This is my latest column in the Chippewa Herald.
This isn’t the first time we’ve lived in an age where it’s easier to hurl more insults at the unemployed than to do more to create good-paying jobs.
Good jobs were getting scarce in America’s Rust Belt in the late 1980s. At the old Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee, my job in the human resources department included staffing a small walk-up window where unemployed fathers and mothers would pick up applications for positions unlikely to ever open up.
In the parable about teaching a man to fish instead of giving him a fish, I felt like the guy handing out fishing poles alongside an empty stream. But these job seekers needed to provide proof of a job search, and it worked. In the same way, I could give you a map of Arizona so you could prove you were closer to discovering the Lost Dutchman gold mine.
Unemployed people without a higher education already know or quickly discover that they need better skills to get the jobs that are actually available, but there’s no money to save for an education because there are few jobs that pay more than subsistence wages. The cycle is circular and vicious. Continue reading
My column in the Sunday Chippewa Herald describes the good people who attended Rep. Ron Kind’s listening session and understand that education, opportunity and assistance don’t create victims, they create citizens… while the “victims” who decry government are quite often just martyrs seeking to protect advantages of power, wealth or loopholes.
It’s refreshing to see people who know the differences between victims and martyrs.
The martyrs saturate our televisions screens, from reality show “victims of love” to the plaintiffs who crowd TV’s make-believe courtrooms. These attention seekers are often victims of their own bad choices, be it in romance, business dealings or just fashion.
It would be fine if this trend stayed in entertainment circles, but in recent years we’ve seen the rise of a new type of martyr powered by cable news, talk radio and self-propelled sympathy. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson even gives it an ironically taxpayer-funded title: victims of government.
Fortunately, such martyrdom was nowhere to be found during Congressman Ron Kind’s town hall forum at the Chippewa Valley Technical College campus in Chippewa Falls on Wednesday afternoon. Continue reading
The Wisconsin Hospital Association is getting nervous that its patients may face uncertainty because of Gov. Walker’s decision not to expand Medicaid coverage. But most legislative Republicans would prefer to see those patients suffer so that they can blame President Obama rather than take pro-active steps that the Affordable Care Act has provided to make the transition easier.
The hospital executives and the State Senate’s top Republican on the Joint Finance Committee say in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article they fear the federal government’s health insurance exchanges won’t be ready this fall as promised… because, of course, Republicans have moved heaven and earth to prevent ObamaCare initiatives from moving forward. There is a way to use the federal funding in the Affordable Care Act to maintain health care 87,000 Wisconsin citizens instead of kicking them out of Medicaid as Gov. Walker proposes. But Tea Party Assemblyman Dale Kooyenga, an accountant from the wealthy Milwaukee suburbs, believes “any problems resulting from its implementation should be laid at the feet of the Obama administration and its backers.” Translation: Why should we in government who hate government want to help people if we can use their suffering to “prove” that government doesn’t work?
Was the implementation of the Affordable Care Act ever going to be a cakewalk? No, says Jonathan Cohn in a new post for The New Republic:
Believe it or not, the conversation represents progress. Instead of talking about whether we should have a health care reform law, we’re talking about how well (or not well) the law is going to work. So let me spoil the surprise for you: It’s not going to work as well as many of us would like, and the initial adjustment may not be easy. The whole enterprise is going to be a work in progress. And that’ll be ok—because it will still do a lot of good and make life better for most people, particularly with the passage of time.
He breaks down all the arguments that will be used to “prove” ObamaCare is failing. (And also serves to remind us once again why no Progressive will miss Sen. Max Baucus, the man who single-handedly destroyed the prospects for speedy passage of health care reform in 2009 and, in the process, Democrats’ election prospects in 2010.)
As we move to headlines beyond Boston and Texas, the past week will also be remembered in political and economic circles for the spreadsheet snafu heard ‘round the world, the debunking of a sacred formula advanced by Paul Ryan and all the other austerity hawks who have been trying for years to sell the nonsensical notion that we can cut our way to prosperity.
It will be a week when the nerds fought back and won a round. Continue reading
I know few things are as annoying as losing candidates saying “I told you so,” but when you’re given so much material to work with…!
The House on Friday quietly voted to repeal the financial disclosure requirements they passed just one year ago in the wake of news stories about Congressional members and staffers benefitting from insider trading of stocks. Members headed off on their re-election campaigns in 2012 claiming to have acted quickly to discourage or expose the type of activity uncovered in the “60 Minutes” piece, only to act even more quickly to repeal the transparency provisions and eliminate timely exposure of criminal financial gain once they were safely re-elected. Rather than fix the concerns in the STOCK Act about the best way to post financial disclosure information on the internet, Congressional leaders in both parties made sure the records will have to be dug up in capitol basement file cabinets long after someone’s ill-gotten payday.
NPR reports the bill passed in 30 seconds. Who says Congress can’t get something passed quickly anymore?
Welcome. I’m glad you took the time to visit my public whiteboard! It will, with any luck whatsover, be maintained in the spirit of Edward R. Murrow’s great quote:
“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”
There are, of course, some very wise people who occasionally visit the bar… as well as some wise-asses who entertain or annoy. We will denigrate some and celebrate the rest, especially the ones who, by accident or design, contribute the occasional (and perpetually pursued) good idea.
But we all also determined to go on living. We will still run for fun. And we will still run toward danger when people are in need. Bless you, Boston.
Prior to reactivating the personal website, I parked some political columns at the Daily Kos website. I may republish them here later, but here is a link in the meantime.
4/14/2013 – GOP Illusionists
4/7/2013 – Elusive Spring, Elusive Deals
4/4/2013 – We Need Fanatics (About Voting)
3/17/2013 – Muddy Waters on Mining and Budgets
3/1/2013 – Sequester: Big Cuts, Small Voices
1/30/2013 – Gates or Koch: Choose Your Legacy
1/21/2013 – Walker’s Mirage on Tax Relief
1/20/2013 – A Tale of Two Speeches