Monday, July 30, 2007

More alarmist patter about the Legislature cutting educational access.

Hi folks,

Owen Robinson, over at Boots and Sabers is, much to his credit, brushing up on his rhetoric. He didn't like my math on the number of seats we'd lose under the current Assembly bill -- he thought my calculations were a silly waste of time. 200 student seats weren't really that important to Owen, but then, he's actually got a pretty decent job and doesn't need the competition.

More importantly, however, this is a great opportunity to open this discussion to the local community.

I've asked him to come up for a summit on the role of the university in the economic development of the state. We'll set it for sometime this autumn, invite the public and the media and stream it live online. It should include discussion about what kind of courses are appropriate, how university and tech school education impact the state's economy, and what kind of funding levels the local taxpayers should expect from a Legislature overseeing this kind of investment in our economic future.

But will he clamber down from the safety of his soapbox?


Assembly Budget cuts college for 200-280 people in Washington County.

Hi folks,

The Assembly is currently posturing on the budget. Sometimes they forget about the consequences for real people outside of Madison.

Beating up on the University of Wisconsin is a favorite pastime for the gangbangers in the Assembly and Senate, even though none of them can explain why they cut. Just like gangbangers, they don't care about why -- but their actions have consequences.

The UW remains about the best bargain in education in the Midwest and the UW Colleges, the "Little-University-on-the-Prairie-Division," is still the best deal in the UW System. Ask anyone who's been there.

The current Assembly budget slashes 30 positions in the University of Wisconsin Colleges, which includes the campus here in Washington County. Our local share would probably be 2 of those positions. Instructors teach about 4 courses a semester and there are 2 semesters a year.

Here's the math: 2 instructors @ 4 courses each = 8 courses per semester and 16 courses a year. That's 8 to 16 courses each year taken away from people in Washington County.

How many Washington County taxpayers are affected?

At 25-35 students per course, the Assembly budget would cut off access to 200-280 students each semester, or 400-560 students a year.

That's just here in Washington County.

With the ongoing squeeze of globalization on our traditional labor force, people are going to need college degrees in engineering, math, and that hard sciences, to stay ahead of our trading partners in China and India.

Just like the interstate highways or the Web, education is an investment in our economic infrastructure. Cutting off investment in our kids' education is really just sticking it to ourselves -- although, not directly. Technically, the Assembly is sticking it to us -- and, ironically, to their own children.

We'll see whether Rep. Strachota is interested in our economic future or in locking the door of opportunity to the people of Washington County.

I hope she's more interested in the future.


Finally, midsized businesses catching on to health care.

Hi folks,

Milton Friedman claims there are two conditions that must be met for the market economy to work. He says the market must be free from 1) coercion and 2) fraud. The past 20 years of merger mania has created an increased incidence of both. When there's less competition, there are fewer other businesses to keep the market honest or fair.

For years small to mid-sized businesses voted with the mega-corporations because their economic interests were roughly the same, but increasing monopolization in the global market place has left small to mid-sized businesses further and further behind.

What I meant to say is that they're being eaten alive by the bigger fish. It's not competition anymore when you get to make your own rules.

Want a great example? WalMart and GM are now starting to openly stump for some kind of state run health care system. Interesting, eh?

Locally, there's movement that doesn't involve the Democrat's plan in the Wisconsin Senate.

See what's up at the Business Coalition for Single Payer Healthcare.

You don't have to be afraid of a health care system when it makes good economic sense for your business.

Remember, it's net, not gross that matters.



Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tony Turner's campaign, already in violation of state law?

Hi folks,

This just keeps getting worse.

I picked up one of Mr. Turner's new campaign/business cards from the GOP booth at the Washington County Fair today and noticed that it's out of compliance with state law on campaign materials.

Not a promising start.

Here it is:

[To protect his privacy I blocked out the phone number and address.]

He's missing the required disclaimer and, unless you look pretty closely, it looks like he's claiming he already is the District 1 Alderman. I haven't seen that Mr. Turner is registered yet either, although he's announced his candidacy on his website.

