Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Wisconsin Shell Game

"Even before Kansas, Wisconsin was the lab rat for an assault on the political commons on behalf of the modern oligarchs. If they could do it in Wisconsin, the theory went, they could do it anywhere. And so they did. And they have."

Charles Pierce explains the disaster of Scott Walker's Wisconsin (in Esquire).

But there is always a reason for cutting public funds for unnecessary frills and luxuries like universities and schools and roads and hospitals. Being thrifty, for instance. Can’t spend money we don’t have, they say. (When you cut taxes to the people who have most of the money, you do wind up with less money to spend. Unless you are one of the few with the most money and lower taxes.)

Or there may be better more sensible places to spend that money, giving it to those who need it more, for instance. In the case of Scott Walker, he decided the great public university system in Wisconsin was less deserving than the new basketball stadium some hedge fund billionaires wanted but didn’t want to pay for.

SLATE reports on where Scott Walker's spending cuts were more usefully spent.

The same shell game reported in Forbes.

How do you persuade the public that a .500 basketball team with attendance fifth lowest in the league is more deserving than the college students of Wisconsin (and the advanced science and industry that is created by those college graduates)?

First you rubbish education and educators. You begin by rubbishing any system you want to get rid of, whether you want to pocket the money or give it to your friends.

You say they think they’re superior to regular folk. This creates resentment.

Then you defund what you have carefully rubbished.

Defunding leads to poorer performance and dysfunction, which you can point to and say “See? This is rubbish!” thus justifying your funding cuts.

Dysfunction will make people dislike just about anything, especially if it’s something they’ve relied on.

Defund and create dysfunction. This dysfunction leads to dissatisfaction. It’s like shooting someone in the leg and mocking them because they’re limping. Humanity is very fickle in its affections.

While one hand has been accomplishing this nasty deed your other hand has been handing the “savings” to people you like better than university know-it-alls who might understand what a crook you are, who might also know how you’ve been crooked and how your crookedness is harming everybody.

A less educated population is easier to push around.

Wisconsinites: get ready to be a more obedient and servile population! Prepare to be less than you used to be! Wisconsin is becoming more like the backward southern states where income, life expectancy, health, education and functioning social fabrics are all near the bottom.

The leading Wisconsin newspaper tells the sorry tale of Wisconsin's decline since Walker took over.

It’s the same story in GOP governed Michigan (Flint water anyone?), Kansas, Florida, Louisiana (Where Jindal drove the state into the ditch and then left the scene of the accident). In state after state the Republican experiment with lowered taxes has put the economy into crisis. Today’s Republicans love breaking things that work. They’re a lot different from the responsible, practical Republicans we knew a few decades ago.

The Atlantic reports on the failure of GOP governed states to keep up with the rest of America.

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