Saturday February 16, 2019

Forward with Education & Reason

FacebookTwitterYoutube
Newsletter
Feeds:
Commentary
Blue Jean Nation "Yogurt and presidents" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Saturday, 10 September 2016 11:31

nose-holder-memeWe see ourselves stuck with two choices, and not just in presidential elections. But we have more power than we know, more choices than we realize.


ALTOONA, WI - Henry Ford famously said his customers could get one of his cars in any color they wanted as long as it was black. American consumers have come a long way since the days of the Model T.

American voters haven’t. Ford’s “they can have what I say they can have” philosophy is nowhere to be seen anymore in commerce but it still looms large in elections. Some 150 years ago Boss Tweed quipped “I don’t care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating.” It’s not so very different today.

As Daily Show host Trevor Noah recently wisecracked: “When it comes to everything except presidential candidates, Americans have the most choices for more things that anyone else in the world. Like, I can walk into a supermarket — any supermarket in America — and choose from literally 400 different kinds of yogurt…. And yet, when it comes to selecting America’s leader for the next four years, you’re stuck with two choices: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Or to put that in yogurt terms: vanilla and Sriracha baboon anus.”

This is the truth, but not the whole truth. We see ourselves stuck with two choices alright, and not just in presidential elections but all partisan elections. We can vote for major party nominees who occasionally win but rarely do what we want once elected and regularly sell us out. Or we can vote for minor party candidates who seem less compromised and more likely to act in our interests but never win. An inadequate and profoundly unsatisfying choice, to say the least.

Here’s what’s amazing. As demanding as we are as consumers, that’s just how passively accepting we are as citizens.

We don’t have to be passive. We don’t have to be accepting. We have more power than we know. And we have more choices than we realize.

When major party establishments offer us bleak and bleaker, our choices are not limited to either holding our noses and selecting what we consider the lesser of evils or saying the hell with it and casting a protest vote for someone with no chance of winning. There is another option.

Almost exactly a century ago, farmers in North Dakota were at wit’s end about the insensitivity of elected officials to their economic plight. A couple of socialists organized tens of thousands of disgruntled North Dakotans and lined up reform candidates to run for office all across the state. But they didn’t run under the Socialist Party banner. Their movement and their candidates were embedded in North Dakota’s ruling Republican Party and in a few short years they took it over.

Almost exactly a century later, at the beginning of this decade, anti-government feelings smoldered in poor, recession-ravaged communities and was fanned by rich right-wing ideologues, exploding into a prairie fire that swept the country. It was dubbed the Tea Party, but it was not a party at all. Its organizers took cues from those North Dakota socialists and embedded their insurgency within the Republican Party, and in a few short years lightning struck again in the same place. The GOP was pretty much taken over.

Now go all the way back to the 19th Century. The Progressives of the late 1800s tried for a time to establish a separate party, but did not truly gain traction until their kind were embedded in both major parties. Once you had Teddy Roosevelt successfully running for president as a Progressive on the Republican ticket and some years later Woodrow Wilson winning the presidency as a Progressive on the Democratic ticket, the major parties had no choice but to embrace the Progressive agenda and enact Progressive reforms. America was radically transformed.

Consider what was done by Wisconsin’s legislature in 1911 alone. Child labor laws and protections for women in the workplace were put in place. Workers’ compensation was established to help injured laborers. And so much more. Railroad regulation. Insurance reform. The first state life insurance program anywhere in the country. The nation’s first system of taxation based on ability to pay, namely the progressive income tax. America’s first vocational, technical and adult education system. All done by a legislature made up almost entirely of Republicans and Democrats. All done by Progressives embedded in those major parties.

All done by people who refused to accept the dismal choice we assume we are stuck with today.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 September 2016 11:56
 
UW-Madison Efforts to Improve Racial Climate Commendable PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Martha Laning   
Monday, 05 September 2016 12:58

buckyMADISON - I applaud the efforts by the University of Wisconsin-Madison to make their campus more inclusive. They are taking the appropriate steps to ensure every student, regardless of the color of their skin, is treated fairly at UW-Madison.

martha-laningAs our flagship university, it speaks volumes that UW-Madison's leadership is listening to the student body's call to create an environment that reflects and respects the backgrounds of everyone. I applaud the university leadership, the student leadership, and activists for working together to improve and strengthen UW-Madison.

We live in a world made of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. It is important that students' educational climate reflects the multicultural and diverse world they will join after leaving collegiate life. The investment UW-Madison is making better prepares our young students for this transition.

As a mother who has a child attending UW-Madison, I am grateful the school is taking the appropriate steps to ensure she receives an education in the most inclusive environment possible.

 
Blue Jean Nation "How Democrats might escape from exile" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Sunday, 04 September 2016 13:51

trump-rncToday’s Republican Party seems bound and determined to implode. For you Democrats, there is no shortage of opportunity. Are you up for it?


ALTOONA, WI - Now here’s a telling measure of how weird our political system has gotten. The Republican Party is more unpopular than it’s been in nearly 25 years and is turning more people off with each passing day, yet the GOP is undeniably the majority party in this country.

Republicans control Congress. They control two-thirds of statehouses across America. Here in Wisconsin, they control a majority of congressional seats, both houses of the state legislature, the governor’s office and the state Supreme Court.

Elections don’t lie. As much as voters dislike the Republicans, they’ve repeatedly shown they’d rather have Republicans running the government than Democrats.

