Friday, December 31, 2010

Undoing Regulation and the Cost of Labor

The new governor wants to be the gate keeper of an over reaching legislative body on job killing regulation.  This isn't that he wants to make use of the Wisconsin Governor's extensive veto power, no he wants to be able to undue any regulation, past or present.  With this much power the question that everyone should be asking is why do we need a legislative body?  If you want to cut the budget get rid of the legislature.

Will cutting the job killing regulations bring jobs to Wisconsin when these jobs have gone to places without any job killing regulations or the even greater job killing wages?  If we undue all environmental regulations it would be a start.  But, in the end wages are going to be a problem.  We are competing with countries whose wage rates are 5 or more times less than ours.  Yet you have the Federal Reserve chair stating that he doesn't see deflationary pressure.  He must be blind.  It is all around.  We have lost jobs to low wage countries and workers in this country have taken pay cuts.  The price of products has not declined, so sales are off because wages are down.  At some point the price of products needs to come in line with the new cost of labor.  When that happens we will enter a deflationary economy. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Court Strikes Down Part of Health Care Reform

A court in Virginia was asked to strike down the entire law but the judge flinched and only struck down the part requiring individuals to purchase insurance.  This was somehow an over reach of the government.  If this is an over reach what about the requirement that insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions.  If we want to go in this direction we should let hospitals and clinics turn people away.  You should have to either present an insurance card or proof of ability to pay before treatment.  Those of us who have insurance wind up paying for the uninsured.  I for one am tired of paying (and I'm for single payer).  If we are not going to require insurance then we are also right in denying care.  Become a heartless conservative.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another Jonah Goldberg Moment

How does someone like Jonah Goldberg continue to be a syndicated columnist?  Today he writes in the Wisconsin State Journal about Wikileaks.  Not that the leaks were bad as many are writing about today.  Not that they are good for Democracy as others are writing.  No, he chose this moment to attack the Obama foreign policy.  How does the document dump reflect on a foreign policy that increasingly looks like President Bush's?  In Jonah's world it show a weak an indecisive leader and a policy run by lawyers who speak legalese (niceties).  All of this because the Saudis were begging the administration to launch an attack on Iran.  I thought that with the Right the United States did what it wants and doesn't ask permission from other countries.  Yet here is a member of the Right saying that we should bow (remember the uproar when Obama did in fact bow) to the Saudis and attack Iran.  Iran is like Iraq 2.0 (which Saudi Arabia also suggested we attack).  On the surface it promises to be easy.  We'll be greeted as liberators.  The people don't like the religious authority, they want freedom.  Get under the surface it looks like Iraq only may be harder.  If Saudi Arabia doesn't like their neighbor across the gulf take some of the weapons that we sold them and do it themselves.  I for one think that we cannot continue to act as a mercenary force, especially in the Middle East.  Iran is only a threat to the US because George W. Bush has parked the US military on three sides of Iran.  They do not have a missile capable of striking the US.  They did not and do not harbor the terrorist organization that attacked this country.  They might be involved in Iraq, but then again so are we and they already fought one 10 year war with them.  I'm sure that Jonah would have gotten his wish if McCain had won the election.  Fortunately this foreign policy team of lawyers recognizes that you just can't attack another country without provocation because someone tells you to do it.  Jonah why don't you jump off a bridge, I'll look for a Saudi to tell you to do it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Walker Texas Ranger

I find it amusing that so many state workers, especially those who are Republicans, are all panicky about what Walker Texas Ranger is going to do.  I think that he was pretty clear during the campaign.  They are concerned about a lack of a contract.  I think that they are DOA.  Look they need to be approved in a special session.  Look it is the holiday season and our representatives are busy.  Look the Republican leadership has said that they are too busy basking in the glow of victory to be bothered with such things.  If they can't get a quorum the contracts die.  This is not without precedent.  So, expect the Republican to not show up.  If by some act of God they do show up they will debate until the end of the session about how much the employees should be contributing towards pension and health insurance and whether those increased payments should be retroactive to 2009.

The University and Rep. Nass

So, Rep. Nass has unveiled another brilliant plan to reduce the quality of the University system in this state.  His proposal to limit tuition increases to 4% is certainly noble and would work if all things were kept constant but they aren't.  Yeah its a problem when tuition is going up at 9, 10, 16% per year but when other parts of their operating budget are declining you have to make up the money somewhere.  The State has reduced its funding, the Federal Government has reduced its funding, corporations have reduced their funding.  Tuition is only rising to be near what a private school charges (it is still low by the way).  Rep. Nass should be happy, isn't he a member of the party that doesn't believe in public education?  If people want to go to school they should pay for it.

I also find some irony (imagine that when talking about a Republican) in the fact that he is willing to pass a law to limit tuition increases to 4% (twice the rate of inflation) but is ok with State health plans that have double digit increases every year except this one, which is only 6.3% (more than 3 times the rate of inflation).  We can't possibly do anything about health care costs but we can defund a university system that is one of the primary job creators and a major innovator in the country.  Welcome to the third world or should I say now Wisconsin is open for business.

Middle Class (those earning $30,000-100,000) gets Hammered Again

Have you noticed all of the talk of balancing budgets, shared sacrifice have one thing in common, the people who will sacrifice are the ones earning between $30,000 and $100,000 dollars per year.  For all of the talk of making the tax cuts for the rich permanent there is no talk of say eliminating income taxes entirely for the group that spends all of their money.  The rich have had their tax cuts for 10 years, by the reasoning of the proponents this economy should already be booming.  The rich have seen their incomes continually grow, while the rest of us have seen a decline.  But yet when the deficit commission recommends changes it focuses on eliminating programs that benefit the above class of people, raising the retirement age for people who actually work hard, and raising taxes and fees that will again affect the people who spend all of their money.  Soon, the rich will not be able to sell us anything because we can't afford their products and then we'll see changes made.  There is a war on and it is against the middle class.

Deficit Reduction

I have a plan to reduce the federal deficit.  I can't take total credit for it, I formulated the idea while reading the blog the Chief.  He was saying that Ron Johnson and his staff should refuse government run single payer health care.  He is right, that is what the campaign was about and now he is replacing a principled senator who has been know to stand on those principles.  But, this got me to thinking.  Wasn't this entire election about rejecting "government run health care"?  The people have spoken, anyway that is what the media says.  The President should end government run and paid for health care for all employees of the US Congress.  I figure conservatively that would amount to $400 million dollars in the first year alone.  I haven't seen this on Eric Cantor's U cut page.  As long as we are reigning in Congress, remember the people have spoken, maybe we can end their expense accounts.  They are all being funded by corporations anyway so the fear of corruption should not exist.  If they need to take someone out to dinner use the Congressional dining room.

Friday, November 19, 2010

State Repubicans and the Social Agenda

The new majority talks about that it is all about the budget and jobs but their supporters want them to address the social concerns.  It is a quandary.  Many of these supporters realize that at the national level where they had Congress, the President, and the Court they were let down so they want to make sure that the State moves on this agenda.  That means no more morning after pill, no more guarantee that prescriptions get filled, more restrictions on abortion, and a repeal of the sex education law.  This is just for starters.  I agree that they should move on this agenda otherwise it looks a lot like they used these issues and their supporters to get elected. 

FOX news again

The headline screams that the Democrats failed to extend unemployment benefits, on FOX.  That is for the working class fans of FOX who are now thinking that those damn democrats don't care about us.  When the reality is that the republicans did it to them again.  Using a parliamentary tactic they derailed the bill before a vote could be taken.  Their mouth piece (FOX) then reports it as if it was the democrats who failed to pass the measure.  Where is MSNBC or the other liberal main stream media reporting that the republicans were successful in blocking an extension of unemployment?  If the dems can't improve messaging they should just give up and abstain from votes in the future.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just Wondering

I  just heard that in Alaska a mine is going to be built that threatens to destroy the fishery in Bristol Bay.  I was wondering what the Queen of Alaska thinks of this in light of her show Sarah Palin's Alaska and the fact that her daughter is named after the bay.  Do you think that she'll do a show about strip mining?  Maybe clear cut logging.  Maybe she could take a look at the leaky pipeline.

Advice for the Dems

Now that you're in the minority you should become the party of I don't care.  Rather than blocking legislation let it all come to the floor.  Rather than voting no vote present or abstain.  This way if things don't work out you'll be able to say don't look at us it was those other guys.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Bright Idea

Gov. Walker has proposed that the biofuel part of  UW Madison's power plant rebuild be shelved in favor of a natural gas only facility.  On the bright side he didn't demand that the coal boilers be re-installed.  This is a short sighted proposal.  For one thing the rebuild is nearly complete.  For another the land has been acquired and existing structures removed.  So, we'll get a gas fired plant and a beautiful vacant block out of the deal.  Does the Governor have a plan for this block?  Are we going to hang onto it in case the scientists are right and we run out of cheap natural gas?  Do we try to sell the land to recoup some of the costs incurred in acquiring it?  Great sound bite proposal that wasn't thought out.  At some point the Governor is going to have to put out some real policy initiatives. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Governor Walker on Healthcare

Governor Walker has asked lame duck Governor Doyle to suspend all provisions of the health care reform act.  This is kind of like the train money.  It is a federal law, which I believe always trumps state law or in this case Governor suggested.  So what the Governor would like to do is roll back the provisions that are insuring children to age 26, allowing that children with pre-existing conditions to get insurance coverage, and others with pre-existing conditions to buy into high risk pools.  And his plan to fix this broken system for the people in Wisconsin....silence.  Why the silence?  This is what the people want, no health care reform.  So what if your kid can't get a job and is now without insurance?  So what if your kid is not covered because of a pre-existing condition?  That is just the way it going to be.  Thank you Gov. Walker for ensuring that the State becomes a small government/ no regulation experiment.

