Thursday, December 23, 2010

Texass > Wisconsin? Ho, ho, ho!

It seems a lot of people want to think of Texas as the new prototype in America. After all, it's getting 4 more seats in Congress due to the new Census, and grew by over 20 percent in the last 10 years. They're also held up as some kind of example of how right-wing economics works, since they have zero state income tax, have a low cost of land and labor, and are heavily deregulated. In fact, the newly-elected Gov. Dropout has told Texas guv Perry "Wisconsin is coming after you," because he thinks Texas is a leader that we should follow.

I understand that things in Walker World are typically upside down from reality in general, and it especially holds true in this case, because if we become more like the Texans, we'll be falling from where we are now.

Dont believe me? Go to the numbers:

Unemployment rate, November, 2010- Wisconsin 7.6%, Texas 8.2%

Poverty Rate, 2009 Census- Wisconsin 12.4%, Texas 17.2% (though in Scotty's defense, Milwaukee County is 20.2, so them reaching Texas levels would be an improvement, I suppose)

Per capita income, 2009- Wisconsin $36,822, Texas $36,484

Per capita income growth 2006-'09- Wisconsin 7.0%, Texas 3.7%.

% of population with no health insurance - Wisconsin 10% (tied for 4th best in U.S.), Texas 26% (DEAD LAST, and I do mean dead)

HS graduation rate, 2008- Wisconsin 89.6 (up 4.8% under Jim Doyle), Texas 73.4 (down 0.4% under Rick Perry)

% of population with a college degree- Wisconsin 39.7%, Texas 30.7%

So basically, Texas is poorer with lower income growth, has more unemployed and much more uninsured, and is significantly less educated than Wisconsin. And THEY'RE the ones we're trying to follow? REALLY?

Well, Scott Walker's policies will certainly bring down our standard of living to Texas levels, that's for sure, so I can see why he views it as a goal. And especially when you consider the acheivement and educated-hating dead-enders that voted for Gov. Dropout, I guess it does add up, now that I think of it.

But for those of us who do give a crap about the future of Wisconsin, maybe not such a good plan. Much like the football game I'll witness on Jan. 1, I think you'd better go with the hard workers from Wisconsin over the Texasses.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Poverty rampant in Wisconsin! Or not...

I love the Journal-Sentinel's attempt at alarmism in today's paper. They shout in huge headlines about how POVERTY ROSE ALL OVER WISCONSIN IN THE 2000s! You mean the top of the tech bubble had fewer poor people than the pit of the Bush Depression? I am blown away by that correlation.

In addition to the poorly written headline (poverty did not "increase by 10%" in most Wisconsin counties, it "increased to over 10% " in most Wisconsin counties), the key stat should be to compare Wisconsin's increase to other states. If everyone's got more poverty, is it necessarily a reflection of Wisconsin if they're like everyone else?

Well, let's go to the numbers. You'll see that Wisconsin rose from 8.6% poverty in 2000-2001 to 10.4% in 2007-08, and 11.1% in the UW-Extension study. So that's an increase of 1.8% in the 08 study and 2.5% in 2009. Now go back to the state table, and you'll notice that Wisconsin's increase is well below the likes of Midwest counterparts Michigan (2.3%), Ohio (2.9%)Minnesota (3.1%), and the big "winner", Mitch Daniels' business-friendly paradise of Indiana (4.6%! Mich, my man!).

Nationwide, Wisconsin's increase is above the national average of 1.4%, so work needs to be done, but the U.S. average of 12.9% is well below Wisconsin's 10.4%, and you want some real fun, check out the poverty in those "low-tax" Confederate states. Yeegads!

One last point, note that the WOW Counties around Milwaukee have the lowest poverty rates, while Milwaukee is 3rd-highest at 18.0%. You think the fact that Milwaukee is still at the top in city vs. suburb segregation might have a bit to do with that? It's easy for Waukesha County to be low-poverty when they refuse to build housing developments for lower-income people in their communities, like they did in New Berlin. Maybe if these people stopped hiding from the real world, they might actually start to do something about this serious problem that is killing life in the 414 and 262 area codes.

And also, note the high rates of poverty in the isolated Indianhead region of NW Wisconsin. Scary stuff, and it tells you that poverty is anything but an urban issue.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Just a reminder....

We don't live in the GOLD state, we live in the BADGER state. 69-64, and them's the facts.

Sorry to spoil your Super Bowl, ND Junior. Oh wait, no I'm not.

P.S. As passed on from a close personal friend, this article will explain my rip of Marquette...well, in addition to letting Silly Scotty Walker into their school.

I'm always thankful that I went to a school that doesn't waste its time looking over its shoulder in envy at other places, and instead works on getting themselves better. Kinda like how Milwaukee suburb boys spend their entire lives comparing themselves to others, and dooing the best they make sure they knock down achievers to their level.

Guess that's why I can't relate to Marquette or WisGOP mentality, now isn't it?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Barack, I'm out

After caving like that and continuing the regressive tax structure that has done nothing but drive up deficits and allow the affluent to cash in profits at the expense of employees, I have no choice.

In addition to the failure to let the taxes on the rich rise to the levels that were agreed to when these idiotic tax cuts were passed 7-9 years ago, the Social Security move may be worse. Remember, Social Security takes in more revenues that it spends out now, which "reduces" the current year fiscal deficit, and makes for an "increase" in the Social Security trust fund. Cutting those taxes means that part of these advantages goes away, and speeds up the timetable for when Social Security benefits would have too be reduced or modified in another way.

In ther words, Obama's proposal plays right into the hands of people who want to sell off and cut Social Security by increasing the possibility of a "crisis" in a program that really isn't in danger. How Obama couldn't at least trade keeping the lower Bush tax rates on income for the rich with raising the cap on Social Security taxes to shore it up for another 60 years is beyond me.

Barack, babe, you were amazing a couple of years ago. And you've done some good things in the last 22 months, probably better than a lot of people would lead others to believe. But now the shine's gone off and you've shown who you really are. With that in mind, I think I'm going to explore other politicians...probably for good.

Memo for Feingold, Kohl, Baldwin, and Moore. We are watching, and we will make you pay if you let this bad agreement go through. But if you stop it, we will be in your corner for the rest of your careers, as this will not be forgotten. (well, except for Russ, we'll always be in your corner regardless of what you do, but I'd be surprised if he didn't vote against this tax policy anyway)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tats for Tots

I wanted to give props to the guys at Ultimate Arts tatoo, who hosted the Tats for Tots event. They received nearly 700 toy donations for the Holidays, and gave away a whole lotta tatoos in the process.

Not a tat guy myself (I'm too much of a wuss and look far too conventional for it to work), but recognize a great act from a local company, and felt it appropriate to give them notice.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The WisGOPs are acting....very predictably

Nice to know Wisconsin Republicans are changing politics from the way they used to be in our state.

1. Scott Walker breaks Jim Doyle's precedent by turning the proceeds of the Inaugural Ball from a fund raiser for the Boys and Girls Club, and transforming it into a WisGOP fundraiser. He and his boys just get classier by the day.

2. Senator-elect "new face for Washington" Ron Johnson has chosen a former flunkie for Bush's Homeland Security secretary and current D.C. lobbyist for his chief of staff. And unlike Russ Feingold (who promised to hire Wisconinites as his D.C. staffers and like most of his promises, kept to it), RoJo takes a Virginia guy who's probably living in one of those D.C. d-bag suburbs that's built on people who bilk the government for contracts and tax breaks.

If you were foolish enough to think these boys would give some kind of change from the corrupt system we're polluted by, they're laughing at you all the way to the exclusive boys' club bank. HAHAHAHA!!! The only change will be to take the current rotten system, make it worse, and divert the money to their guys instead of who was there before.

I wouldn't be too bothered by the actions of you selfish naifs, but your idiocy hurt us too. We'll accept your apology over these next 2 years until you get a chance to formally repent.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Brett Favre = Sarah Palin

And before we get ahread of ourselves- we're talking the post- 2004 Brett Favre, not the Packer whose play will get him inducted into the Hall Of Fame 5 years after he finally gets the hint and stays on his tractor.

But let's be honest, the recent Brett Favre is much like Sarah Palin.

1. Makes millions off of an image of small-town true-blooded Americana. This is despite the fact that they have disgusting personal lives that are a reflection of their screwed-up, selfish natures, and have been so rich or empowered for so long that they truly have no idea how the average real person lives. In fact, they are comically clueless on the subject.

2. Have blind supporters who buy into this fake image and cover for their many mistakes and huge levels of failure. They also use surrogates in the media who suck up to them to get "exclusive access" (Favre with ESPN, Palin with Fox News).

3. They never take personal responsibility for their own mistakes, and are more than willing to throw anyone under the bus who gets in their way.

4. Not even close to a team player (check out how little Favre helped Aaron Rodgers after he was drafted) and have petty personal rivalries with anyone they see as a possible competitor.

5. Always try to get even at those who beat them, to the point of childish pettiness (Favre with Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy, Palin with Barack Obama and Lisa Murkowski).

6. Despite all their spectacular failures, has media continue to insist that they are legitimate threats to succeed, and blows smoke up their backsides. This is despite the fact that those who really are in the know rightfully laugh them out of the room, and know they will never get it done when it matters. This is true for the past few years, now, or any time in the future.

7. "Elitist overejukated urbanites" like me who nod and say "We told you so" will never get that admission from the dwindling level of losers that still think their side was right.

