, were mixed promiscuously with the Orders, much strapwork, grotesque ornament, and obelisks...Elizabethan architecture was often ebullient, notably in chimney-pieces, frontis-pieces, and funerary monuments." (Oxford Dictionary of Architecture)

Elements of Jacobean architecture are also evident. This refers to the "reign of King James I and VI (1603-25), not greatly differing from Elizabethan architecture, and largely continuing in the reign of Charles I (1625-49)...Essentially a melange of Flemish, French, and Italian Renaissance influences." (Oxford Dictionary of Architecture)

The combination of Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture is sometimes referred to as Jacobethan.

As Richard Perrin notes, "Scalloped gable ends are characteristic of the Jacobean period at the tail end of the Tudor period."

A Milwaukee Sentinel article from March 22, 1908 stated, "This building is of old English Style of architecture and it is expected will introduce this style generally to Milwaukee."

[North Point Historic Districts - Milwaukee. Shirley du Fresne McArthur]

The Latest In The Mess That Is Scott Walker

Wisconsin Missing Out On U.S. Job Gains

"The rest of the nation is moving upwards. We're one of the few states moving downward. There's something wrong," said economist Steven Deller of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The United States as a whole has added private-sector jobs 23 months in a row, including almost a half million jobs in the past two months.

Wisconsin has lost more private-sector jobs (an estimated 27,700) than any state in the country since the middle of last year (July through December), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only one other state, Missouri, is close, losing about 19,000 jobs in that stretch.

Statewide, 311 of 424 school districts, or 73% of districts, reported cutting teachers this year.

Overall, public schools in Wisconsin are employing 1,446 fewer teachers this year than they did in the 2010-11 school year. This represents a 2.4% loss in full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff at a time when student enrollment is stable.
The largest cuts statewide were to school librarians and career and technical education, special education, and reading teachers. For the current school year, there are 414 fewer elementary teachers in public schools, which is a staffing cut of about 2% statewide.

Under Gov. Scott Walker's policies, the state of Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state. All of Wisconsin's neighbor states gained jobs -- as did 44 of 50 states overall -- yet Wisconsin lost 12,500 jobs during Walker's first year in office, three times as many jobs as second place Missouri lost. The ad highlights not only this record, but the other key things Walker did to cut jobs and aid his wealthy allies.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin project that jobs will continue to leave the state, projecting that current policies will eliminate more than 20,000 additional jobs. Walker also canceled a planned high-speed rail line, scared off wind power investment in the state and cut unemployment insurance funds for working families temporarily hurt by the bad economy. All of these moves added to the job losses or pain felt by Wisconsin's working families.

Weekend Reading

Conservative Silent About Romney-Alinsky Link
The Founding Father Backed Health Insurance Mandates
Inequality 101: The Picket Fence & The Staircase
The Old, White, Rich Men Who Are Buying This Election
Out Of Control Medicare Spending? Maybe Not
Venture Capital Is Sucking (Your Money)
Want To Cut Health Care Costs? Start Here
What Mitt Romney Learned From His Dad

Friday, April 27, 2012

Scott Walker Is Coming For Your Pension

From the Daily Kos:

"I saw this post on a trusted person's wall on Facebook, and felt that due to the severity of the claims, the info should be made as public as can be. Down below the old piece of Christmas Candy.

The following is the context of the post:

I just had a call from a friend whose wife is a retired extension agent in St. Croix County and is now back there working in another kind of professional job. Anyway, spread the word - she just got back from a regional meeting and the word there was that Walker is saying that after he wins the recall election, he plans to push through the legislature a plan to abolish the state retirement system and convert everyone to 401k which will reduce our pensions by at least a third. And then he can have the rest of the money for whatever he wants.

This is not a rumor, he is openly talking about it in Madison, it just isn't being publicized. Remember how folks thought he was going to do anything to unions?"

For Further Reading:

Republican Mail Fraud

Ed Schultz tries to clear up the endlessly incorrect information swirling around in the media regarding the U.S. Postal Service.

