Another Data Point Musings on politics, economics, and political economy

12/5/2015

Tell Ron Johnson to do better on guns

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 10:48 am

Harry Reid made an effort bring some measure of sense to American gun policy. Ron Johnson voted to defeat that effort.

We need to tell Ron Johnson that he isn’t speaking for the people of Wisconsin on this issue.

Some points to make

  • There is no reason for the proliferation of weapons — handguns , assault weapons — that are designed to kill human beings.
  • It is fundamentally immoral to have weapons that are designed to kill human beings.
  • The American people want sensible gun control — the killers in San Bernadino bought their weapons legally.
  • There is nothing unconstitutional about regulating firearms — why else did the framers include “well-regulated militia” in the second amendment?

Contact Ron Johnson here http://www.ronjohnson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact


12/1/2015

Connecting the dots in Planned Parenthood shooting

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 10:04 pm

I feel pretty comfortable drawing a straight line between the GOP and the terrible shooting at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.

The GOP not only encourages — or at least makes common cause with — persons who view armed conflict as an acceptable form of social control in this country, but it has encouraged — or at least made common cause with — persons who characterize Planned Parenthood as an evil abortion mill.

Why should we be shocked that an armed, deranged person would stage a murderous attack on an organization that has been calumnized by the GOP and its fellow travelers.

This is not that last episode of this kind.


11/20/2015

Conceding to Daesh

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:31 pm

The response of the Republican presidential candidates to the horror in Paris is nothing less than capitulation.

The aim of the mad killers was to strike fear into the hearts of their targets. At least within the GOP, they seem to have achieved their aim.

The ludicrous bill passed by the the GOP-controlled House of Representatives (thank you, Paul Ryan), and the equally ludicrous proposals by Rubio, Bush, and the rest, seem to be the products of minds so blinded by fear as to be incapable of strategic thought.

One can’t be certain whether these people believe in their proposals, or are simply trying to stir up enthusiasm in their supporters, but either way, it’s a sorry spectacle to see in a country that considers itself the greatest democracy in the world.

 


7/5/2015

Prolegomenon to a Critique of Pure Walker

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:31 am

There is much to disdain about Scott Walker’s politics and policy — well, his policy is all about politics — but I think it’s worth considering the foundation of his political thought as a correctve to both his political futures and the dismal trajectory of the country since modern conservatism has established itself.

This means a critique of Reaganism.

There can be little doubt that Walker conceives himself as a successor of Reagan, and indeed his program seems to echo Reagan’s presidency. Consider Act 10 as a repeat of the Air Traffic Controller strike. Consider Reagan’s disastrous tax cuts as a model for Walker’s damaging tax policies.

Now consider the “revolution” begun by Reagan as the beginning of the decline of America’s middle class.

I suspect that Reagan, for all his seriously poor policy ideas, was not as cynical or deceitful as Walker. But there can be little doubt that he made many people comfortable with  those poor ideas. To make those ideas uncomfortable again is a key to delivering a body blow to Walker’s political ambitions.

 


5/21/2015

Oil Trains

Filed under: Global Warming — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:04 am

This is just a running list of items that I have found useful in my consideration of the “bomb trains” that are running through my town, and many others. I may organize it later.

Disingenuous efforts to tie rail safety to tar sands pipeline construction is a bait and switch.

While there has been an oil train boom, the oil riding the rails in the U.S. is almost exclusively light crude, not tar sands oil from Canada…

If we want to reduce the risks from oil trains, let’s fix the trains and toughen safety standards. Disingenuous efforts to tie rail safety to tar sands pipeline construction is a bait and switch. Foisting pipelines on Americans will lock the nation into increased reliance on tar sands oil and more climate-change pollution.

It does nothing to safeguard our communities.

How to Prevent an Oil Train Disaster

Require energy producers to remove more of the volatile gases that the oil contains when it comes out of the ground, before they load the crude into rail tankers.


4/23/2015

Sofia’s gonna run a 5k!

Filed under: Life — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 3:36 pm

A major goal of minr for the summer of 2015 is to get Sofia in shape for a 5k run.

It’s uphill, since Sofia’s running a lot slower this year than say, two years ago.

But, we’ll get it done.

Here’s our training route.

Join us! Greg@chojnacki.us


3/27/2015

No ideas in Wisconsin

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 1:03 pm

Much is being made of the cuts being proposed to the state budget, and people are doing an excellent job documenting the harm that would result from cuts to

  • K-12 Education
  • the UW System
  • Family care plans
  • The environment

and more.

