Sunday, December 28, 2014

Middle Class Is Overdue For Pay Raise

Despite the robust economic recovery, the steep decline in unemployment, a surging stock market, rising investment and plummeting gas prices, wages have hardly budged. After briefly dipping during the great recession which began in late 2007, income inequality has reached levels not seen since the 1920's, while the gap between middle and upper income families is, according to the Pew Research Center, now "the widest on record." [source]

Wisconsin's Private-Sector Growth Rate Lags Nation

Wisconsin's private-sector growth rate lags nation
A report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Wisconsin gained 35,021 private-sector jobs in the 12 months from June 2013 to June 2014, a 1.5% growth rate that ranked the state 32nd among the 50 states. 
The state lagged the national growth rate of 2.3% for private-sector jobs in the period, continuing a trend that had been in place for the three previous years: Wisconsin has trailed the national rate of private-sector job creation since the second quarter of 2011, the data show.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Right-To-Work Is Not Right Nor Does It Work

Does 'Right-To-Work' Create Jobs?
Misleadingly named right-to-work (RTW) laws do not, as some unfamiliar with the term may assume, entail any guarantee of employment for those ready and willing to work. Rather, they make it illegal for a group of unionized workers to negotiate a contract that requires each employee who enjoys the benefit of the contract to pay his or her share of the costs of negotiating and policing it. By making it harder for workers’ organizations to sustain themselves financially, RTW laws aim to restrict the share of state employees who are able to represent themselves through collective bargaining, and to limit the effectiveness of unions in negotiating higher wages and benefits for their members. Because it lowers wages and benefits, weakens workplace protections, and decreases the likelihood that employers will be required to negotiate with their employees, RTW is advanced as a strategy for attracting new businesses to locate in a state.

Right-to-work laws have been implemented in 22 states, predominantly in the South and Southwest, starting as far back as 1947. But what is their actual track record in spurring employment growth? And what is the likelihood that, in today’s economy, a state deciding to adopt the 23rd right-to-work statute would see its job market improve? ...
As states look to attract and retain employers, and particularly to expand the opportunities for state residents to land middle-class jobs, the hard statistical evidence suggests that so-called “right-to-work” laws have no role to play in this revival. Where states with such laws have done well, all signs – including the data, in-depth analyses of state economies, and the statements of economic devel- opment officials themselves – point to other causes for this success. It is understandable that, in times of trouble, state legislators would look to any possible avenue in hope of finding a way out of the current crisis. But having reviewed the track record of the state with the most recent and best-documented experience, it seems clear that legislators would do better to focus their energy in other, more productive, policy directions.
"Right-to-Work" For Less
Right to work laws lower wages for everyone. The average worker in a right to work state makes about $5,333 a year less than workers in other states ($35,500 compared with $30,167).[1] Weekly wages are $72 greater in free-bargaining states than in right to work states ($621 versus $549).[2] Working families in states without right to work laws have higher wages and benefit from healthier tax bases that improve their quality of life. 
Federal law already protects workers who don’t want to join a union to get or keep their jobs. Supporters claim right to work laws protect employees from being forced to join unions. Don’t be fooled—federal law already does this, as well as protecting nonmembers from paying for union activities that violate their religious or political beliefs. This individual freedom argument is a sham. 
Right to work endangers safety and health standards that protect workers on the job by weakening unions that help to ensure worker safety by fighting for tougher safety rules. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of workplace deaths is 51 percent higher in states with right to work, where unions can’t speak up on behalf of workers.[3] 
Right to work laws just aren’t fair to dues-paying members. If a nonunion worker is fired illegally, the union must use its time and money to defend him or her, even if that requires going through a costly legal process. Everyone benefits, so all should share in the process. Nonmembers can even sue the union if they think it has not represented them well enough.
Myths And Facts About "Right-To-Work" Laws
[O]ur findings -- that "right-to-work" laws are associated with significantly lower wages and reduced chances of receiving employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions -- are based on the most rigorous statistical analysis currently possible. These findings should discourage right-to-work policy initiatives. The fact is, while RTW legislation misleadingly sounds like a positive change in this weak economy, in reality the opportunity it gives workers is only that to work for lower wages and fewer benefits. For legislators dedicated to making policy on the basis of economic fact rather than ideological passion, our findings indicate that, contrary to the rhetoric of RTW proponents, the data show that workers in "right-to-work" states have lower compensation -- both union and nonunion workers alike.
Right-to-Work 101:Why These Laws Hurt Our Economy, Our Society, and Our Democracy
Right-to-work laws infringe on the democratic rights of the electorate by weakening unions. Unions help boost political participation among ordinary citizens and convert this participation into an effective voice for pro-middle-class policies. By weakening unions, they are less able to advocate for pro-worker policies within our government and help get workers out to vote. 
Research shows that for every percentage-point increase in union density, voter turnout increased by 0.2 to 0.25 percentage points. This means that if unionization rates were 10 percentage points higher during the 2008 presidential election, 2.6 million to 3.2 million more citizens would have voted. 
Unions also help translate workers’ interests to elected officials and ensure that government serves the economic needs of the middle class. They do this by encouraging the public to support certain policies as well as by directly advocating for specific reforms. Unions were critical in securing government policies that support the middle class such as Social Security, the Affordable Care Act, family leave, and minimum-wage laws. 
Indeed, this may be a large part of why many conservatives support right-to-work laws. Research demonstrates that supporters’ claims that these laws will create jobs and strengthen local economies are not credible. Instead, supporters may back these laws as a pretext for attacking an already weakened union movement in hopes of crippling it as a political force and as an advocate for all workers. 
The bottom line: Right-to-work laws work against the critical needs of our economy, our society, and our democracy.