Advice for the new majority

I think that it is time that the legislature and new governor solve the school funding problem in Wisconsin.  If you take the costs of schools out of the budget it remarkably comes into balance.  This problem is the remnant of the "I dare you vote" that the Democrats presented Gov. Thompson.  In it the State agreed to fund 2/3 of the cost of schools in an effort to limit property tax increases.  There were several problems with this, but one of the biggest was that the State was paying for something that the State had little control over.  This is a State that is big on local control.  What is the solution?  It needs to be a major reform.  You can't nibble around the edges.  The conservative believe if the QEO is reinstated it will all be good.  No it won't!  A good first step would be to make teachers state employees.  We could move to privatize the entire system.  This is extremely unpopular, school choice yes as long as it is public money.  What I'm saying is no public money.  Some say that this will lead to an erosion of standards and quality.  Look around we already have that.  I believe that there should be curriculum standards but look at some of the standards in other states like Texas.  Texas has become the Federalist state in terms of the history of the founding.  Of course, if you follow the Federalists there should be no public schools.  Public schools are a construct of the German immigrants to the country.  Granted a person like Jefferson or Paine would agree with the idea of pubic schools.  The problem with the public schools is how to fund them and this is something that we haven't figured out in the US.  In Germany, France, and the Scandinavian countries they are federally funded.  Other countries tax gambling, use sales taxes, or rely on private schools to educate more.  The new majority needs to come up with some real ideas this time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

President in Asia

I heard the other day that there are many concerned about how much this trip through Asia is costing the taxpayers.  My initial comment was that if this were President Bush no one would have said boo.  I was challenged about how the liberal media was always on Bush for spending money.  Really?  This was a President who was on vacation for more than 1 year out of his 8 years in office and many of those trips made use of Air Force 1.  Or how about flying to Iraq for Thanksgiving as a PR stunt.  Do you have any idea how much that cost?  Or how about landing a fighter on an aircraft carrier that had to be turned around?  No it is Obama's trip visiting critical allies in the "war on terror" (India).  India is a nuclear power, India is in a small scale war with Pakistan, and India is a critical trading partner, but yet this is a wasteful trip.  Every President in recent memory has taken such trips but only Obama is criticized for it.  This really shows where the oppenents of the President are at.  If they prefer an isolationist policy I'm all for it, but the critics are largely internationalists.

Friday, November 5, 2010

$600 Billion for the Banks

Now the Federal Reserve is going to release $600 billion in low interest loans to the banks.  This is eerily similar to the TARP money (which the President is still blamed for, he was a Senator).  Remember the TARP money had as a stated goal that the money would go for low interest loans to business for job creation.  The goal with this money is to provide low interest loans to businesses for job growth.  Interesting!  The problem as I see it is that in 2008 a lot of businesses needed cash to keep the doors open and the banks didn't follow through on their end of the bargain leading to these businesses going under.  In 2010 there is no pressing need for capital, the damage has been done.  If there were increasing demand from consumers increasing the supply of money would make sense, but that is not the case at this point in time.  This is looking like another give away to the banks.  Until we can get people working again or salaries going up to create demand there is no need for business to expand.

Bike Boxes

This was another controversial road issue in Madison where local control politicians that didn't live in Madison had their heads explode (Rep. Nass (R Whitewater)).  Finally there is an article about why such an evil thing was devised it was because of a lot of deaths.

screw 'em

The American people have spoken and they are going to get what they asked for.  A repeal of health care, lets hope that this one never comes back.  A repeal of bank reform, lets hope they don't bring this back.  Clean air act, I say that if can't see the air you're breathing it's too clean.  Clean water, what's that?  Endangered species, I hope that they are good eating what is left of them.  Energy policy, the country hasn't had one since its founding why get one now?  Cap and trade, lets get rid of this Reagan idea.  Minimum wage?  There is one?  Not for long, join the race to the bottom.  These are just some of the things that the majority campaigned on, hopefully everyone is happy now.

That didn't take long

I had been thinking that it would be fun to watch the next 2 years but I had no idea that the fun would start so soon.  In today's Wisconsin State Journal the lead editorial is titled "Get past rail rhetoric to reality".  Among the gems here "We're disappointed that the first people being hired for extra work are local attorneys to dream up legal arguments for stopping the high-speed train from Milwaukee to Madison".  This is the same paper that endorsed candidate Walker.  What????  Governor Walker is doing exactly what he promised, I expect nothing less.  Then you have the new majorities all over the country saying that we can't focus on social issues.  Why not, you have been returned to power to finally do something about the gays and outlaw abortion.  Our own Julaine Appling said as much.

Then we have our new Lt. Governor who is undergoing preventative chemo therapy and still doesn't understand her insurance policy.  Many policies don't cover such treatments, but her policy with its State mandated minimum coverage does in fact cover such preventative care.  It may not be Government run but it sure is government controlled and paid for.

Then we have upset state employees who voted for Walker.  What???  They are griping about contributing to their pension, taking more furlough days, paying more for the aforementioned health care policy and maybe having staff reductions.  What did the Governor campaign on?  All of these things.  As I say if you are working for a private company and you are lucky enough to have a pension and they have a 2 billion dollar short fall you not only won't have a job you'll lose your pension.  Give the short fall the state's workforce has to give something.  You can gripe about how unfair the furloughs are, but guess what you have a job.  To think that I am considered an out of touch liberal.  I would use pragmatic and no I was not one of the surprising number of worker who voted for Walker.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Give the Money Back?

A day after the capitalists take over it was announced that 49 Wisconsin Companies (presumably led by capitalists) were going to share 13.1 million dollars in Federal Grants from the health care act.  This would be the act that Ron Johnson and Paul Ryan as well as others have said they would repeal.  Not only that but Ron Johnson and Scott Walker has said that government should not be in the marketplace.  What is their position on these grants?  Are they going to introduce legislation to get this money back?  Are these companies going to do the right thing and give the money back because they believe that business should not accept government help?  I want to know!  This country needs to follow Capitalist theory, the people have spoken, which means that the market picks winners and losers not the government.  I say that it is time to hold these businesses to what they preach.  The tea party patriots talk about the constitution.  There is nothing in the constitution that explicitly says that it is the duty of government to help business.  The same goes for tax cuts to business, again it is government helping business.  Look at Quad Graphics, $49 million in credits.  Their competition didn't get a deal, it is unfair competition directed by the government.  I for one will continue to point this out but I don't expect to see this anymore, we have a new administration in town.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The End of Rail

The RTA failed in Dane county, we can finally stop talking about commuter rail.  I had a thought related to this while sitting on the Beltline between Park and John Nolen where the road is essentially 10 lanes wide, how wide can we make this road?  The reality here is that we don't have enough land to widen roads and we have too many people driving into Madison.  Can't possibly talk about commuter rail or buses, so warm up the bulldozers and lets build us a road or 2 or 3.

The American People Have Spoken

What a sweeping victory.  The victors are already leaking the agenda.  Congressman Issa has released the first 4 subpoenas, others are talking about repealing health care reform, others the repeal of the meager financial reforms, and of course the Bush tax cuts.  It'll be a great 2 years.  I do think that the repeal of health care reform is likely.  Many of the remaining Democrats will vote to over ride a veto (they saw what happened to Feingold).  The real question is what to replace it with?  Probably HSAs, works for the wealthy and the healthy.  The rest of us are on our own.  The financial reform was so weak it might as well be reformed.  The Bush tax cuts should instead be made to zero taxes for those earning more than $500,000.  Think of the jobs that will be created if no taxes are paid.  Because, as we all know people take their tax savings and hire people because they can, not because there is demand for their products.  Those of you who disagree, remember the people have spoken and it is your duty to hold the American people to what they voted for.  Hold these republicans to what they campaigned on.  In the past the Republicans have talked a good line, but in the end while controlling Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court they dropped the ball on taxes, education, and abortion.  I want them to pass their agenda, maybe even go a little further.  Lets try it, I don't think it will work, but what the heck.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Government Spending

So, I'm reading today how we are going to try to secure shipping packages by air.  Why this hasn't already been done is beyond me, but don't ask about shipping by ship (you could probably send a tank in a container).  To secure shipping by air will take a lot of time and cost a lot of money that people are not willing to spend.  It is interesting that some are finally looking at costs, the war on terror has been an untouchable.  No one said anything about airport screening after 9/11.  That money largely came from the taxpayers because the airlines couldn't afford it.  Was this budgeted?  Of course not, President Bush put it off budget, emergency expenditure.   For those of you voting for people running on the balanced budget amendment that means that these expenses wouldn't have happened (I finally see a reason to support such an amendment).  So, get ready to blow up the budget, since this President doesn't pay for stuff off budget.  There will probably have to be a vote to raise the debt ceiling soon after the new congress is seated.  That will be an interesting vote (Mr. Johnson).  It is pretty much either we pay for this or bankrupt the corporations.  We'll pay but to bring it under budget something will have to be cut, a real cut.  It is going to be fun to watch the tea party in action.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ron Johnson You're Running to be a Senator of the Country