Ed Schultz Takes On Republican Assault On Post Office

For Further Reading:
Going Postal
You Want Them To Look Like The Post Office?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Huge Cuts In Public Employment

Paul Krugman notes, "Here’s a comparison of changes in government employment (federal, state, and local) during the first four years of three presidents who came to office amid a troubled economy. That spike early on is Census hiring; once that was past, the Obama years shaped up as an era of huge cuts in public employment compared with previous experience. If public employment had grown the way it did under Bush, we’d have 1.3 million more government workers, and probably an unemployment rate of 7 percent or less."

U.S. Taxes Are Low & Regressive

Excerpted from Just How Progressive Is The U.S Tax Code:

"In this post we examine the progressivity of the U.S. tax code and highlight two facts: the current U.S. tax system is less progressive than the tax systems of other industrialized countries, and considerably less progressive today than it was just a few decades ago."

"Over the last fifty years, tax rates for the wealthiest Americans have declined by 40 percent, while tax rates for average Americans have remained roughly constant. This is illustrated in the figure below."

"This decline in tax rates for the wealthy has coincided with an increase in income inequality, where most of the wage gains have been concentrated among a relatively small portion of the American people. For example, since 1979, earnings for households in the top 1 percent of the income distribution have risen by over 250 percent. At the same time, many households at the middle and bottom of the income distribution have experienced stagnating incomes or even declines in earnings (figure below, blue bars). This means that the very people who have received the biggest income gains in the past three decades have also seen the largest tax cuts (figure below, red bars)."

"But the reason why the share of taxes paid by the top 10 percent has increased is because their share of income has increased."

"In 1979, the top 1 percent of Americans earned 9.3 percent of all income in the United States and paid 15.4 percent of all federal taxes. While the share of income earned by the top 1 percent had more than doubled by 2007—to 19.4 percent—the share of federal tax liability paid by that group only increased by about 80 percent, to 28.1 percent. The share of taxes increased less for this group because high-income tax rates fell by more than the tax rates for everyone else—reductions that made the system less progressive."


A Guide To Understanding Taxes In One Place
High Tax Rates Won't Slow Growth
Just How Progressive Is The U.S. Tax Code?
The Case For A Progressive Tax
There's No There There: Low Tax Rates & Economic Growth

Unions, Public Sector & Wages

Yet more reporting/research debunking the claims of an oversized public workforce and of overpaid public workers.

GOP's State Project Of Slashing The Public Workforce
Red States See Massive Public Sector Job Losses
Unions & The Wage-Productivity Gap
Union Wage Advantage: Myth Or Reality?

For Further Reading:
About Those Public Workers
Deferred Wages
Plutocrats In A Bubble
Public Disregard
Reality & Public Sector Compensation
The Undercompensated Public Employee
We're All Workers

Social Security

How The Media Has Shaped The Social Security Debate
Primary Cause Of Social Security's Bleak Outlook Is Upward Redistribution
Social Security & Medicare: Behind The Numbers & Spin
Social Security & Medicare: Six Myths Debunked

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Expand The Parkway?

I see the idea of expanding the Lake Parkway south to Oak Creek is percolating again. With that in mind, here's an old response to that proposal (at the time, July 2009, being pushed by Pat McIlheran, Journal Sentinel writer, and Pat Jursik, Milwaukee County board member):

Pat [McIlheran] follwed up his last bit of nonsense with more of the same, Radical old idea: Let us move around.

In the latest expounding of obliviousness, Pat pushes for extending the Lake Parkway all the way to southern Oak Creek. Is there any problem more highways will not solve for these guys?

McIlheran then runs through the typical gamut of right-wing, development, talking-points: the automobile represents freedom, no one wants to ride the train/light-rail, and building on green space is cheap and therefore preferable.

His description of Pat Jursik's, Milwaukee County Board member, idea for this highway expansion is "revolutionary". In today's environment - sprawl, pollution, water shortages, crumbling roads and infrastructure, stressed budgets - to suggest we build more is absurd. To suggest we build mass transit options that alleviate our dependence on automobiles and highways is, as Pat would say, "Right on!"