I'm sure Mr. Turner is a perfectly decent guy, but the rules are for everyone.

Mr. Turner, check out the state statutes. Conservatism needs to demonstrate that it believes in the rule of law. Fudging the law like this gives your opponents the opportunity to make public observations about you.


Turner turned down causes more teapot tempest in West Bend.

Hi folks,

The West Bend City council seems to be settling down to business, but in the long grass just outside our view one of our local bloggers cum commentators, Owen Robinson, has been digging through the council's email to uncover the conspiracy that cost his friend, Tony Tuner, the interim alderman spot for District 1. The council interviewed Mr. Turner but instead selected Mr Justman, a long time county commissioner with more experience.

Owen couldn't understand how the council could have possibly failed to pick Mr. Turner so he has started calling the majority on city council "The Gang of Five" and is now, essentially, accusing them of conspiring against the people of West Bend. Failing to pick Mr. Turner is apparently proof positive.

I don't know about you, but I've interviewed for jobs I was sure I should have gotten, but didn't. More than a few, in fact -- but I was never inclined to accuse the people who didn't hire me of conspiring to hire somebody else.

I've thought they were nuts but, hey, in the real world, a lot of this is just a judgment call.

In this case, I'm not sure the majority on council was wrong. I went back and looked at the tapes and a single example stands out: the question of TIF districts. Mr. Turner just said we could always add more. Mr. Justman took the conservative route and suggested we'd need to evaluate any new TIFs first.

Owen seems to have interpreted this as being wishy washy. I interpret it as being careful with my taxes.

It's a little thing, but it showed me that Mr. Justman was being protective of the taxpayers investment and that Mr. Turner was posturing for the cameras.

Sorry to say, that was the overriding impression I took away from it.


More minority teacup tempests on West Bend's City Council.

Hi folks,

Last night at city council Scott Frederick called the fire chief a liar.

As mouthpiece for the Gang of NoNoNo, calling people names is becoming a habit with Ald. Frederick. When his minority point of view loses, he calls the majority corrupt. When he gets an answer he doesn't like, he calls the messenger a liar.

Here's something to think about:
1648, from Gk. demagogos "leader of the people," from demos "people" (see demotic) + agogos "leader," from agein "to lead" (see act). A term of disparagement ever since it was first used in Athens, 5c. B.C.E.

Demagogues mouth sentiments that appeal to the worst in people, and then snidely bully anyone with the character to disagree.

Nice to know that even in our little town, 2500 years later, Frederick has history on his side.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Time for Mr. Bush to do the right thing.

Kieth Olbermann and John Wayne agree.

Scooter Libby, pardoned ahead of his own appeal. Hmmm.


Jefferson on the West Bend School Referendum.

Hi folks,

When you hear the Electric-Koolaid Taxcutters telling us we don't need to guarantee the education of the next generation, remember Mr Jefferson.
"I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." -- Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820

If, under the influence of this Kool-aid, we stop funding adequate education for our children -- and our neighbors' children -- we condemn this country to second-class economic status and to the worst kind of governance: government by a stupid mob.

Shoot, some days I think we're almost there now.

Next time you're behind some idiot on the highway remember this: they're allowed to vote. The same idiot drinking coffee, talking on his cell phone, and reading the paper while navigating rush hour traffic -- the same idiot who hasn't figured out turn signals yet -- that guy is allowed to vote for president.

Can you hear Mr. Jefferson now?


West Bend's RPS champion knocked out in first round.

Another break from politics.

West Bend's Rock, Paper, Scissors champion knocked out in first round.

From the Fond du Lac Reporter:
James Neuberg of West Bend was only 11 years old last year when he won. If he had a strategy for this year, he wasn’t telling. Both Brandon Pannier, who won the National RPS title at Las Vegas, and Neuberg lost in the first round.
Congrats to James for another great effort. You'll be back.