Interesting item today from the always interesting Ron Johnson campaign.  He was complaining that some of the stimulus money that Feingold voted for went to a ski resort in Vermont.  Mount Snow for their part said that they actually applied for a government back loan (much like the one Pacur got) and in the end unlike Pacur they turned it down.  I would rather not focus on Mr. Johnson's hypocrisy, but instead what the role of a US Senator is.  He implies with his criticism of Feingold that a US Senator should not vote for anything that fails to benefit Wisconsin.  No, a US Senator represents their State but also the Country.  If a bill is good for the Nation as a whole it should be voted for.  Mr. Johnson would rather see individual States fail.  Had Mount Snow actually gotten stimulus money it would have be spent in other states where snowmaking equipment is manufactured.  It wouldn't of even been spent in Vermont.  On this point of the stimulus the question should be is a role of Government to help the States remain viable?  Wouldn't this come under the US Constitution Article 1 section 8, promote the general welfare.  I know that Mr. Johnson is a Constitution quoting Tea Party Patriot but they all seem to forget article 1 section 8 which delineates the duties of the government.  Who knows exactly who Mr. Johnson intends to represent in Washington but it doesn't really appear to be the State or the Nation.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Czars and Supreme Court Justices

Today there was a letter in the paper urging a vote for Republicans.  Not so unusual, except this one repeated the talking points that are used by the impeachment wing of the tea party.  First that Obama has appointed all of these czars to run agencies that were neither elected or confirmed by the Senate.  OK, I'm good with that no accountability of the President to other co-equal branch of government.  I'm sure that no other President, especially a Republican, would have done such a terrible deed.  When you look into it every President has appointed people to head up special projects, commissions, or offices.  OK, Obama has a lot, 20, how does that compare to say W?  Bush had 21, I know you are thinking that is more than 20 which is true except in tea party world. 

Second the letter writer pointed out that Obama has appointed 2 supreme court justices of dubious qualifications and agendas.  Really!  And Justices Roberts and Alito don't have the same characteristics.  The difference is that Roberts and Alito have acted on their agenda with their precedent overturning decisions.  Granted they had help from other agenda driven Justices Scalia and Thomas (the judge who rarely asks a question, qualified?).  The Supreme Court is another government organization that is broken but don't blame the Democrats.  After Bork, both sides have been agenda driven.  The partisans have looked to the court to pass their legislative agenda rather than replace their representatives to get it done legislatively as intended in the Constitution.

Monday, October 25, 2010


With the election getting close we are finally starting to see many articles on economics.  It is about time, from the questions about the tax cuts for the wealthy.  They have been in place for years, why haven't they worked? Questions about trickle down economics, again we've been waiting for the trickle down for years.  Questions about trade, I thought that free trade was a rising tide and would lift all boats?  Instead it is a reef that is going to sink all boats.  Questions about the disparity of wealth.  Questions about why the wealthy are not spending their money when most people are spending everything that they have plus some that they don't have.  Doug Muder discusses this  Robert Reich has a new book out and a fabulous interview with Stephen Colbert  Stephan of course has it figured out, at some point the little people will no longer be able to buy the products that support the upper class and at that point they might take more from him than the government ever will.

So, while we have all of these candidates for office talking tax cuts, run government like a business, we have a spending problem, ... they are missing the economic point that we have a demand problem.  People simply do not have the money to sustain this economy as they have always done through purchasing.  Most people over the last year have taken salary cuts (either directly of indirectly by trading benefits for salary).   Prices have not fallen at the same rate or at all, things are simply more expensive for people who were just hanging on before.  Some prices have gone up (health insurance) or consume a higher percentage of income (fuel).  The wealthy cannot sustain the economy, they are not going to create jobs with no customers, they cannot possibly consume enough to replace the purchases of 95% of the population, and they cannot give enough away to charity (giving is down) to replace government programs.

We either need to join the race to the bottom or find a way to protect the country through buy it and build it in the US.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The President needs a History Lesson

In our dealings with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran I think that the President needs to study the Vietnam war a little bit.  In that conflict the people we were fighting spread to neighboring countries and we dutifully followed.  This is the same situation that we find ourselves in the Middle East.  By failing to establish a credible government in Afghanistan we have let our enemies continue an insurgency in Afghanistan and spread out into neighboring countries destabilizing them and creating bases of operation to attack us.  More troops is not going to do anything except expand the conflict.  What we need to do is create a more stable government and try to reduce the insurgency by making life better for the average person.  If that means abandoning our freind Karzai so be it.

Juan Williams

The hysterics over Juan Williams firing can only be described as an example of why he should have been fired.  Here was a respected newsman going on National TV and promoting religious intolerance.  It is fine that Fox does this everyday, since you could hardly call them news, to great effect but I don't think that makes it ok for "news" people from every network to promote this ridiculous view.  This country was founded on religious tolerance.  It isn't the Muslims who attacked us on 9/11 it was Saudis (17 of the 19) who happened to be Muslims who happened to be radical (aren't all Saudi Muslims?), who happened to be criminals.  I would be more accepting of Juan Williams if he had said that he gets nervous when he see someone travelling with a Saudi passport.  Does he get nervous when a Christian rents a Ryder truck?  Probably not because he is an American, but yet there are many Christians talking about second amendment solutions.  The last thing that is needed in this country is hysteria over religion.

WI Gevernor's Race

I was reading Wisconsin Outdoor News from 10/15/10 and there was a Q&A with Scott Walker and Tom Barrett.  I encourage everyone to read this.  Talk about pandering to a group of people.  Walker didn't even look over his responses to avoid the contradictions!  Scott Walker talks about how sportsmen (license holders) need to be in charge of the Natural Resources Board and the DNR, but then discusses how he will appoint the secretary and what background that person will have.  Neither one of them talk about the non wildlife management part of the DNR and how maybe someone with a science background should be the secretary.  They talk of the need to get a better count of deer with Barrett saying that the DNR needs to work to get that number even higher.  I wonder then if they both are in favor of helping Wisconsinite with their high auto insurance rates?  Maybe they could promise every eligible hunter a free license.  They differ predictably on who they would appoint to the board, with Walker saying people with hunting, fishing, or trapping licenses and farmers.  Barrett mentions the non-hunting groups that use our natural environment.  These people who spend money in the State and help to create jobs don't matter to Walker.

First Amendment Test

The ensuing controversy about Christine O'Donnell's statement on the first amendment has been fun to watch and listen to.  First she is correct in her statement that there is a separation of church and state does not exist in the Constitution.  The problem is that the way she stated it made her sound like a complete idiot.  That being said the merits of such a separation can be debated.  Rush Limbaugh rushed to her defense and stated as he always does that the statement on the separation of church and state appears in a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote.  So he discredits it because it is not policy.  This coming from a man who freely quotes the Federalist Papers as if they are the defacto interpretation of the Constitution.  Nothing could be further from the truth they are a series of essays (think of them as letters) that explain what one group thought of the Constitution.  In fact had been up to these authors the Bill of Rights wouldn't exist.  Jefferson and others had a slightly different idea of Constitution and its meaning.  One of those differences is that not only should the country not establish a national religion, but there should be a complete separation.  In fact early in the country's history churches were taxed.  It is unfortunate that this counter argument to the Federalist's is being erased from our history.  Think that I'm kidding look at Texas and their history standards.  They don't even mention Thomas Paine or Jefferson, two of the leaders of the opposition to Madison and Hamilton.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger

My tip of the hat goes to Isthmus for pointing out that Chad told them that he was not against all of the 2007 pages of the health care reform legislation but his website says to get rid of it.  So a wag of the finger to Chad Lee for trying to pull a fast one.  He not only talks repeal on his website, he has said in debates and written in profile pieces that he is for the repeal of the health care reform measures.  Chad which is it?  Do you have this concern for your fellow man who has a pre-existing condition or are you happy that you now have coverage with your pre-existing condition.  I myself have a pre-existing condition that requires me to be a big user of the medical establishment and I am all for health care reform.  In fact I would be in favor of repeal if we could guarantee replacement with a single payer heavily regulated system.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Problems for Johnson

It turns out that 5 of Mr. Johnson's employees are covered under the State's Badger Care program.  The official response from Pacur was that they opted out of the company policy.  Was this because it was too expensive?  Were they seeking better less affordable coverage?  were they looking for a cheaper policy and then realized that their wages were low enough to qualify them for Badger care?  For those that don't know Badger care is a Government health insurance program for low income residents of the State of Wisconsin.  Interesting that the man who entered the race because of government over reaching and "taking" over health care would have employees benefiting from one such program.  No irony here!

