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"A New Economic Metaphor" - Blue Jean Nation PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Thursday, 21 April 2016 09:40

wallstreetEver since the 1980's, the American economy has been under the spell of "trickle-down economics", a theory that produces feed-the-rich policies. They have made the rich vastly richer, and everyone else’s earnings stagnant. But there’s a geyser ready to blow, if we’re smart enough to shift our attention from supply to demand.

ALTOONA, WI - For close to 40 years now, the American economy has been under the spell of supply-side theory, better known on the streets as trickle-down economics. The theory is that expanding the economy’s capacity to produce more goods is the best way to stimulate economic growth. In practice, that theory produces feed-the-rich policies — such as steep cuts in the income taxes corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay — aimed at encouraging private investment in businesses, production facilities and equipment.

Those policies have worked like a charm in one regard. They have made the rich vastly richer. With everyone else’s earnings stagnating, the gap between America’s rich and the rest has grown dramatically by every statistical measure since trickle-down took hold of our economy. Trickle-down economics has been a colossal failure when it comes to producing shared prosperity. George H.W. Bush called it “voodoo economics” for supercharging the accumulation of national debt, but its biggest sin is that America was growing together before the supply-siders took over and has been growing apart ever since.

There are conspicuous reasons why the only thing trickle-down economics does well is produce income and wealth inequality. Feed the rich and they don’t eat much of what they are fed. They store it away. They amass more wealth. Every dollar added to their net worth is a dollar out of circulation that creates no multiplier effect in the economy. Put more money in the pockets of everyday workers and consumers and they spend it. That creates demand. When someone wants to buy, someone else is eager to sell. The economy is stimulated.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 April 2016 10:09
"From Me to We" - Blue Jean Nation PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 19 April 2016 11:34

jfk_looking_upJFK asked us to serve our country, but we Americans have been mostly asking what our country can do for us since at least the 1980s. Republican politics especially has been of the “me first” variety. Is it time to ask what we can do for our country again?

ALTOONA, WI - For the last several decades, American politics has been “me politics.” Reflecting on the famous line in John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address, it’s hard not to notice that we Americans have been mostly asking what our country can do for us since at least the 1980s.

In their own ways, both major parties mirror the self-centeredness of the modern American psyche.

Republican politics has been of the “me first” variety, focusing on how best to enable the most ambitious and enterprising and ruthless and privileged among us to elbow their way to the front of the line. The result has been heretofore unimagined levels of prosperity for some, but also grotesque levels of income and wealth inequality.

Democratic politics has been of the “me too” kind, concentrating on getting previously excluded or disadvantaged segments of the population more rights and opportunities. As a result, historic advances have been made in such areas as civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and disability rights. The gains have not come without a cost to Democrats as they have lost much of their appeal to blue collar Americans, especially working class white men.

Two generations worth of emphasis on individual advancement and self fulfillment have been both good and bad. Americans have grown more equal in some ways, more unequal in others. Some have prospered, others have been left behind. Many have finally secured a seat at the table, which is good. America is more divided and politically polarized than it has been in a very long time, which is not.

What “me politics” has done for us and to us is striking and significant, but equally striking is what is missing and can only be provided by a resurgence of “we politics.”

The list of missing things is long, but here are three in need of resuscitation for starters:

  • Public service. Doing for others at personal sacrifice has fallen out of fashion. Even serving in elective office now smacks of self dealing more than at perhaps any other time in our nation’s history, evidenced by the revolving door between Congress and the lucrative lobbying trade. The same game is on prominent display in statehouses across the country. True public service is not a training program to prepare for plum jobs paying six- and seven-figure salaries.
  • Mutual support. Being there for each other takes many forms. Neighbors helping neighbors. Communities pulling together. Service to country. This ethic is at the heart of “we politics.”
  • Common good. Me politics is about private interests. What is yours and what is mine. We politics is about the public interest and what is ours. It cultivates an understanding that we’re all in this together and we need each other. That understanding prompts us to act in ways that enrich the commonwealth. Such action has become too rare.

For a long time now, American politics has been me politics. Change is in the air. You can feel it. But we won’t move from me to we automatically. It has to be done consciously and will take concerted effort. It’s time to ask what we can do for our country again.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 14:59
There Are Difficulties for Some to Obtain an ID to Vote PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District   
Friday, 15 April 2016 12:55

voter-idWhile it is not an undue burden for most people to obtain a valid photo ID to vote, it is too difficult for some people. Voting is a right for every eligible person, and no political party should place barriers in front of those who want to vote.

Prisoners and the Right to Vote PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 15 April 2016 09:34

jail-prisonMADISON - On Tuesday, I went to UW-Milwaukee to give a lecture about an under-appreciated aspect of our undemocratic system: the disenfranchisement of prisoners and former prisoners. In researching this talk, I discovered just how blatantly racist the policy has always been:

Felon disenfranchisement, then and now

In our never-ending sorrow at the demise of the Government Accountability Board, our worst fears have been confirmed: Partisans from both sides are being appointed to the new state ethics and elections commissions. This week, it was Peter Barca’s turn:

Barca’s appointees contributed $107K to Democrats

And as we look back at the legislative session, one hypocrisy jumped out at us. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce talks all the time about the need for a highly educated workforce, but it didn’t put any of its money where its mouth is:

WMC, business groups AWOL on higher ed bills

Last Updated on Friday, 15 April 2016 11:16
Russ Feingold on Wisconsin’s Opioid Crisis PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Russ Feingold   
Friday, 15 April 2016 08:52

prescription_drugsMIDDLETON, WI - The opioid crisis is a tragedy that ravages our communities, and it should never be a partisan issue. Addiction is a disease that we have to address comprehensively – that means treatment, prevention, and education.

So I am encouraged that leaders like Sen. Tammy Baldwin are fighting for bipartisan solutions that prioritize treatment & recovery, expand access to naloxone, and seek to strengthen monitoring of prescription medications.

What we cannot do is repeat the failures of the war on drugs. We can’t wish the problem away. More of our leaders need to step up to work in a bipartisan manner to provide our communities with the resources that our families truly need in order to reach those afflicted by this crisis. This is a public health emergency and must be treated as such.

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