Sunday Reading

The Forty-Year Slump
The Disruption Machine
The Voluntarism Fantasy
The Plot Against Public Education
Here's How Climate Change Has Altered Life On Earth In The Past 20 Years
Selling Fast: Public Goods, Profits, And State Legitimacy
Shrinking The Financial Sector Will Make Us All Richer
U.S. Adds 321,000 Jobs, The Most In Nearly 3 Years
Which City Has The Most Unpredictable Weather?

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Unhealthiest States

The top 10 unhealthiest states are all Republican. Big surprise.

Who needs health care!

Unhealthiest States
South Carolina
West Virginia

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

Walker & Republicans, Stop Lying! A $1.8 Billion Deficit Isn't Budget-Saving!

Another conservative hack was given space in the Journal-Sentinel to espouse more complete right-wing fabrications. David Fladeboe, of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans For Prosperity, referred to Scott Walker's Act 10 as "budget-saving."

A $1.8 billion deficit, for those of us familiar with arithmetic, would not be considered budget-saving.

Fladeboe blathers on, "In no universe real or otherwise were powerful labor bosses and their unions ever going to make meaningful concessions that benefited hard-working teachers and public safety workers, let alone Wisconsin taxpayers."

I don't remember the Republicans calling teachers "hard-working" during the past two election cycles. "Overpaid," I believe, was their favorite adjective for teachers back then. And, public safety workers were exempted from Act 10 -- meaning -- they can still bargain for higher wages.

Fladeboe obviously has no idea what he is talking about. He's simply repeating the misguided Republican talking-point about thuggish and greedy unions, completely unaware of the fact that, over the past decade, union members have paid more for health care and pensions, gone without raises, and taken furlough days. Again, for those of us familiar with arithmetic, these would be considered "meaningful concessions."

And the idea that public sector workers are to blame for budget deficits turns reality on its head. It was all those deregulated, tax-avoiders connected to Wall Street (whom the Republicans adore and subsidize) that drove our economy into the ditch.

[I haven't seen the counter-point to these blatant right-wing falsities in the Journal. Timeliness is of the essence in these matters. Especially during election season.]

Here again we have the right-wing lying, attempting to rewrite history, and claiming their policies are working. The Democrats, the Unions, Liberals, etc. - everything is their fault. The Republicans promised jobs and budget surpluses. Neither of those promises has materialized, but they still keep on claiming and writing about how all their policies are working. And our media, for the most part, seems to be letting them get away with it. But that doesn't change the fact - the Republicans and their henchmen are lying to us.

For Further Reading:
Wisconsin's budget deficit was created by Scott Walker's irresponsible policies
Scott Walker's budget implodes. $1.8 BILLION in Wis deficits

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Special Alert: You're Not Saving Money At Walmart!

Walmart prices, overall, are no better than most other shopping options. Just as 'Dollar' Stores Aren't Actually The Cheapest Stores. It sounds good (hey, I'm going to save money) and we hear it so often, it's taken for granted. Though, most of the time, it is not true.

Undoubtedly some items may have better prices at Walmart, but even though they left your pocket with a few more pennies when you left their store, Walmart Workers Cost Taxpayers $6.2 Billion In Public Assistance, so you're paying for Walmart even when you're not shopping at the store.

As Forbes reported:
“The study estimated the cost to Wisconsin’s taxpayers of Walmart’s low wages and benefits, which often force workers to rely on various public assistance programs,” reads the report, available in full here
“It found that a single Walmart Supercenter cost taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.75 million per year, or between $3,015 and $5,815 on average for each of 300 workers.”
In a study by Jon Hotchkiss, he found, "On the grocery items I compared, Walmart was cheaper some of the time. However, they were more expensive other times. Moreover, several times when they were cheaper, it was just by a penny or two."

Walmart is the worst grocer according to Consumer Reports.

Costco pay its workers much better and actually provides them with health insurance.

So Walmart's low-price mantra is more pomp than circumstance. They also cost communities money in the form of health care, food stamps and numerous other subsidies. And, if you must shop at a mega-mart, you'd be better off - for yourself and your community - to shop at Costco.

For Further Reading:
Wal-Mart Low Prices Myths

Scott Walker Made The WRONG Decision On Medicaid Expansion

Today, again, we have a great example of what's wrong with the Republicans, their distorted reality, and the mix of the two in prescribing ill-conceived and inequitable public policy.

Scott Walker made the right decision on Medicaid expansion, opines Brett Healy of the John MacIver Institute (a right-wing group of hacks similar to the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute).

As usual, Healy and his closed-minded ilk are all wrong.

The facts are in: states that went along with the Medicaid expansion have controlled costs better and insured more citizens. States that rejected Medicaid expansion have lost billions. Even the states that rejected Medicaid expansion have seen many of their constituents sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

As the Star Tribune reported:
The state's Medicaid program, known as BadgerCare, covers about 782,000 people, most of them children. Costing state taxpayers about $4.6 billion, it is the second most-expensive item in the current two-year budget, accounting for 15 percent of total spending, behind only aid to schools. 
Walker took a unique approach to the Medicaid issue, breaking from other Republican governors in states like Ohio, New Jersey, and Michigan, who accepted the Medicaid money. 
Walker lowered Medicaid eligibility from those earning 200 percent of poverty to just 100 percent. The federal money would have paid for coverage for those earning up to 138 percent of poverty. 
Instead, nearly 63,000 people lost Medicaid because he installed tighter income requirements — those earning less than $11,670 for an individual and $23,850 for a family of four qualified. If he had accepted the federal money, individuals earning up to $15,421 and families of four making up to $31,721 would have qualified.
By refusing Medicaid Expansion, the White House estimates 120,000 Wisconsinites will go without coverage.

The 20 states choosing not to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act are forgoing billions of dollars in federal funds, while residents in their states are contributing to the cost of the expansions in other states, according to a new Commonwealth Fund study.

After taking into account federal taxes paid by state residents, states with the highest net losses include Texas, which will see a net loss of $9.2 billion in 2022; Florida, which will lose $5 billion; Georgia, which will lose $2.9 billion, and Virginia, which will lose $2.8 billion.
Wisconsin will lose $1.848 billion, according to the study.

The Census Bureau found, "New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows that among the eleven major metropolitan areas with uninsured rates higher than the national average, seven of them are in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act."

"Harvard and CUNY researchers say death toll from 25-state ‘opt-out’ may be as high as 17,100 annually; hundreds of thousands more will be harmed by depression, untreated diabetes, and skipping mammograms and pap smears," said the Physicians for a National Health Program.

Bill Moyers informed, "The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute released a study showing that the 24 states that have refused to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act will miss out on $423 billion in federal health care dollars through 2022."

Here again, with regard to public policy, the Republicans are marching around the country misrepresenting reality and harming millions of Americans in the process. The same people they keep claiming their policies are helping. When will American voters learn - Republicans don't have your best interest at heart.

For Further Reading:
States forgo billions by opting out of Medicaid expansion
GOP States Give Up $423 Billion By Rejecting Medicaid Expansion
Rejection of Medicaid expansion costing Kansas, Missouri hospitals billionsStates Are Turning Down an Insane Amount of Free Money by Refusing to Expand MedicaidThe 23 States That Have Declined Medicaid Expansion Are Spending $152 Billion For Nothing

What Would Elections Be Like If Everyone Voted?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Best American Riverfront: Milwaukee

Vote for Best American Riverfront

The RiverWalk in Milwaukee extends along the Milwaukee River from Riverwest all the way to the lakefront. Part of the revitalization of downtown, the area is home to some of the city's best outdoor dining at the restaurants and breweries that line either side of the river. The RiverSculpture! outdoor art gallery along the RiverWalk features a collection of temporary and permanent installations from national, regional and local sculptors.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weekend Reading

Paul Ryan Declares War Against Math
The Remarkable Impact Of The Deep Tunnel
Corporate Deadbeats: How Companies Get Rich Off Taxes
Return Of The Bums On Welfare
Skill Gaps, Skill Shortages, And Skill Mismatches: Evidence For The U.S.
Rep. Paul Ryan's Whopper About Competitive Districts
Why Public Investment Really Is A Free Lunch
Unlike Walmart, Costco Has No Plans To Cut Employee Health Benefits
The Koch Brothers' War On Transit
Wisconsin Supreme Court Vs John Doe

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Get Your Jobs Here!

'Hiring event' looks to fill 1,000 job openings at 75 companies.

Which would fill 1.4% of Walker's dubious claim of 70,000 job openings in Wisconsin.

Hopefully the participating companies are ready to pay a living-wage to attract workers to the open positions. 

Welding Job Fair Fails To Spark Interest 
There is such a skills mismatch. Some Wisconsin companies just can't find welders. MATC was nice enough to organize a job fair to facilitate those looking for work connecting with the companies that supposedly need them. Too bad the companies, crying about Wisconsin not having skilled workers to fill positions, also seem to not have the time to show up.
If companies are unwilling to pay an honest-day's-pay, they can't realistically expect someone to do an honest-day's-work.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fact-checking The First Debate

The Journal Sentinel summarized the first debate between Mary Burke and Scott Walker in, Mary Burke pounces on Scott Walker's comments on state's 'work problem'.

"We don't have a jobs problem in this state. We have a work problem," Walker said during a discussion about raising the minimum wage.

During an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker explained that he is seeking to boost workers in two areas. First, he pointed to employers who need trained workers for higher-skilled jobs like welding. 
"We have jobs, we don't just have enough people with the skill sets to fill those jobs," he said. 
Walker also said he wants to help others acquire the basic skills needed to hold down any job. Walker has proposed requiring drug tests for working-age recipients of public benefits.
This is yet another of the many Republican talking-points that continue to live on even though there isn't a shred of evidence supporting it. In writing about the job training myth, Marc Levine detailed, "As Gordon Lafer, one of the country's foremost researchers on job training, puts it: "Whatever the problem, it seems job training is the answer. The only trouble is, it doesn't work, and the government knows it. . . . Indeed, in studying more than 40 years of job training policy, I have not seen one program that, on average, enabled its participants to earn their way out of poverty."

As I previously wrote in Myth Busting: Job Training, "Most of the new jobs being created require an associate's degree or less. 85 percent of the population in the U.S. have at least a high school degree. Over 27 percent have a bachelor's. The percentage of high school and college graduates has increased since 2000. We have neither an unskilled nor an uneducated workforce. Education as a corrective to the employment problem seems minimally significant." The idea that there are not enough Wisconsin citizens with the needed-skills is ludicrous.

As Catherine Rampell, of The New York Times, reported, "What’s especially odd about these survey responses is that if employers are having trouble finding qualified workers, they should be bidding up wages to attract the few qualified workers who are out there. But that’s not what the data show."