McIlheran thinks that if we don't expand highways and if we do expand rail options, we are "cutting off people's options." Someone check into Pat's relationship with the highway lobby. Is there a status quo entity for which he is not a shill? Again, Pat goes back to the oldie but goodie, implying that because we are Americans we can do whatever we want...the planet be damned! Not building highways, continuing to allow us to spew pollutants, nor paving over green space somehow equates to American freedom and would be "cutting off our options".

He then goes on to show more ignornace regarding the latest research, and a complete blindness to a Milwaukee case study. He, agreeing with Jursik, pontificates that tearing down the highway and replacing it with a surface street or lift bridge would be foolish. Maybe they both should read, 4 Cases of How Tearing Down a Highway Can Relieve Traffic Jams.

They mention how surface streets isolate one area of the region from the other. But on the contrary, what they actually do is encourage high-density development and community along those surface streets. Just the opposite of what McIlheran and Jursik are proposing. They want to relieve surface streets of traffic - which would relieve the businesses along these streets of customers. This of course would lead to more exit-ramp, big-box retailers sprouting up along the highways so drivers can jump on and off to get items they might need on any given day. We'd hate to see people shopping in their own neighborhoods supporting local retailers and entrepreneurs. It's much better that we spend money at absentee-owned stores that pay a lower wage and subsequently siphon much of that spending outside our border. Basically, McIlheran and Jursik just want more of the same. More highways for more driving, just not on surface streets, so all of our driving can be at higher speeds, alongside more of the same, haphazard development we've seen over the last 50 years.

The boogeyman here is congestion. We need more highways to relieve all our congestion? What congestion? Milwaukee has one of the shorter commute times of any larger city. Milwaukee was recently ranked the third best city in the country for commuters by Forbes magazine.

We need an investment in rail. Being one of only two or three areas in the country without, or not planning, light-rail is bad for business, the environment, and our quality of life. And, this would only make our commute time even better.

Glaringly absent from the article is a discussion of induced demand. The phenomenon whereby building highways, adding lanes, actually increases congestion on those highways. But economic development, urban planning, and quality of life are obviously not Pat's forte. He's only worried about convenience.

Is McIlheran unaware of the environmental issues breathing down our necks? Or just unwilling to make lifestyle changes to avoid catastrophe? He even makes a crack about, "the silliness of opposing all new pavement." Seemingly, somehow, glorifying and proclaiming the righteousness of paving over open space. Again, showing his complete ignornace regarding the environmental issues with sprawling development.

For Further Reading:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Scott Walker's Pathetic Job Creation

h/t Milwaukee Stat

The Battle For The War On Women

An Inherently Capitalistic Approach May Not Be A Good Thing

Recent history (the last 40 years, and more specifically, the last decade or so) should have given "free markets", "capitalism" and "running it like a business" a cumulative black eye. From increased market volatility, to insecure retirement, to rising health care costs, and stagnating wages, running everything like a business and allowing blind faith in the "free" market has been a spectacular failure for 99.9% of the population.

But, leave it to Republicans to beat and ride that dead horse into the ground.

Just recently in the Journal Sentinel, Dan Steininger (of BizStarts Milwaukee, Wisconsin Early-Stage Fund and Successful Entrepreneurs LLC), in an effort to laud the supposedly impressive economic power of research parks, claimed that, at the end of the day, we should all push for more public dollars being used for more private speculation because it is an "inherently capitalistic approach."

Research parks are claimed to "kick-start" economies and create jobs "that attract new companies to the region."

Steininger exclaims, "The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Innovation Park is now under construction in Wauwatosa. Its goal is to become the largest driver of economic development for southeastern Wisconsin in the 21st-century, knowledge-based economy."

Investment in research and development (R&D) is great. Increased educational spending, also, great stuff, in the general sense of things.

Although ... The "largest driver of economic development"?

I'm just saying there should be some perspective to counter the overblown rhetoric. There are many worthwhile endeavors and programs, which are important to a majority of citizens.

Government spending is wasteful when it goes to the poor, to teachers, or to public transportation. But there's never enough money for stadiums, research parks, and other private-interest pet projects. The projects that generally benefit a select few at the expense of many.

Small cabals of "entrepreneurs" are the ones who told us to run things like a business, cut taxes, and pump more money into private investment schemes. Yet, nothing has trickled down. Wages are down, health care costs are up, and retirement is increasingly unstable and/or out of reach. I don't know about you, but to me, that's not economic growth nor job creation.