Russ Feingold's ad

The Senator finally has a good ad to counter Ron Johnson's ad that Feingold didn't listen to constituents before voting on health reform.  No, the Senator has been listening for years as people who have to use the health system describe a broken and unjust system and ask that government put some regulation on the insurers.  I have said for years that the health insurance industry has been begging for regulation and apparently that is the message that the Senator heard.  Now they got what has been coming to them for years, except they really didn't.  In the end they still win.  Sure they have to cover pre-existing conditions (children now, adults in 2014) but they can charge 3 times the rate of a healthy persons policy.  Sure they can't drop you when ill, but they can raise your premium.  No it is not perfect but we as a nation needed to do something.  Ron Johnson wants to go back to the out of control system of a year ago.  If the people vote him in I wish them luck in the future because I will demand that we stick with the current market based system that Mr. Johnson campaigned for.

Highway construction

Glenn Grothman voted no on a highway bill yesterday.  Hard to believe, his argument was that instead of expanding I 90 from Madison to Beloit which would link to a 6 lane I 90 to Chicago we should spend the up to a billion dollars widening I 43 North of Milwaukee.  In other words a wider commuter highway is more important than a wider highway that will primarily (except on the weekends) be used for commerce.  Talk about your job killing government actions.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Joe Miller

This was too good to pass on.  Joe Miller was giving an open to the public town hall in a public school when a reporter asked him an uncomfortable question.  He had his private security force put the reporter in handcuffs.  What about a free press doesn't this would be senator not understand?  I'm sure that the Democrats wished that they could have gotten away with this during the health care rage events.

Bike Accident

I was out riding my mountain bike on Saturday on the crush gravel bike trail and was hit by a motor vehicle.  As I told the police people want us to ride only on the trail (we built it for them make them use it) and yet here is where I get hit.  I saw the gator coming and he made a left turn right in front of me.  Here's the problem with this.  First motor vehicles are not allowed except in the winter.  Second, there was no expectation that the vehicle would turn at that point since there wasn't a road, driveway, or trail.  I'm left with a shattered bike and broken body, great.  Yes I got hit riding in one of the safest places to ride in the entire county.  I guess that this shows just how dangerous bike riding is.


While I'm not in Congressman Kind's district I do get to see the ads that are being run against him by outside groups.  The problem here is that Kind's opponent has been indicted on 2 felony charges.  If convicted and elected he would be unable to serve, yet these groups continue to spend.  For being pro-business  they have no problem throwing good money at a bad risk.  As they say there is a sucker born every minute.

Chad Lee vs Tammy Baldwin

This has been an interesting race to watch.  Contrary to what John Nichols says I don't think that Chad Lee is a good candidate.  His campaign consists of a narrow world view and Republican talking points.  Tammy Baldwin would be vulnerable if there was the right candidate.  In Chad Lee  you get a devout Christian with some business background with scant knowledge of our system of government, little knowledge of the constitution, and without a clue on foreign affairs.  Consider, he is for the balanced budget amendment.  OK, what are the details?  Whenever there are terrible economic times the balanced budget amendment comes up.  Where was Mr. Lee in 2001? 2002? 2003? 2004?...No where, it wasn't until 2009 that deficits mattered.  Doesn't carry much weight with me.  I have advocated bringing the budget into balance for years but recognize that in times of crisis deficit spending maybe necessary.  The budget should have been brought into balance in 2004, even with the wars.  So, Chad how vaguely are you going to write the amendment so that you can support deficits by Republican Presidents.  Consider, his position on war.  He is for exhausting all means short of war in dealing with other nations (sounds like a Democrat) but yet supports the war in Iraq.  That would be the war that the President decided that we should start after what seemed like 10 minutes of negotiation where we didn't believe what we were told which turned out to be true.  We wouldn't be in Iraq if Saddam could have got his position on Fox, but instead Fox reported that Saddam was lying when in fact he was being truthful.  Chad is also willing to attack Iran (not giving diplomacy a chance) to stop them from getting nuclear weapons.  Consider Iran's position, their sworn enemy (remember we labeled them the axis of evil) has troops and who knows what weapons systems on 3 sides of their country.  Seems like a threat to me.  What is the fear of a nuclear Iran?  They can't attack the US.  They could attack our troops.  If they did we have something like 2000 warheads that we could drop on their country.  They could attack Israel, but again Israel has somewhere around 100 warheads more than enough to obliterate the country.  Chad is unconcerned about Pakistan, an unstable and corrupt country with 80-90 warheads.  This is where our enemies could get a bomb.  He also would privatize Social Security, eliminate Medicare, repeal Obamacare, and bring Religion into the government.  I'm afraid once again the only choice in Tammy Baldwin.

Repeal the Minimum Wage

There is a movement sweeping the nation to repeal the minimum wage as unconstitutional, although it was ruled constitutional.  With the Roberts' court it would be overturned.  Except for the tea party it is just an issue to get votes no one has yet to file a case.  I agree with all of the arguments, its costly, its inflationary, its a job killer.  My question is, if we repeal it what kind of wages can we expect to see in the future and once we get into the race for the bottom will other prices fall proportionately?  My guess is wages will free fall and prices will stagnate much as they are now with no sales.  Welcome to the Brave New World that we are heading for.

Is Rebecca Keefisch Stupid?

Ms. Keefisch has a new ad out discussing her cancer treatment and how we have the best health care system in the world.  She then goes on to suggest that Obamacare is government run health care.  Now wait one minute.  Rebecca is covered under her husband's policy.  Her husband happens to "work" for the State of Wisconsin as a legislator.  He is covered under the State plan, which is private insurance that meets or exceeds the State mandated coverage.  What does that mean?  It means that at the very least it is government regulated, meaning that if the mandated coverage said excludes colon cancer, she would get to find out how much that little operation cost.  Also, because it is a group policy she can't be dropped now that she is a high cost high risk patient.  No it isn't government run but it is a lot closer to being government run than anything this President has signed. 

Okay maybe she just didn't understand how the policy that she has works, but surely she understands what the policies she and Governor (not yet) Walker advocate.  Scott Walker has said that the State employees should contribute at least 20% to their health insurance costs (which in my opinion is still a bargain) so her costs go from $89 per month to about $260 per month.  I'll let you do the math for what the taxpayer kicks in and compare to what you at home pay.  They also want to repeal the health reforms and limit Badger care.  So, you little people out there get a job with health insurance because Rebecca and Scott have theirs and they don't want to share.  Hopefully after they all of that done they will pass a law stating that it is okay for hospitals to deny treatment to the indigent.  No death panels in Wisconsin, just denial of care.  Remember uninsured Wisconsinites when you get sick please die quickly.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ron Johnson has Another new Ad

In response to Russ Feingold's jobs ad Ron Johnson has his own that blames Feingold for shipping jobs to China.  It is a great ad if only true.  Mr. Johnson heavily quotes from an article that Politico (trying to appeal to the libs?) ran but fails to tell the whole story.  Which happens to be his criticism of Feingold.  Politico did discuss that money from the stimulus went to create jobs in China but if you read further they explain that those people will be building windmill parts which will further energy independence if not independence from China.  But, the question is, why China?  The answer is amazingly simple, we don't manufacture those parts or much else in this country anymore.  In the global race for the bottom (thanks most favored nation status) China beat us there.  Manufacturing has relocated or contracted to China because of low wages.  Part of the stimulus plan was to build alternative energy infrastructure.  Unfortunately, China has the world's largest solar panel facility and one of the largest wind turbine facilities.  The reality is that until we start manufacturing stuff we are going to continue to purchase our means of production from foreign countries.  The cranes that work on erecting those windmills will most likely Korean or Japanese.  The businessmen could buy American but they don't due to price. 

Maybe, Mr. Johnson would like to enlighten us as to how he is going to bring a manufacturing base back to the country.  His website has scant information on any of his plans.  On job grow his solution is lower taxes.  We have had the tax cuts for 6 years, I think that this is enough time to tell if they have work.  Every quarter since they began has shown less job growth and a lower GDP.  Hard to believe, but yes we have joined the race to the bottom.  How is raising taxes going to affect this negative growth?  Well, it can't get worse.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bullying and Suicide

A story that just broke about a high school in Ohio that is being sued by 2 families for wrongful death and failure to protect their children.  I say that it is about time!  This school has had 4 students commit suicide in the last few years, seems like a high number.  One of the families (who isn't suing) had all 3 children either OD or commit suicide (granted 2 of them were out of school).  This school clearly has a problem with bullying and has failed to do anything about it.  Yes, it gets better, but at what cost.  Here you have 6 kids who were so badly scarred by their high school experience that they took their lives and those left behind found it funny enough to show up at one girls funeral and continue to make fun of her after she was dead.  What kind of people are these?  People who are taunted (bullied, picked on) through school are in some respect scarred for life.  Some manage to become productive citizens, others turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope, and still others never recover and take their own lives.  It is so tragic.  I realize that it is hard to do anything about the problem.  If the administration acts the child is likely the target of more insults.  It is up to the parents to get their child out of a bad situation, either through moving, school choice, private school, or online school.  Sure this doesn't teach coping skills but then again as they say it gets better once you are out of high school so you really don't need those skills.  The unfortunate thing is that it costs the parents, but in the end it is worth it.

Health care Post Debate

In comments after the debate Ron Johnson stated that he favors replacing the healthcare measure with smaller more targeted bills and that he would make sure that pre-existing conditions are covered.  His entire campaign has been stating exactly the opposite since day one.  Once again he is trying to have it both ways.  So, rather than the massive over reach of the current legislation he would favor having some control over the industry.  His entire campaign has been about letting the market work and all government regulation is bad.  Maybe he needs to watch his own ads, the one that states "a new government program that saves money".  The market decided that pre-existing conditions have the potential to cost more money.  This is why premiums are more expensive or coverage denied outright.  How would he fix this without doing what the reform does?  Mandate coverage but take off the meager cost control (3 times the rate of a non pre-existing condition policy)? 

This is what Ron Johnson states on his website:

"Ron will vote to repeal the Health Care Bill and replace it with market-based solutions that will include: portability, malpractice reform, mandate reduction, insurance purchase across state lines, lower costs, and a safety net for those with pre-existing conditions.
The Health Care Bill is a $1 trillion experiment that will lead to higher cost, lower quality health care and rationing by government bureaucrats.  A free- market approach to health care reform is critical to ensuring doctors and patients stay in control of the decision-making process.  The free market is essential for the development of new drugs, treatments and medical procedures that will save lives and keep our country on the forefront of medical innovation.
The Health Care Bill will further bust an already broken budget.  Obama Administration estimates are simply not believable.  When Medicare was passed in 1965, the government estimated its cost in 1990 would be $12 billion.  The actual cost in 1990 was $111 billion…nearly ten times the original estimate.  The estimated cost of the Health Care Bill will not be any more accurate."

There are no specifics in his plan.  Doctors and patients do not have control of the decision making process now.  Who is he kidding, the insurer has that control.  When you go to pick-up a prescription and the pharmacy says that it will be full price because the doctor prescribed something that is not on the list or was taken off the list.  Then you have to either pay (which isn't a problem for him) or go back (driving up costs) and get something else prescribed.  If the new drug doesn't work you have to back again and again until you either exhaust all alternatives so that you can get what was originally prescribed or you find something that works.  Yeah, the doctors and patients are in control.  The insurers deny coverage for certain conditions such as "autism", which Sharon Angle said the new law would cover and she doesn't want to pay for.  Would Johnson's reforms cover this?  Come on Ron let us have the specifics.  I have a feeling that once it is fleshed out we will be at a series of reforms that are substantially similar to the current law.  The current law is not perfect for example I favor a system of private insurance that is heavily regulated with cost controls.  What we have now and going forward is a system that shifts costs from those who can pay to those who can't and allows the price of drugs in this country to essentially subsidize the drug costs in countries that regulate the price of drugs.  These and other factors (high salaries, shiny buildings, greed) lead to premium increases that far exceed the rate of inflation.  You would think that a businessman (who claims to provide health care to his employees) would be concerned about premium increases that are averaging 6% (inflation at 0) this year.  The current law doesn't control price (obviously) and I'm sure that Mr. Johnson's proposal won't control price because that would be against his nature of free market solutions (which is the current system except for the poor, the seniors, and the military).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Healthcare and Privledge

Ron Johnson explaining why healthcare reform was so bad brought up the health issues that his daughter has.  It was a fabulous story which showed how great medical care and technology are in this country.  Unfortunately he doesn't seem to understand one simple fact, he's rich!  The procedure that she had done was almost assuredly experimental.  Many policies won't cover experimental treatment.  What happens to those people?  They self ration and don't get it done.  His daughter now has a pre-existing condition.  Has she gone out on the open market to get insurance?  How much did it cost?  Most people with pre-existing conditions can get insurance but they can't afford it.  Ron Johnson would repeal a law that allows people with pre-existing conditions to buy insurance at only 3 times the rate of an average person.  Yes, we have the best system in the world if you're rich.

Balanced Budget Amendment

The Wisconsin Senate debate tonight broke down to taxes and spending.  Ron Johnson expressed his support for a balanced budget amendment.  This is the sound bite answer to spending.  The problem with a balanced budget amendment is what happens in times of crisis?  If you follow Keynes he stated that in good economic times governments should run a surplus and in bad economic times or times of crisis governments should not only spend the surplus but should also be prepared to run a deficit.  I know that this is pretty complex for tea baggers to grasp.  Let's take the recent time.  The year is 2001 and George Bush just returned the Clinton surplus to the people.  Then some crazy Saudis attacked the country and we went to war first in Afghanistan and then Iraq.  With a balanced budget no war with Afghanistan (because the war was not budgeted).  Of course, both of these wars were run outside of the budget until 2006 when Congress put the costs into the budget which blew up the budget.  So no wars, what about other crisis?  In 2007, 2008 we stabilized the financial markets by deficit spending.  So, we let the financial markets collapse taking down everything.  At that point there is probably no longer a need for government.  Instead of amending the Constitution we need responsible legislators.

On a side note Russ Feingold can talk about what he would do, but the reality is that his proposals will not see the light of day because the Republicans will filibuster or place holds on the bills.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tennessee House Fire

We are starting to see a return to the nation's roots where you contract with a company to put out your house fire.  In this case it was a pubic fire department whose jurisdiction was the village not the county but they would cover you for $75.  Short story guy's house catches on fire the fire department watches it burn to the ground and intervenes when the neighbor's land catches fire (in the village).  This is how it was in the early days even the outcome (the neighbor's land catching fire).  There were some spectacular failures of this system like the Chicago fire which pretty much led to the formation of publicly supported firefighting across the nation.  I guess what is old is new again.  I wonder how long the experiment will last this time?

On a side note, I will speculate that insurance won't cover the loss because the home owner didn't do anything (contracting with the fire department) to prevent a total loss of the home.

How does Insurance Work

There seems to be a lot of confusion about how insurance works.  There is Sharon Angle saying that she doesn't want any of her money going to "autism" or reproductive care because in her mind autism is fake and she isn't going to have any more children.  She and others like her (the group running ads against Russ Feingold) believe that under Obamacare they are required to help pay for these things.  But yet they are for the bastion of the individual, group health plans offered through employers.  This sounds good except that it isn't true.  The reason premiums are lower for group plans is because they use some of the money to cover the big users of the policy.  That way your friend in accounting with the pre-existing condition gets covered or the person with cancer is not dropped.  What the tea party wants is individual policies and they are convincing a large percentage of the population (those not covered by individual policies) that this is the way to go.  Maybe it is.  When the non-healthy that are being carried by their employer have to go on the open market I think that they will be surprised to learn how difficult getting insurance is, but that's ok because the doctors will forgo their big paychecks and provide charity care.

I do know one thing that if health reform is repealed  I will be opposed to any effort to bring it back.  The American people will have spoken and knowing that this is a big problem and will continue to come back (it has for about every 10 years since 1890) I will remind them that they are opposed to any kind of socialized medicine.  I stood by President Bush on the re-importation of drugs ban because we don't believe in socialized medicine so we shouldn't be allowed to benefit from other countries socialized system.

Saving Social Security

When Social Security was first created the average life expectancy was 62 years old, they set retirement to be 65.  Currently we have a loaming cash flow problem with Social Security.  Part of the problem is that people are collecting too much money.  Another problem is that the work force is not ever expanding like in the 1930's.  President Reagan put off this problem by quietly raising the age to 67 but what he should have done was tie retirement to life expectancy.  Currently the average life expectancy is 78 so the retirement age should go to 80 or 81 and then continue the link to life expectancy.  Also, remove the add ons to the program from the Great Society programs and you solve this problem forever.  Would I like this?  No, but it would work.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Walker deer czar

I just heard about this reading Pat Durkin's column in Sunday's Wisconsin State Journal.  Walker is going to get politics out and science in with deer management by appointing a Deer Czar.  Isn't this expanding government?  How is this going to be paid for?  If Obama's czars are unconstitutional is this position constitutional?  Isn't a discussion of everyone getting a deer kind of maybe a little socialist?  Maybe we could have the better hunters shoot extra deer so that those who didn't go hunting or those who failed to get a deer can get one of the extras.  Or, we could extend the season until every hunter brins home a deer.

Ashley Furniture

While the flooding in Arcadia was tragic, the fact that Ashley Furniture is located there can't be ignored.  This is a company that held the State hostage while requesting that the government grant a waiver to fill in wetlands for a company expansion.  When it was moving at the slow pace with which these things move they complained and threatened to move.  The reality was that they needed (the state) a Federal waiver as well as a State waiver and Ashley didn't pay those politicians.  In the end of course this was granted.  Now all of these years later their plant floods.  Do you think that this company who gamed the system is in line to get disaster relief from the taxpayers?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The cast of Wicked

In response to the Rutgers University student's suicide the cast of Wicked (currently touring in Madison) recorded a video talking about being an outcast and that things get better.  Being gay is undoubtedly worse than being declared a geek or an arts freak but my guess is that is similar.  There is this romanticized view that a person's high school years are the best and that college was better.  For many this is not true.  Most of the social outcasts do better in college because there are more people like them but as is the case at Rutgers there are still people who haven't grown up.  It is sad that this led to the taking of a life and that the people who drove him to take his life are going to get away with it.  It is my hope that this video provides inspiration to persevere for those outcasts. 

