Wednesday August 23, 2017

Always Foward with Education & Reason

Free College is Both Possible and Necessary PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Monday, 20 April 2015 16:28

uwgb-studentOne very important thing missing from the state budget debate, says Mike McCabe, founder of Blue Jean Nation.

ALTOONA, WI - When it comes to the future of higher education in Wisconsin, state lawmakers are stuck in a rut, thinking only about whether spending in this area should be cut a little or a lot and whether student tuition should be kept where it is (which is astronomically high) or be allowed to continue to spiral upward.

We should be talking about free college instead. The viability of the American Dream in the 21st Century depends on it.

Generations ago, Wisconsin was among the trailblazing states that built systems of universal, free public education all the way through high school. Few of the people who were paying for this creation had high school diplomas. Many were illiterate. Most were farmers, but they could see industrialization coming. They knew their children and grandchildren might not work the land as they did. They knew that chances were their kids and grandkids would be working in factories or offices. They knew future generations would need more education and different skills than they had in order to have a shot at the American Dream.

Today, we have to ask ourselves a question our lawmakers are not asking as they debate the future of education. Does a high school diploma alone provide a sure pathway to the American Dream? The answer is obvious. The answer is no. Education and training beyond high school has become a necessity.

Last Updated on Monday, 20 April 2015 16:51
Remaking Politics By The Seat Of Our Pants PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 14 April 2015 11:18

MADISON - bjn-left-rightAmerican democracy is caught on the horns of a dilemma. Most Americans are feeling fed up with the Republicans and let down by the Democrats – with good reason – as both major parties are failing the country. Yet a third party isn’t the answer. Like it or not, America has a two-party system.

Ours was not set up as a parliamentary democracy, where competing factions can join forces and form coalition governments. We don’t have fusion voting, or instant runoff voting, or proportional representation, or any of the mechanisms that would allow third parties or independent candidates to successfully compete in our elections and hold power in our government.

This is why third-party or independent bids for office – whether it’s Ross Perot one time or Ralph Nader another – regularly lead to dead ends.

So how do we get regular people back in the driver’s seat of our government when both major parties are catering to a privileged few at the expense of everyone else, but our system is structured to enforce a two-party arrangement?

We have to start with two articles of faith. First, it hasn’t always been like it is now, and doesn’t have to be like this. Second, there is a way out of the trap we’re in.

We need to make the major parties – or at least one of them for starters – better. They won’t change unless forced. It’s like the basic law of physics . . . an object at rest will remain at rest, unless some force makes it move. A corrupt political establishment will stay corrupt and failing parties will keep failing us, unless we make them change their ways.

When past generations freed themselves from similar traps, they started by shedding old labels and fashioning themselves a new identity. They attached that newly minted brand to breathtakingly ambitious agendas. They were not bashful in the least about stating their aspirations for the future.  And then they effectively forced those aspirations down the throats of the parties. When the smoke cleared, there were not three parties or four or five. There were two. But the parties were transformed. They were reconnected to the masses.

Current conditions dictate that this must be done again.

Given how messed up politics is at the moment, we cannot in good conscience call ourselves Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives. One party is scary and the other is scared. Labels like liberal and conservative no longer mean what the dictionary says they mean. Now they are little more than the political equivalent of ethnic slurs. We deserve better and need something new.

We are commoners and we are politically homeless. The royals of our political system made us so.

We aim to make a household for the politically homeless and in so doing transform parties that are failing us. And we are pulling together to make it happen. With an organizing committee of citizens from all of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts and 19 different counties, we just formed Blue Jean Nation.

Blue Jean Nation is not a party. It is a community, and a movement in the making. We are neither elephant nor ass, but recognize that our country has a two-party system and plan to work within that system to get the parties truly working for all of us and not just a favored few who are well connected politically.

Our end goal is to make common sense in government and concern for the common good far less uncommon. To reach that goal, we will work every day against political privilege.

We will do it from the ground up, with plain people leading the way, by the seat of our pants. There’s no waiting for political messiahs to come along.

