Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cronies of Rich Guys (CRG)

Mike Johnson wrote an article on August 7, 2009 in the Milwaukee Journal Senintel, Property Tax Levies up 5.1% in region. In all of the talk about property values and taxation, one of the persons quoted in the article caught my attention.

Chris Kliesmet is the executive administrator of CRG Network. He found the Public Policy Forum report (the data discussed in the article) showed "another sign of how onerous property taxes in Wisconsin have become." He feels, "local officials should be holding the line on spending and cutting taxes."

Does any of this sound familiar? Is this unbiased analysis? Or just conjecture? Is this opinion even necessary for the article? Does this simply interject conservative talking points for no apparent reason?

I guess the irony of a "watchdog" group complaining about taxes even though [because of the status of his group, "CRG Network Foundation, Inc. was formed as a 501(c)(3), non-profit, tax-exempt corporation"] their organization doesn't pay any taxes went over their heads.

Here are some excerpts taken directly from their website regarding their mission:
  1. It's mission is to help citizens elect fiscally conservative candidates, assert property rights, and remove corrupt and/or fiscally irresponsible politicians from office
  2. To lobby and advocate for fiscally conservative and property rights legislation on a local and statewide basis
  3. Motivate fiscal conservatives to vote in increasingly larger numbers
  4. Organize fiscal conservatives into the most influential political force in Wisconsin
  5. Encourage fiscal conservatives to contribute the human and financial resources needed to grow and be successful
And here's some rhetorical flourishes from their site which give a bit more insight into their perspective:
  • ...unions and other special interest groups
  • ...tax-spending special interests and regulatory bureaucrats
The Journal Sentinel article simply labels the group as a "taxpayer watchdog group". As if they were unbiased and non-partisan. If it were a labor or union group - or a group with a mission of socially liberal policies, encouraging liberals to vote, etc. - they would have been labeled so, or at the very least called liberal or left-leaning. But then again, to be called "liberal" is supposedly bad. Even though "liberal" policies have been empirically shown to lead to a greater standard of living for a larger proportion of citizens over our history. Somehow, though, the label of "conservative" doesn't garner any disdain.

CRG was one of the initial agitators calling for the recall of Tom Ament. Scott Walker has only worsened the County budget. How about recalling him? Come on, CRG, where's your consistency? Walker has only dug a deeper budget hole. According to your logic, he must go. I'll gladly sign that recall petition.

CRG is nothing more than one of "starve the beast" organizations of the right. It's not about what's best for citizens. It's about their ideology being in control of government to steer largesse to their cronies rather than to workers and infrastructure. Seems more like a "watchdog" group for the rich.

In a recent post, I had shown government wasn't all that bad. And, as Paul Krugman wrote in a recent column, if it wasn't for government intervention in the economic catastrophe we're in, we'd be in a Depression. (And if conservative ideology hadn't invaded government policy and torn down the regulatory structures enacted after the Great Depression, we wouldn't be facing such an excruciating financial collapse, either.)

But, alas, the liberal and government bashing will continue. Why? Because it's easy, and because the right-wing conservatives have nothing concrete, substantive, or worthwhile to offer. Although, they'll form a PAC, call themselves "watchdogs", and get quoted in the local paper as credible public policy analysts.

No comments: