Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Government For Sale or: How The Republicans Stole Democracy

1 in 3 of Walker’s Donations from Out of State
Walker’s latest campaign finance report filed with the state by his campaign committee, Friends of Scott Walker, showed he raised nearly $7.2 million, including nearly $6.6 million from individual contributors. About $4.2 million – or 64 percent – came from Wisconsin donors and nearly $2.4 million – or 36 percent – came from individuals outside the state. 
Looking back further than 2017, Walker raised even more from out-of-state individuals. Since the start of Walker’s second four-year term in January 2015, through December 2017, Walker raised more than $13.9 million in individual contributions. About $8.1 million – or 58 percent – came from out-of-state donors and about $5.8 million – or 42 percent – came from Wisconsin contributors.
Walker’s Hands Dirty on Political Purge
Walker repeatedly refused to offer an opinion on whether Elections Commission administrator Michael Haasand Ethics Commission administrator Brian Bell should be removed from their positions, as the Journal Sentinel’s Patrick Marley recently reported. “I’ll leave that up to them,” Walker said, referring to Fitzgerald and state senators. 
You might think this is the governor deciding not to meddle in a legislative issue. Except that it is just as much the governor’s issue. It was Walker, after all, who, along with Republican legislative leaders, decided to overthrow the Government Accountability Board (GAB). Never mind that Republicans were part of a bipartisan legislative majority that created that entity, with the law getting overwhelming GOP support. Never mind that its board members were retired judges, more than half of whom had Republican backgrounds. Walker, Fitzgerald and other GOP politicians were convinced the GAB was somehow running an anti-Republican agency. 
So the Republicans, with no support from Democrats, replaced the GAB with the Elections and Ethics Commissions, and Walker signed this measure into law. As governor, Walker also appoints two (of six) board members who serve on each commission. These were commissions the governor and legislature structured not to be answerable to legislators or any politicians, but to be independent agencies whose bipartisan boards set policy. Could anything be more important to the Wisconsin governor than the proper functioning of citizen boards entrusted with overseeing the state’s electoral system and enforcing ethical behavior by politicians? 
So why then was Walker staying on the sidelines in this controversy? Recall that the reason for replacing the GAB was because it was assisting the John Doe probe of his campaign. In short, no one had more reason to be angry at the GAB than the governor and more reason to welcome the recent report attacking the Doe investigation by Attorney General Brad Schimel.
So, Big Money is basically buying their talking heads, their puppets. These puppets then perform Big Money's bidding (tax cuts, deregulation, etc.) whilst rigging the game - squelching any push-back or opposition or defeat.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Further Down The Rabbit Hole

Those righteous evangelicals say it's alright for the president to have extra-marital relations.

And, Republicans, formerly law-and-order stalwarts, are now claiming there is a secret society in the FBI to overthrow Trump.

Holy fuck! This is insane! How blatantly hypocritical are the Republicans going to get? Is there anything they won't lie about or find an excuse for?

I really don't know what to say about the Republican party anymore. They've slowly been destroying the country since Reagan, yet since Donald Trump they've taken stupidity, absurdity and ineptitude to a whole new level.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What Would Jesus Do?

According to Scott Walker, Jesus would:
  • require able-bodied parents of children on food stamps to work or get training to receive more than three months of benefits
  • increase the existing work requirement for all able-bodied adults from 20 hours a week to 30
Walker added, "“With more people working in Wisconsin than ever before, we can’t afford to have anyone on the sidelines: we need everyone in the game. We want to remove barriers to work and make it easier to get a job, while making sure public assistance is available for those who truly need it."

Maybe instead of "training" and "removing barriers," Walker should be helping to create family-supporting jobs. Like the 250,000 he promised. Instead, he seems more interested in cutting taxes on the rich, gutting regulations for his donors, and lavishing subsidies on his cronies.

Such good Christians those Republicans. Those god-fearing, god-abiding moral pillars...as long as you're not poor.

Their blatant disregard for most humans and the environment, alongside their unwavering support for their rich campaign financiers, one has to ask Why Do Republicans Hate America?

For Further Reading:
Why Claims of Skills Shortages in Manufacturing Are Overblown
After All the Talk About a Skills Shortage in the U.S. Job Market, the Real Problem May Be an Employer Shortage
Wisconsin, under Scott Walker, no longer leads in conservation
Wisconsin Foxconn Deal Waives Environmental Regulations
Scott Walker Cuts Higher-Ed Budget, Funds Corporate Welfare
Walker shows his priorities with $250 million subsidy to NBA billionaires
Water Pollution Skyrockets Under Walker

Saturday, January 13, 2018

You'll Get Your Medicine When You Finish Mopping The Floor

Able-bodied Adults Will Have To Work For Medicaid, Under Plan From Gov. Scott Walker, Trump

Yet ...

Work Requirements Don't Work


Medicaid Work Requirement Would Harm Unemployed, Not Promote Work

As usual, Republicans are rewarding their rich donors and hurting those who need it most. How Christian of them.

Weekend Reading

Amazon Is Thriving Thanks To Taxpayer Dollars
The Mathematicians Who Want To Save Democracy
High Speed Rail Study Shut Down In The Midwest
The NFL's Secret Formula For Saving The U.S. Economy
No, Donald Trump Has Not Made The Economy Great Again
Foxconn's Low Return On State Investment
Bill Helps Real Estate Industry
Massive New Data Set Suggests Economic Inequality Is About To Get Even Worse

So Much For The Local Control Republicans Are Always Preaching

Here they go again. Republicans love to say one thing and do another. They love to accuse the Democrats of doing something that the Republicans are actually committing. Republicans are always giving lip-service to local control, the will of the people and localities being able to govern as they best see fit. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Republicans are opportunistic, duplicitous, self-serving liars.

Republican Bills Prohibit Local Labor Rules

In Wisconsin, especially the administration of Scott Walker, the state feels an endless need to meddle in local control. Again, the exact opposite of the bullshit they spout when they're in front of the camera, stumping during campaigns or writing their opinion pieces in the local papers.

Just as they meddled in Milwaukee's residency requirement (against their supposed dogma), they now want to forbid local rules for wages, hours, overtime, benefits and discrimination for businesses being contracted by those localities.

This only benefits labor exploitation. This suppresses wages. As usual, this gives the upper hand to those who've already got too much hand.

For Further Reading:
What Will Local Control Hypocrisy Cost The GOP In North Carolina?
Local Control Takes Backseat To Power For State GOP
GOP Abandons Local Control For Top-Down Governance
Hypocrisy In GOP-led State Government Overreach
Conservative Hypocrisy On Local Power
States Rights For Bathrooms, But Not For Marijuana
Blue Cities Want To Make Their Own Rules. Red State Won't Let Them.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Privatization, Increased Costs And Income Inequality

The Journal Sentinel recently reported that, State of Wisconsin's Spending On Private Workers Up 57% Since 2010.
From laundry and legal services to computer upgrades and health care, state taxpayers spent $653 million last year on private workers, part of a growing reliance on outside firms to do public business. 
In the final term of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, these payments dropped, falling from $490 million in 2006 to $417 million in 2010, according to figures from the state Department of Administration.

But under the first six years of GOP Gov. Scott Walker, spending on contractors rose by 57%, or several times the rate of inflation for that period. Contractors are often more expensive than state employees — but not always, officials said.
Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said that she would seek a nonpartisan audit of the spending on contractors, saying she's worried taxpayers are paying more than they would for state workers.

"Positions have been cut and outsourcing has happened and we have seen the price tag increase," Shilling said.

Overall, state jobs haven't been cut under Walker — they've actually risen by nearly 3% during his time in office to 70,400 full-time positions, according to the Legislature's budget office.

But outsourcing has risen more quickly. The Walker administration says the increase has been driven in part by a once-in-a-generation overhaul of state computers and by a shortage of state workers in some jobs.
And, this really isn't news. The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) found:
The government actually pays service contractors at rates far exceeding the cost of employing public employees to perform comparable functions.

