I recently found on my door a campaign card from a local man running for Wisconsin Representative in Congress, Glenn Grothman, who is currently the Republican Assistant Majority Leader in the Wisconsin Senate. These slogans are rather common in our elections. According to Glenn (or his campaign), these are Wisconsin Values:
- Reform Welfare Programs
- No Junk Food for Food Stamps
- Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients
- Restore Local Control of Education
- Repeal Government Regulations that are Stifling Economic Growth
- Reduce Government Spending and Decrease National Debt
- Defend the Constitution
- Protect Personal Privacy Rights
- Cut Corporate Welfare
Before commenting on the various 'values' here are some facts about the current economy (October 2014).
Corporate profits in 2013 were the highest, relative to GDP, since 1929. Since the 1970's, productivity in private industry has continued to increase while wages have remained flat. One example of wage reduction is in the auto industry where in 2007 the unions had to allow new workers to be paid half of the current workers (a two-tier system), and so the Big 3 automakers continue to profit from having many workers earn less than others doing the same job.
The median household income in 2012 has dropped to less than in 1989. The bottom 20% of American workers by income earn less than $9.89/hour, as of 2013. Their income actually fell by 5% between 2006 and 2012. This is less than the poverty level of a family of 4. Many well paying manufacturing jobs were out sourced out of the country, initially to Mexico (NAFTA) and later to Asia. The American economy has changed from one based on manufacturing (actually making something) to one based on services (many products are imported instead of being made by American workers, as reflected in a high trade deficit). Among the largest occupations are those with very low pay: retail sales (1st), cashiers (2nd), food service (4th).
A recent CNBC poll (2014) revealed 79% of Americans judge the economy as fair or poor, only 24% have confidence in the economic policies of President Obama, only 16% have confidence policies of Congressional Democrats, and only 11% have confidence in policies of Congressional Republicans.
Attacks on welfare typically involve an image of lazy people taking advantage of a government hand out. Unfortunately the treatment of poor white people is not the same as poor black people. As Grothman has strongly expressed being anti Kwanzaa, this campaign slogan is not unexpected.
Obesity is a widespread problem in America, not just with poor people. This is really just an attack on poor people, where they should be eating healthier than they are, but the best solution for America would be developing an economy that provides more jobs. Instead the economy continues to crumble but we will harass poor people if they are making decisions on their meals based on limited funds (get something quick and filling) or limited time (some people have more than one part time job, so there is less time available for meal preparation). I cannot expect that poor people will invest their scant funds to buy cookbooks and spices, and then spend the time every evening to cook 'healthy meals' in conformance with government regulations against buying junk food. One can only wonder what that regulation would be like: never allowed, or perhaps limits like once or twice a week, or what? On one hand, the campaign wants to repeal government regulation to help corporation profits but on the other hand wants to add more government regulation on the behavior of poor people.
Just like with the junk food, it is easier for a politician to suggest those on welfare are wasting funds on drugs than it is for the politician to work on the economy so there are more jobs and fewer poor. In this current political environment, with the government concentrating on keeping money flowing to the rich, the poor are becoming the outcasts of our class based society. This politician who wants to get rid of government regulations affecting corporate profits wants to add more government regulation to monitor the behaviors of the poor.
Local Control of Education
In my neighborhood, someone has their sign for Grothman right next to their sign for Governor Scott Walker. Walker is well known for his attack on the teacher unions, resulting in many being decertified. Grothman is one of the Republican leaders in the state Senate so it is logical for them to be linked together in the Republican campaigns.
One of the main justifications for a teachers union is the protection of the teachers in that union from political changes through the periodic elections. A union is a group of workers united in opposition to whatever management scheme controls their work environment. Republicans historically take an anti-union position, as unions are an opposing force to their government initiatives like voucher programs to private schools.
What this 'local' control implies is now local school boards can deal with individual teachers who are not conforming to the latest political bias (and Wisconsin used to be more Democrats but in recent cycles has shifted to Republicans), such as teaching creation not evolution or teaching only abstinence based sex education. As those radical school board members get thrown out of office then the teachers can resume concentrating on actually teaching their students, but in the meantime they are subject to that local control.
Also Walker is known for pushing a voucher program where taxpayer funds go to private education even as funds are reduced for public education. A family wishing their child to attend a private school is certainly a local issue, but having taxpayer funds pay for them to attend is wrong.
As mentioned above, corporations are not being stifled; their profits are at record levels. The problem (for the economy) is none of those profits are trickling down to the workers, whose wages remain stagnant or falling. Reducing tax rates for corporations and the rich did not improve the economy, but instead just resulted in their enrichment. Recommending reductions in regulations will result in economic growth is just baseless. However getting rid of those pesky environmental regulations will probably make life miserable for the rest of us, while the corporate executives and shareholders really don't care.
