Sunday, December 5, 2010


Some of the Journal Sentinel's Reader Advisory Committee reflect the uninformed and imbalanced portion of Wisconsin. Many of the Committee members, based on their writings, seem to believe in the various and numerous myths about our economy and society, primarily spread by self-interested right-wingers. I find it strange that people who read the newspaper and are aware of the internet are unable to fact-check their own drivel and the lies they seem to accept and repeat.

Susan Burkee thinks, regarding the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Commission, "Restoring fiscal sanity will require shared sacrifice, and everything needs to be on the table." The problem with such a statement regarding the Commission is that the recommendations call for the majority of the sacrifices to be made by everyday workers. Shared? Amongst everyone except the rich...which has been par for the course for the last four decades. A better idea would be taking back the ill-gotten gains of the uber wealthy over the past few decades, rather than continuing to punish laborers.

Jay Miller feels, "WEAC needs to be a better partner." Most Wisconsin communities have good teachers and good schools. Where are the "problem" areas? In areas with high concentrations of poverty. But somehow teachers in Wisconsin, who average $46,000 per year (ranking 21st in the country), are to blame for the economic conditions of the communities where they teach. Teachers have seen yearly increases of 2.15 percent over the past ten years. When adjusted for inflation, they have lost money. So, what do some think is the solution? Pay our teachers less and funnel more money from public to charter schools. Teacher salaries account for roughly thirty-percent of education expenditures. Yet somehow this is too much. Police account for over fifty percent of budgets in most areas, yet we never hear anyone talking about cutting their compensation, which would actually help budgeting much more. (Not to mention the fact that there is still crime no matter how many police we hire. Which is analogous because certain people want to blame every failing student on teachers, and therefore teachers must continually suffer the consequences. Well then, likewise, since police are not stopping all crime, they too should see a pay decrease.) I'm not for lowering the pay of either of these public servants. But some context and data has to be included in the framing of these discussions, and some of these red herrings need to be discarded altogether.

And, finally, Mabel Wong chimes in with a rant against the "Nanny State". She's upset that San Francisco will ban toys from fast-food meals unless they meet certain nutritional standards. Not a bad idea - encourage good eating with rewards for eating good. Mabel bellows, "Thanks, Nanny State. We couldn’t have made any sound choices without you." But rather than being sarcastic, as intended, she should be serious. We, as a nation, have shown we do not make sound choices. Hence, continued problems and some elevations in diabetes, obesity, drunken driving, tobacco usage, STDs, drug (street and prescription) abuse, etc. Also, around half of the population votes Republican. Yet only 1.5 percent of the population makes over $250,000 per year. Which means 48 percent or so vote against their own economic interests. I just wish the "Nanny State" would look out for the lower 98 percent more often and stop making policies intended for the top two percent, and hoping they trickle-down to the rest of us.

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