Similarly, we have seen the outcomes of four years of Republican”stewardship” of the state economy.

  • Slow economic growth
  • Slow job growth
  • Extreme stress to our K-12 education

While these particulars are important to examine, I’d like to spend a moment on a systemic problem, which I’ll call ideology over ideas.

Specifically, it occurs to me that much of what’s being done is being done without anticipating and evaluating the consequences.  For example, the proposal to convert the UW System to a Public Authority  — by July 1 — shows no inkling that there’s an actual plan for how this might be done in an orderly way. In fact, all evidence shows that such a dramatic change in a short period would lead to chaos.

Similarly, the rejection of federal funds for

  • High-speed rail
  • Rural internet
  • healthcare exchange

have cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars that could have stimulated our economy, strengthened our infrastructure and ameliorated our budgetary problems.

Another example: Our department of transportation seems seems to be stuck in a 20th century model of pouring concrete to solve our transportation problems — of moving cars, not bodies. And we want to borrow billions for this?

It’s small wonder wonder we have budgetary problems, a weak economy, and lag behind neighboring states that take a more evidence-based view of policy.

I would only add that packing all these policy changes into the budget makes it difficult for the citizens of the state to be aware of, much less weigh in on, the impacts on their lives. A cynic might say this is a deliberate attempt to serve the few at the expense of the many.


3/9/2015

This cracks me up

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:32 am

It’s wicked,but I had to share


2/21/2015

Right to the bottom

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:52 am

Following is a letter I wrote to my state representative, Rob Hutton. I encourage you to write to your state representatives to oppose so-called “right to work” legislation.

Rep. Hutton,

I am writing to you in opposition to the proposed legislation limiting union agreements in Wisconsin. It’s being touted as “right-to-work,” but I view it as “free-rider,” giving workers benefits they haven’t worked for.

While I’m mindful of the political benefits that might accrue to supporters of the legislation, as policy,  it is damaging to our state’s workers and economy.

Our state’s economy is already lagging behind our neighbors’ because of policies that serve ideological views, not economic realities.

Economists have shown:

  • “Free-rider” laws have no impact in boosting economic growth: research shows that there is no relationship between right-to-work laws and state unemployment rates, state per capita income, or state job growth.
  • “Free-rider” laws have no significant impact on attracting employers to a particular state; surveys of employers show that “right to work” is a minor or non-existent factor in location decisions, and that higher-wage, hi-tech firms in particular generally prefer free-bargaining states.
  • “Free-rider” laws lower wages—for both union and nonunion workers alike—by an average of $1,500 per year, after accounting for the cost of living in each state.
  • “Free-rider” laws also decrease the likelihood that employees get either health insurance or pensions through their jobs—again, for both union and nonunion workers.
  • By cutting wages, “Free-rider” laws threaten to undermine job growth by reducing the discretionary income people have to spend in the local retail, real estate, construction, and service industries. Every $1 million in wage cuts translates into an additional six jobs lost in the economy.

Lower wages, decreased demand for businesses’ products and services, less health care. These are not things Wisconsin needs today or for the future.

I believe that the intent to “fast-track” this legislation is tantamount to an admission that proper scrutiny of the legislation will reveal its unacceptably harmful effects. That alone should suggest to you that this is bad policy and bad governmental practice.

Opposition to this legislation will best serve the interests of your constituents and the state as a whole.

Thank you.

Greg Walz-Chojnacki
8007 Portland Ave.
Wauwatosa, WI 53213


2/17/2015

Doomed to repeat history?

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:26 am

“We are now facing a cut that will absolutely savage the infrastructure and quality of teaching and research to this university,” said John Sharpless, a Republican who is a history professor at the Madison campus. “What would be a shame for us in Wisconsin is if Scott leaves a wake of damage here on his way to the presidency.”

It would seem that Prof. Sharpless is a historian of ancient times. If he’d been paying attention to recent history, he’d know that Scott Walker always leaves a wake of damage.


2/2/2015

If it ain’t broke…

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:11 pm

We’re all familiar with the expression, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It seems that Wisconsin’s government is controlled by people who have such ideological disdain for any public institutions that their approach is, “If it ain’t broke, break it.”

K-12 education? Break it.

Fair electoral system? Break it.

Supreme Court? Break it.

Wisconsin Retirement System? Break it. (You heard it here first.)