POGO estimates the government pays billions more annually in taxpayer dollars to hire contractors than it would to hire public employees to perform comparable services. Specifically, POGO’s study shows that the federal government approves service contract billing rates—deemed fair and reasonable—that pay contractors 1.83 times more than the government pays federal employees in total compensation, and more than 2 times the total compensation paid in the private sector for comparable services.
The Journal Sentinel actually researched the privatization issue years ago and found that Wisconsin transportation contracts would have been cheaper in 125 out of 214 cases if the work would have been done by state employees rather than a private contractor.

Good Jobs First's research into the privatization issues has discovered:
Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs: The Failures of Privatized State Economic Development Agencies 
“In 2007 we consolidated Wisconsin’s economic development efforts, including terminating a state-created private economic development entity, Forward Wisconsin, in order to reduce political favoritism and misuse of public funds,” said State Senator Mark Miller. “Unfortunately we reverted to old-style cronyism in 2011 with the creation of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation which has been plagued with predictable ethics improprieties and gross mismanagement.” 
The report finds that: 
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) was accused of spending millions of dollars in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development without legal authority, failed to track past-due loans, and hired an executive who owed the state a large amount of back taxes. 
Based on this persistent pattern of abuses, the report concludes that the privatization of economic development agency functions is an inherently corrupting action that states should avoid or repeal. With the “economic war among the states” already dominated by corporate interests and bargaining dynamics made worse by a long-term drop in job-creation deals, taxpayers are best served by experienced public-agency employees who are fully covered by ethics and conflicts laws, open records acts, and oversight by auditors and legislators.
There is no free lunch. This boils down to a choice between living wage, public jobs or siphoning that money to less accountable and more costly private actors, where most of that money goes to fewer workers or even fewer private business owners.

Continuing this "privatizing will save money" charade only benefits the select few receiving the contracts at the expense of the community and the good jobs that could be created for residents.

If we're really concerned about good jobs and good neighborhoods we would be wise to allow public workers to provide the needed services rather than contracting more costly private companies.


This privatization scam also ties in with the recently overturned City of Milwaukee residency requirement. For 75 years, if you wanted to receive a paycheck from the City, you had to live and pay taxes in the City.

But Republicans are racist (not all, but seemingly most) and don't want to live near people with darker skin than them. They like the good paying job, with good health care and retirement benefits. They just don't want to live near all those undesirables in the City. And, just because the City pays their way, they still have no responsibility for anything that happens in the City.

Yet, they also love to belittle government as out-of-touch, inept and over-reaching. But they'll gladly cash that check and enjoy those pension benefits. David Clarke and his $100,000 pension is a great example of this hypocrisy.

So, they should be able to have all the benefits but none of the responsibility. So much for the mouthpieces of personal virtue and duty to your fellow man.

And, just as the City predicted, 22% of City workers now live in the suburbs. In essence, 22% of labor costs for the City, which could have been spent, most likely, back in the City, now goes outside the City. Thus less revenue (those 22% of workers spending their earnings) percolates within the City, which ends up costing taxpayers more in the long run.

Weekend Reading

Passing Through To Corruption
Trickle Down? Not Now, And Not For A While At Best
The Uninsured Are Overusing Emergency Rooms - And Other Health Care Myths
8 Bad Science And Health Ideas That Should Die With 2017
The Places That May Never Recover From The Recession
In A 30-Minute Interview, President Trump Made 24 False Or Misleading Claims
How America Got Addicted To Road Salt - And Why It's Become A Problem
Does Social Media Make People Less Social?
Ex-Sheriff David Clarke To Receive $100,000 Per Year Government Pensions
City May Contest Foxconn Electricity Deal
City Kills Contract With American Sewer
Why Inequality Predicts Homicide Rates Better Than Any Other Variable
Economists Are Obsessed With "Job Creation." How About Less Work?
How Market Competition Really Works
Most Wealth Isn't The Result Of Hard Work. It Has Been Accumulated By Being Idle And Unproductive
If You Look Behind Neoliberal Economists, You'll Discover The Rich: How Economic Theories Serve Big Business