Filed under: Environment — Christian Schneider @ 12:45 pm
For those waiting patiently for Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug LaFollette to chime in on the issue of gas prices, here’s his press release of today, in its entirety:
Sacrificing our coasts will not bring down – and keep down – energy prices. Drilling our coasts will not solve the problem of high natural gas prices. It simply takes too long to develop a natural gas field to impact prices in the short term. The estimated long-term drop in natural gas prices from drilling new sites is so small that the average American would likely not notice it at all.
The honest answer to our oil problem is to use less of it, and that means better fuel economy faster and a shift toward renewable energy. Instead of the failed policies of the past, it’s time to break our addiction to fossil fuels by shifting our priorities-and our policies toward creating a clean energy economy.
Instead of offering real solutions on energy, global warming and transportation, we are being given false solutions and empty promises. Congress should continue to raise the fuel economy of our cars, encourage the use of renewable energy like wind and solar power, and adopt other, existing energy-saving technologies that cut pollution, curb global warming and create good jobs. These solutions do not require us to put our beaches and our favorite vacation spots on the chopping block.
Thanks for weighing in, Doug. Now you can get back to guarding the state seal.
Filed under: Health Care — Christian Schneider @ 4:04 pm
While the state dangles perilously on the edge of fiscal catastrophe, Lieutenant Governor Barb Lawton this week took a taxpayer-expense paid trip to Buffalo, New York, to the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association meeting. During this important meeting, Lawton authored a vital piece of legislation that urged states to push for better health care for their citizens. Lawton’s press release brags:
BUFFALO, NY. – The National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) today unanimously passed a resolution, authored by Wisconsin Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton, a Democrat, and sponsored by Hawaii Lt. Governor James “Duke” Aiona, a Republican, committing the national organization’s members to work toward making affordable, quality health care available to all Americans.
The resolution, passed at the group’s annual meeting, earned co-sponsorship from a bipartisan coalition made up of more than half of the nation’s lieutenant governors. NLGA members pledged to support bipartisan legislation that employs multiple strategies to provide access to high quality, affordable health care; increase awareness of personal opportunity and responsibility to protect personal health, improve the value of every health care dollar spent, and ensure that businesses, government, and individuals all contribute to an improved American health care system.
“Access to affordable, quality health care coverage stands as a major obstacle to economic growth in all of our states,” said Lawton. “My colleagues and I are one in our resolve to provide critical bipartisan leadership and initiate innovative collaborations to build a health care system that works well for everyone.”
Why stop there? Why not introduce a resolution urging the Brewers to win the World Series?
Here’s a suggestion: How about offering real alternatives, instead of wasting taxpayer money on this meaningless jibberish? Honestly – we paid Barb Lawton to travel to New York to pass a resolution that says absolutely nothing. On the other hand, if this is what single-payer supporters consider to be “progress,” then more power to them.
VIROQUA, Wis. — Police in Viroqua are investigating graffiti vandalism at the local campaign office for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Someone used red and white spray paint on the plate glass windows of the Obama office on Main Street in downtown Viroqua.
Chief Mark Rahr says someone painted a big red “X” over an Obama campaign sign and wrote “wrong kind of change” below.
Over the Obama lettering on the front window, someone wrote “McCain” in white paint and “He’s a vet” next to it.
Someone also wrote in red paint “Obama is funded by….” and the letters become illegible.
Rahr says the vandalism occurred sometime Tuesday afternoon.
McCain can barely get conservatives excited enough to vote for him – what are the chances of a few being so stoked that they’d trash Obama’s headquarters?
Plus, do the profiles of “McCain supporter” and “political vandal” really match? How did they get away so quickly in their battery-powered wheelchairs? Who at the home left them unaccounted for?
Then again, the vandalism supposedly took place in mid-afternoon. Just in time to hit the 4:00 fish fry. And the fact that the last shot against Obama went unfinished could be evidence of a short attention span:
“MCCAIN IS THE BEST….:
…NOW WHERE DID I PUT THAT TOOTHPICK AGAIN?”
The messages they painted are also somewhat less convincing. “He’s a vet?” “The wrong kind of change?” Any conservative hard core enough to trash the Obama headquarters wouldn’t have been able to resist something like “OBAMA’S PLAN TO RAISE TAXES ON CAPITAL GAINS SUX!!!!”
