Madison Mayor Dave Ciesliewicz introduced his annual budget by saying "The biggest challenge for the city is to revive the economy."
I thought that was incredible hubris - that a city of 240,000 could revive "the economy" or even the local economy - given that the money is only changing pockets - from ours to theirs. But it is exactly how our friends of the liberal persuasion think (when they do) about the economy: people make stupid decisions; government makes wise decisions. Only government can fully be trusted to spend money wisely. Yeah, sure.
An economics professor from Georgia Tech once told an annual National Counties Association convention in Washington D.C. that a president dealing with the economy is like the rodeo bull rider: lurching and sprawling for 10 seconds before he is thrown off and trampled then applauded for his wonderful job of riding the bull. The American economy is just too huge to respond to legislation, no matter how well meaning.
I thought of the bull riding professor when Gov. Jim E. Doyle announced Wednesday that, according to the headline in the Wisconsin State Journal, the federal stimulus "saved government jobs."
But what kind of government jobs? Why, only the very most important government jobs: teachers, police officers and firefighters, Jim E. said. Not bean counters, pencil pushers or time keepers - but the people who put out fires.
What's more, "some federal money is slow to get out," the stimulus report showed. As in, only $28,000 of $73.9 million in a program to help disadvantaged students in reading and math. Wait a minute, I thought the teachers were still on the job? What kind of program is this?
This is why Tea Parties caught on
Thank you Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald for crunching the numbers. Sen. Fitzgerald points out that Gov. Jim E. highlighted 8,284 full-time jobs that were created or saved by spending $680 million in federal funding so far this year, the majority of which were government jobs.
It equates to $82,086 of taxpayer money to create one job for three months or $328,344 for the year.
"Nearly 75% of the jobs created were government positions that will lack a funding source once this one-time money is gone. This stimulus cash is nothing more than a state government bailout."
There is a fundamental divide in our country between the comfort and security of the statists - those who believe the government must be involved in every decision - and the daring and ingenuity of individualists, who understand that a country that allows you to succeed must also allow you to fail.
As Margaret Thatcher once said, "the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."
Want to stimulate jobs? Reduce taxes, encourage basic research, provide for efficient transportation, make regulation easy to understand and comply with, and cap judicial tort awards.
MEMO: City of Madison Alders Clear, Sanborn, Pham-Remmele, Skidmore, Clausius, Schumacher, Compton - repeal Brenda Konkel's punitive lobbying ordinance!
The percentage of one
Eugene Ulm, with the Virginia-based Public Opinion Strategies, gives a great interview to WisPolitics. He notes that in 2006 and 2008, voters were angry and wanted change, holding Republicans accountable both times. This time they are blaming Democrats.
"They were pissed off before, and they're still pissed off, and now they have more reason," Ulm said in a new WisPolitics interview. "They're angry over government spending. They're angry over excessive government spending. They see the bailout. But they don't know anybody they believe has benefited from the bailout, whether it's the housing bailout, the bank bailout, Chrysler, General Motors.
"Hey, guess what? General Motors is bailed out, but isn't Janesville still closing?"
One more quote:
You know what percent of Wisconsinites are concerned about global warming? One. [09-28-2009: WisPolitics]
Tort Reform good
Citing recent studies, including two new economic papers published only last month, CBO concludes that limiting malpractice liability would reduce total national health care spending by about one-half of 1 percent, or about $11 billion this year. That would save taxpayers about $41 billion over the next decade in lower Medicare, Medicaid and other federal spending for health care.
CBO noted that savings would be even greater if not for the fact that many states have already imposed their own changes. [FactCheck.org] (Thanks, Cousin Jeff).
Milwaukee Sheriff, DA support concealed carry
Two powerful Milwaukee leaders on Wednesday floated the idea of allowing concealed-carry gun permits in Wisconsin as part of a larger package of gun law reforms - marking a departure with Mayor Tom Barrett on the hot issue.
Police Chief Edward Flynn and District Attorney John Chisholm said allowing concealed-carry weapon permits must be coupled with other changes such as requiring background checks on all gun purchases in Wisconsin. Currently, only federally licensed gun stores have to do such checks in the state. [10-15-2009: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
I see dead people
The photo above comes from the web site, mstrfx. The fellow on our right is quite dead. He would appear to be the brother of and perhaps even a twin of the fellow on the left, who seems just as cadaverous, but more alert.
This site has intriguing, artful photography of other genres. That led me to a site devoted to such photography: the Chicago-based Museum of Mourning Photography and Mourning Practice.
It was the cultural practice a century and more ago, before everyone acquired a Kodak Brownie camera and well before digital photography, to pose the living with the recently deceased to take what may have been the only photograph of the dearly departed at a time when photography was an expensive event.
Aunt Dollie wanted me to take a picture of my wonderful Grandma Rose when she died 30 years ago at age 94. I thought it too ghoulish and refused. Now I wish I had complied. People of my Aunt's generation had different sensibilities.
The MoMP site is loaded with similar haunting pictures, of bereaved parents stoically holding their very young children in one last (and perhaps only) group picture. There is one picture of a young mother in her coffin with her recently delivered baby. Perhaps they both died in childbirth.
There is the occasional old codger propped up in his coffin in the corner of the parlor at a 45-degree angle as was the practice in the mid- and late-19th Century. It's also a reminder that a funeral visitation occurred in the home.
Many dead children are photographed, all of them quite angelic and bearing no hint of the calamity that claimed them. In only one picture that I saw did the corpse look vampirish - perhaps evidence of the runaway team of horses that ran her down or of the kitchen boiler explosion or of the lingering illness. Perhaps it was sweltering hot and the photographer was a day late for the photo shoot. One reason fragrant flowers were amassed around the deceased was to mask the olfactory evidence of decay.
Yes, the site is morbid - by definition. But it is also very respectful. Death is the last chapter of life.
Visit the MoMP Gallery here.