For Further Reading:
The False Promise Of The Entrepreneurial University
Research Parks
Research, Science & Technology Parks: Global Best Practices
Technology In The Garden: Research Parks & Regional Economic Development
University Related Science Parks
UWM As Economic Engine? Dream On

Democrats Are Best For The Economy

Economy has grown the most when Democrats have been in power

The Ugly (And Regressive) Truth Of Paul Ryan's Proposals

Weekend Reading

Do Small Businesses Create Jobs?
Fiscal Therapy
Fix Income Inequality With $10 Million Loans For Everyone!
Romneys Were Able To Give Sons $100 Million Tax Free
Social Security in U.S. Less Generous Than Other Countries
The Rich Are Different Than You & Me...They Pay Lower Taxes
Why Do Half Of All Americans Pay No Federal Income Taxes?
Why You Should Care That 70% Of Antibiotics Go Into Animal Feed
Will The Exurbs Ever Make A Comeback?

Discretionary Spending


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Never Worked A Day In Her Life

"I think the one thing we can be sure of is that she lived in households that were wealthy enough to afford domestic help both as a child and as an adult, which is not the type of lifestyle most typical Americans have experienced, and the point that ought to be driven home if Mitt Romney wants to continue to hold his wife out there as some representative of average American women and their concerns," as Heather over at Crooks and Liars states.

As Think Progress elaborates, "Romney and allies cried that Democrats had declared “war on moms” after a Democratic strategist said Romney’s wife hadn’t worked a day in her life. Romney’s camp said this meant Democrats don’t value stay at home moms and motherhood, while they believe that women who stay home are doing real work. But for every Romney action, there is an equal and opposite Romney reaction, and this morning, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes dug up a video of Romney from just January in which the Republican presidential candidate said he wanted to require women who receive welfare to work outside the home, even if their children are very young. But this is worse than hypocritical because there is a clear difference here — women who receive welfare benefits, the ones Romney wants to force to work, are poor, while Romney’s wife is very wealthy. And this exactly the point CNN contributor Hillary Rosen was trying to make, inartfully, when she sparked this controversy. Ann Romney had the luxury of choosing to devote herself full time to raising her children. It’s hard work, no doubt, but millions of mothers are forced to work and raise their kids at the same time, as Romney says he wants to require poor women on government benefits to do."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Milwaukee's Best...

Fine Dining:

Crazy Water
Jackson Grill
La Merenda
Lake Park Bistro 

Honorable Mention:


Don't Trust A Republican Waxing Philosophical About Democracy

It's awfully sad that the Journal Sentinel has sunk so low they need to publish hacks, like Christian Schneider of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, and claim they're furthering debate, clarifying the issues, or even practicing journalism.

Yes, those darned "union sympathizers" have mucked up our sparkling democracy. Never before, claims Schneider, have things gotten so messy.

Rather strange that the party (Republicans) which prefers shouting and heckling at town hall meetings, mudslinging instead of debate, and sabotaging elections (tearing up recall petitions, running Republicans as Democrats in democratic primaries, creating the phony voter fraud issue, etc.) is suddenly up in arms over the sanctity of the process.

Mr. Schneider wants us to know, "The current use of the recall is far different from what the original drafters had envisioned ... In Wisconsin's history, only two state elected officials had been successfully recalled before 2011. Nationally, only two governors have ever been recalled from office. Yet in 2012, Wisconsin will be seeing its 15th recall election in the span of one year."

He forgets the numerous uprisings in our history where vast numbers marched and rallied, and forced politicians to do as the majority of citizens wanted.

Now we're actually going through the drudgery of the whole recall process. That seems sophisticated considering what once was.

As Schneider points out, "At the time the recall amendment was adopted [1926], supporters believed the threat of recall would keep elected officials representative of the people. As the argument went, officials would be more responsive to the public than to special interests if their constituents could pull them out of office for corruption. Numerous progressives argued that recalls would aid in keeping the influence of money out of politics."