Talking to the Press

Yesterday Ron Johnson made the most unbelievable statement when talking about stem cell research.  It wasn't that he was opposed to federal funding (he's a Republican), it wasn't his belief in adult stem cell research (he's a Republican), it was his statement that government shouldn't fund it because a large percentage of the people are morally opposed to it.  Really, this sounds like the argument that was made by people opposed to the Vietnam war.  Currently there are large percentages of people opposed to the Afghanistan war, is he for getting us out now?  Currently there are large percentages of people opposed to any presence in Iraq, are we leaving?  Currently we have a large percentage of people opposed to escalating the war in Pakistan, does he favor ending that one?  In these tough budget times there are many people who think that defense should be put on a diet, is Ron Johnson going to join with Democrats and demand that the budget be cut as little as 1%?  My guess is no but he will probably agree to increase funding for the above and cut funding for NOAA, CDC, NSF, NASA, EPA,... where a smaller percentage of the population is in opposition to what they do.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jonah, Jonah, Jonah

I'm reading the paper this morning and Jonah Goldberg is commenting on the Colbert testimony.  Jonah proves once again that Republicans don't get it.  At one point he brings up the testimony of a professor who mentioned how illegal immigrants depress wages and  keep working conditions poor.  He then says that Colbert essentially called her a liar.  NO, Colbert essentially pointed out two things.  First that conservatives don't see this as a problem and second that they want to see depressed wages because it is good for the country.  Look at their immigration measures.  They are for a "guest worker" program.  Why is this so bad, it gives legal status they say.  Yes it does but it preserves the low wages, no benefits, send them back approach that we have now.  The whole point of the take our jobs program was to bring attention to the low wages aspect of farm work.  That part of the equation is not going to change.  Colbert pointed that out with his comment about creating vegetables that pick themselves.  No wages, no workers, American technology at its best.  We are in a race too the bottom.  The conservatives don't mind the illegal immigrants as long as they know their place.  They are against the minimum wage because it is inflationary, which is true, but without it these jobs would be paying by piece work or a couple of dollars an hour.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stephen Colbert at Congress

Colbert's testimony was right on and proved once again that Republicans are:
a. Ironically challenged and
b. Don't understand Colbert

What Stephen pointed out was how ridiculous the immigration argument in Congress has become and his character offered solutions that you would have expected to hear from the Republicans.  American business and farms employ the illegal immigrants at the same time as Americans won't do the work or if they do they are not very good at it (watch Colbert at the farm).  I watched much of the hearing and I especially like the charge that the President has left the borders open when the reality is that under this President deportations are up.  Raids on businesses are up.  Number of troops on the border is up.  Interdiction is up.  Everything that you hear is down is in fact up.  I don't get it.  So the Democrats bring Colbert to Congress.  The Republicans contend that he made a mockery of the hearing process.  How can you make a mockery out of something that was already a mockery.  In fact this whole legislative session has been a mockery.  Way to go Mr. Colbert.

Time to Release Pacur's Corporate Tax Records

I believe that it time for the people to join with the Democrats and demand that Pacur's tax records be released.  In most cases and for most candidates I would be as against this demand as the Republicans and Ron Johnson.  The difference in this case is that those records are relevant.  Mr. Johnson's entire campaign is based on that the crushing tax code is killing his and other businesses in the country.  He has disputed the government managed/ facilitated loans/ bonds/ grants as not being government supported.  If that were true anyone would be able to get a couple of points knocked off a business loan which is not the case.  We need to see these records so that we can determine how truthful these claims are.  I would hope that he has paid huge taxes because a majority of corporations pay little or no taxes.  Exxon a large company with record profits, headquartered in the US got a refund.  so if Pacur did pay a lot in taxes they must have done something wrong.  The tax code favors business the same way that it favors the wealthy.  By optimizing expenses, depreciation, and interest paid, you can reduce your income (profit) to such a low level that you pay very little in taxes.  This is not a bad thing but it is for someone trying to connect to people seeing 25% of their income taken for income taxes, 7.5% taken for Social Security, another 3% taken for Medicare, and then the State income tax.

Lawyers in Congress

Ron Johnson says the there is a majority of lawyers in the US senate and that would be fine if they had a lawsuit to settle.  Hey Ron, here's a government lesson for you.  Congress makes laws!  Lawyers argue the law.  It seems like a fit to me.  So if we elect Mr. Johnson he will have to rely on his high priced lawyers who have helped his business navigate through the laws all of these years to help him craft legislation.  This is so much better than keeping a senator in office who is a Rhodes scholar and lawyer who has specialized in constitutional law.  It is interesting how the tea baggers talk about restoring the Constitution but yet they are against anyone who is a constitutional lawyer.  Where were they when the constitution was being run over by George Bush (not a lawyer) and Dick Cheney (not a lawyer).  They were both businessmen and ran the country into the ground and abused their authority under the Constitution.  So Ron, how exactly is your business experience going to be different from theirs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Healthcare and Ron Johnson

I just heard Ron Johnson's latest radio commercial on health care.  Once again it is full of lies and distortions.  You have the 2 women complaining that Sen. Feingold voted yes on health care and then one says that the worst part of it is that our rates are going to go up.  Really?  Didn't they go up before reform?  What in the bill was going to reduce the cost of insurance?  Nothing, the bill contains no cost controls other than for some things that have not started yet.  Those controls are standardizing records and allowing the poor into buying pools.  This may reduce our costs but not by much.  Ron Johnson should know this.  Currently my insurance is slated to go up 6.2% and they are hailing this as a great deal.  Yeah it's down from 20% a few years ago but it still way above the rate of inflation.  What exactly is Mr. Johnson's solution to this problem?  He would eliminate the reforms enacted.  How exactly is that going to help the people he says that he wants to serve?  Well first of all people with pre-existing conditions will either not be able to get insurance or it will be really expensive (the reform caps it at 3 times the normal rate).  Then the lifetime caps go back in place (2 million for a family, sounds like a lot, get sick and see).  We'll still have at least 50 million uninsured, but more every day as employers eliminate the employer based health care that we Americans love. 

I don't agree with the health care reforms because they don't go far enough.  But I'm not going to vote against Feingold on this vote because the alternative is disastrous.  I like the German system.  The Germans have been using single payer heavily regulated private insurance since 1890.  The same plan was proposed in this country at the same time.  Germany has had 3 times in their history where they could have got rid of the program and they have elected to keep it.  But we can't even talk about single payer.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Deja Vu

A new contract on America, hooray!  This promises to be better than the one in 1994.  We're going to cut taxes, eliminate Obamacare, cut spending.  Happy days are here again, just don't look at the details.  We're going to cut spending everywhere except defense, medicare, and social security.  Gee that doesn't leave much of the budget.  Maybe if we make that part of the budget zero we can cover the increase in defense and if there is any money left over we could give the richest 1% another couple of percent reduction in taxes.  The wealthy in this country are struggling so hard just to put food on the table that they can't even think about hiring anyone.  This plan is crazy.  If cutting taxes is so great why don't the Republicans join Alan Grayson in his plan to exempt the first $30,000 in income from taxes paid for by cutting defense 1%?  Why are we building a strike fighter plane when we have enemy that we can't defeat with existing aircraft?  We are told that if we would just make the tax cuts permanent everything will be ok.  We have had the tax cuts for 10 years and everything is not ok.  In fact everything fell apart under Bush.  You can't even blame Obama's spending.  It all happened before.  If those tax cuts didn't work may be we should have bigger tax cuts and revenue will magically appear.  Keep hoping.

Dane County Sheriff

I was reading the local paper Thursday and there was a great letter to the editor on the race for sheriff of our little county.  Like elsewhere in the country the county has fallen on hard times.  So, the sheriff race is going to turn on hiring more officers and giving those officers a raise.  The current sheriff is a Democrat, the challenger is endorsed by the Republicans (its a non-partisan office).  The incumbent has gone along with a hiring freeze and the pay reductions that the rest of the county employees took.  The challenger will hire 14 new deputies and has promised to increase wages.  This from a candidate who is backed by the Tea Party.  The party that is all about cutting taxes and spending.  Just how exactly are we going to pay for these people?  How do we fund pay raises?  What are we going to cut?  How much do we need to reduce other salaries to cover the raises in the sheriff's department?  Yes, the sheriff's race is only about running one department, but when you are advocating a large expansion of that department I believe that you better address the budget side.  By taking this tact you are not only running against the sheriff but also against the county executive.  I would hate to put someone in this position who has not thought out how to pay for his campaign promises.  He will need county board and county executive cooperation and I don't see that happening.

Government subsidies and Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson has staked his entire campaign on how government shouldn't be in the business of picking winners and losers and that government doesn't create jobs.  He has vehemently criticized Sen. Feingold for highlighting his government backed bonds.  He has an ad running where he points out that the news organizations have called on the Senator to quit using clips from their stories in his ad.  No one has disputed the accuracy of the report which contends that Pacur got a subsidy.  What Ron and maybe Russ should be acting for is a retraction from WKOW 27.  Either the report is accurate or it isn't.  Once a news report is broadcast it becomes public, otherwise the Daily Show, Colbert, Maddow,... wouldn't be able to do what they do.  Most people seem to think that Ron Johnson's business got government help.  I for one agree with Johnson that government helps business too much.  It is fine to have all of these programs but it would seem that only the connected get the help.

