It is said that in Britain, the best and the brightest go into government but in America, the best and brightest go into business.
You can argue that but there seems little doubt that we have built a two-class society in America. No, not the "two Americas" that the disgraced John Edwards talked about. Not the haves and the have-nots. America's poor are doing very well by world standards.
No, our two Americas consist of the makers and the takers - the private sector versus the government sector. And never the twain shall meet.
We now have a president who is purely the product of the government sector. As blissfully ignorant of how to create wealth as any Progressive Dane collectivist.
That divide is showing up as Obama socializes the American economy while Europe steps back from the enervating socialist experiment.
- We now have two government-run automobile companies (Chrysler and GM). Government deep-sixed the bondholders (who loaned the companies their money) to give a favored group (unionized laborers) pre-eminence.
- Cap and Trade that will cost families $1,700 a year to reduce the world's temperature by one degree.
- Government wants to take over one-quarter of the American economy (health care) with a 1.2 trillion-dollar program that will compete with and ultimately displace the private sector.
- The Obama budget will create more public indebtedness than all 43 previous administrations combined.
No wonder Andy Stern of the Acorned-up SEIU union, which is big into health-care and government workers) is the most frequent White House visitor (22 visits in the first 10 months)!
The divide goes deeply into Congress; who are the business people in our 10-member Congressional delegation? Only one, Herb Kohl, and he is a rarity in either house of Congress.
Who are the business people in Wisconsin's full-time legislature? On the County Board? The Madison Common Council? Kathleen Falk, Dave Cieslewicz, Scott McDonell, Mike Verveer, Jim E. Doyle - business, anyone?
Under Chamber of Commerce director Jennifer Alexander, business interests are once again paying attention to local government, with positive results. But they still have not inculcated the political culture among their members. Just as university faculty are expected to give something back to the community, mid- and high-level managers should be encouraged - indeed, rewarded - for serving on their school boards, village plan commissions, and city councils. They need to be encouraged to make the race, to put up their names on ballots.
The pumpkin patch
I pondered all this because of the dust-up over Terence Wall's pumpkin patch. The story line is a familiar one to the government class and their enablers in the news media: Wall is cheating good honest taxpayers by planting pumpkins on a 2+ acre lot in Middleton, thereby qualifying for a farmland "use value" assessment. Those pumpkins reduced his property taxes by $34,000. That's just ... unfair!
The story was ginned up by a Democrat(ic) party front-group, One Wisconsin Now, operated by one-time candidate and paid political operative Scot Ross. What neither Ross nor his handmaidens at The Capital Times bother to tell you is that when the property is developed for commercial use, as it most assuredly will be, Wall will pay full commercial freight on into eternity PLUS some back taxes. But for now, that land is not producing that kind of income whether T. Wall owns it or Linus the Peanuts character owns it.
How did Terence Wall get caught up in the Left's meat-grinder? Simple, he is running against liberal icon Russ Feingold for the U.S. Senate. St. Russ, The Pure. Why, money is downright evil! No wonder he co-sponsored campaign finance "reform" prohibiting groups of businessmen at election time, as Tom Still once memorably wrote, "from calling Chuck Chvala a liberal."
Yes, it's the same reform that gave rise to the Swift Boaters, to Scot Ross's front group and to other 527 organizations.
Of course, the pumpkin patch fits neatly into the Left's narrative - the evil, crooked businessperson screwing good, honest proletariat. Herr Goebbels would have interposed footage of scurrying rats.
My on-line editor Jason Joyce is a thoughtful young man who shares the prejudgments of his class - that class being the young intellectual engaged in the journalistic arts, the starry-eyed "Yes We Can" Obama supporter who takes for granted that America will always be the land of plenty.
Thus can Jason label businessman Terence Wall, one of the area's major commercial real estate players, a simpleton.
"... his columns in In Business (magazine) and his other public statements portray him as someone who has an extremely simple view of the world."
Especially, Jason says, when compared to the presumably complex Russ Feingold who, notably, is a lifelong member of the government class.