He then, with keen misdirection, claims the recall efforts are at fault for the flood of money in our electoral process. Seemingly oblivious to the recent Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. You know, the decision that made corporations people and ruled it's OK to funnel limitless money to a Super PAC to fund campaigns without transparency.

Schneider then, astoundingly, cackles "The modern recall is being used in a way that its original supporters never expected or likely would have endorsed. As recall supporter and progressive leader Robert M. La Follette Sr. once said, "the supreme issue involving all others is the encroachment of the powerful few upon the rights of the many." The modern use of the recall demonstrates that to be true."

Over 41 percent of the number of people who voted (2,158,723) during the last gubernatorial election signed recall petitions (900,938). Hardly just a "powerful few." But I guess that's part of the civilized Republican response to this messiness - blame it on the "thug" "union sympathizers" and pretend it's some small-numbered fringe interest group.

Nevertheless, all of the smoke and mirrors used by Schneider and the WPRI can't hide the truth - Scott Walker is being recalled because the policies he has pursued since being elected do not match up to those which he campaigned on, nor are they the policies many citizens want. Concealed carry, ending the Equal Pay Act, ending collective bargaining ... if Walker's radical agenda was made clear during his initial gubernatorial run, he never would have been elected.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Historic Milwaukee Architecture

Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society

The website Milwaukee Architecture explains, "Said to be Frank Lloyd Wright's only important residential project in Milwaukee (Zimmermann) this house embodies Wright's prairie style elements into a somewhat heavy massive look. At the time he was working on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo as well. The buff brick is combined with cast concrete and leaded glass. Wright was also producing a line of pre-fab houses at the same time."

Praire School Traveler states, "A distinctive brick residence with five bedrooms, stylistically related to the German Warehouse, both of which incorporate cast concrete ornament and presage Wright’s California works such as the Barnsdall (“Hollyhock”) House."

Mary Ann Sullivan informs, "This house has some of the characteristic features of the Prairie style--horizontality, a low-pitched roof with wide eaves, and rows of leaded-glass windows. Like many of Wright's houses, this residence does not have an entrance in the front facade; the main entrance is from the driveway on the north side."

As the National Park Service details, "This house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and executed under his supervision. It was built in 1916-1917, in the so-called Japanese years of Wright's career. The building has been designated a Milwaukee landmark ... The wall material is a tan tapestry brick and trimmed with precast concrete. The brickwork has wide, raked horizontal mortar joints and tinted and filled vertical joints. The building presents typical Wright details in the strong horizontal lines, geometric patterns, deep-set windows, and wide overhanging eaves. The lintels, sills, and capstones are precast concrete. The wooden windows and trim are painted a "Wright red."

For Further Reading:
North Point North

Reince's War On Women

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Scott Walker Ramps Up Extremism

Scott Walker Ramps Up Extremism
By Kenneth Quinnell
In advance of his upcoming recall election and possible legal trouble, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has become even more extreme, ramping up the rhetoric and taking actions that are troubling, to say the least. Most importantly, he signed a repeal of the state's Equal Pay Enforcement Act:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is facing a recall election, quietly repealed a state law making it easier for pay discrimination victims to seek justice. Amanda Terkel reports in The Huffington Post that Walker signed into law a bill passed in party-line votes by Republicans in the state legislature that rolls back the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act. The act had allowed workers to challenge pay discrimination in state rather than just federal courts.
The act was only one part of Walker's assault on women:
Among them were four highly controversial measures focused on women's health care and sexual education:
A repeal of the state's Equal Pay law, which allowed victim's of wage discrimination to collect damages of between $50,000 and $300,000, and a repeal of the Healthy Youth Act, which had provided requirements to schools that comprehensive and scientifically accurate information about everything from abstinence to contraception be taught at an age-appropriate level.
Walker also signed into law a ban on abortion coverage through policies as part of a health insurance exchange to be created under the federal health care reform law starting in 2014 (the only exceptions would be in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity); and a bill requiring women seeking abortions to undergo a physical exam and consult with a doctor alone, away from her friends and family, in order to make sure she isn't "being pressured into the decision." Doctors who break the law could be charged with a felony.
I know that collective bargaining is not a right; it's an expensive entitlement. It's about time somebody stood up for the hardworking taxpayers of our state.
The problem is, of course, that collective bargaining is a right.
Walker has also been railing about how state workers can't be the "haves" while everyone else is a "have not." The state worker he used in an ad to that effect, it turns out is actually one of the have-nots, making only $25,227 a year, certainly not a massive salary by any standards.