You couldn’t imagine a better example of this “philosophy” than the unprecedented damage Scott Walker proposes to inflict on the University of Wisconsin System.

We’re talking about an institution that is admired around the world. Obviously, much of the admiration is directed at the oldest campus, Madison, but the entire system offers first-class  — and often world-class — education to Wisconsin citizens at some of the lowest costs available in the nation.

This is an institution that doesn’t need repair.

Aside from ideological disdain for public institutions, there are two other reasons for this proposal:

  1. Tax cuts and refusals to take federal funds have combined to create a massive deficit, in large part because the tax cuts were a double-whammy: They directly reduced revenue to the state, and rather than enhancing the economy, they created anti-stimulus, dampening economic activity and further reducing revenues. Republican fiscal policy has ill served this state’s economy.
  2. Scott Walker can’t take responsible action to fix the deficit, because responsible solutions aren’t part of the extreme right-wing ideology on which he hopes to float his presidential aspirations.

Speaking of those aspirations, it’s clear that Walker is ready to sacrifice one of this state’s greatest legacies for the sake of his personal ambition. So yes, there are potential benefits to this proposal, but they are for Scott Walker, who wants to leave this state, not improve it.

Scott Walker’s proposal was not formulated to benefit the State of Wisconsin or its truly great public university system. It is designed to win the support of people who imagine that any public activity is a threat to their private interests — especially if it’s successful.

People who believe “if it ain’t broke, break it.”

 

 


1/25/2015

President Walker?

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:58 am

In today’s Journal Sentinel, Christian Schneider claimed that “liberals can’t fathom the idea that Walker could be a national candidate.”

I’m afraid Schneider is projecting his shallowness. We may have high principals and ideals but we’re not delusional.

  • Liberals have seen the election and re-election of a president who initiated the decline of the American middle class, Ronald Reagan
  • Liberals have seen the election and re-election of a president who made Americans culpable for the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and who made us a nation of torturers, George W. Bush.

Other Americans saw this too, but perhaps haven’t yet appreciated  the enormity of those elections. But those of us who have, realize that a Walker presidency would mean further degradation of the principals of justice and fairness that had made the United States a beacon to the world.

So, we liberals don’t find the notion of a President Scott Walker unfathomable.

We find it appalling.


12/22/2014

Reaping the whirlwind

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 1:04 pm

I was saddened by the murders of two New York City police officers last week. While there’s much still to be learned about this event, it appears that the killer, though apparently deranged, was also motivated by a particular anger at police.

With the recent rash of publicized killings of black men by on-duty police, it’s hard not to worry that this terrible act will be repeated. Given the ridiculous availability of assault-style weapons & by which I mean firearms designed to kill humans in multiples & and the multitude of examples of persons and groups using violence as an alternative to (failed) political processes, I worry that there are people planning to conduct similar ambushes.

And the potential for political violence obviously extends beyond our inner cities. We have a class of media hate- and fear-mongers — and I see them particularly on the right & who are vigorously peddling fear and hatred of our own government.

The ordinary citizens who see themselves as represented by the Tea Party & as distinct from the Astro Turf Tea Party & are right to be angry: Their real income has declined, along with the economic prospects of their children.

But, as I’ve been saying for years, they are angry at the wrong people. Their real enemy are the oligarchs who have been amassing political and economic power since the time of Ronald Reagan, and the expense of most Americans.

My fear is that when these folks realize they’ve been played, their anger will increase exponentially & and they have guns, lots of guns.

Between the GOP degrading our electoral processes and the right-wing’s drumbeat of attacks on government, the extreme right wing is playing a dangerous game.


10/7/2014

Rights for citizens

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:46 am

I’ve said this before in a different context, but while I’m very happy for the couples who can marry because of the Supreme Court’s refusal to overrule the lower court in the matter of the constitutionality of state same-sex marriage bans, I remain disappointed that the people of Wisconsin haven’t spoken up for themselves in this matter.

I hope someday soon that’s rectified.


8/4/2014

The Big Lie(s)

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:11 pm

Uppity Wisconsin said it well yesterday, but they kind of buried it:

Walker, like so many — “conservatives” doesn’t seem to quite cover it — have been amazingly successful at tearing down their opponents with attacks designed to turn the opponents strengths into weaknesses.

The classic case is the “Swift-Boating” of John Kerry by people in service to an administration of draft dodgers.