AM I WRONG HERE? Yeah, don't think so.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wisconsin was better than the rest of America before Walker's election

Right on cue from my point yesterday, the Wisconsin DWD released the October 2010 unemployment numbers and they showed job growth not only for the month October, but a growth of 15,500 jobs year-over-year (up about 0.6% from the year before). This 0.6% increase puts Wisconsin right in line with the 0.6% increase nationwide, reflecting the 829,000 added jobs in the last year, with 151,000 of that in the last month.

Interesting how this didn't come out till after the elections that swept the Republicans back in power, wasn't it? In fact, Wisconsin has weathered the storm of this historical downturn pretty well compared to the rest of the country. Check out the change in unemployment rates in the last 3 years here vs. the U.S. rate. I'm using the October rates of each year

2010 2009 2008 2007
Wis. 7.8 8.7 4.9 4.8
U.S. 9.6 10.1 6.6 4.8

So when people say Jim Doyle and the Dems were brutal job-killer that made Wisconsin fall behid, they're DEAD WRONG. You think Nevada or Florida or any of those other subprime or Confederate states dealing with double-digit unemployment wouldn't want to trade with us? Same works for poverty rates.

2009 2008 2007 2006
Wis. 12.4 10.4 10.8 11.0
U.S. 14.3 13.3 13.2 13.3

1 in 8 in Wisconsin is quite a bit different than 1 in 7 nationwide. Now the gap has narrowed slightly from 2.3 to 1.9 points, but it's still 1.9 points below the national average. It's no coincidence that a high investment into health care and education is a big reason why Wisconsin is not in the high teens and 20+ (!) numbers that you see in the South and the subprime states.

So why bring this up? To show that Scott Walker comes into office in a state that is 1.9% below the national average in unemployment and poverty. I'm not thinking that's gonna continue (and not just because the U.S. economy's coming back, barring GOP intereference in Washington), and I think we need to start tracking it. We've done things right in Wisconsin because we don't fall for the low-tax, low-service garbage that plantation states like South Carolina or Mississippi do, but now we have a governor who is looking to Jeb Bush in Florid-uhhh (state motto: "As seen on COPS") as a model of educational reform (check out the "grading schools" idea). Uh oh.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quick November fallout

Well, it's been 2 weeks since my home state gave in to madness and elected a college dropout and a dowry-collecting d-bag in place of competent, good individuals who actually give a shit about someone who makes less than 6 figures. And I'll break down the numbers on that when I choose to get around to it (basically, I was right in that the polls were pro-GOP biased, but I was wrong in assuming the young and casual voters would realize the stakes and come out like a prez election year, and that working-class whites would be able to see through bagger BS).

But in the short-term, let's note that when Scott Walker was elected governor, the state of Wisconsin had an unemployment rate nearly 2% lower than the national average, and a poverty level also about 2 points below the national rate. I'm betting those numbers get a lot closer (if not cross) in the 2 years we'll be stuck with these clowns.

Oh, and the Cretins for Republicans Governance better back the fuck off of Marina Dmitrejevic in Milwaukee County. 1. It won't work, because Bay View actually has a pair and few senior citizens, unlike the Walker front group. 2. We have a lot more reasons to run your boy Scotty than you do Marina. And we're just biding our time to pull out our petitions.

Ya wanna bring it? We dare you. You've made the mistake of ticking off people smarter and tougher than you, and that's a deadly combination to overcome.

Lastly, I was at the Badgers' thumping of IU, and Bucky did NOT run up the score. IU rolled over as badly as any team I have seen, and last I checked, you don't stop trying to succeed, even if you're just running it up the middle. The national media folks criticizing UW clearly did not see the game, and it's insulting to hear their ill-informed takes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Interesting poll and good football

In all the haze and navel-gazing from a media who is trying as hard as they can to get the Republicans back in power (or at least get money from their ads and have lots of interested viewers on Election Night), comes this poll from Newsweek which shows Obama and Dem approval at higher-than-usual levels. Well, how is this so? CHECK THE CROSSTABS. 11.5% of voters under 30, and about 40% under 50, which is much below the other polls I've been ripping earlier (remember the poll that had under 35 as "N/A"?) . This is probably much closer to what the real voting population will be compared to the earlier polls.

Newsweek also takes the extra step most other pollsters haven't recently, TALK TO PEOPLE ON CELL PHONES. 1/3 of the respondents were reached by cell phone, 2/3 by landlines. Again, this is probably closer to reality, but I'm sure it'll be laughed off as some left-wing outlier. Let's just say that we'll see in 8 days which model is right- the one based on population and demographics, or the one based on an arbitrary picture of the "likely voter."

I'm hoping Election Night goes half as well as it did for Wisconsin football teams this weekend. I'd argue Bucky's comeback at Iowa is a bigger win than OSU due to all the injuries they had to fight through, and the fact that Iowa's offense came to play in its own building. Bucky's bye week couldn't come as a better time, because these exhilarating wins take a lot of toll, despite being so fun.

Then the Pack hang on against Brent and the Vikes. Notice that Favre's limp got worse whenever he INT'd or threw an INC pass? I am Jake's complete lack of surprise on that one. Brent really is a lot like the Republicans- self-absorbed, past his prime, gets far more media coverage and reverence than he deserves, really doesn't have a helluva lot to say, and goes out of his way to remind you how put-upon he is, despite having more money and breaks than any of us know what to do with. We'll see if this "fractured ankle" miraculously heals in time for Brent to trade notes with Brady next week on how to bang hotties.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

UW 31, OSU 18!

Now that was a helluva lot of fun to be a part of! Best crowd I've been a part of at Camp Randall since at least the Dayne Game in 1999, and that was more of an "we're going to see Dayne break the record" feeling than being there solely to cheer on Bucky. The place was intense from the first play to the last, and the scratchiness that is my voice today is a reminder of that.

Now, as Winston Wolfe might say "let's not start sucking on each other's popsicles quite yet," especially with another huge game against Top 10 Iowa next week. But I'm going to savor this one for now, and always remember it, as I'm sure fellow Badger grads Russ Feingold and Tom Barrett did as well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stimulus still stabilized and beats the GOP's record

The most recent unemployment numbers came out last Friday, and featured some fretting due to 95,000 jobs being lost in September . Certainly no good, but as you will see, it should in no way be seen as proof of the ARRA stimulus being a "failure."

The fact that it was the September numbers is noteworthy, as September 2008 featured the failure of Lehman Brothers and record job losses over the next several months as Bushism and supply-side was (or should have been) discredited forever. But it didn't just start in September of 2008. Jobs were bleeding out the 12 months prior to that collapse, and were barely gaining in the year before that. By comparison, we now have more jobs than we had this time last year, despite large declines in recent months due to government and Census job losses, which is pretty remarkable when you see where we were:

Oct. 06- Sept. 07 - +1.215 million jobs
Oct. 07- Sept. 08 - -1.384 million jobs
Oct. 08- Sept. 09 - -6.426 million jobs (over 500K a month!)
Oct. 09- Sept. 10 - +0.344 million jobs

It's also intriguing to compare the year-over-year job changes with what happened in the 2 years following the passage of the first Bush tax cuts (you know, the ones that are supposed to end in 2 months but the ones that GOPs want to make permanent). I left out Sept.- December 2001 from this comparison because that was in the 3 months after 9/11, and Bush should not be held to account much of those changes due to the major buying changes that happened in those months.

Jan.-Dec. 2002- -0.540 million
Jan.-Dec. 2003- +0.087 million
COMBINED- -0.453 thousand

That's right, in the last year, we have seen nearly 800 thousand more jobs in the Obama Administration post-stimulus than we saw in 2002 and 2003 put together. And yet the GOPs want to unwind the stimulus and go back to the Bush years? I mean, really?

And another reason why the jobs numbers aren't as bad as right-wing propaganda tries to make it to be is the cut in government employment. Check the top of the table that breaks down employment by industry. You'll see that private-sector employment has grown by 873,000 in 2010. Granted, 97,000 a month is no great shakes when you need 100-150K to keep up with regular population growth, but it's a whole lot better than losing 500K a month like we saw in '08-'09.

The reason why you haven't seen a lot of stories of dropping unemployment or huge job gains is the drop in government payrolls. The government sector has lost 248,000 thousand jobs this year, including 205,000 at the local level- the teachers, fire fighters, and police officers that were frequently mentioned when Congress was debating (and finally passing after GOP obstruction) aid to communities earlier this year. And unlike what the paid hacks on comment pages may say, these people pay taxes too, and they buy houses and consume other goods and services, just like anyone else, so if they lose jobs, others will too, and those potentially lower taxes from fewer gov't employees won't mean a whole lot when you aren't making as much money yourself.

As I theorized earlier , the mistake of the stimulus was that it played up recovery, instead of stabilization. And its success in stabilizing and starting to reverse the disastrous course we were on in 2007-2009 is unmistakable. Why anyone would want us to go back to where we were is absolutely beyond me, and I maintain faith that most understand this, and won't be stupid enough to give GOPs the gains the media wants them to have.