One definition of insanity is repeating something while expecting a different result. Making the rich richer will not improve the economy. However it does make a catchy campaign slogan - suggesting a change in how the government is run will affect the economy. However the current economic policies are ruining the economy so doing more of the same will just make it worse.
The economy is not growing. Though the unemployment rate dropped a little in the October numbers, people are not seeing their life improve, with stagnant wages. Instead of universal health care, Americans without their own insurance (typically company paid through their employer) got universal payment (with a deductible) to health insurance companies via the Affordable Care Act. Between 2007 and 2010, America's middle class saw their wealth slashed by 40% by the economic downturn.
The American consumer markets are not growing because the suppliers have no incentive to increase production when demand is low. As long as they can keep making profits where they are at, even if there is a reduction in their corporate tax rate (they just make more money!), there is no justification to hire more workers or increase wages.
As others have reported, government spending is a stimulus on the economy. The Obama stimulus in 2009 helped the economy partially recover from the 2008 disaster. The current austerity measures are just strengthening the economic decline.
Pro-life is simply the buzz word for government interference in a woman's right to choose her own options, whether birth control, delivery to term, adoption, or abortion. Pro-life means poor women are not free to choose but are subject to government regulation or, as was revealed again with the recent Supreme Court decision about Hobby Lobby owners, subject to the whims of their male corporate executives.
The Wisconsin Republicans have tried many different ways to hinder the right to choose by women. In late 2013, a federal appeals court ruled against the Wisconsin law that would require abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. It was signed into law on a Friday and its restrictions took effect on the following Monday, which the court agreed did not make allowance for the time to obtain such privileges. By adding government regulations, the Republicans hope to hinder a woman's right to make her own medical decisions.
The commitment to life by those claiming to be pro-life typically stops once the fetus is out of the womb, at which point there is no concern for the baby. If concerned then they would push for universal health care, instead of the current system where those with money can afford the best health care while the rest are subject to insurance companies interfering with their care, based on the arbitration by the insurance company's policies and agents.
Defend the Constitution
This platitude is meaningless.
Initially, when the Constitution was first written, not everyone was able to vote in American elections. Slaves could not vote, until the 15th Amendment to the Constitution prevented restrictions based on race or color. Initially the Senators were picked by the state legislatures, until the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Only in 1920 did women get the right to vote, with the 19th Amendment. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 further improved our democracy by outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, and also ended unequal application of voter registration requirements. Since our country was founded, attempts have been made to improve the democratic process.
Recently Wisconsin state Republicans, of which Grothman is one of the leaders, attempted to restrict access to the polls by a voter ID requirement, despite counts of voter fraud being almost nonexistent in the state. Texas had also tried this but a judge there had ruled it to be racially biased. Fortunately, the US Supreme Court blocked the implementation of this anti-democratic action.
Personal Privacy Rights
I hope this might mean to clamp down on abuses by the government, such as the NSA, but I suspect it is just another platitude.
The term 'corporate welfare' was actually coined by Ralph Nader in 1956. Unfortunately the situation has only worsened in the subsequent 58 years. Ralph Nader continues to push for reform in this area. There are many clear examples of corporate welfare.
As there is a revolving door between corporations and congressional staff, perhaps Glenn will work toward reforming Congress. Regulators often go to the companies involved and vice versa, or between a government office and an associated corporation or bank, so perhaps Glenn will work toward reforming the government bureaucracy.
Unfortunately, given the ludicrous 'value' expressed in the intent to repeal regulations affecting economic growth, that expectation of actually seeing Glenn do something about corporate welfare would not be consistent with Glenn's other priorities.
Wisconsin has had a Republican governor for 4 years, and both state house and senate have Republican majorities, so they have been free to do whatever radical political policies they are inclined to do, from attacking teacher unions to passing restrictive voter ID laws.
With a poorly funded Democrat challenger, Glenn Grothman will likely achieve the national office, where it appears the Republican Party will probably get majorities in both the House and Senate. With President Obama being a Democrat but typically backing conservative Republican policies begun by his predecessor Bush (friendly to the rich and big corporations, many aggressive military operations overseas including several regime changes, very secret and intolerant of whistle blowers), it looks like Americans are in for more radical policies from conservative Republicans, which will be to the benefit of rich ruling class. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
I find it rather difficult to believe that most people in Wisconsin (other than the rich, white suburbanites) would consider policies favoring the rich and policies suppressing the poor as truly Wisconsin values. If they are then Wisconsin has descended into an evil, inhumane morass.
created - Oct. 2014
last change - 10/26/2014
Here is the list of topics in this Politics Topic Group .
All Topic Groups are available by selecting More TG.
All topics in the site are in the Site Map, where each Topic Group has its topics indented below it.
Ctrl + for zoom in; Ctrl - for zoom out ; Ctrl 0 for no zoom;
triple-tap for zoom to fit; pinch for zoom change; pinched for no zoom