Monday, December 13, 2010

Off Track

What is the Journal Sentinel editorial board smoking? On December 11 they proclaimed, Walker on right track so far on jobs. WTF?

Two days after the Feds officially strip Wisconsin of $810 million in aid, the Journal declares this to be the right track. I am flabbergasted.

How is killing $810 million in aid, the built infrastructure, the ancillary development, Talgo and its spin-offs, and the thousands of jobs at stake, "on the right track"?

In the same piece they were AGAIN promoting a report - Be Bold: The Wisconsin Prosperity Strategy- by Thomas Hefty (former CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield), John Torinus (of the Journal Sentinel and Serigraph Inc.), and Thomas Still (Wisconsin Technology Council). They're all about innovation and entrepreneurship. We need to prospect hard, initiate a vigorous marketing campaign. And, of course (like Scott Walker and all conservatives) they'd also like to see less regulation and and lower taxes.

I deflated this bold prospectus is a recent post (and in previous posts). Basically the supposed models (Indiana and Michigan) we should be following, the evidence behind their bold strategy, are baloney. I show, in numerous economic indicators, Indiana and Michigan perform worse than Wisconsin. Yet, we should adopt their strategies? This report and its promotion are bold specimens of snake oil.

Another bold move the editorial board loves writing about is changing the Department of Commerce into a quasi-private agency, funded by the taxpayers of course, but with less transparency (if the Indiana model is an indicator) and headed by private sector "entrepreneurs." Yes, the Department does nothing of value right now, or at least you wouldn't think so, since the Journal never actually writes about the Department's current mission, their budget, their accomplishments, etc. No, they're just part of the problem. You see, all and any government is a problem, and the more agencies we can make "more like the private sector" the better.

Truly amazing that in our current economic recession - foisted upon us by the innovators, entrepreneurs, speculators, businessmen, and all-around movers and shakers - that there are still hucksters selling this snake oil - of low taxes, no regulation, with taxpayer-funding. Now that the private sector has destroyed the economy and millions of jobs, we need to regulate them less, bring our public agencies under their leadership, yet still fund their speculative adventures with taxpayer money.

The Journal quotes Walker, "The state needs to put more energy into helping small businesses that are already here to grow and less on trying to draw large new employers to the state." On this we agree. I'd much rather see smaller, neighborhood incubators than artificially constructed, exit ramp big box developments. The sad thing is, a rail network connecting dense developments, of small businesses amidst our larger cities throughout the state, is now further off than before thanks to Walker turning down $810 million in aid. A better strategy is helping native businesses, but not to the extent it hurts other similar business, no matter their size. We must also encourage and entice outside business, big or small, to fill a niche markets or crucial economic linkages within the state. We definitely need to get away from the blackmail-saturated development such as Mercury Marine, Harley Davidson, and Miller Park, to name a few.

The editorial board also favors Walker's push for "tax relief, easing the regulatory burden, and tort reform." All ridiculous, base-riling fodder. Taxes are the lowest they've been in half a century. Our steady deregulation over the past three decades significantly contributed to our current economic woes. Tort reform is a minuscule cost; hardly the burdensome issue the right claims it to be. Three red herrings not worth mentioning in any serious discussion of policy prescriptions or cost controls. But, for the Journal, these are three more issues where Scott Walker is taking bold, courageous, and necessary positions. And they want to do all they can to help spread this [misleading and trifling] message.

More appropriately the Journal should have pronounced, Walker off track on jobs and clueless about what to do.

No comments: