Deregulation is not the answer to everything--but try telling that to pols
In an earlier post, I mentioned the recent legislative push, heavily backed and influenced by industry lobbyists, to deregulate landline phones in Wisconsin. On Wednesday, during their last votes of the current session, the Assembly passed the deregulation bill on a bipartisan vote of 71-27.
Barry Orton's been all over this at Waxing America and posted a link to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article detailing the uptick in lobbyist written legislation, including the phone bill, in support of his opposition. Both are well worth reading, but the money quotes are as follows:
From education to health care to transportation, state lawmakers are introducing bills crafted by outside interests, often without disclosing lobbyists' involvement.
But the Legislature has exempted its own bill drafts from the state open records law, and a former attorney general failed in an attempt to force lawmakers to disclose who had copies of drafts before a bill was introduced.
If it's so important the industry insiders have a say in bills that affect their business (fair enough), and if said input is allegedly on the up-and-up, why hide the drafts from the rest of the public? That just screams of shady, backroom deals.
Like I said before (and yes I'm quoting myself, what of it?), "On the surface, the legislation actually makes a certain kind of sense. AT&T and the like don't feel they should be regulated like telecom utilities because they now also provide other services in addition to their traditional phone coverage like cable TV. The thinking goes that being regulated like a telecom limits their ability to compete with other cable and internet providers classified only as 'alternative telecommunications utilities' which are not subject to the same regulations."
But they've used this legitimate concern to push too far, to the point where the deregulation spelled out in this bill stands to do far more damage to consumers and small businesses, especially those in rural areas, than good.
Orton pulled the following comment from the bottom of the MJS article as an example of the fears expressed over this legislation, should it be made law:
...for Wisconsin small businesses no telephone regulation could mean no recourse for long outages, or chronic trouble, etc...There could also be increased cost issues for once-deregulated products once the company is free to charge what they would like. Especially for rural businesses where cable competition may not be a viable alternative.
In order to fully modernize the industry, it's likely that it's time to overhaul the regulatory system that's currently in place. But I am sick and tired of the default position being to completely deregulate everything. We've seen time and time again, oftentimes with dire consequences, that it doesn't work particularly well.
And our first mistake has been in remaining complacent while lobbyists take a greater and greater role in shaping the rules that oversee their own industries. We don't let criminals alone make up the laws that affect them. We don't let regular, law-abiding citizens do it, either. We let everyone have a say, so that, in theory, the most equitable solution for everyone can be reached.
Maybe that means a certain amount of deregulation does happen, but coupled with good consumer protections and an at least basic level of government oversight to see them enforced.
Hiding drafts of these bills from anyone outside the Legislature save the business interests helping to craft them is undemocratic and dangerous. Sunshine is the best medicine for most things. That way there's less chance of a bill being steamrolled into law once introduced.
Please call or write your representatives to voice your concerns and opposition to this bill.
Terrence Wall, climate change denier
Republican candidate for the Senate Terrence Wall must have heaved a sigh of relief when Tommy Thompson announced that he would not run at last weeks' Tea Party rally. Wall was there, lurking around the perimeters of the event talking to the cameras and presumably trying to soak up Tea Party support through osmosis.
I still don't see him as standing much of a chance-because of a lack of name recognition outside of Dane County, because of his rampant tax dodging, because of his proposed policies-and now his recent statements about climate change will likely add another nail to that coffin.
Speaking to employees of a consulting firm, Wall said, "Global warming is total, complete hogwash. There is no scientific evidence (that it exists)."
No scientific evidence except for, well, the mountains and years of scientific evidence that our climate is changing at a far more rapid and dangerous pace than natural forces would otherwise cause, and that human activity is mostly to blame.
It's surprising, really, that anyone would still be making the argument that no evidence exists to suggest climate change is real. At worst, there have certainly been studies that show complex and sometimes confusing results that are difficult to immediately parse. It's not an easy subject, and the details can often be hard to work out even for those people who've studied the subject for years.
But "no scientific evidence?" There's your hogwash right there. Quite frankly, I don't want this apparently delusional soul making any decisions on my behalf in the government.
The goosing of Madison's parks
Canada geese populations in Madison parks have been a contentious issue for many years now, but the situation seems to be reaching a critical point after the city's Board of Park Commissioners approved a measure to euthanize some of those that currently call Warner Park their home. Citing concerns raised by representatives of the Dane County Regional Airport about the potential for airplane-geese strikes, a measure to kill 80 to 100 birds was both introduced and passed in the same meeting.
The speed with which the measure moved has a lot of people worried. Some argue that there are other, non-lethal strategies that have yet to be properly explored or implemented to lower geese populations in our parks. The potential hazard to airplanes isn't the only problem. The large geese population at Vilas Park has long been the main reason for poor water quality there. It seems the concerns are valid, but I'm not convinced that simply euthanizing a bunch of birds is the best way to go. And I'm not alone.
Killing them may seem like the easiest, quickest solution, but it's not terribly humane and I also doubt it will solve the problem in the long run. According to neighbors and those who've studied the park, for instance, the practice of mowing the grass right up to the edge of the water creates an ideal environment for geese. Years ago, when the grass was left to grow tall naturally, the geese population was much lower. And that's just one tactic.
In addition to signing petitions and making calls to voice opposition to this particular measure, it's important to stress that there are other methods of controlling how many Canada geese are tromping around our parks.