Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Walker Wrecking Crew

Republican snake oil was voted back into office. It is vexing that they can keep selling this: we can live an as-we-wish, no-limits lifestyle; taxation is bad and unnecessary; government provides and does nothing; business is a altruistic, loving savior; and we really can have it all, pay nothing, and live happily ever after. They keep coming back to the table, selling this empirically discredited fantasy, and voters keep buying this illusion.

As Roger Bybee wrote, "[Scott] Walker would rather attack the benefits of government employees than argue that all working people deserve good benefits." Which is really the crux, the difference between the two parties. The majority of Democrats still want a high-road strategy enabling us to have a middle class. They support Social Security, Medicare, living wages, sick pay, unemployment insurance, health care, and a secure retirement. The Republicans want winners and losers. They want rich and poor. They want individualism. Screw your neighbor! Republicans prefer a sink-or-swim, you're-on-your-own society.

Walker won the governorship due to the over-65-crowd (56%), voters without a college degree (55%), the suburban (56%) and rural (55%) vote, and families earning over $50,000 (56%) and $100,000 (61%). It appears the only Democratic strongholds (over 57%) left in the state are Milwaukee, Dane, Menominee, Ashland, Bayfield, and Douglass counties.

It's amazing that someone who recommends dissolving the government he is overseeing, and giving those duties to cities and municipalities, while also wanting to reject Federal stimulus funds for Milwaukee County, can be taken seriously as a public servant. Which is like wanting to be a mechanic but hating cars. Plus, where would the county be right now without the stimulus? Walker does not represent leadership nor sensible management. He is the epitome of self-interest and parochialism.

One of Walker's goals is to balance the budget. Very original, I know. But also a disastrous aim during a recession. This is one of those great politcal themes, much easier said than done. But, if it will attract votes for Republicans from the detached and easily-manipulated, so be it. Two-thirds of home owners have a mortgage. Meaning: two-thirds of the population lives with debt - their mortgage. So, is home ownership a bad investment? I thought the message of the last half-century was that home ownership was the pinnacle of American life. There seems to be a disconnect between the balanced budget mantra and the way in which most people in the world finance their lives. We live with debt. Student debt, car debt, medical debt, etc. We see this as investment in our lives. It allows us a better standard of life for a monthly fee. If a balanced budget is such an important goal, most Americans are failing. Republicans can't claim everyone should be a consumer and a home owner, while also being against the policies that help workers earn enough to do such, and then complain about taking on the debt - as a government and as individuals - to keep up with the Joneses.

Emblematically, Mr. Walker supports repealing the corporate income tax. (Nevermind the U.S is one of the least taxed countries.) Which, as the Journal cites, is the state's third largest revenue source. Only four states have no corporate income tax. Walker believes taxes are too high, and by lowering the burden, our economy will be ignited and jobs will be created. But as I, and others, have shown repeatedly, this never actually happens during Republican administrations. They lower taxes, but nothing trickles down. In fact, in this low-tax, low-regulation era, income has been massively redistributed upward. There is a class war, and the rich are winning big. Scott Walker wants to make sure they keep winning.

The Journal-Sentinel informs us that our new governor would like to require voters to show ID at the polls and allow citizens to carry concealed weapons. To any coherent observer, there are more crucial issues to tackle when Wisconsin has a 7.8 percent unemployment rate (which, it should be noted, has decreased 1 percentage point over the last twelve-months - September 2009 to 2010 - down from 8.8). And, just for some comparison between Jim Doyle and Scott Walker, over the past year, as Gregory Stanford reports, "Under Walker, the county's unemployment rate soared from 4.6% in April of 2009 to 10.5% in March 2010 - a period when the county lost 34,000 jobs." Mr. Stanford also notes, "Of every six people in the county, one is poor - the tenth worst rate among the 50 biggest counties in the nation."

The new Gov has also declared that he will never raise taxes. Republicans have really become the party of the free lunch. They expect all the modern efficiencies of society (which we all take for granted) without having to find the revenue sources to pay for such infrastructure. Conservatives declare government the problem; they cut taxes and therefore government revenue; programs and services suffer due to lack of funding, people complain; Republicans then claim this shows government is inept and must be shrunk. But, as I hope readers can deduce, this is more of a self-fulfilling prophecy executed robotically by the right-wing, than a true depiction of reality.

Walker has left Milwaukee County in shambles. He and his ilk now control Wisconsin. Hopefully the state doesn't face the same fate as the county. We'll see if Walker puts up or shuts up.

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