Saturday, November 22, 2014

Wisconsin's $2.2 Billion Deficit

State faces $2.2 billion deficit heading into 2015-17 budget cycle

So surprising this article surfaces just after the election. All we've heard over the past few months is how Wisconsin has been moving forward and Scott Walker had saved the Wisconsin economy.

Somehow, in the past few weeks, the media has discovered billions in deficits. How convenient for Scott Walker.

It was actually estimated at $1.8 billion back in September. Nary a peep was heard from the media (or the Democrats, for that matter) questioning Walker about this during the campaign.

Can anyone (other than the MacIver Institute or the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute) name something positive Scott Walker has done for Wisconsin during his time in office?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Most Dangerous Cities In America

9. Milwaukee, Wis.
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,364
> Population: 600,805
> 2013 murders: 104 (15th highest)
> Poverty rate: 29.0% (29th highest)
> Pct. of adults with high school degree: 81.8% (tied-73rd lowest)
Violent crime in Milwaukee has been on the rise in recent years, with the number of reported incidents rising from 1,045 per 100,000 residents in 2010 to 1,364 per 100,000 residents in 2013. However, an increase in the number of reported crimes may not mean that Milwaukee has gotten more dangerous. A 2012 report by the Journal Sentinel, a local Wisconsin newspaper, found that police in Milwaukee had misreported thousands of crimes in prior years, which led to lower crime rates. Further, while Milwaukee reported a large number of violent crimes, its property crime rate was comparatively low, ranking just 83rd among cities with at least 100,000 residents.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More Skills Gap Crap

The Milwaukee Business Journal entered the "skills gap" discussion with 5 things employers and job seekers need to do to bridge skills gap.

Why the media continues to push this manufactured drivel is beyond me. There is no skills gap.

The money-quote that captures the ridiculousness of this:
The reason companies are taking longer to hire is that they are getting more specific about the talent that they are looking for and a "great employee is game changing," and potential hires need to focus on "bringing greatness into the workplace," said Jamie Fall, vice president for workforce and talent sustainability for a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit called the HR Policy Foundation.
So, Milwaukee can't find welders (the oft repeated example) because not enough "game-changing" and "great" employees are out there? Whatever that ever means.

Sure, most employers want smart, responsible and talented employees. But the main reason they aren't filling these jobs is because of the pay. You can't employ a great, game-changing employee for a minimum wage.

All jobs require some on-the-job training. The idea that an employee walks into the door knowing everything is pure fantasy.

This isn't a worker or a training problem, it's a pay problem.


This anemic-pay epidemic also explains our current record-level income inequality. When people only have enough to get by, they don't consume enough to consistently grow the economy. Our media has been a compliant messenger in the skills gap mythology and, thus, enablers of increasing income inequality. 

The story goes: 
The Haves want nothing more than to employ the Have Nots. Its just the Have Nots aren't pulling their weight. They just can't quite get it done. 
Maybe if the public sector paid more for training, maybe if the public sector did more to educate potential workers, maybe if the public sector gave subsidies to private companies...
Got that? You're stupid and unskilled...and its the government's job to fix things, or at least shovel money at it.

All hail the free market!

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

From the Milwaukee Business Journal:

Another Walker term generates 'euphoric' response from business community (Nov 4)

Fewer Milwaukee-area employers believe economy will improve in next six months: Marquette-ISM Report (Oct 31)

How can both of these simultaneously be possible?

If employers don't see economic improvement on the horizon, why is the business community so "euphoric" over Scott Walker's reelection?

Another term of crony capitalism is on the way.