When faced with economic and political threats eerily similar to today’s conditions, past generations straightened things out on more than one occasion. I refuse to believe there is something so different about us or wrong with us that renders us less capable of making change than those who came before us. In so many ways, we have more going for us now than they did then.

Political reboots have happened before. Another one is desperately needed.


Blog Version HERE.

Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics. Website:

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 April 2015 11:49
Equal Pay Enforcement Bill Needed To Close Pay Discrimination Gap PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Jennifer Shilling, State Senator 32nd District   
Tuesday, 14 April 2015 10:55

womenMADISON – Democratic legislators led by Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Rep. Chris Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) announced the introduction of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act today. The bill would reinstate commonsense legal protections for victims of workplace discrimination and help deter pay discrimination.

The introduction of the bill coincides with the upcoming National Equal Pay Day on April 14th. This date symbolizes how far into 2015 women must work to earn the same amount as men earned in 2014. It is estimated that Wisconsin families lose over $8 billion each year due to the pay discrimination wage gap.

All workers should be paid a fair wage for an honest day's work. I’m proud to be a co-author of this legislation to restore Wisconsin's Equal Pay Enforcement protections and create a more level playing field for women, veterans and minorities in our state. Rather than watching as family wages continue to decline, we need to end pay discrimination and ensure that everyone is paid a fair wage for their work.

Statistics from the national census show that women earn 78 cents, on average, for every dollar men earn for similar full-time work. The majority of women in Wisconsin bring home at least a quarter of their family’s income and there are over 230,000 Wisconsin households where women are the primary source of income.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 April 2015 11:05
Budgets Are About Priorities PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Jennifer Shilling, State Senator 32nd District   
Friday, 10 April 2015 11:31

budget-hearing-2015MADISON - At listening sessions across Wisconsin this past month, thousands of residents testified in support of local schools, cost-saving health care programs and responsible environmental stewardship.

These are the investments that make Wisconsin the state we all love and value. So why are Republicans proposing cuts to all of these areas? Why, at a time of national economic growth and prosperity, is Wisconsin facing a $2.2 billion deficit?

After four years of special interest giveaways and tax breaks for the wealthy, Wisconsin has fallen further behind our neighboring states and the rest of the country.

While other states are investing in families, strengthening communities and growing their economies, Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans have created a massive $2.2 billion budget deficit and are moving our state backwards. Wisconsin has dropped nine spots to 40th in the nation for job growth and we are experiencing the worst middle-class decline in the country.

We need to turn our state around. Something needs to change.

If we want our next generation to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy, we need to invest in our children’s future. Republicans have made the largest cuts to public schools in Wisconsin’s history to provide massive giveaways to special interests. Rather than diverting even more money to subsidize an unaccountable private school voucher program, we should strengthen and improve the public school system we already have.

In fact, nearly $375 million could be used for school funding and property tax relief if Republicans would simply accept federal dollars to strengthen BadgerCare. This move would free up millions that could be used to invest in our schools, improve health care access and create thousands of good paying jobs in Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin taxpayers have been forced to pay more and get less as a result of the misguided budget decisions made over the past four years. With a self-inflicted $2.2 billion budget deficit, stagnant family wages and a lagging economy, it’s time we get back to our core values and priorities.

What does it say about our state’s priorities when we have a Republican budget that spends more state taxpayer dollars on prison incarceration than UW education? What does it say about our priorities when Republicans reject federal BadgerCare funding and then propose health care fee increases for seniors? What does it say about our priorities when Republicans limit environmental conservation and then open the door to allow corporate naming of state parks?

These certainly aren’t the priorities or values that Wisconsin families have expressed over the past several months.

If legislative Republicans can afford to subsidize Gov. Walker’s international campaign trips with taxpayer funding, then surely we can find a way to protect our schools, working families and local communities from another round of devastating cuts.

After all, budgets are about priorities.


Last Updated on Friday, 10 April 2015 11:43
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