The Democratic establishment shows little willingness to change and little openness to outside advice. In all likelihood this will fall on deaf ears, but here goes anyway. Democrats, you won’t likely find your way out of the political wilderness unless you:

  • Stop trying to shame voters into backing candidates that wide swaths of the population find unappealing with scare tactics about what disaster will befall us if the latest ever-more-extreme Republican wins and how the catastrophe will be all their fault if they don’t vote Democratic. Only saying the other side is worse is an admission that your side is bad. Aspire to thrill voters instead.
  • Stop blaming voters for your defeats with the lame excuse that they are voting against their own best interests. Figure out how they see their interests and make them a better offer. Voters can be persuaded to realign. FDR turned a whole bunch of Republicans into Democrats, and Reagan turned a bunch of Democrats into Republicans. If you are consistently falling short of 50% in elections, that’s not the voters’ fault. It’s on the losing party to do something different to become more appealing to more people.
  • Stop using the vast Republican spin machine as an excuse for repeated losses. Of course opponents go to great lengths to badmouth you. Always have and always will. You can’t control that. Focus on what you can control.
  • Focus less on policies that benefit a particular constituency and more on programs with universal reach where everyone pays and everyone benefits. Wisconsin Democrats staked the last several elections on bargaining rights for a small minority of the state’s workers in just one sector of the economy, and lost decisively. This kind of strategy reinforces the image of a party devoted to benefiting favored interests and also makes the party vulnerable to divide-and-conquer tactics that were indeed successfully employed by Republican opponents.
  • Think long and hard about the fact that lower-income white working-class voters, especially those living in small towns and rural areas, used to support Democrats but most no longer do. There’s no shortage of clues about why they now prefer the Republicans. In those clues is a call to think bigger, to start doing things for blue-collar workers the Republicans won’t. Rebuilding governing majorities depends on it.
  • Try to become more than a confederation of interest groups, confined to their own issue silos, operating largely in isolation and sometimes even working at cross purposes. Doing this requires agreeing on and then expressing overarching values that knit these interests together. Republicans do a far better job staying focused on bedrock values while Democrats concentrate on issues and try to persuade people with a torrent of facts while not being willing or able to confidently describe a coherent underlying world view.

And then if and when voters decide to trust Democrats with power, you need to actually do what you say you believe in. No more hand-wringing about how acting boldly could cost you the next election. Doing little or nothing when given the opportunity to steer the ship of state has cost you way more elections than decisive action ever has.

Today’s Republican Party seems bound and determined to implode. Democrats, there is no shortage of opportunity for your party. There also is no shortage of doubt that you will take advantage of the opening.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 September 2016 11:59
 
Drinking Water in Madison Tainted PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by John N. Powers, Wittenberg   
Thursday, 01 September 2016 10:52

clean-drinking-waterWe have problems with our drinking water around the State and muddled thinking with our legislators in Madison. What can be done?


WITTENBERG, WI - You have seen the newspaper articles about Wisconsin’s water problems. How in 2009 high level of viruses were found in city water around the state and our legislators required testing and treatment of those water supplies. In 2011 legislators repealed that requirement.

In 2010 regulations were designed to reduce phosphorus in our waters. In 2011 legislators began fighting those regulations and eventually allowed compliance to be pushed back twenty years.

In 2014 molybdenum was found in twenty percent of private wells tested in the south east part of the state. The closer the wells were to recycled coal ash sites the higher the concentration. The DNR said the evidence was not strong enough to make any link.

Unsafe nitrate levels have been found in the drinking water of 94,000 homes in Wisconsin. Legislators created a compensation fund for those contaminated wells-but only if the well supplied drinking water for cattle, not children. The EPA says two thirds of the municipal and wastewater treatment plants and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Wisconsin operate with expired discharge permits. One third of the wells in Kewaunee County have tested unsafe for drinking water. And while all this has been happening our DNR has issued citations in only four percent of the water pollution cases considered serious enough to warrant such citations. These problems have been making headlines in our newspapers on a regular basis.

What is not being discussed is the problem with contaminated drinking water in Madison, especially in the capitol building. That contamination seems to have started about the time our legislators repealed the requirement for testing and treatment of city water supplies. First it was decided our teachers were responsible for all of the state’s economic woes and had to be punished. Then hundreds of millions were cut from state aid to public schools and the university system. At the same a tax credit was created that reduced business owners state income tax to zero, a credit that required no job creation and will reduce state income by about $2 billion over the next ten years. Another law as passed that prohibited local school districts from making up their losses by raising their property taxes. Finally, the school voucher program was expanded and the decision made to completely remove the cap on the program in ten years. It was also decided to give more tax dollars per pupil to private schools than to public schools and to give parents of those private school students a $10,000 tax credit.

No logical thinking person would deliberately harm one of the nation’s finest public school systems this way on purpose. No one elected to represent the people of this state would deliberately turn against them this way. Wisconsin’s most important resource is her children and the future they represent. No one would deliberately take steps to harm that future. There can only be one explanation for the decisions coming from the capitol building that are destroying our schools. The drinking water is contaminated.

What can be done? Our attorney general and our Department of Natural Resources say they have no authority to protect our state’s water. No help there. After hours of research I have found an old remedy that was first used in 1845. Folk wisdom says not only can this remedy solve water contamination problems but many others as well. The steps involved are almost like an exorcism. On the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November people around the state must gather together in specific locations during specific hours of the day and mark pieces of paper with an X. If enough of those people do this correctly the water in Madison will be clean once again.

***

John N. Powers has his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from UW-Stevens Point and 31 years teaching experience in Shawano county schools. He is a Candidate for Wisconsin's 2nd Senate seat. You can find out more about John Powers for State Senate on FaceBook or at www.voterpowers.com

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 September 2016 11:25
 
<< Start < Prev 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 Next > End >>

Page 103 of 129
Copyright © 2019. Green Bay Progressive. Designed by Shape5.com