Running a high stakes business: serving customers, taking risks in the marketplace, building wealth - why, that's no qualification for government service!
Here is what else the partisans did not tell you: T. Wall's company pays millions of dollars every year in local property taxes. (I got a call from the man himself yesterday. "We pay in the millions (of dollars) in property taxes every year. I don't have the exact figure.")
The man and his company are paying for a lot of schools and - for that matter - a lot of the governing class's foolishness.
The Russ Feingolds are redistributing that wealth. The journalistic class long ago picked its heroes and its villains.
John Stossel on journalists' bias
Having spent half my life as a working journalist (Bill Lueders calls me a "former journalist") I saw first-hand the glee with which some of my colleagues tore into Republican politicians as they pounded out clearly biased hit pieces for the so-called news pages of The Capital Times.
Television journalist John Stossel is not one of the boys on the bus. Early in his career, he says:
I clearly had a point of view: I was a crusader out to punish corporate bullies. My colleagues liked it. I got job offers. I won 19 Emmys. I was invited to speak at journalism conferences.
Then, gradually, I figured out that business, for the most part, treats consumers pretty well. The way to get rich in business is to create something good, sell it for a reasonable price, acquire a reputation for honesty and keep pleasing customers so they come back for more.
[Then] I started taking skeptical looks at government - especially regulation. I did an ABC TV special, "Are We Scaring You to Death?" that said we TV reporters often make hysterical claims about chemicals, pollution and other relatively minor risks. Its good ratings - 16 million viewers - surprised my colleagues.
Suddenly, I wasn't so popular with them.
I stopped winning Emmys. [John Stossel: The Double Standard About Journalists' Bias]
Shearing the Sheep
The high-protein foodstuff of the Left is victims. It is why your average Democrat on the campaign stump likes to recite a litany of picaresque losers - "I met a lady in Podunk with one foot" - most of them done in by their own fecklessness. The Left needs victims in order to justify its aggrandizement of power.
Thus can government employee Stu Levitan, who is also chairman of Madison's Community Development Authority Housing Operations Committee, attribute crime and the breakdown of social order in the Meadowood neighborhood on "the lack of employment opportunities, affordable health care, and adequate mass transit."
Hey, doing smack is bad for your health. And expensive!
John Steele Gordon in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal has written an Animal Farm kind of parable to explain the anti-business bias. Its hopeful subtitle explains the success of this summer's town hall meetings and tea parties: "The sheep are quite capable of looking out for themselves. Someone tell the Democrats."
The basic premise is that the population is divided into three groups. By far the largest group consists of ordinary people. They are good, God fearing and hard working. But they are also often ignorant of their true self-interest ("What's the matter with Kansas?") and thus easily misled. They are also politically weak and thus need to be protected
The second group, far smaller, consists of the affluent, successful businessmen, corporate executives and financiers. Capitalists in other words. They are the establishment and it is the establishment that, by definition, runs the country. They are, in the liberal paradigm, smart, ruthless and totally self-interested.
... the third group, those few, those happy few, that band of brothers, (are) the educated and enlightened liberals, who understand what is really going on and want to help the members of the first group to live a better and more satisfying life. Unlike the establishment, which supposedly cares only for itself, liberals supposedly care for society as a whole and have no personal self-interest.
... This paradigm, while never wholly accurate ... had a basis in reality in the late 19th century.
... But in a world where a majority of Americans work at white-collar jobs, have high-school and college degrees, own their own homes, and hold financial securities in their own right, the so-called wolves are now a majority. If liberals don't begin to take that fact into account in formulating policy, the Obama administration will not only be an unsuccessful liberal administration, it may well be the last liberal administration. [Wall Street Journal: Obama and the Liberal Paradigm]
There's hope and change for you!
Tonight: 7 p.m., Dane County Board convenes to vote on a Regional Transit Authority. The public can register to speak.
Friday: 8 to 9 a.m., your BlaskaBlogger takes on a sacrificial liberal on the Wisconsin Radio Network (WHA 970 a.m. in Madison) for the Week in Review program.