Americans Voters Defy Reason

Many of us Canadians are confused by the U.S. midterm elections. 
Consider, right now in America, corporate profits are at record highs, the country's adding 200,000 jobs per month, unemployment is below 6%, U.S. gross national product growth is the best of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. 
The dollar is at its strongest levels in years, the stock market is near record highs, gasoline prices are falling, there's no inflation, interest rates are the lowest in 30 years, U.S. oil imports are declining, U.S. oil production is rapidly increasing, the deficit is rapidly declining, and the wealthy are still making astonishing amounts of money. America is leading the world once again and respected internationally — in sharp contrast to the Bush years. Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden. 
So, Americans vote for the party that got you into the mess that Obama just dug you out of? This defies reason. 
When you are done with Obama, could you send him our way? 
Richard Brunt
Victoria, British Columbia

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Journal Sentinel's Fake Reality

Leave it to the Journal Sentinel to add in their usual big bowl of wrong following Tuesday's election.

Since Walker and the Republicans were victorious, it's up to the Democrats to "reach out and find common ground."

Yes, because the Democrats have been so unwilling to cooperate up until now? This false equivalency bullshit is so tired.

The idea that Democrats haven't been trying, forever, to negotiate on policy with the Republicans is ridiculous.

The Journal rants:
Pouting and stomping their feet doesn't work and will only drive them farther from state voters. That's a lesson they should have learned during the Act 10 days of protest when state senators fled for Illinois to delay a vote on the measure that effectively killed public sector unions in Wisconsin. Fist-shaking and name-calling wasn't effective then and isn't going to be very effective in the months ahead.
Has the Journal been paying attention to Republican politics for the last 40 years? The Republicans have been the party of pouting, stomping their feet, fist-shaking and name-calling.

The Democrats' claims against the Republicans for fraud, lying, deception, favoritism, cronyism, etc. have all been true.

The Republicans have manufactured a false reality for their constituents and the media has been a willing accessory.

The Journal continues:
Walker won, and not just because he ran a better campaign than Burke. At least 52% of voters like the governor and like his message better than they liked Burke's. They like balanced budgets. They like a healthier economy. And they think Walker and his fellow Republicans can deliver on those issues better than the Democrats can.
A balanced budget? A healthier economy? Republicans deliver [on these issues] better than the Democrats?


These claims are all demonstrably false! How can the Journal write such easily disproven drivel?

The Journal then attempts more revisionism:
Some of Walker's opponents argue that he has demonized public sector employees and teachers. He did not, although some of his supporters have.
So, it wasn't Scott Walker claiming unions [not Wall Street] destroyed the economy and teachers [not CEOs] are overpaid?

They continue with a 'Democrats are meanies' meme, "Many of Walker's opponents have demonized the governor and his supporters, comparing him to past dictators, for example, or charging that he is a puppet of the evil Koch brothers and big mining companies."

I guess the Journal would just like to ignore the fact that both of these claims are true. It seems their form of journalism has a real problem with calling it like it is.

Until Republicans and the Journal Sentinel can come to grips with reality, it looks like we will be faced with a continual string of false equivalencies and manufactured narratives.

Best Chicken Wings In America

Points East Pub

Milwaukee, WI

Getting your wings at this Milwaukee joint takes time… mainly because each batch is prepped to order, and, instead of taking a dip in the fryer, they’re fired up on a grill. Luckily, the place is old-school gritty/charming enough that you won’t care. Order at the bar, snag a few beers, and kick back in the cozy neighborhood joint. In 30 or so minutes, the cook himself will deliver some of the best wings in the Midwest, grill-charred and loaded with flavor thanks to a secret dry-rub that manages to penetrate every fiber of the meat. If the Packers are playing, your wait’s going to be considerably longer. Thank heavens for good company. And Leinenkugel. [source]

Democrats Punished Again (And Again) For Republican Policies

Merely 7 years after the Republicans handed the country to Barack Obama with deficits percolating, housing collapsing, unemployment rising, scandals and fraud running rampant, and retirement accounts disappearing...they're back.

Tuesday's election was supposedly an indictment, a referendum, on the performance of Barack Obama (and, by proxy, Democrats, in general).

Voters decided - thanks to gerrymandering, voter suppression, and our embarrassing turnout (Wisconsin 57%?!) - that the party (Republicans) that has obstructed every piece of legislation Obama proposed, was responsible for the Great Recession and income inequality rivaling the Great Depression, and whose policies have blatantly favored the top 1% for the past half-century, these people should be guiding us again.