Now we have Walker attacking Mary Burke by vilifying Trek for not paying income tax and for outsourcing.

While presumably this is something he’d applaud in other businesses, Walker needs to attack Mary Burke’s obvious strengths of competency and business acumen.

It was refreshing to see the normally supine Milwaukee Journal Sentinel give considerable space to a clarification of Burke’s and Trek’s record. Sadly he hasn’t received a “pants-on-fire” rating.

I don’t have an obvious answer to this stratagem, and I suppose if it were obvious, the body politic would have been inoculated against it some time ago.

But we’d all to well to anticipate its use against any progressive candidate we support. The key thing is that it is hard to imagine a bald-faced lie about our candidates’ strengths, but, given the current state of political reportage in this state and country, it’s likely to happen, and the lie told gets more attention an has a bigger impression that the refutation. We need to train ourselves to imagine what we are


Sick of Government? Vote!

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 2:11 pm

A lot of people, I fear, are inclined to stay home at election time because they are discontented with the way  government is operating, particularly at the Congressional level.

Not to be harsh, but one reason government is so dysfunctional is that too many people stayed at home at election time in November 2010.

A couple of important consequences of that, in Wisconsin and many other states, are:

  1. our legislature is dominated by ALEC toadies, who
  2. redrew the district voters in such a way that the majority is represented by minority elected officials. That is, while Democrats won the popular vote in Wisconsin, our congressional delegation is 5-3 Republican.

So we have a government that is unresponsive to majority rule, and has less and less incentive to strive for compromise policy. Consequently we frequently have NO policy.

The more people vote, the better government is. Period.

So…

Plan To VOTE!!!


6/20/2014

Human Rights and Democracy

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 7:15 am

I was very happy to learn about the court decision on the constitutionality  of Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban, but not completely.

I’d be much happier if the people of Wisconsin removed this stain on our constitution themselves.

It’s my suspicion that we have this in our constitution because its proponents were more passionate in their — what’s he right word, hatred, fear? — of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters than the rest of us had for protecting their rights.

Credit to the homophobes: They were better at getting out their voters than we were.

But shame on the rest of us for waiting to have a court do what we should have done — and still should do: ensure that all people in our state  have the same rights and opportunities as people who happen to represent a certain point of view in a certain election.


6/11/2014

A hidden message in Cantor’s defeat

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 12:10 pm

“Eric Cantor represents large corporations who want a never-ending supply of cheap, low-wage foreign labor,” Dave Brat said in his stump speech.

So, we’ve witnessed this political season’s shocker. What can we learn?

For me, Brat’s statement above — and his shocking victory over Eric Cantor — suggests an opportunity, though one that’s admittedly tricky to exploit.

It’s been my belief for some time that the dominant sentiment in the Tea Party is repressed economic anxiety. Of course, there’s economic anxiety all around. But on the right, it often finds expression in ways progressives rightfully find repugnant: anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-women’s rights — or crazy gun rights advocacy. But I contend this is the result of deft misdirection by the GOP, which now has found it’s got a tiger by the tail.

But Brat’s attack on “large corporations” also suggests a hope of finding common cause with many Tea Party adherents — if they can only be made to see that taxes, gays,  women, and black presidents aren’t their problem — their problem is the overwhelming economic and political power of the 0.1%.

We need to bear this in mind when confronted by Tea Party “hate.” It’s not hate, it’s really fear —  fear that we share, frankly. The better we get at turning the conversation in that direction, the more successful we progressives will be.

For more, read Ryan Lizza’s excellent piece on Brat in the New Yorker.


11/27/2013

Thanksgiving Dinner

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 2:24 pm

Just in time for those family gatherings, here are a couple of sources of info to have in your quiver should the conversation turn to politics:

Happy Thanksgiving!


11/26/2013

Don’t stun me, bro!

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:11 am

<rant>

So, when was the last time you were truly stunned? Did you enjoy it?

For me, stunned is what you are when you’re hit by a professional boxer, or in my case, when as a child you squeeze a roll of caps in a vise and they all explode at once.

I don’t want to be stunned by my computer screen, a new TV, a stereo system or a woman in a bikini. In fact,  several times a week I probably unconsciously but deliberately avoid being stunned  by slamming doors, people riding bicycles on sidewalks,  poor drivers, etc.

I’ve been stunned, and I don’t enjoy it. So if you’re trying to sell me something, don’t promise that it’ll stun me.

</rant>


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