Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Greetings From Teabagistan

This is a very interesting time to be living in Wisconsin.

Governor Teabagger, having broken the bank with a reckless spending bill in January – one that did a masterful job of both rewarding his political supporters and converting a projected budget surplus into a massive deficit (gee, where have we heard that tune being sung by right-wingers before?) – has declared that in this fiscal crisis he must take drastic action.

Isn’t that convenient? You create a crisis and then declare that in times of crisis drastic action is necessary. Next thing you know he’ll be declaring war on Minnesota, looking for weapons of mass destruction, and arguing that criticism of elected leaders in wartime is treason.

So far this drastic action has not encompassed anything that will actually reduce costs or generate income, though.

I am not surprised by this.

This is the same guy who spent a large portion of his campaign crowing about his “68-page” job creation report. He called it all sorts of things, but the fact that it was 68 pages long was always prominently mentioned, always with the implication that this was a policy document so massive and thorough that no argument could possibly be made against its validity.

I downloaded it from his campaign website – straight from the source. It was indeed 68 pages long.

It was also printed in the kind of banner-headline-sized font that newspapers tend to reserve for major wars ending or astronauts landing on the moon. Seriously – there were single words that had to be broken into two lines because the font was that big.

And it had pictures.

Do you know how many words were in this “68-page” report? Even with the generous inclusion of one iteration of the “paid for by” disclaimer that all campaign literature is required to have these days, the report weighed in at a grand total of 1,027 words. In a normal font, that’s roughly four double-spaced pages, or slightly less than the amount of writing that I expect from my college freshmen students in History 101 for a single essay.

So I should not be surprised at the sheer ignorance, thoughtlessness, stupidity and arrogance with which this guy has conducted himself since being inaugurated.

Drastic action, he says.

This includes destroying the unions that protect state workers, without even bothering to talk to them about possibly working together to make the state function. Because this destruction will create jobs and balance the budget somehow. Because having people make less money and have less job security will make them somehow more likely to spend what money they have to drive the economy - an economy based mostly on consumer spending since the 1920s - forward and get us out of the recession. Because a shrinking economy is just what we need to boost revenue. Because a downward spiral of misery is Just. So. Patriotic.

Not really. The truth is more straightforward.

It’s because his political pals don’t like the fact that real people need real wages and benefits to survive. It’s because they regard me and the people I know as expenses to be cut rather than citizens to be served. It’s that whole “political units as profitable businesses” mentality thing. This is what happens when that misconception gets applied in real life.

Governor Teabagger’s idea of drastic action also includes threatening American citizens with military force if they should happen to disagree with this boneheaded policy.

I can’t respond to that any better than Dave Cieslewicz, the mayor of Madison, did on Monday: “Here’s one reliable test of good public policy: You don’t have to call out the National Guard when you propose it.”

Drastic action also includes the governor refusing to present his budget to the Legislature in person, the coward. Instead he will give what is billed as a “speech” to a local business and present his budget there. I’m not sure about the legality of presenting substantive legislation in such a setting, but I don’t think that matters to Governor Teabagger.

Rules are for other people.

That is the Teabagger motto.

That’s why the Republican majority tried so hard to limit the public access to the hearing for it – attempting to cut off debate long before most people had gotten a chance to speak. Democratic legislators managed to beat back that idea, but it almost worked so you have to give them credit for trying.

That’s also why the Republican legislators are meeting in a “secret site” off of the Capitol grounds to plan their next moves, open meeting laws being prominent among the rules that are for other people.

That’s also why they want this bill voted on by Thursday, before people have read it all. Because while they know what else is contained in this abomination of a bill, the rest of us are still trying to wrap our heads around the fact that this was seriously proposed as something Americans would do to other Americans and that it has a better than even chance of being enacted. Best to let the details come out afterward, really.

Interesting times indeed.

1 comment:

brook said...

The ignorance of proponents of this bill comes from envy, pure and simple, as exemplified by the comments from those proponents. It's a systemic result that starts from them being resentful of the fact that there are those that are slightly more secure in their jobs through unionization then they themselves are. Rather than fighting to change the status quo so that all individuals can have that same security, rather than only a select few who have the benefit of a union, they'd rather demonize those that have what they don't. To this effect, the anti-union crowd has played right into an organized effort to maintain the status quo by exploiting the jealousy and rage of others over their own situation as compared to others they perceive as being "better off" than themselves, which is in and of itself an ignorant thought process.

So, that being said, explain to me how reducing a very large number of families' incomes by 8-9% is economically sound? That doesn't even take into account families where both heads of the household are employed in the public sector. Correct me if I'm wrong, but attracting companies to Wisconsin does little good if the pool of income to purchase goods shrink; what company will set up base in a state where demand is low due to income? Rather than placing the burden on those that educate our children and take care of our sick, and thus ensure a future (investment), shouldn't we instead tax those that can afford it -- those that have the disposable income in the first place? Not to mention the fact that those living in the 30k-50k/yr fixed salary range are probably pretty dependent on that salary range and have fallen prey to the mentality that the income will always be there, because of the security offered by their unions (not taking into consideration the "bad" employees, which are a very minor issue in the grand scheme of things). Thus, many of these families have budgeted according to that income, and a significant decrease in that income could potentially result budget shortfalls, such as mortgage payments.

Another option is to increase taxes across the board, like sales tax for example, that way the "pain" is spread across all income levels, without as much worry that businesses will leave Wisconsin if the top-end tax bracket is too high. Point is, there's multiple solutions to this problem that do not require as much sacrifice from those that cannot afford it.

Kind of a side thought here, but the big worry by Republicans is that if taxes are raised on the top earners, that business will leave the state. What about educators? What if you decrease the salary of educators, wouldn't that same line of reasoning apply; wouldn't decent educators -- the ones that have gone through massive amounts of education themselves -- emigrate out of the state? The result would be poorer education for our youth than it already is, resulting in the next generation being less prepared for a job market that constantly demands more and more education and critical thinking skills.