In today's Wisconsin State Journal Ron Johnson's campaign has come out and said that the candidate recognizes that government builds roads and provides infrastructure.  This statement is critical of his own campaign.  I guess that it is like government aid:  Projects that Ron Johnson deem worthy will get funded.  Sounds like picking winners and losers to me.  The realities of America today is that the Federal government pays for roads and other infrastructure and that Government in general provides aid through low interest loans, grants, bonds, tax deferment, ...  The choice for Wisconsin voters is who do you trust, a man who has benefited from government support but now abhors such programs or a man who has helped to create programs that help the average people and small business.  I prefer the latter, Sen. Feingold.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Health care

Today children can be covered under their parents plan to 26 and can't be denied with pre-existing conditions.  And no one can be dropped while sick.  This is great news right, wrong.  Sharon Angle, doesn't want to be paying for everyone.  She doesn't think that "austism" is a medical condition and should not be covered.  Hey tea baggers who are the death panel advocates now.  Everyone is excited about the pre-existing coverage but wait until you have to pay the bill.  The insurers can charge up to 3 times the rate of an un-surcharged policy.  Not a good thing and the buying pools will prove to be inadequate.  It's a start but we have a really long way to go.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Presidential visit

Get ready the conservatives heads are going to explode, President Obama is visiting the city of Madison Sept. 28.  We'll be hearing about how much it costs, who's paying, that it should come from the campaign,...  None of this should matter it is the President.  Except this President's opponents so hate him that they are unwilling to be in the same city/ state with him.

Great News

The removal of Calumet County's DA is going forward thanks to 2 brave women residing in the county.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sharia Law in the US

I'll admit watching the tea party patriots I have been mystified by the signs saying "no Sharia law in the US".  That is until I heard Newt Gingrich at the value voters summit.  I've been told that this is because President Obama is a secret Muslim.  First of all there is no evidence of this.  Beyond this Newt might have a point.  Over the past several years there has been a movement to codify the 10 Commandments into US law or people saying that they already are.  The reality is there are couple of commandments in the law (killing, stealing), but many others are nowhere to be seen (honor the mother and father, no Gods before me).  There seems to be immense confusion over sharia law, because for the most part it comes from the 10 Commandments and Leviticus.  That is right, the Christian God Law and the Muslim God Law are largely the same.  Enforcement is different since countries under Sharia law are operating like they did in the 12th century the punishments are like they were in the 12th century. 

I don't want to see any God based laws even if they are written by the Cafeteria Christians so that the good stuff is not in the law like women having their heads covered, modest dress, eating pork,...  The Taliban ran a country based on God's law and look at what a fun place that was/ is.  This is just such a non-issue in this country, but do a google search and you get 674,000 hits.  Does anyone really believe that we will see Sharia law here?

Open carry

So, some open carry supports were arrested at a Culver's.  Sounds like rights being trampled right?  Wrong.  The police responded to a call about guys with guns.  That establishes probable cause, which allows the police to ask for identification.  I think that they should have been charged with disorderly conduct instead of obstruction.  Other than that I'll side with the police on this one.

Calumet County DA

This is an incredible and unbelievable story out of rural Wisconsin.  Talk about a clear abuse of authority but yet there is nothing that the State can do without a complaint filled by someone in the county.  Lets hope that we get one so that he can be removed from office.

Super Salmon

I am amazed that given the problems that we have with invasive species that we would even think about allowing a genetically modified fish to be sold.  What they have done is genetically altered the Atlantic Salmon by adding genes from the Chinook Salmon and the Eelpout.  So you have created a fish that grows fast, but what else does it do.  If they get out and to open water what will they do.  We don't know, we don't know if this species is more aggressive, we don't know if it will out compete native fish.  What we do know is that it grows fast which implies that it eats more.  I don't care what the company tells you we humans have a pretty poor record of controlling wild animals.  The risk to the environment is too great to allow this fish to be grown.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Madison schools

As an observer from the rural part of Dane County, I have always been amazed at the perception that Madison's public schools are "bad". Once again we have had a couple of contradictory articles in the media. The first that Madison wants to stop their students from leaving through public school choice because it is a net loss in money needed to run the system. I fault the media and to a lesser extent the school board with a failure to dig at all and answer the question, why are they leaving? This of course generated multiple letters decrying how unfair it is that I will no longer be allowed to provide a better education for my child or that the schools are failing so people are voting with their feet and leaving. The first issue is easy to address, send your kid to private school. You want to take a stand fund it yourself. The other issue not so easy to address until today. New article, Madison schools tops in the state for National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists. Wow, and I was led to believe that they were awful. Doesn't make much sense. National Merit Scholars represent <1%>1% of its students qualifying. You could say that these students succeeded in the face of adversity or just imagine how many we would have if it was a good district. The first is plausible except it is exceedingly rare to have that percentage even in the best of the best private schools. The second is also unlikely for the same reason, and look at how well the districts that kids are transferring to did. No one from Mt. Horeb, Oregon, Cambridge, McFarland, Columbus public, Beaver Dam, or Janesville Parker. Only one from Waunakee and Marshall, 2 from Sun Prairie, 4 from Verona. Waunakee, Sun Prairie, and Verona are big supposedly excellent schools in the burbs and they are not even close to Madison (except LaFollete with only 1). McFarland is a smaller school with an excellent reputation and none. What then? This brings me to the last article, also printed today by Thomas Friedman where he contends that motivation is the problem, kids aren't willing to do the work. I think that he is on to something. I see it in hiring people to work in a cafe. First off the kids that are in the tops of their class aren't looking for jobs, so we're left hiring middle to lower level students. For the most part they don't work hard unless you are always in their face. When I started working most of the hires were the better students so those other kids just didn't get jobs. This generation more than any other expects that everything will be handed to them. They want to get paid big money and not do anything and that is just not how it works. The same in school you have to work to get to where you want to be. If that is college you have to earn the grades to get you there. Obviously some kids in Madison have figured that out and have done well.

I think that the schools need to challenge students before they get to high school. I think that we all know someone who never studied in high school and always got A's. The problem with that is that these same kids struggle in college, no concept of hard work. Teachers know if the kid is putting forth effort or just doing what is required for an A. Let teachers mark that work down especially in the early grades where grades don't matter (you're not trying to get into Harvard or MIT yet). The problem with this approach are the parents, they won't stand for Jonny or Suzy being marked down. It is a rare parent that will tell a teacher to mark down their child. I have done it more in the context of private schools (my kids were there because the public schools wouldn't push them to work harder or push them into a more challenging curriculm.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Senate races and the tea party

There are those that are dismissing the chances of Ms. O'Donnell of winning in Delaware, I'm not one of them. Sure she has made some outrageous comments ass have all of the other tea party candidates but that is why the voters like them. "They are just like me, they speaker their mind, and they tell the truth (even when they repeat the big lies) which is why I'll vote for them" is the common refrain from their supporters. Most people think that this is some tiny fringe element. I think that it is bigger than you think and is growing. I think that every one of those candidates has a chance at winning. If Carly Fiorina (a woman who fired 7,000 HP workers and ran the company into the ground) can push Barbra Boxer in a senate race anything is possible. Look at Wisconsin where it is a dead heat between Ron Johnson and Senator Feingold. The Senator has taken many votes that square with the tea party agenda but yet the race is a dead heat.

Rally on 10/30/10

The rallies to restore sanity and to keep fear alive should be incredible. I hope that they get the press coverage that Glenn Beck was able to summon, because these 2 rallies should be far superior or at least funny. A big round of applause to Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Guests, and their Staff's for this idea.

Jon Stewart interview with Bill Clinton

Thursday night's interview with President Clinton once again show why the President gets it. He explained the issues in the economy, not in sound bites but in a reasoned manner. Then he explained why he is for health reform. The most astonishing number is that in 2009 (worst economic year ever) the health insurers made 29% more money. How can this be, they raised rates and dropped the sick patients. Pretty simple. When inflation was zero or negative these guys were able to make 29% more money. I'll admit that the health reform bill as passed will not solve this problem, because there is no provision to control costs, but everyone should agree that this system is screwed up and all that we hear about is a government takeover. As the President said "you can complain about a government takeover of health care but when you have the companies kicking people out who are winding up on medicaid you are getting a takeover".

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

overpaid workers and Wisconsin businesses

Once again a Wisconsin company (Harley Davidson) is threatening to leave if their employees don't accept wage reductions. What is interesting about Harley, Mercury Marine, and Wolf is that each of them make products that are not necessities and are generally sold to people in higher income brackets. The average person is not spending $20,000 on a motorcycle that is a pig on gas and can be used for maybe 5 months. Their sales are down due to a bad economy. If these wage concessions are granted will the price of a motorcycle drop? The price of motors at mercury didn't come down. The price of a Wolf stove isn't likely to come down. What this shows is that not even the rich are buying stuff. This is bad news for the country.

Koran burning

I have stayed away from this topic because I think that the Pastor is nuts. Sure he has a right to protest but the government has a responsibility to arrest him and his followers. How's this? The precedent was set with protests in the 1960's and most recently at the Republican National convention. The charge in these cases is inciting a riot or violence. We know that burning a Koran is going to incite violence. They should be arrested to save lives.