I think the GOP knows it too, which is why they want to get back into power and gum up the works, because while it would toss the economy back down the hill that we've been trying to climb up and destory the lives of a few more millions, it might increase their chances of winning and staying viable in 2012 and beyond. And the GOP would rather be on top of an Empire of Dirt, than be second place in a prospering and improving nation. It's seditious, but that's just the way they roll. See through their cynical act, and make the Republicans hurt in 3 weeks. Please.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Brent and the banged-up Pack

Not a good weekend for the Pack. Too many injuries, not enough execution in key moments, and a very mediocre head coach makes me start to think that this year isn't going to go as well as we thought. I just hope those Finley and Matthews injuries aren't more than a few weeks (and I thought Finley might be done for the year- now doesn't appear to be the case), because if they are, their playoff chances are toast with the schedule getting tough in November. And they still won't do much if McCarthy refuses to run the ball more than 10 times a game.

However, I also want to discuss tonight's Viking-Jet game. Fascinating game with the Moss return to the Vikes and Favre return vs. the Jets, in addition to the fact that the Jets have played as well as anyone the last 4 weeks, and the Vikes are staring at 1-3 with a loss (with a game against an equally desperate 1-3 Cowboy team next week). But that's not why I want to discuss it. I want to discus Brett Favre's sexting to Jenn Sterger.

1. It's borderline hilarious to me because I can make "check out my Wrangler jeans" references throughout the game. And it's not like it's surprising that Brent is a self-centered douche- the only creepy part is Sterger's comparsion to a young Deanna Favre.

2. We know why ESPN can't stay away from this story, because ESPN can't help but ignore a story that involves a. Brett Favre b. Something in NYC, and c. (most importantly) A GAME ON ESPN. Put them all together, and there's more self-pleasing than Brent's pulling in this (alleged) video.

Should be good times to check this game out tonight. Probably more fun than what OSU might do to Bucky on Saturday, or what might be left of the Packers after this week's game.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Polls still biased, Feingold/ Barrett doing better than media says

The media is still lazily running with poll figures that still don't match the reality of who votes in Wisconsin. The most recent Marist poll has Scott Walker up 8 points over Tom Barrett, and Ron Johnson up 7 over Russ Feingold among 500 "likely" Wisconsin voters. But then you go inside the numbers, and there are some suspicious assumptions. The biggest problem is the overestimating of conservatives in these polls. In the Marist poll, Feingold leads by 21 points among self-described moderates, and Feingold leads by 80 points among liberals, while Johnson leads by 72 among conservatives. With those numbers, shouldn't Russ be up big? Well, not if you think conservatives are around 48% of those voting, as this poll does.

The problem for RoJo and the other GOPs is that the electorate is NOT 48% conservative. Kristin Solis recently ran an article mentioning this overstating, and it features a great graph showing the ideological breakdown of voters . It shows the liberal-moderate-conservative breakdown consistently around 20-45-35. For the sake of argument, I'll be nice to the Sykesists, and make Wisconsin's electorate at 20-40-40. Then, we'll plug in the numbers from this poll to that 20-40-40 electorate, and see what we get.

Feingold - 90% liberal support + 58% moderate + 12 conservative = (.9 x .2 = 18.0%) + (.58 x .4 = 23.2%) + (.12 x .4 = 4.8%) = 46.0%

Johnson- 10% liberal + 37% moderate + 84% conservative = (.1 x .2 = 2.0%) + (.37 x .4 = 14.8%) + (.84 x .4 = 33.6%) = 50.4%

So that 52-45 just dropped to 50-46 based on a realistic setup of the electorate, 4 sounds a lot closer than 7, don't it? Let's do the same for Barrett vs. Walker.

Barrett - 90% liberal + 56% moderate + 13% conservative = (.9 x .2 = 18.0%) + (.56 x .4 = 22.4%) + (.13 x .4 = 5.2%) = 45.6%

Walker - 7% liberal + 34% moderate + 83% conservative = (.07 x .2 = 1.4%) + (.34 x .4 = 13.6%) + .83 x .4 = 33.2%) = 48.2%

So this race has just shrunk from 51-43 to 48-46, a statistical toss-up.

And I'm not even mentioning the Marist poll's different results when the wider universe of "registered voters" come in instead of the "likely voters" the Journal-Sentinel ran with. Both of those polls have Barrett and Feingold 4-5 points closer. So in other words, if you adjust the wider voting universe to fit what the real electorate tends to be in Wisconsin BARRETT AND FEINGOLD LEAD.

We also aren't mentioning age bias. For example, Wisconsin has 2nd highest turnout and percentage of voters under 30 in the last midterm election, and had the highest share of voters under 30, at one in 6. But nevertheless, most polls of Wisconsin have the percentage of people polled under 30 at 5% or less. You think people under 30 might vote for Russ Feingold or Tom Barrett? You bet they will, and if the polls reflected how many of them were out there, Barrett and Feingold would rise in the polls. Why are these organizations ignoring this reality? Couldn't be because a Feingold/ Barrett win gets in the way of their narrative of "Republican resurgence through voter anger", could it? NAAAAH!

Bottom line, if a normal Wisconsin electorate turns out, Feingold and Barrett are in great position to win (even more so when we'll see in debates that Walker and Johnson have NOTHING to offer past talking points and failed ideas). Don't let the sliding media fool you, not only can Barrett and Feingold win, but if they seize the momentum I can definitely feel on the ground (the Barrett/ Feingold signs have sprouted all over the place since Obama came to town), they WILL win.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

More on health care

I wanted to give a brief update on my friends Steve and Tracy, whose health difficulties and resulting economic strains were chronicled severeal months ago. Steve is now walking, albeit not without some difficulty and the occasional bad day when needs rest. But he has been able to be covered due to the new High-Risk Insurance Pools that the health care reform bills created (here is Wisconsin's program which Steve is covered under). Unfortunately, he probably has permanent scar tissue and back pain difficulties since his condition could not be treated in time, and it's a sad reminder that the biggest assistance that affordable helth care gives to people is the ability to proactively take care of problems, instead of have finances (or lack thereof) dictate treatment.

The second part of this is that Tracy informed us last night that she is going to get a biopsy on Wednesday to test for breast cancer. I will add that she is all of 37 years old, and any time you hear the "C" word, it is frightening, even if it's very possible that you don't have it or it is in an early treatable stage. I wished them the best, and it shakes you when you see good people get dealt such rotten hands through no fault of their own.

And this is why the health care reform opponents and other associated right-wing whiners are so appalling to me. So many things in life happen to you, not because of things you do yourself, and to have the hubris to not demand that government be there for support if something like that happens to you, and occasionally demean and laugh off those who have misfortune fall to them, is disgusting. YOU could be the next one laid off due to your company's mismanagement. YOU could be the one stricken with some awful ailment that requires you to miss work and get treatment. YOU could be the one victimized by the next stock market crash that results due to negligent regulation or executives gambling with company assets.

In the greatest country in the world (and yes, I still believe that), it is not acceptable to have people fall through the cracks and into the ground because of things beyond their control. And if you don't believe it could happen to you, you're probably the one that deserves to have it happen to you, and will have it happen to you, just so you learn the lesson.

I may have more in a couple of days, but it's been busy with the girlfriend moving in and with plenty of visits to family as this hot, long summer comes to an end. But I had to get this off my chest.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Stop the frauds

The high level of bullshit coming from D.C. and Sconnie punditry is getting revolting. First off, two D.C. hacks (Charles Cook and Stu Rothenberg) are trying to convince people the Feingold-Johnson race is a "tossup". Their reasoning? Basically landline polls (which as I mentioned earlier are GOP-leaning and bullshit in a same-day registration state like Wisconsin) and that they like the cut of Ronnie's jib. Rothenberg even said he liked Johnson's "straight talk" and Feingold's "act may be wearing thin."

Obviously Stewie hasn't been in Wisconsin, because I see more Feingold stickers than ever 3 months out of the election, and Johnson can't give a straight answer on BP or Afghanistan or concealed carry, or pretty much anything else that doesn't involve cutting taxes. I understand that D.C. pundits and Wisconsin media outlets want a close race, but it really isn't and certainly won't be as people realize RoJo has nothing, even by the low standards of the average Republican. But there's no money in an easy Feingold win, so we can't give that story line from our bought media, now can we? (shakes head)

Paul Ryan got eviscerated by Paul Krugman over the last few days. But why does it take Krugman to step up and point out that Ryan was intentionally leaving out revenue cuts when he claimed his Medicare sellout to insurance companies would reduce the deficit? Because our media values access and stories instead of truth-telling, and so they let these supply-side charlatans like Purty Mouth Paulie get away with his bald-face lies. Because after all, it's hard to get good interviews with someone if you've exposed them as frauds.

There's only 1 place where supply-side and the GOP still have interest- D.C. and East Coast media, because all they want is to have a seat at the table with these snake-oil salesmen at their expense cocktail parties. All this talk about the "national mood" is colored by landline-based polls that give heavy weight to the South. Well, people that sit on their Social Security-receiving backsides listening to Rush every day aren't going to be the ones who decide these elections, people who work and have to deal with this country's future will. And that's why the Dems are in much better shape than what the media wants to admit, because as much as the Dems have been too milquetoast to make serious progress on our big problems, lots of people still HATE the Republicans. And the GOPs aren't helping themselves by their blind loyalty to the Rush/ Sykes crowd. We REALLY can't stand those cynical blowhards.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Water, water everywhere

Scary weather out here. Hope all of you are staying as dry as possible and that there's no major long-term damage. I'd like to see the climate change deniers take a trip to Shorewood or North Ave. and Oakland and run their lies on those people. I'm guessing they wouldn't last long.

When you have once-in-a-generation storms every 2-3 years, something's changed, and some adjustments probably need to be made. The one thing you don't do is put your fingers in your ears and stamp around in denial. Maybe overgrowth and lack of green space isn't the way to go if you have large amounts of moisture and not a lot of space to put it. What'cha think?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When do more jobs = less jobs? When it's Wisconsin in the summer!

It's been interesting comparing the alarmist Journal-Sentinel headlines on jobs compared to the actual employment data from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Today, the DWD released figures that indicated the state added 22,500 jobs in June 2010 (see page 3). Sounds like great news, but the Journal-Sentinel headline blared that the 5,100 jobs lost in the Milwaukee MSA in June. But wait, if you see Page 2, it also says that the Milwaukee area ADDED 1,300 jobs last month. So what gives?

The answer is seasonal employment patterns. Lots of people enter the workforce in early Summer, especially students looking for Summer jobs, migrant workers, and tourist-related jobs. So it is expected that a lot of jobs and job-seekers will be added. The result is seasonally-adjusted figures that try to smooth out these changes, to get a more accurate feel for how employmnent is going.

But does it? As this article and many others note, teen employment has gone way down the last couple of years. This is the group that would be very likely to get Summer jobs and be part of the employment market in big numbers this time of the year. If they aren't being hired, then the expected bump in employment would not exist resulting in a "loss" of jobs in the seasonally-adjusted figures despite more people working in the real world. It also means they may be more likely to stay at home or go to Summer School instead of get a job, which means they wouldn't show up in the work force at all. And the Wisconsin seasonally adjusted figures show big drops in both unemployment and work force, which would correlate with this theory of teens/ college students not being hired.

Take a look at the June figures again and compare them with the March ones , it says 91,200 more people are working in the last 3 months, and that the unadjusted unemployment rate plummeted from 9.8% to 8.1%. If you looked at those numbers, you'd figure the economy was booming. It's not, because seasonal adjustment tells you employment should rise with the temperatures that time of the year, but even the seasonally-adjusted rates in Wisconsin are going down.

June 2009 8.9%
March 2010 8.8%
June 2010 7.9%

But did the Journal-Sentinel mention this 1.0% decrease in unemployment to a level 1.6% below the U.S. rate? Uhh, not exactly. While they may have a point that a lower rate due to lower participation in the work force is a sort of "tallest midget" award, the overwhelming negativity of the JS articles tell me that they're more interested in giving Charles Sykes some material for the next day's show instead of reporting what's really happening in the job market.

Last point- given that the low levels of teen employment are skewing the employment numbers down for the Summer, does that mean that the seasonal jobs figures start going UP once August and September roll around, and there are no Summer jobs to lose. The seasonal adjustment would expect a large drop in employment, and if it doesn't happen, then there would be a large "increase" in the seasonally adjusted job figure merely by staying even in those sectors. Let's see if there are some suprises to the upside coming as we get closer to election time...and see how the Journal-Sentinel spins it when it happens.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Why do you think we're in this mess. Hmmm?

Ok, I'm not in a mood to add a narrative rant right now, given that I have a wedding and a massive tailgate to attend on a great July day. But let me throw out some links.

First of all, corporate profit margins are at their highest in at least 60 years. But hiring is still relatively stagnant. Hmmm....

Then, the Republicans claim that corporations and fake non-profits are planning to shell out $200 million for the 2010 elections. Think some of those record profit margins are going toward that? Hmmm...?

Another meme was put down by reality's liberal bias when the New York Times showed that homeowners with $1 million+ mortgages were more likely to foreclose than homeowners with laons under $1 million. Now why were we told by the Santellis of the world that it was dumb poor people to blame for the foreclosure crisis when the charts in the story clearly show it was house-flippers and other investors. Hmmm??

Closer to home, a Legslative Audit Bureau report shows that developers and businesses are avoiding millions of dollars of property taxes by calling land that's being held for building as "agricultural". Basically think of Terrence Wall's pumpkin patch off of Highway M in Middleton, and you get the idea. Now who pays those taxes for those extra required services if the developer scum cheating the system don't? Hmmm.....?

Oh, and it turns out we have a 2.5 billion structural budget deficit for the next governor. It's admittedly a conservative projection, since it figures a 0% increase in income and sales tax revenue in from 2011-2013, and if that's true, then we'll have bigger problems that just a budget deficit. But go behind the numbers, and you'll see that $290 million of that would be closed by reinstsating the estate tax for those years, and continuing combined reporting. Another $692 million goes away if you revert Medicaid assistance back to pre-stimulus levels. It still would leave a long way to go, but there are a lot of credits and giveaways on that list as well.

What do you think would happen if we closed a lot of these credits and had national health care replace Medicaid expenses? And how did we end up with all these credits and knick-knacks in the first place? Hmmmm??

And what's the common thread through all of this? I'll let all 4 of you figure it out, as I gotta get ready to look money for my girl and then get my drinkin' shoes on at Miller Park.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Brain-dead corporate media sucks up to big-name a-hole

I am, of course referring to "The Decision", the hour-long special to reveal....where LeBron James gets to flame out in next year's playoffs. I understand that this is the biggest open free agent to happen in sports for probably this generation (since the Minister of Defense?) , and it will help to shape the NBA for the next few years (barring the inevitable 2011 work stoppage). But to turn the end of your recruitment into a one-hour special is the height of narcissim, and if he really is leaving Cleveland (as the scuttlebutt indicates he will for Miami), to announce that on national TV is an all-time dick move to pull on C-Town, especially given the sports hits that place has taken in the last 30 years.

But he is by far not the only guilty one. ESPN officially has gone over the shark by giving into the superstar and giving him this ego-driven special. After whoring itself out to get the inside scoop on Bron, ESPN can't be taken seriously as any kind of sports journalism outfit (well, even less seriously than it was as long as they have a clown like Berman around). Charles Sykes discussing Scott Walker thinks ESPN is bringing weak-sauce favortism. And what happens next year, when Bron pulls a disappearing act like he did this year? You think Chris Broussard will rip him like he deserves to? Pathetic.

Bill Simmons hammers LeBron and Chris Bosh for acting like two-bit reality show "actors." And like most things involving the NBA, the Sports Guy knocks it out of the park. How does he not get an ESPN studio gig?

Needless to say, I won't be watching this crap. I'll be drinking or online....or both.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bullshit poll #3- rail disliked in Waukesha..ERRR...West Bend....ERRR..."Milwaukee area"

And here is another garbage poll that gets released to the Journal-Sentinel that (surprise!) favors a Republican position. This time it's the Public Policy Forum's poll on rail and other transportation issues. The Journal-Sentinel jumped on the finding that 41% of respondents now approve of the high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison, down from 57% in November. Needless to say, the Sykes crowd and other suburban whiners were quick to say that "no one" supports the train now that more is known about it, and therefore it shouldn't be done.

That does appear to be the case, until you check item 1 in the crosstabs. The respondents disproportionately come from Waukesha and Washington Counties (i.e. Teabag Central in Wisconsin), while Milwaukee County and especially African-Americans are not polled (and to the PPF's credit, they admit as much). Using the most recent Census figures released last week, let's compare who was asked the questions vs. the actual 4-county population.

Milwaukee Co. - 52.3% of poll (-9.2% vs. reality)
Ozaukee Co. - 4.7% of poll (-0.8% vs. reality)
Waukesha Co. - 27.7% of poll (+3.1% vs. reality)
Washington Co. - 15.3% of poll (+6.9% vs. reality)

Gee, with that kind of bias, what direction do you think this poll might lean?

Strangely, the PPF gives a lot of crosstabs on other questions by County, but conveniently ignores it for this one. So I'll use the responses relating to the downtown street car (listed at 42%) as a proxy for support for the rail line. Adjusting those percentages to fit the actual population of the real 4-county area, we now get the following levels of suport for the train:

Milwaukee Co. - 53% support at 61.5% of population = 32.6% of respondents
Waukesha Co. - 37% support at 24.6% of population = 9.1%
Washington Co. - 36% support at 8.4% of popualtion = 3.0%
Ozaukee Co. - 23% support at 5.5% of popualtion = 1.3%

Total support = 46.0%. Lot closer to even than 41%, isn't it?

And to go further, Washington, Waukesha, and Ozaukee County are way out of step with the rest of Wisconsin when it comes to voting and political attitudes. So it is safe to say that when the angry-man radio crowd says "the people of Wisconsin don't want this," they are as wrong about that statement as they are about most others.

What angers me about this is that Larry Sandler in the JS reported this poll as an indication of the feelings of the entire metro area without doing his homework and looking at the biased crosstabs. This gives creedence to the biased poll and allows the Republicans to run with this fake public support as a way to get support from the unsuspecting public. We need to be shouting the truth about these polls before the false story of "Conservative resurgence" starts to seem like reality to people, and becomes an Astroturf bandwagon that does not currently exist in the real world.

Or we need to form our own bullshit polling group and feeding the media with our doctored numbers like those assholes do, since we know the media doesn't have the brains or balls to question it. One or the other.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Barrett trailing? Ehhh, not so fast my friend!

And PPP has followed up the Senate poll I quoted yesterday with their governor poll that was taken from the same callers. And gee, what a surprise, it favors the Republicans .

The telling numbers here (in addition to the ridiculous age 30-45 crosstab), are the stats when broken down by ideology. Barrett leads Walker by 17 (!) points among moderates and 18 against Neumann. The only thing giving the GOP the alleged lead is the big number of conservatives vs. liberals (40 vs. 19). Now do you think a state that went 56-43 for Obama has conservatives make up 40% of the population and outnnumber liberals 2 to 1? COME ON.

Let's adjust that poll to a more realistic Wisconsin ideology figure of 25% liberal, 40% moderate, and 35% conservative (I'm being generous to the Sykes party, cause I'm a nice guy). Run those same voter-preference-by-ideology percentages again, and here's what you get.

Barrett 40.3%
Neumann 38.0%
Undecided 21.70%

Walker 41.70%
Barrett 41.65%
Undecided 16.65%

Little different story, now isn't it? It really is a statistical dead heat, which means Barrett has to win by grabbing about half of the remaining undecideds, especially the moderate undecideds, and having liberals turn out (he leads by 65% over both challengers there).

But you can bet that won't be mentioned in the JS or the other lazy mainstream publications. But since we know how to crunch numbers and know real Wisconsinites (which ain't people with landlines lounging at home on a beautiful Summer weekend), we know better.

And with that last sentence in mind, to the Terrace I go! And to Summerfest for the Hold Steady tomorrow. Good time to be a Cheesehead.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Feingold in trouble? Not exactly

I just posted this at (tremendous site) in the wake of the PPP poll that has Ron Johnson within 2 points of Russ Feingold.

"Interesting numbers in that PPP poll in Wisconsin that only has Feingold +2. Then you read closer and see why.

On Ron Johnson: "62% have no opinion of him."

Remember Nate (Silver)'s article a couple of months back that indicated a generic Republican does better than a real one? Yup. Too bad Johnson can't win an election hiding from people and only giving interviews to Milwaukee-area angry-man radio.

And 40% conservatives in the pool compared to 19% liberal? Respondents voted 48-47 for MCCAIN in the last election? In a state that went 56-43 Obama. 6% ages 18-29 but 69% ages 46+? MAJOR FAIL.

Last point, Feingold won his race in 2004 by 300,000 voted more than Kerry. You think those 300,000 are going to vote for a millionaire that looks like Mr. Burns? Yeah, riiiiight.

I stick with my pick of Feingold by 10. But if it wastes GOP money on this race and encourages Dems to come out in the Fall and keeps the Governorship and Legslature in Dem hands, I'll take that meme of "Feingold in trouble" for now."

EDIT- And one last great stat from that poll. Feingold's approval/ disapproval is 32-46 for people 30-45. I'm in the 30-45 age range. Most of my friends are in the 30-45 age range. That polling is a JOKE, as most of them approve of Feingold much more than they approve of Obama. They must have been solely calling land lines in the 262 to get that result.

The media is trying so hard to make these elections seem like they're leaning Republican- lot more ratings in close elections with story lines. It'll be fun seeing them have to change their tune by September and October, very similar to how they tried so badly to make Obama-McCain seem competitive, just so you'd keep watching. Always follow the $$$, folks.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tailgating with libertarians

It's been a busy time in the Funhouse, between trips to Milwaukee for Saturday's festivities and witnessing a YoGo masterpiece at Miller Park on Thursday. But fortunately, I didn't come upon Libertarian Party registrants when I was in the Yount Lot, like Mitchell Bard did this weekend. Fortunately, Mitch stymied this guy with reality, which tends to stymie the average Libertarian when it comes to economics.

These Libertarians like to wear a lot of three-pointed hats and talk about the Founders, but conveniently forget the most relevant of the Fedealist Papers, #51, especially the part where Madison says "if men were angels, no government would be necessary." Men are far from angels, especially when they have huge amounts of money and monopolistic control over resources, and that part means libertarians fall far short of any type realistic solutions to economic problems in the 21st Century. But since they do want to legalize it, allow beer on Sunday in all places (you hear me, Indiana?), and remove fundies from the political sphere, they still can give a worthwhile contribution.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Random crazy guy thoughts

Here's a few items recently that grabbed my attention.

1. I'll lead you off with a great article re-produced in the Wisconsin State Journal from talk show host Michael Smerconish , which illustrates how far TV has fallen in discussion of issues. As Smerconish brings up, sensible and decent does not move the ratings meter, so you get people like Michelle (Batshit) Bachmann getting face time over people who have a clue. And if Minnesotans come to their senses and vote that crazy woman out, you can bet she's getting a high-paid gig at Fox as some kind of "voice of conservative women" (regardless of how bullshit a rep she is of that demographic). It really seems that being respectful, moral (not religious, moral) and adult doesn't get you rewarded much in these days, and it's a significant reason why it feels like our country's decline is continuing. We have to stop it, and get some real standards.

2. Good article in the Journal-Sentinel this week on the lack of college grads in the Milwaukee area . Of course, one big reason is that angry-man radio is the image of Milwaukee to much of the rest of the state, and no one with any game wants to live around a bunch of mediocre trash like that when they can go somewhere else that doesn't have the garbage spewing itself about. But one other reason why was illustrated this week, where the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commissions put the brakes on Glorioso Bakery's placs for the former Brady Street Pharmacy. Did they do it because Glorioso's didn't have the money to afford the building? No. Did they do it because a bakery's out of touch with the neighborhood? No. They didn't like a couple of details on the building's facade, and wanted it changed to things like vines on the front.

With all due respect, these Historic Preservation Commissions need to get a fucking life. The default position of these boards should be to allow things in your neighborhood unless it is an eyesore or the tenants are sketchy. They should not be micromanaging a good business possibility out of existence. Do you think vacant storefronts look better than an open business that may not fit your every image? The same crap happened with the busybodied, big fish, small pond thinkers who wanted to throw their weight around in Madison to try to shoot down the Edgewater development because it wasn't with the character of the dumps that are up and down Langdon Street. Look, I think there is an oversight function where planning and looks should be considered for a proposed development, but if it isn't absurd, BE AN ADULT AND LET GO. You are not an expert or a designer, you just serve on a city commission.

3. On a sad and somewhat related topic, MPS is planning to lay off nearly 500 teachers in their district as state aid cutbacks, lower attendance, and high benefit costs take their toll. As a former teacher myself, I know how important it is to keep competent folks in the classroom, and it is sick when people who do good deeds have to be laid off due to society's lack of desire to invest in solving serious problems. But MPS is also a classic example of what goes wrong when special interests care more about themselves than the product they are supposed to deliver. The MTEA consistently seems to try to maintain the status quo of the seniority system and their good health benefits, but this effort ends up being at the detriment of quality new teachers whose new ideas are needed to keep innovation moving in the classrooms. Likewise, MPS has always been willing to hire and pay for administration that tries to justify the schools' performance to overseers and taxpayers, but often at the expense of the real goal: DELIVERING QUALITY EDUCATION. An MPS teacher told me last weekend that the protective seniority system and clueless administration makes a tough situation all the more dispiriting.

A good solution to this problem? Obviously city takeover of the district is needed, as MPS' fate and the city's is intertwined, and the fates of tens of thousands of Milwaukee students can no longer be left up to a self-interested administration and board who compromises other city and social goals to justify their own existence. Yes Milwaukee, you are different than other cities, and need to have your schools treated differently as well. My second reform would be to have the layoff procedures go through the individual schools, with principals being allowed to veto up to a certain amount of seniority-based layoffs. This can also put pressure on some of the dead wood to take a hike, as the guilt and suspicions would grow among the teaching cohorts. Both of these items would probably lead to better results in the classroom- and if you aren't taking action in schools to improve classroom results, what are you doing them for?

4. Lastly, as the Gulf Oil spill continues to flow, and Milwaukee County's Behavior Health Division is damned by state inspectors for allowing an unacceptable situation to continue, the mentality of "government is the problem" proves to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it is not by chance. When you denigrate a job and the people who work it, how can you attract high-quality talent for those possible, and how can you possibly be surprised that the folks put in charge of it are hacks that end up asleep at the switch for things that anyone with an ounce of competence would deal with. Then again, folks like Scott Walker, George Bush, Paul Ryan and many of these other snake oil salesmen have never had a real job outside of politics or Daddy's business, so they don't know how to hire for productivity, or have an idea what good results look like. The success of these political d-bags depends on GOVERNMENT FAILING, and they don't care about the consequences of that result, as long as they can smugly smile and say it somehow proves them right.

50 years ago, most of us had higher standards in what we wanted out of our services, and wanted this country to succeed, even if it meant that we would be wrong in the long-term. Instead, the idiot-logues just want to get elected, and more importantly GET PAID. And that's exactly why they have to be crushed and put in the swamp in the next few months.

Personally, I would much rather excel than necessarily win, and I don't know why that feels like a minority opinion, but it sure seems that way. That must be reversed, or this state and this country is as done as the Brewers' chances to contend this year.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Paradox of government- listening to the squeaky, whiny wheels

Was at an interesting seminar today. It went over ways that government agencies can improve the outcomes of public input on projects. To the presenter's credit, he mentioned that many public meetings serve no purpose and only get in the way of good implementation and progress on projects.

