Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fact-checking The First Debate

The Journal Sentinel summarized the first debate between Mary Burke and Scott Walker in, Mary Burke pounces on Scott Walker's comments on state's 'work problem'.

"We don't have a jobs problem in this state. We have a work problem," Walker said during a discussion about raising the minimum wage.

During an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker explained that he is seeking to boost workers in two areas. First, he pointed to employers who need trained workers for higher-skilled jobs like welding. 
"We have jobs, we don't just have enough people with the skill sets to fill those jobs," he said. 
Walker also said he wants to help others acquire the basic skills needed to hold down any job. Walker has proposed requiring drug tests for working-age recipients of public benefits.
This is yet another of the many Republican talking-points that continue to live on even though there isn't a shred of evidence supporting it. In writing about the job training myth, Marc Levine detailed, "As Gordon Lafer, one of the country's foremost researchers on job training, puts it: "Whatever the problem, it seems job training is the answer. The only trouble is, it doesn't work, and the government knows it. . . . Indeed, in studying more than 40 years of job training policy, I have not seen one program that, on average, enabled its participants to earn their way out of poverty."

As I previously wrote in Myth Busting: Job Training, "Most of the new jobs being created require an associate's degree or less. 85 percent of the population in the U.S. have at least a high school degree. Over 27 percent have a bachelor's. The percentage of high school and college graduates has increased since 2000. We have neither an unskilled nor an uneducated workforce. Education as a corrective to the employment problem seems minimally significant." The idea that there are not enough Wisconsin citizens with the needed-skills is ludicrous.

As Catherine Rampell, of The New York Times, reported, "What’s especially odd about these survey responses is that if employers are having trouble finding qualified workers, they should be bidding up wages to attract the few qualified workers who are out there. But that’s not what the data show."

There is no training or skills crisis. We have a class warfare and living-wage crisis.

The Journal falls down, again, and fails to correct these falsities. Instead of practicing journalism and helping the reader to see the truth between competing narratives, they just spread the taking-points for Republicans.

They then go on to insinuate that Mary Burke is a meanie, "For their part, Republicans noted after the debate that Burke appeared ungracious when the candidates were asked to name something that they admired in the other." [This "meanie" issue is actually about a quarter of the entire article.]

I don't admire anything about Scott Walker either. He's a self-absorbed, closed-minded, partisan, hack. No matter where he has gone, controversy and deficits have followed. Does this make me ungracious? Oh well. The simple fact that one is in a debate doesn't also mean that person has earned respect. And, in dissecting the career of Scott Walker, it is awfully difficult to find something to hang your hat on. In preparing for the debate, was Mary Burke supposed to focus on what would make Scott Walker look his best?

Hopefully Wisconsin can move toward a debate of ideas and facts rather than boogeymen and mythology.

For Further Reading:
The Skills Crisis & Job Training
Skills Shortage Sham
For Scott Walker, Jobs Service Is Not Job Number One
Melissa Harris-Perry Takes Scott Walker To Task For Dishonest Ad On Reproductive Rights

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