Government backed loans, loans, and grants

Ron Johnson wants us to understand that the help his business got was a loan. He also wants us to understand that this was not the Government picking winners and losers. Well, I for one don't understand the difference. Pacur was given a low interest government backed loan from a bank. This is different from a business loan from a bank in that if they defaulted the bank would be able to get some of the money from the government. A grant is a direct bailout, the government picking winners and losers. The way Mr. Johnson tells it anyone could have gotten this kind of deal. Except that isn't true. Only companies that are already established or led by the connected (Mr. Johnson was connected through his father in law) can get these deals. Give me $2 million dollars and I'll open a business.

So, we can say that he got government help but yet he has no problem criticizing Sen. Feingold for voting to give GM loans and grants to stay in business. This vote preserved a large American company that employed 10s of thousands of Americans. You can argue that these Americans were overpaid. He doesn't go there though. He just believes that we should have let them go.

There you have it the differences between funding sources and how Ron Johnson is playing with the facts. And I'll take a low interest loan to open a business.

P.S. Maybe Ron Johnson would be willing to release the salary structure at his company. Does he pay the so called living wage?

Ron Johnson again

Now the Democratic Party wants Ron Johnson to release the tax records for his business. Normally I would agree with Johnson that those records shouldn't be made public. The difference in this case is that Mr. Johnson is campaigning that taxes on his business are oppressive. Since his is one of the largest businesses in the State and there have been a number of articles published indicating that the majority of large businesses in the State pay little or no taxes, these records have become a campaign issue. The voters need to know how much he paid in taxes.

Scott Walker's new ad

Scott Walker has finally stepped out to take on Mark Neumann. I was so excited, we'll finally see the differences of the two front runners. The ad links Mark to speaker Pelosi. OK, lets forget that the speaker works on the National level and Governor is a State position. The premise of this link is that they both voted for a road construction package. Come on Scott, isn't road building a cornerstone of your campaign? Where do you think the money spent on road building comes from? Read close tea baggers, most road projects are a combination of Local, State, and Federal money. That is why Mayor Dave (addressing those that said the stimulus didn't work) said look around you that is all federal money. He is exactly right if you go to other States there are signs posted detailing the funding sources of public projects. Nice try Scott, I'm sure that it will work with your uninformed supporters but probably won't sway the informed fence sitters.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wisconsin Senate Race

Try as he might Ron Johnson cannot escape being a businessman in America Today. It all flows from his implication that he went into business with his brother in law with nothing and through hard work and sacrifice built it into this large package manufacturing corporation. Well, it turns out that he had a little more help than most business owners along the way. First the start-up money came from his father in law (who is very wealthy), not going to begrudge a gift but I wouldn't be talking up my early struggle. Then is turns out he received some government assistance (which he abhors) through government backed loans. Now he says it was a loan and was paid back. He also says that no tax payer money was on the line. So no it is not like GM, AIG, the banks. Really, so Ron you're telling me that some bank gave a small business a low interest loan because they believed in what you were doing and knew that your company would help the economy. If I had only known sooner, I could be my own boss now. No, Ron the way this works is some government entity tells the bank that we will guarantee any losses that you may incur making this loan. In this case it was both State and Local money. It is great that he paid it back, but to quote one of the Tea Party faithful where is my share? The reality is that all of us paid to get his business going, he fails to recognize this fact. He also fails to talk about what exactly his business does. They manufacture packaging for the medical field. Isn't it interesting that someone who makes a living off of high tech medicine got into the Senate race against Russ Feingold because he opposes Obama care? If I were in his shoes I would be ecstatic about health care reform because there is not any form of cost containment so he is free to keep increasing prices.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Most Valued Profession

How did business and finance majors become the most valued professions? I guess they nearly have the power of a Doctor in terms of life or death of the economy. I don't know about you but when I was in college business classes were some of the easiest. They are not the best and brightest but they are sure treated that way. If they were so smart why did they destroy the economy?

Wolf appliance

Wolf Appliance asked its Madison employees for a 20% pay cut toady. The employees said no. I thought WOW in this economy any job is better than no job. One employee who voted no explained it like this, "either way I'm doomed, the pay cut puts me on the street and losing my job puts me on the street". My question to Wolf (makers of very expensive stoves) is would the prices also decline by 20%? My guess is no. For some reason business hasn't figured out that if we continue to depress wages and benefits they lose. At some point (I think that we are there) we won't have enough people to buy things to keep the economy going.

We also have Harley Davidson doing the same thing. They can't compete because people don't have $17,000 to spend on a motorcycle that won't be driven all year and gets bad gas mileage. When they leave prices won't go down.

Henry Ford believed that his workers should be able to buy the cheapest car made and paid accordingly. Today's executives could learn something from him.

Jonah Goldberg and the Constitution

Reading Jonah Goldberg today, I know he drives me crazy. Today he was railing against the liberals because they are against the rewriting of the 14th amendment. But, yet they don't have any problem with it being a living document and using the equal protection clause to overturn the will of the people. I'm one of those who believe that the Constitution must be able to adapt to the modern world. I also believe that the Constitution was written to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Jonah this means that just because the majority is for something doesn't make it right. I know that this is a tough concept for a Federalist, but it is what Jefferson, Franklin, Paine and others believed. So, the question is should some people have more rights than others? The Constitution would indicate NO.

On changing the birthright, this has been a hallmark of the country since its founding. I see no reason to change it now. What I want to see is the illegals deported. It is ridiculous that we drive by people working in yards, landscaping business grounds, picking crops, cleaning homes, cleaning hotels,... and we have no problem but show up in the store, school, driving a car and people go crazy. Eliminate employment and you eliminate 90% of the problem. Go after the employers, quit this misguided attempt at rounding up 12 million people. Conduct sweeps on targeted businesses (we know where illegals work).

One thing that is rarely discussed is how President Reagan granted amnesty to 5 million illegals. Since that day we acquired 12 million more. This is largely because we granted amnesty previously.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The uninformed

Why is it that so many people are so totally uninformed. Today a self proclaimed tea partier was claiming that the recession was Obama's fault. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you want to blame a Democrat blame Clinton. Clinton signed the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act. He also favored free trade and most favored nation status to China. No the presidents who set the stage for what we have now were Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2. Obama is trying to clean this up but he can't get anything except the first stimulus through Congress (which Bush had actually proposed).

I also keep hearing that the stimulus didn't work. Gee, Madison has 2 road projects going on right now that are largely funded with Federal Money. Lets not forget the amount of federal money that flows into the UW.

Snowplow study

In response to Republican legislators (who don't represent Madison) the city did a study of how to better plow the streets during a blizzard. The study is out and surprise, surprise the solution involves spending an additional $2.6 million dollar expenditure per year plus the cost of 20 additional snowplows. The problem is that the city is broke. Mayor Dave should just drop the study off with Steve Nass and Glenn Grothman so that they can fund it after all they want cleaner roads.

Family Dynamics

Have you ever noticed that some families run a double standard as part of their dynamics? I have always known that you would never say some things to complete strangers that you say to relatives, see "The Amazing Race". So this most recent example shouldn't have come as a surprise but yet it did. In this case my entire family first made it out that the fact that the desktop ran out of disk space. OK fine, I off load my limited amount of stuff but to no avail, still not enough space. So I added another drive and discover that the ***** music files were on the system 2 and 3 times and I'm the one that is the idiot. Doesn't make sense. But then again I'm always wrong, even when I'm right.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A New Deal

When the new deal was begun there were a few things that we seem to have lost sight of. First, the creation of public assistance demanded that the recipient work if they were able. Second, that unemployment compensation was a temporary fund (12 weeks). Today we let people on unemployment sit around and collect a check and we continually extend unemployment which has bankrupted the system. We have lots of stuff that can be done around the country by people in either situation that used to be done by paid public employees. Put them to work maintaining trails in the parks. Ridding public land of invasive species. Working the gulf clean up. Rehabing inner city housing. The list goes on and on.

Wisconsin education system

So, I'm reading the Cap Times today and there is an article about the maintenance spending at the schools. Again the non Madison residents had fun saying that they should take that money out of teacher and staff salaries. This got me to thinking about an idea that was immensely popular about 10 years ago, Private School Choice.

This plan lost support when it became apparent that tax money would flow to private schools. I was interested in the issue than since my children were attending private schools. But, unlike the proponents of this policy I was paying the tuition myself. See here is the problem, anyone who looks at private schools quickly realizes that it costs nearly what the per student cost of public school is and then they don't want to pay for it. If you are really against the current system you should be advocating for an entirely private system. No one except for the Paul's are for that.

Think about it. If the system went private, your property taxes would go down a lot. The State would no longer fund 2/3 of the schools (which is only true for some districts). The State deficit would disappear overnight. The parents gain the control that they feel they don't have in the public schools. The kids would either get a better education or a worse one depending on who you talk to. The homeowners and renters with children would have to spend a lot more money than their taxes went down by.

We either need to privatize the system or come together and figure out how we are going do education. By do education we need to do it by not balancing the budget at the expense of maintenance or on the backs of the employees. The current public system makes education affordable to most individuals. If we go private many will be cut out. The Paul's would say that there would be private money available to provide scholarships. The reality is that without an alumni base, which most of these newly private schools would be, you don't have wealthy donors. Currently the established private schools really don't have that much to offer in terms of scholarships unless they want you to fill some type of quota, you're athletic, or are tops academically.

People who came before valued education, it is sad that it is no longer the case.