Democrats were given an economy that was tanking. We can thank the Republicans' deregulation and tax cuts for that. The Republicans then proceeded to refuse to negotiate, bargain or capitulate on any and all legislative proposals. They opposed every effort of the Democrats to keep us out of another Great Depression and to get the economy up and moving again.

Yet, despite the calamitous circumstances left in their collective lap, and no cooperation from Republicans, Democrats did pass infrastructure, health care and other important policies which steadily improved the economy.

Lets take a closer look at the Democrats' and Obama's "terrible" record.

For the first time since 2008, the unemployment rate is below 6%.

For the first time in 14 years, we have created over 200,000 job per month for nine months in a row.

Since 2009, the deficit has been reduced by two-thirds under Barack Obama.

Republicans give lip-service to restraining government spending. Barack Obama has the lowest annualized percent growth in federal spending since 1980, the lowest of all presidents during the period.

Stocks had plummeted and took many Americans' retirement accounts down, too. Obama's stock market gains rank among the best of any president.

Due to the Republicans lying about everything and the media's complacency in the face of such deception, the "blame the Democrats and Obama" construction was allowed to gather steam. Yet, nearly all of the Republicans' accusations and claims are false.

Barack Obama and the Democrats have been far from perfect. But further improvement would have been made by doing more of what they did do, not less. More infrastructure spending, universal health care, etc.

We already know what Republican policies do to an economy. Since the 1980s, we have seen the destructive results (again and again) from their policies.

Republicans (repeatedly) drive the American economy into the ditch. And, time after time, voters punish Democrats for not getting the car out of the ditch quickly enough (even in the face of Republican obstructionism). Wake up, people! This needs to stop!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mapping The New Deal

The Living New Deal Project at UC Berkeley has released an awesome interactive map showing every New Deal project in the country. Since the New Deal spanned from Alaska to Puerto Rico and Panama, you need a very wide view to take it all in:

Today, with interest rates at record lows and no inflation in sight, you might think the government would be undertaking a comparable surge of investment projects. Instead, after a brief-but-significant boost in 2010 associated with the federal stimulus bill, government investment has been falling:

Weekend Reading

As Divider-In-Chief, Gov. Scott Walker Is A Roaring Success
Everything You Think You Know About The News Is Probably Wrong
Around the world, people have a pretty good sense of the life expectancy of their country’s inhabitants. 
When it comes to most other social statistics, they have no idea. 
That’s the conclusion to be drawn from a study of public perception in 14 countries by Ipsos MORI, a UK-based market research firm. Ipsos polled over 11,000 residents in total about a range of social factors—from immigration to teen pregnancy to religious demographics. Here is the overall “Index of Ignorance,” from least to most informed: 
1. Italy
2. US
3. South Korea
4. Poland
5. Hungary
6. France
7. Canada
8. Belgium
9. Australia
10. Great Britain
11. Spain
12. Japan
13. Germany
14. Sweden
Southwest Airlines Transforms Air Service In Milwaukee

The Blame The Teachers Game: Has Any One Heard Of The South
Tax Foundation Ranks Wisconsin's Tax Climate 43rd In U.S.

Increase Wisconsin's Minimum Wage
Is The Affordable Care Act Working?
State Moving Forward On Hill Farms Land Sale, Redevelopment
Hill Farms Redevelopment Called Potential 'Backroom Deal'
The 10 Most Expensive State Programs
Car Dealers Are Awful. It's Time To Kill The Dumb Law That Keep Them In Business
7 Mental Biases That Could Impact How You Invest
Are 401(K) Plans Setting Up Millennials For Pain?
Economists Say We Should Tax The Rich At 90 Percent
10 Facts You May Not Know About The Federal Budget

All The Wealth The Middle Class Accumulated After 1940 Is Gone

Exploding Wealth Inequality In United States
Obama Is A Republican