Needless to say, I am not convinced these were pro-McCain forces at work here. It could very well have been Obama supporters engaging in some chicanery, knowing Republicans would get stuck with the damage. (And likely engaging in a post-vandalism terrorist fist-jab for a job well done.) Then again, had it been Obama supporters, they wouldn’t have been able to keep themselves from writing something like “VOTE MCCAIN FOR ANOTHER 100 YEARS IN IRAQ!”
As a veteran of conservative think tank-ism for over a decade, WPRI contributor David Dodenhoff today provides a little insight as to how reports are chosen and written. He also gives a dead-on account of the debate that takes place after a conservative report is released.
Last year, as a guest blogger at Overlawyered.com, I pointed out the case of a Virginia restaurant being banned from selling “beersicles.” The “frozen beer on a stick” offering apparently violated a state law that requires beer be sold in its original container or served immediately after it is poured.
Thankfully, steps are being taken to correct this regulatory injustice. From Overlawyered:
Now the state legislature has enacted a bill sponsored by Del. Adam Ebbin and Sen. Patsy Ticer (both D-Alexandria) re-legalizing the cooling treats, which went back on sale July 1 in such flavors as framboise, cherry kriek, cassis, plum, and chocolate stout. (Erin Zimmer, SeriousEats.com, Jun. 25; Gillian Gaynair, “Rustico brings back beer pops for summer”, Washington Business Journal, Jun. 20).
The only question that remains – why can’t I get a beersicle in Wisconsin?
Today, I happened to catch this press release by State Representative Steve Hilgenberg of Dodgeville. In it, he bemoans the “fact” that people have lost faith in the Supreme Court, due to the influence of special interests:
MADISON – State Representative Steve Hilgenberg (D-Dodgeville) today renewed his call to pass the Impartial Judiciary Bill after the state Supreme Court ruled on a tax case heavily influenced by special interest groups.
“This Menasha case clearly shows that we have to confront the influence of big money in the elections and affairs of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices,” said Rep. Hilgenberg. “The public’s confidence in the court will continue to wane as long as special interest groups play such a large part in electing Justices.”
Of course, Steve Hilgenberg has no idea what role special interests played in the outcome – he merely knows he doesn’t like how the Court decided. And his press release, instead of describing how people are losing faith in the State Supreme Court, is actually trying hard to erode public faith in the court. Hilgenberg is actually on his knees begging the public to lose faith in the Court, in order to garner support for using tax money to finance campaigns.
Of course, public financing of campaigns will do nothing to curtail the outside spending on races that Hilgenberg bemoans. As long as justices are elected, third parties will have the freedom to publicly support or oppose candidates. Who finances the actual campaigns of candidates is really a minor point – in fact, contributions to judicial candidates are currently public information. It’s the independent expenditures that good government types loathe – yet these independent groups have the freedom to speak out on these races.
What we’re left with are a bunch of legislators who are desperately trying to convince everyone that the Court is corrupt, without any evidence of such. We should keep that in mind when Hilgenberg’s teacher union money comes rolling in during the upcoming election.
Victoria’s Secret is about to be revealed. It turns out those sexy little panties that have been turning heads and nearly bringing down world leaders for decades are not only extremely uncomfortable, they’re downright dangerous.
Last month, a 52 year old Los Angeles woman filed a complaint against Victoria’s Secret for product liability claiming the company’s product marketed as that sexy little thing, low rising v-string, has a product design flaw which caused the decorative clasp to come loose, fly up and hit her in the eye.
The plaintiff who is a Los Angeles traffic officer was forced to miss a few days of work and says the injury to her eye will affect the rest of her life.
At least she won’t have to keep adjusting her underwear.
My new column is up over at the WPRI mothership. It argues for allowing people to dry their laundry outside – something banned by the majority of U.S. neighborhood associations, and a great deal of local governments. It basically makes the case that people should have the right to save money, and help the environment if they choose to do so. It also shows that I’m probably corrupt, as I have accepted a great deal of cash from “big clothespin.”
Don’t let it be said that I don’t address the burning issues on the mind of every Wisconsinite.
Filed under: Economics — Christian Schneider @ 1:51 pm
Yesterday, I headed down to Discovery World on Milwaukee’s lakefront to catch the Concord Coalition’s “Fiscal Wake Up Tour.” The Coalition is made up of members of both left-leaning and right-leaning national think tanks who all agree that federal entitlement programs and government debt are going to swallow us whole in the decades to come if nothing is done to rectify the situation. Their panel was joined onstage by fiscal dreamboat Congressman Paul Ryan, whose “Roadmap for America’s Future” attempts to deal with the looming budgetary apocalypse.