Let's take a step back on this. One of the huge differences between the public and private sectors is that the public sector has to care what the average citizen thinks about a new initiative, strategy, or project. It's their tax dollars, their elected officials, and therefore their right to demand details and information. The same is certainly not true in the corporate sector, where businesses only have to please their owner and shareholders, and can say the hell with anyone else. This accountability is a huge reason why I favor the public sector over the privates when it comes to providing needed services to maintain a decent quality of life, because the private sector has no reason to listen or care about what effect their actions have on other citizens in their community or society at large - it's all about the Benjamins to them. And a recent poll agrees, as it finds citizens have high standards for the job they think government, and they have a near-record low approval rating of 22% for government because it has not done enough to solve our problems (with big business even lower, at 19%)

Where the public sector frequently fails to get the job done on putting in changes is because of this country's propensity to give political power to loud, organized groups that can focus on an issue. The average everyday citizen has no time or interest to take 3 hours out of their week to attend a public meeting, but you can bet a lobbying group can. So can the average couch-potato daytime talk show listener with no life to speak of. Those people get the ear of legislators, public officials, and media, and get a disproportionate amount of influence. Plus, it's a lot easier to be angry than to be accepting of a solution, or to even have an idea of any solution that works. This is what talk radio feeds on - lots of button-pushing, not a lot of answers. And the reason is because pushing buttons are where the ratings (and therefore the money) is at.

Not surprisingly, this is how issues with huge public support, like the need to modify our broken, growth-stunting health care system, don't get fixed as quickly or nearly as much as most citizens demand that it should, because the Silent Majority does not get the mike. One way that governments could reduce items like the farce that became the health care debate is to have a clear, concise story explaining the problem (i.e. rising health care costs with no requirement to serve citizens), and the reasons why government should act to reduce the problem (i.e. allow for more citizen choice in providers, better business growth by containing health costs, reducing the debt citizens have to go into to get care, better health outcomes due to regular check-ups, etc.) The Obama Administration should have predicted the lies and deceptions that were going to result, and had their story out ahead of it. Instead, they were surprised by the "death panel" and "socialism" lies about their plan, and had to explain it away after the horse was out of the barn, when they could have gone straight to the people ahead of the charges, and moot their impacts.

Now, that being said, governments also have to understand that citizen are by nature lazy and selfish. They think a government agency "listening" to them is a government agency agreeing with them. It is not. Government officials should take care to explain to citizens that they hear the concern they may have, but they will not choose that course of action because of x, y, and z. Now, they'd better have that reason lined up and have developed and communicated it to the public ahead of time, because citizens are rightfully confused and often honked off when something comes out of nowhere and is thrown in front of them. This can be done through direct contact such as mailings and other informative documents, not just through public meetings (would you waste your Wednesday night after work to find out where the new highway might go? I prefer to try out a solid cold one and some good sports over that, and I'm someone who knows and cares about this stuff!).

If government officials take those steps, they have every right to tell a citizen who complains "You never told us about this!", "Well, we mailed this, we went to the media here, we had this hearing there, we had more public outreach here, you had your chance to be heard." It's why the BS from the GOP about how the health care bill was "rammed through" was and is such a disgusting lie. The issue had been debated for 9 months and the various bills had been online for several weeks. If you didn't know about what was in it and what was being discussed, that's a YOU PROBLEM. One great thing and at the same time bad thing about American democracy is that we expect that citizens should be heard at every step of the process, regardless of how little expertise, understanding, and small-picture outlook a few vocal citizens may have.

And talk radio has only served to increase this dysfunctional system, because they try to tell these "everyday citizens" they have "common sense" when unlike the majority of us, they have time during the day to be duped by that ranting claptrap, and those shut-ins have no idea (or don't care) on the overall effect of a certain policy on the outside world. They also deride "elitism" when expertise in a given area should be a demand, and not a detriment to an official's competence. The elites should be educating the citizenry on areas that they know more about, and explaining it in plain, everyday language that allows citizens the chance to identify why the government is choosing a certain plan of action. But if citizens choose to ignore this outreach, I don't understand how that is a failure of government.

Angry-man radio is really the worst of the self-esteem movement, because it blames the listener's personal shortcomings and failures on symboiic and unseen forces that allow citizens to not take responsibility in solving the big problems that need to dealt with. As noted in the article on today's low faith in institutions, "On a psychological level, people are less likely to take responsibility for things these days," said Lou Manza, professor of psychology at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa. "So if something goes wrong, it's somebody else's fault and somebody has to fix it." Talk radio empowers citizens in false ways through manufactured outrage and slashing at windmills, instead of giving true empowerment by expanding citizens' understanding of the world, and giving them the chance to use that knowledge to improve thier lives. Government can do this empowering too, but media doesn't get readership and ratings by talking about good things, so it makes competent, intelligent outreach all the more crucial for agencies and legislators to undertake.

Once governments realize the balancing act where citizen concerns should be listened to and taken into account, but are not the be all and end all of policymaking, they will function more smoothly, and the citizenry will believe in them more. But if they allow other parties to take control of the agenda and change the issues, government will not only have to settle for sub-optimal outcomes, it will play into the hands of those who think government cannot function, and reduce confidence. We're at a key breaking point in this country, where we either wrestle control away from the corporate state, or give it up forever. Good, respectful outreach combined with tough love is going to have to be the way that government, and by extension, the people, can triumph. If they have the guts to.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


RIP, Mr. Hopper. A difference-maker of high-quality taste, indeed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Looks like the economy keeps improving in "tax hell" Wisconsin, as the recent state unemployment figures show that the state added a seasonally-adjusted 16,000+ jobs last month, and 71 of 72 Wisconsin counties had drops in their unemployment rate in April. Wisconsin now sits at 8.5% unemployment, which ain't great, but is also 1.4% below the national rate. No doubt, things are looking up, despite what GOP operatives in media and politics ar trying to tell you, and it kind of puts the lie to the argument that higher taxes will be a job-killer. Amazing how hard work and an educated work force counteracts much of that.

And the state wisely responded to an originally misleading headline in the Journal-Sentinel that indicted health care reform would raise state costs between 2014 and 2018. As the state wisely followed up, this reform will mean the feds will take much of the state's coverage, and save hundreds of millions of dollars compared to how it would have worked under the status quo (and comparing to the status quo should always be the first test when you make a decision, the failure of the status quo is why health care needed and still needs to be changed). This is an extremely helpful development, as total expenses for the state's Department of Health Services had to be increased by $2.3 billion in this most recent budget, and is now responsible for more general funds than the UW System . And even with those increases, the state still had to cut $600 million from Medicaid, with more reductions possible.

Wisconsin has been almost punished by being responsible to tis citizens, and while it means we have low levels of poverty, it also means that other states have been able to slide by with low insured rates (I'm looking at you, Confederacy)and make all of us pay for their laziness in proving security to its citizens. This is unsustainable, and it's about time the feds cover all of its states, instead of disproportionately helping the slackers. It may also allow our state to maintain its commitments to public education, roads, and other necessities, which are the things that make this place so great. Of course if we had national health care, this state burden on health assistance would largely go away. Hmmmm...

The spill continues in the Gulf, and Obama is heading dangerously to "Bush in Katrina" type paralysis. He isn't there, especially since this was a private-sector screw-up that had no forewarning (Katrina was neither), but in trusting a corporation to "fix it and do the right thing", oil keeps washing up onshore and the disaster continues with no major action from the White House. This is an unacceptable result, and since it goes beyond a simple loss of oil revenues for BP (with many other economic sectors being affected), it is well past time for the feds to jump in, tell BP "You fucked up, we're fixing it," and put all resources into it. You cannot trust corporations to do anything out of altruism, and between the TARP, health care reform, and this, Obama has not been willing to punish those who have hurt this nation. It's not like they're going to help him back, so these crooks need to be told to fuck off, NOW.

Oh, and Obama may also want to get rid of the Bush appointees who, instead of doing their jobs regulating oil operations in the Gulf, were watching porn, doing meth, and backscratching their way into lucrative oil-company jobs. The damage from that administration contuinues, and I worry that it might keep this recovery from being stronger in 2010 than it should. More than I ever, I believe that November 2, 2004 was a much bigger tragedy to this country than 9/11, 2001, because it allowed THOSE PEOPLE to make the appointments. The meltdowns that have happened in the years since are no accident, especially when you hire cronies, porn addicts and meth heads for big-time, serious jobs. Republican "governance" at its finest.

Friday, May 21, 2010

May I have Summer?

Taking a relaxing Friday night with a smashing Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold and getting ready to watch the Brewers get back on the losing track in the Twin Cities. A few thoughts.

1. It's quite sad to see the media try to present this case that the Democrats are in big danger of getting swept out in November. Last Tuesday was the most recent example, when I saw Howard Fineman and Mrs. Alan Greenspan try to say that somehow the Dems winning another special election was a sign of voter discontent with their policies. I understand that close elections drive up ratings, but what the primaries this week showed again is that people are tired of inside baseball types from Washington, and DEMAND RESULTS. Does anyone seriously think that the Republicans are the ones that'll solve these problems, especially when they seem to lack any solution other than "cut and whine." The real lesson the be learned from recent weeks is that if you're straight with the public, have solutions that have some base in reality, and don't sell out to insiders and corporations, you will have better chances of success in November.

2. And people have been given plenty of reason to vote against corporates. The most recent of this is BP's cover-up and minimization of this disaster in the Gulf. It is a criminal act of willing negligence, and Uncle Sam needs to step in and say "You obviously don't want to do what it takes, so we will." Trusting corporations to do the right thing leads to a lot of disappointment, and Obama and co. need to demand more, or finish the job themselves (even if they didn't cause it, and aren't on the inside of it). The only way you change corporate acts is to change the incentives- like higher fines, tougher enforcement of regs, and higher cap. gains. Take away the bonuses from hoarding, cheating and gambling, and the bad behavior magically will go away.