There is no training or skills crisis. We have a class warfare and living-wage crisis.

The Journal falls down, again, and fails to correct these falsities. Instead of practicing journalism and helping the reader to see the truth between competing narratives, they just spread the taking-points for Republicans.

They then go on to insinuate that Mary Burke is a meanie, "For their part, Republicans noted after the debate that Burke appeared ungracious when the candidates were asked to name something that they admired in the other." [This "meanie" issue is actually about a quarter of the entire article.]

I don't admire anything about Scott Walker either. He's a self-absorbed, closed-minded, partisan, hack. No matter where he has gone, controversy and deficits have followed. Does this make me ungracious? Oh well. The simple fact that one is in a debate doesn't also mean that person has earned respect. And, in dissecting the career of Scott Walker, it is awfully difficult to find something to hang your hat on. In preparing for the debate, was Mary Burke supposed to focus on what would make Scott Walker look his best?

Hopefully Wisconsin can move toward a debate of ideas and facts rather than boogeymen and mythology.

For Further Reading:
The Skills Crisis & Job Training
Skills Shortage Sham
For Scott Walker, Jobs Service Is Not Job Number One
Melissa Harris-Perry Takes Scott Walker To Task For Dishonest Ad On Reproductive Rights

Whatever It Takes To Save American Lives, Except...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Corporate Profits and Taxes

The Lt. Governor Nobody Wanted

The Lt. Governor Nobody Wanted [excerpt]
When the results of the 2010 Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor came in, most GOP insiders were shocked at the results. Few expected Rebecca Kleefisch to win. The smart money was on Brett Davis, who was backed by much of the Republican establishment, including members of Scott Walker’s inner circle. But Kleefisch not only won, she crushed Davis, with 46 percent of the vote to his 26 percent; three other candidates split the rest of the vote. 
That left Walker with a problem he didn’t want. His top aide Keith Gilkes had declared that “we are not touching anything to do with Kleefisch,” calling her “radioactive,” in emails to then-Milwaukee County Executive Walker’s staff members (included in documents released from the John Doe investigation of Walker). Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch dismissed Kleefisch as “fluff” and after she skipped one political forum, wrote “I hope she keeps missing them. And topples over on her high heels.” Said another Walker staffer, “I cannot see how anyone can take this woman seriously.” 
One Republican who worked on the Kleefisch campaign described her as a very weak candidate who was “not very smart… she would try to memorize facts.” 
Yet this is the person just a heartbeat away from the governor. Walker, who wants to run for president, has refused to promise he’d finish a four-term for governor, should he win reelection, so it’s possible Kleefisch could one day be called on to succeed him.
For Further Reading:
Fisching For Answers
Give Reality Back To Taxpayers

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blasts From The (Deceptive) Past: Scott Walker Edition

Governor Scott Walker Caught In Political Plagiarism
So confusing was the dog and pony show Walker created to take credit for someone else’s work, the media actually found themselves confused. Was Walker announcing 125 jobs in addition to the 125 the media knew the Doyle Administration had already created?
Scott Walker, college drop-out or kicked-out?
I wish I could say definitely why he never graduated – it is a closely guarded secret. I believe the general line of thinking – that Scott Walker was caught cheating.
Scott Walker’s History Exposes a Dark, Illegal Past Behind The Choir Boy Face
Walker attended Marquette from 1986 to 1990, but never attained a degree. His sophomore year, Walker ran for president of the Associated Students of Marquette University (ASMU, the former title for Marquette Student Government). He was accused of violating campaign guidelines on multiple occasions. 
The Tribune reported then that he was found guilty of illegal campaigning two weeks before his candidacy became official. Later, a Walker campaign worker was seen placing brochures under doors at the YMCA. Door-to-door campaigning was strictly prohibited.

Walker initially denied this but later admitted to the violation, which resulted in lost campaign privileges at the YMCA.
Walker Campaign's “Wisconsin Comeback” plagiarizes Gov. Brownback's popular phony Kansas Comeback!!!
Scott Walker plagiarized Gov. Sam Brownback's Kansas Comeback campaign.
For Further Reading:
Mary Burke Plagiarism "Scandal" Is Total Bunk