State Spending

Weekend Reading

Americans Brace For Next Wave Of Foreclosures
Bankruptcy Costs & America's Household Debt Crisis
The 401(K): American Not Prepared To Manage Their Own Retirement
Housing Scorecard Points To Stability In Market
The Impossibility Of Defense Cuts
MIT Predicting Global Economic Collapse By 2030
More Public Pension Scare Stories At The Post
U.S. Labor Market Increasingly Low-Wage Driven
Where America Needs Doctors
Where Do Our State Tax Dollars Go?
Will Foreclosures Drive Home Prices Lower?
Why A Housing Recovery Could Happen Sooner Than You Think

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Hot off the press, the latest research from Citizens For Tax Justice:

The U.S Has A Low Corporate Tax

Using Purchasing Power To Support Good Jobs

Welcome To The Union Shop!

"When we polled our online activists last year, we found out that Americans are eager to show their support for workers by purchasing union-made products and services. But 82 percent of the people we polled also said that buying union is easier said than done—simply because they don’t know which products make the cut.

So we decided it was time to provide consumers withsimple tools for using their purchasing power in support of good, American jobs. Every week we’ll feature a new post profiling a union-made product or service to keep conscientious consumers like you in the know."

Products by Category:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Milwaukee's Best...

Fish Fries:

Beer Belly's
Butch's Big Mouth Frog
County Clare
Erv's Mug
Kegel's Inn
Wegner's St. Martins Inn

Overblown Bradley Center Impacts

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) has released their Bradley Center economic impact study. They were planning to show a large economic impact due to the Bradley Center. Lo and behold, that's what they manufactured found.

I've been writing about Bradley Center subsidization and it's overblown economic impacts since 2009.
Even Don Walker, of the Journal Sentinel, wonders how Bradley Center officials and boosters can have it both ways - the arena is uncompetitive and doesn't generate sufficient revenues, yet it is also is a huge economic driver for the region.

Much of the other reporting regarding the Bradley Center report has simply stated the report's numbers and accepted them without any analysis or questions asked. Boosterism marches on. The growth machine lumbers on.

The usual story-line is being presented. Many of the same characters and boosters of the Miller Park swindle are involved in securing public money to build a new private basketball stadium. Many of the same mantras and "benefits" are blathered about and claimed whether the project is a stadium, a convention center, an industrial park, a research park, and a host of other supposed economic "game changers" and "engines."

These money losers - stadiums, convention centers, etc. - always have boosters and proponents pushing for the use of public dollars to fund such private playgrounds. In such instances, these normally government-averse, anti-tax crusaders, become big government supporters and partners. Suddenly government spending is a good thing that will create jobs and be an economic catalyst for the region. Or so the well-worn story goes. In the majority of cases, the reality is just the opposite.

From the report:
The gross dollar impact of the Bradley Center on the Metro Milwaukee area totals $204.5 million, with 2,350 jobs supported, generating $73.1 million in annual payroll. The MMAC estimates the yearly direct revenue generated by the Bradley Center at $95.8 million. 
 Many of these direct dollars spent as part of Bradley Center events are re-spent in the local economy supporting more localized economic activities (indirect impacts) and producing an even greater total impact on the metro region – the so called multiplier effect. 
Through a review of Bradley Center ticket sales, the MMAC estimates that approximately 70% of its attendees are local in origin (from the metro area). Conversely, 30% are estimated to come from outside the four-county metro Milwaukee area and with it new spending into the metro area. This gives an approximate estimate of base economic activity generated by the Bradley Center’s presence, or net new dollars pulled into the metro area. 
The MMAC estimates annual new spending generated directly by the Bradley Center by non-local sources at $41.6 million. For the metro area analysis, a 70% local – 30% non-local split was used in evaluating net new output resulting from Bradley Center activity. However, for Milwaukee County, a review of ticket sales figures suggest that a 50% local (from Milwaukee County) – 50% non-local split is more appropriate. Because of this split, a larger share of the direct money spent is new to Milwaukee County.

The bottom line impact for Milwaukee County is a gross economic output measure of $180.3 million, including both direct and indirect impacts. More critically, net new impacts or new money brought into Milwaukee County totaled $106 million (direct and indirect), with a job impact of 1,063, payroll of $29.5 million and new state and local tax revenue of $10.8 million. 
The economic attractiveness of a metro area is in part determined by the variety of choices that residents have in the region in which they live. Among the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S., metro Milwaukee ranks No. 1 in major league seat availability per-capita. In addition, metro Milwaukee ranks fifth highest in the number of performing arts companies per-capita among 21 benchmark metro areas. The opportunity to choose among a variety of activities has value, not only economic development value but real dollar value. While it is beyond the scope of this white paper, there is a tangible value afforded in having the choice of going to a Milwaukee Bucks game or a Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra performance vs. a movie at the local theater. A significant group of residents will choose major league entertainment over other options, everything else equal; thus, there is value to that choice.
Let's start with the assumptions - 50 percent of attendees at events at the Bradley Center are non-locals (from outside Milwaukee County). The actual impact of any entity is it's ability to draw in customers who would not have otherwise been spending money in the area. People coming in from Madison or up from Chicago doesn't quite qualify. If they would have spent money at home, but instead spend it at a Bucks game, there is no growth for the region. There is merely a realignment of spending. Which is why the majority of sport stadiums are economic losers - the majority of people that attend events are from the city or the region. When this is the case, growth does not occur. To qualify 'outside Milwaukee County' as not being local inflates the supposed outside dollar amount coming in - the actual growth and impact is overstated.

As the UWM-Center for Economic Development notes in a study of another one of the Milwaukee development community's white elephants (PabstCity), "No venue in Milwaukee draws anything close to 30 percent of its visitors from outside the region. The Calatrava, with all its national and international publicity and iconic status, draws substantially less than 30% of its visitors from outside Milwaukee. Events such as the Wisconsin State Fair and Summerfest draw close to that figure, but these are once a year “special events,” with state-wide and civic participation and sponsorship."

MMAC uses multipliers provided by the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis "to account for the full impact of an economic stimulus. The initial impact (direct) is the output created initially by this stimulus. To the extent that these dollars are re-spent and re-circulated through the local economy, they end up having a multiplied effect. If you account for subsequent rounds of spending, you would reach the total multiplied effect of this stimulus."

Suddenly the lobbying arm of metro Milwaukee commerce believes in Keynesian multipliers? Conservatives, generally, believe for every dollar the government spends, spending elsewhere in the economy falls by the same amount. Thus, government spending negates any multiplier effect in the economy, according to conservatives. I guess when they need a certain outcome (the Bradley Center has a huge economic impact), their economic principles are a bit more flexible. [But, if the multiplier effect is real, what's their excuse against more stimulus to get the economy back near full employment?]

The report also notes that entertainment variety, for an area, is attractive to residents. There is an implicit assumption that such arena events are the primary entertainment options for the majority of people. This idea isn't quantified. It is merely stated to be accepted. How many of the attendees at events are repeats? Many sporting events, the theater, or the orchestra are attended by many of the same patrons during the year. To extrapolate that this benefits a majority of citizens, or is even important to the majority of an area's citizens is quite a stretch. 

If private organizations want public money - which is the reason the "economic impact" studies are trotted out - maybe they should at the least have to assure that the jobs being subsidized will be living-wage jobs. Sadly, most of these jobs are seasonal, low-wage jobs. Public dollars should not be used to subsidize low-wage, seasonal employment. Yet another reason more "investment" in arenas like the Bradley Center are usually economic losers. And, if these projects were such no-brainers and sure-fire success stories, why would the private sector need a public partner?

There is a large body of studies (see my previous writings on the subject for examples, linked above) showing stadiums are not economic catalysts. This research, for most cities, has found the same results for decades. Regardless of the conclusions of the 6-page MMAC "study," stadiums do not have a serious economic impact for the majority of cities. To claim the Bradley Center is any different is bogus.