3. Noticed that one of Scott Walker's staffers quit after being caught posting blogger comments on the taxpayer dime . Not that any of this should surprise people, since the Walker campaign and his "grassroots support" is clearly nothing more than AstroTurf from WMC and Sykes and co. But the sloppiness of the move is stunning. You can have the computer you're posting from tracked anywhere, and especially by a public agency. I respect my employer enough not to post on this from my work, as they don't deserve to get lumped in with my rantings. I understand that Winkie was able to pull a nice paycheck for doing nothing but spreading propaganda, but at least have a modicom of common sense when you do such a sleazy job.

4. Great Taste of the Midwest tix are in hand, and less than 3 months away. Gotta get to work on my previews....maybe with the 85-90 degree weather we got coming in the next week.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Who to boycott?

Seems like there have been quite a few candidates for me to try to avoid, given how poorly a lot of corporate and political citizens have been acting. Here's a short list.

1. Johnsonville Brats- "But Jake, Johnsonville's as Wisconsin as they come, and you do like to grill brats." Both true, but Johnsonville had their CEOs serve on the Board of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce when WMC went out of their way to promote incompetent corporatist shills Michael Gableman and Annette Ziegler to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. They chose their profits over decency, so I'll choose a Wisconsin brat company that understands why this state is such a great place. (although it does seem that Johnsonville is no longer on WMC's inner circle , so I may have to consider hanging out with them again.)

2. Harley-Davidson- Not that I'd ever get a motorcycle, but they're just the latest example of a company choosing shareholder value over manufacturing a quality product with appropriately-compensated workers. And you can now add Rockwell Automotion to that list, as apparently killer profits just aren't good enough for them.

Of course, it's no shock that other companies are trying to follow the cue of Mercury Marine, and bilk the state and local communities out of millions of dollars of giveaways just so they can keep their business around for a few more years (and who cares if they break their promises to governments and unions as long as the check clears, eh Mercury?) . The extra taxes that have to be made up by residents (you know, many of whom WORK AT YOUR PLANT)? Meh, as long as the stockholders are happy, right? These folks need to have their bluffs called, and tariffs raised, to lessen the leverage that these companies try to pull. Free trade doesn't give gains to the countries with stronger work standards and higher standard of living, it only works between countries that operate on relatively equal terms (i.e. U.S. and Canada or Europe). Terms of trade has been poorly neglected, and is still something that needs major reforming in this country

3.Wal-Mart- If they choose to pay their employees minimum wage and pass the health-care costs onto the general taxpayer, while driving out American manufacturing in the name of savings a couple of dollars, I choose to shop somewhere else. Sure, that means Shopko or Target, which isn't exactly small-time, but keeping the money in a Midwestern corporation beats Arkansas.

4. Arizona- And I was thinking of heading back there at some point to see my college buddy Scott. But not if you allow those people to pass that law. Jeez, even John McCain has turned into a race-baiting bunch of senility. Here's a deal, I'll come back down there when you choose to join the 21st Century...or even reach the 1990s.

5. Leinenkugel's- And I enjoy my beers from Wisconsin. I just waited 2 1/2 hours to pull tickets to Great Taste of the Midwest yesterday morning (fuck yeah I did! 4 years in a row for me now). But as this Facebook group notes, it's nothing personal, just business, Dicky. Or, you could come to your senses and abandon this fruitless endeavor, since Feingold is gonna stomp whoever runs against him by 8-10 points.

There are a couple of other ones on the firing line. I could screw over a Bank of America, Chase, or Citi, since I hold credit card accounts with all of them, but I figure it's better to hold a balance, switch cards at a moment's notice, and make them waste plenty of time and resources dealing with my piddly account. Another nice protest move (albeit a small one) I've pulled is to hold off on my end-of-the-quarter payments into the first week of the next month, since it won't show up as revenue till the next quarter. I figure if a few thousand had the same idea as me, it could do enough to make a notice in their next earnings announcement (since that's all that matters to those banks anyway).

Another move I've started to take up is to have larger-than-needed numbers of checks written on my home bank (another former WMC groupie). A low balance + many transactions + no loans = more cost than revenue for the bank to service me. Gotta get them before they get me.

Lastly, BP could go on the list, given their sloppiness and deception about the oil spill. But I scam 10-20 cents a gallon off of them due to my Roundy's card, and get free Brewer tickets with enough fill-ups, so again, it costs them more to deal with me and put on that Brewer promotion than for me to not use them at all.

Any other suggestions for which man to stick it to?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Get well Ueck!

Great rundown of why I've been lucky to have this guy announcing my team's games for my whole life. Why Bob Uecker is better than your announcer , with credit to the Miller Park Drunk.

Won't be the same to be grilling out in the early part of Summer without hearing Ueck ask me to throw on a Usinger's with Silver Spring Chipotle mustard. Hope to hear him back by the 4th. As someone 35, I wouldn't know what Brewer games would be like without hearing Ueck. For most of those awful 90's and 2000s teams, he and the Sausage Race WERE the only Brewers worth latching onto.

In the meantime, do I dare to care about NBA hoops for the next week, with the Bucks back in their series with the Hawks? Guess I can try to suck it up, except it's easy to suck it up the way that this Bucks team shares the ball.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Update: Stimulus still stabilizing, baggers still clueless, and Spring still springing

Looks like an influential member of the inner circle is now promoting the site ( you know who you are...), so I figured I'd give a quick update on some recent events.

1. As mentioned previously, the stimulus continues to do its job as a stabilization policy. New home sales went up nearly 27 percent in March, as people were clearly pushed to buy by the tax credits which require a house to be closed on by April 30. My father was one of these people, buying his retirement/ eventually permanent home in central Arkansas. Of course, some d-bag banker tried to claim he wasn't credit-worhty, despite 40 years of career work, his wife having 30 more years of employment, and my father having a documented track record of 37 years of responsible home ownership. Fortunately, he found someone else in time who wasn't a power-abuser, but it reminds you how much control businesses have in these transactions, and how they have the ability to mess over people who have played the game the right way, solely because they can.

This follows the BLS stats which show that 162,000 jobs were added in March, the most in 3 years . Sure, a decent number of these are Census jobs and other temporary measures, but those people are still working, are still paying taxes, and still buying things. Given where we were a year ago (remember DOW 7000, S&P 675, 700,000 losses a month?), this is a welcome place.

Obviously the key for both of these is if this lays the groundwork for an economy that doesn't need monetary and fiscal stimulus, and that needs to happen soon. But disaster has been averted, and that point cannot be hammered home enough.

2. Tax Day came and went with a small rabble of Tea-baggers complaining about things that are at best incoherent, and at worst not true. As Bruce Murphy at Milwaukee Magazine points out, Wisconsinites' state taxes and fees rank 19th in the nation, and the state is right at the middle in spending . As Murphy brings up, while Wisconsin's income and property taxes may be comparatively high, their sales taxes are very low (at 5.0% statewide) and fees for items such as car registration are miniscule compared to places like California or even Indiana.

A lot of the reason behind the "improvement" in the tax rankings is due to expanded tax credits and other reductions authored by the Doyle Administration, which has governed as a corporate-friendly centrist group along the same lines as the Tommy Thompson regime (with some of the cronyism and penalization of the cities and UW System thrown in for good measure). The REAL reason Doyle isn't running for a third term is because liberals threatened to bolt or stay home if he did, because of his record of selling out, and he couldn't win if that happened. These are the realities, reagrdless of how angry-man radio tries to portray Doyle as some kind of left-wing job destroyer. I WISH he was left-wing like they say he was, we'd probably in a lot better shape fiscally.

3. With the tax burdens in mind, the Legslature should regret not voting to allow Milwaukee County the chance to set up an RTA. Watch for an announcement in the coming weeks about multi-million dollar reductions in services for the next 2 years on MCTS, on top of the huge reductions and fare increases in recent years. Now, Scott Walker and co. may not mind, as it "proves their point" about how things need to be overhauled (instead of maintaining what was working, God forbid these guys do that), but for real people, this will hurt a lot. It also means that property tax (and therefore County residents) have to remain the large providers of funds for the bus, and it will put pressure on the state to make up aid once the new Census figures come out in 2012, which will undoubtedly give the Milwaukee area a smalller amount of aid to operate.

You think MCTS would have a better chance of surviving if the 62,000 people that attended pro sports events in Milwaukee last night all were kicking in 0.5% of the money being spent on tickets, drinks, and food? This is especially true for the 15,000 obnoxious Cubbie fans invading Miller Park- make THEM pay for our buses and parks. Why not? They're using our streets and freeways on their trips up here.

4. Cloudy and dreary today, but after the above-average temps the last 8 weeks, including the 6th-warmest March on record in Wisconsin as well as the well-above normal temps since October, I am not going to complain. Things are great in Wisconsin as they are, but when you combine it with a rare real Spring for weather, they get even better. And forecasts say Terrace Season will be back soon enough.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Get Bucky off WTMJ!

I just sent the following to UW Athletics. We'll see if they say anything about it, but I have a hard time believing I'm the only one that thinks this way.

"I am writing to discuss your alleged Milwaukee Badger sports afilliate- 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee. This station has consistently given short shrift to the Badgers as a priority and has consistently denigrated the university on its non-sports shows, and as a former Milwaukee resident, season ticket holder, and Badger Fund contributor, I would recommend finding another station to house Badger games in the largest media market in the state.