For some background on the issue, watch this outstanding “60 Minutes” piece on former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, who is heading up the Coalition’s education effort:
The panelists each made their case for changing the way government handles its entitlement plans, so the programs can remain fiscally solvent for our children. Each provided powerpoint presentations to make their points. They can be viewed here:
Since members of the coalition have different ideological backgrounds, naturally they didn’t completely agree on the measures necessary to remedy the budget imbalance. Alice Rivlin of the liberal Brookings Institution advocated for some targeted tax increases to boost federal revenue. Some of the conservatives conceded that a future plan will likely see a mix of revenue increases and spending constraints. Even Paul Ryan’s plan contains some provisions to raise revenue, which drew him a sharp rebuke from a Libertarian in the crowd, who called his plan “the Communist Manifesto.” During question time, Ryan also earned a harsh rebuke from a liberal in the crowd, which had people squirming in their seats. (And me considering crying and yelling “LEAVE PAUL RYAN ALONE!”)
Each panelist agreed that Social Security was going to be a lot easier to fix than Medicaid and Medicare. Social Security, while a big program, has a straightforward formula that sends money to recipients. In order to control costs, the remedies are clear.
Health care, on the other hand, is infinitely more complex. In order to control health care costs, you have to get a handle on a number of things – most of which, lawmakers can’t agree are actually causing cost overruns. Is it too much competition (duplication of services)? Is it not enough competition? Is it people not having the incentive to take care of themselves? Is it government not spending the money wisely?
It appears that video of the event will be available on WisconsinEye at some point, and I’ll link to it when it goes up.
My only complaint of the day was that it was held right next to Summerfest, which made parking impossible. According to the panel’s estimates, by the time I parked and walked to the event, the federal debt had increased by $100 trillion. They should have just consolidated venues and put the Fiscal Wake Up Tour on one of the Summerfest stages. Then again, the tour’s groupies might have gotten out of hand, as they normally do.
ANNOUNCER: “MILWAUKEE! ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY?”
CROWD (TOGETHER): “WE WANT SOCIAL SECURITY SOLVENCY! AND MORE BEER! PREFERABLY MORE BEER, IF WE’RE BEING HONEST ABOUT IT!”
Filed under: Economics — Christian Schneider @ 12:51 pm
In June, WPRI’s George Lightbourn and Sammis White issued a report that made recommendations on moving Milwaukee’s economy forward. Among their recommendations was a plan to attract and keep more foreign-born college degree holders to the city. They say:
While foreign-born college graduates are a prominent element in the economies of successful cities, a 2006 Census Bureau survey showed less than 1% of the college educated workers attracted to metro Milwaukee fit this description. The surest way to attract more foreign-born college graduates is to increase the number of foreign students attending Wisconsin universities. Not only do these foreign students tend to acquire majors that are critical to a knowledge-based economy, they are less likely than native-born students to return home after graduation. Somewhere between 37% and 53% of foreign-born UW graduates do not return home. This is a talent pool that could provide a critical ingredient to Milwaukee’s future growth.
Last week, George F. Will wrote a column that agreed with this premise on a national scale. Will wrote:
The semiconductor industry’s problem is entangled with a subject about which the loquacious presidential candidates are reluctant to talk — immigration, specifically that of highly educated people. Concerning whom, U.S. policy should be: A nation cannot have too many such people, so send us your PhDs yearning to be free.
Instead, U.S. policy is: As soon as U.S. institutions of higher education have awarded you a PhD, equipping you to add vast value to the economy, get out. Go home. Or to Europe, which is responding to America’s folly with “blue cards” to expedite acceptance of the immigrants America is spurning.
Two-thirds of doctoral candidates in science and engineering in U.S. universities are foreign-born. But only 140,000 employment-based green cards are available annually, and 1 million educated professionals are waiting — often five or more years — for cards. Congress could quickly add a zero to the number available, thereby boosting the U.S. economy and complicating matters for America’s competitors.
Suppose a foreign government had a policy of sending workers to America to be trained in a sophisticated and highly remunerative skill at American taxpayers’ expense, and then forced these workers to go home and compete against American companies. That is what we are doing because we are too generic in defining the immigrant pool.
Will points out that efforts to increase the numbers of employment-based green cards always get stuck in the mire of broader immigration reform. Yet this small change could be a large step to turning the lagging economy around. It’s time we start importing the world’s brain power, and keeping them here.