WTMJ has what can at best be described as an inconsistent basis for broadcasting Badger games. Badger basketball is frequently pre-empted for Bucks' regular-season games and Brewers exhibition games. Weekly Badger talk shows and coaches' programs are sent to other stations with no consistent home or broadcast, and Badger hockey (including tonight's title game, check to the left side of the link) is nowhere to be found on TMJ. Yet WTMJ constantly promotes itself as "Wisconsin's sports leader," and uses calls from Matt LePay as a key part of that branding. With thousands of UW grads and many more fans in the Milwaukee area, we deserve the ability to find our Badger broadcasts and programs on a single station and at the times that the games are occuring. The much smaller Marquette constituency has no problem locating their shows on 1130, WISN, but Badgers do not get the same luxury in a town they should have preminent status in.

In addition, WTMJ constantly denigrates this great unviersity on their airwaves. Daily shows hosted by people such as Charles Sykes and Jeff Wagner mock the university's culture and academic acheivements. Those of us that love this university and all that it is associated with are insulted when we hear a Charles Sykes promo in the middle of our Badger games, and do not need to hear those loudmouths disrupt our enjoyment of listeneing to Badger games.

Sykes and Wagner also act as a favorable front group for politicans such as Scott Walker and Glenn Grothmann, who are in favor of drastically cutting state funding to the university, which drives up to tuition to unaffordable levels for many Wisconsinites and Badger fans. TMJ talk show hosts are also are heavily associated with the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI), an institution that threatened the UW's commitment to fair and quality research by signing a contract with faculty member Ken Goldstein. WPRI further sullied the UW's reputation when Goldstein had to back out of the contract because WPRI was manipulating the results of his research to fit their anti-UW and public services agenda. This great university does not need to be associated with a station that uses itself as a platform to constantly knock down the UW.

Such a move away from WTMJ could give a serious boost for UW sports and in how it is portrayed in local Milwaukee radio. There are two other Milwaukee all-sports stations that would love to have Badger sports full-time in WSSP (1250AM) and WAUK (540AM). Both already carry Badger sports as the secondary home for Bucky when WTMJ pre-empts Badger programming for professional sports or their daily talk shows. In addition, both have commitments to other teams that can be described as minor at best (1250 has the Admirals), and both would probably be willing to make those commitments secondary to taking a full load of Badger football, basketball, and hockey.

Either station may pay more than WTMJ in order to establish itself as a Badger station, especially given that those listeners would then continue to listen to their stations when the Badgers are not on the air. In addition, 1250 or 540 would not have talk show hosts who denigrate the university like WTMJ does today, so I believe a move to one of these stations would be a win-win for the university, the station, and the grads and fans that closely follow Bucky in the Milwaukee area. It is not coincidental that WTMJ's station ratings rise in Fall, when Badger and Packer football is in full swing. Radio consumers stick with the station that they get their sports or other key programming from, and there is little doubt that many Badger fans do the same with WTMJ. This means that station is still on WTMJ when their talk-show hosts come on during the day and spew their anti-UW and Madison agendas.

In closing, I would recommend making WTMJ pay for their second-class treatment by UW by looking elsewhere for its Milwaukee affiliate, and am curious to know when Badger Sports Properties' contract expires with WTMJ. I have little doubt that there are thousands of Badger alums and fans such as myself that would like to see a permanent home for Bucky in Milwaukee, and away from a station that rips it whenever the games aren't on.

A double alum, football season ticket holder, and lifetime Badger,
Jake ******"

P.S. Another reason to get Bucky off WTMJ. Journal Broadcast Group has given nearly $15,000 to Walker this election cycle already . In addition to being patently unethical (how can reporters cover Walker fairly when the bosses are giving him cash?), Scotty boy's the one without the college degree. You think he'll care about the UW or any other type of higher education when he's in office?Edit: Capper notes that it's a refund of previous ads of Walker's on TMJ that never ran. But that reiterates the point, because radio stations make money on selling ads, and you don't want to piss off your clients.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hoops, baseball and our economy

That was a tremendous NCAA basketball tournament that wrapped up. It had everything you wanted- tons of close games decided late, some shocking upsets, an amazing run by a small school in Butler, and a classic final game that was decided with the last shot in the air.

I consider March Madness the greatest annual sporting event in America, and it works in a way much like how what we would like to believe our country works. There are many more areas in the country that have teams get into the tournament, and many people can relate to some college that is playing, even if they don't care about basketball itself. If you win your little conference title, you get your chance on the floor against the big boys, and sometimes the little guys get the job done. And the title isn't determined by some fixed formula that gives massive benefits to the big boys and makes it near impossible for the lower-resource schools to get through- you gotta earn that spot on the court. Most often, it is not the team with the most individual talent that takes the title (i.e Kentucky, Roy Williams' Kansas teams), but it's the team that can combine its assets the best to be the best team out there. Sure one or two guys mightbe superstars, but often it's glue people like Nolan Smith or Brian Zoubek that play within their roles that take the team to the next level. Duke's students may be overwhlemingly trust-funders that don't have to work hard to end up on top, but their basketball team did, and deserved the title they got (as much as it pains me to say that).

But perhaps it is fitting that Major League Baseball started up yesterday, because in many ways, MLB works much like how our country REALLY works. MLB features some distribution of revenues between teams, but the revenues a Yankees or Red Sox can generate through local radio and television deals overwhelms the amount of revenue a team like the Brewers or the A's can get. Given that all of the teams in MLB are in the same labor market for players, and that players can move relatively easily from team to team once they hit free agency, small-revenue teams have to pay every bit as much as big-market teams to get the same caliber of player, regardless of the differences in items such as cost of living or room for advancement This will help to explain how an arbitrator could legitimately give an average player like Corey Hart a salary near $5.0 million- because other teams have paid the same amount to the same level of player. In fact, a players' lower chances of off-field revenue or on-field success may mean that smaller-revenue teams have to pay MORE for the same player- Wickett and Russell on 1250 AM call it "the Milwaukee tax.".

But it goes deeper than that when comparing baseball's economic structure with the overall economic one. A major advantage the big-revenue teams have is the ability to be wrong. They can offer an extra year or two of guaranteed salary or overpay for a player coming off an injury because if that player doesn't pan out, it's still a small amount of their payroll, and they can cast off the excess baggage with no major hurt to their team. Smaller-revenue teams can't afford to be tied down with a risky long-term contract because it is much more damaging to have to hold on to a dead asset, and their flexibility to right the mistake is greatly compromised.

The same holds true in our greater society. People with money and resources have a much greater ability to take chances and have more confidence in being able to make their moves because they can AFFORD TO LOSE. Poorer people are often locked into their job with their substandard health care and lame town because they can't afford to end with nothing for any amount fo time. Therefore, they become a lot less likely to go back to school, move into a different career, or relocate to a better community- coming up short is far too great a risk to take, so they remain in their current, losing situation instead of making the move that would be more likely to end up with a better outcome.

This is why safety nets like national health care, unemployment, and available student loans are so important, because it expands (or maintains) the choices that remain available to the average citizen, and lessens the chance that they get forced into a substandard result due to their options being limited. And our overall society suffers as well, since you now have individuals taking employment and productivity below what they should be doing, just like how financial constraints keep a number of teams from even trying to compete with the big-revenue clubs. In MLB, you see interest being depressed in numerous markets (think KC, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Milwaukee under the Seligs), and understandably fans and even players see no major reason to care a lot, since trying hard does not lead to a much different result. It also leads to a 2-tier league where the groups are clearly on different levels of play and expectations....much like what we see in America today.

And the remarks from the winners and losers are much the same, too. Check out Yankees President Randy Levine chiding Brewers owner Mark Attanasio for mentioning the Yankees' huge payroll and budget advantage over the Brew Crew. To an extent Levine's correct, the Yankees are doing what they can to have the best chance of winning under the current system. This includes paying anything they want to free agents and bidding millions to unknown foreign-league players, which are luxuries that smaller-makret teams can't take advantage of for every available player that comes down the pike. This is a lot like how a trust-funder gets extra connections to colleges and employment that open a lot more doors than it does for the average schmoe. Maybe we should give a bit of credit for the trust-funder if they reach a level of success after going through those doors, but Levine's comments are much like trust-funders and othber elites asking "Well, why should you punish my success?"

The bottom line is, 1. a healthy system is the only reason you'd have a chance for that success in the first place, and if the system falls apart and there's less nationwide interest in the game, you'll probably lose too, and 2. You really aren't showing that you're any special, you just ended up doing what you probably should be able to do- win a game that favors you. You should appreciate the advantages that you've been given, and if you really cared about the game, you'd work to make it possible for more people to have a chance to win. Not only does this spark more interest and competition, it makes any success you do have on the more level playing field a real accomplishment, instead of a medicore outcome. Maybe you'd even become worthy of your high self-opinion.

These folks naively think they'll never be the ones that could lose, Losing teaches you limits, and people lose a lot bigger when the rich are allowed to be richer at the expense of everyone else, so more people see the limitations now more than ever. Maybe it's the Midwesterner in me, but I think it's a good thing to find out, as maybe it forces you to recognize what CAN be done, and achieve those realistic goals. Unfortunately, not enough people learn that lesson of limits, and continue the hubris of throwing their weight and opinions around at the great expense (and resentment) of everyone else. In MLB, many of the big-revenue teams and a lot of members of the players union don't want what's best for the game- because they want to stick with what makes them rich and successful. Understandable but still weak, because it shows a lack of vision, and a lack of caring about the game that gave you the opportunities that you owe your success to in the first place. This holds true in baseball, and in American life today.