Monday, June 10, 2013

So Why Do I Write This?

As I've referenced in passing, I had a major life event this weekend (it was a splendid time for all), but it also can make a person reflect on where they are and what they're doing. Combine that with the fact that I've gotten over 900 pageviews in the last 48 hours on my last post regarding the horrible record that Wisconsin's economy has had not just with the last 3 months, but pretty much ever since Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP took over state government. So thank you to whoever decided to post this to Facebook, and I think now is a good time to review why I decide to take the time to rant on these pages.

A big reason why is that I believe most people really don't understand Economics and in particular economics stats. I sure didn't for most of the first 27-28 years of my life. It took me going back to school to teach the subject at the High School level to be able not just to identify economic stats and their meaning, but also the source documents themselves, which are available at government websites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Later, I started grad school for Public Policy, and got to know Wisconsin state sources like the Legislative Fiscal Bureau or the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Then I got out of grad school in 2008, and Wall Street collapsed soon after. Two previous jobs gave me some extra insight into this that I felt could help a casual reader understand these things. I had a prior background in the financial industry (so I recognized how some of this BS had come about, and how screwed up things really were), and found the situation fascinating. I also observed how the regular political media was now giving extra attention to these issues, and often didn't have a clue what they were talking about. How did I know that? Because I once was a 22-year-old radio guy just out of school who was doing a one-man news crew setup for my station, and I HAD NO CLUE ABOUT HALF OF THE THINGS I WAS REPORTING (with corporately-demanded layoffs and pay cuts for many outlets, this has just gotten worse in the media over the last 15 years, by the way).

Then the 2010s came, and the rise of the know-nothing Baggerism, especially in Wisconsin. I realized that our media refused to speak the truth about the cluelessness of these people (either because they were naïve, or because they didn't want to), and often would let debates devolve into "he said, she said" and false equivalencies when it was obvious that there were objective facts out there. As someone who tries hard to live in the reality-based community, this incensed me, especially when media narratives and laziness led to one of this state's greatest Senators being removed from office and our state government being headed by a corrupt college dropout who was allowed to throw any claim against the wall he wanted.

And then said dropout "draw-ped the bawmb", claiming a budget crisis existed. As someone who could actually read a state budget, I went right to the LFB source, and within a week pointed out there was no actual budget crisis, and ID'd Act 10 for the union-busting bill that it was. I don't necessarily say that to blow my own horn, but it definitely marked a turning point for this page. A lot of it was to document the historic times of the Uprising, but a lot of the rest of it was to examine and challenge the debate that was going on in media at the time regarding austerity and the radical Koch and ALEC-led agenda that Walker and WisGOP was carrying out.

At the start of the Uprising, I and many others naively felt that fact and explanation could win the debate over Act 10 and this agenda. Then, when I realized that things had grown into a propaganda war, and that Wisconsin media truly didn't know what half of these issues were or were trying their best to stay at false equivalencies (like when they represented 3,000 TeaBaggers and 60,000 Uprisers as similar crowds) I decided this page would partly be a journal of the historic times in the town I was living in, partly an outlet to educate people on the economic issues and facts involved, and also be a way to fight back against the right-wing noise machine that had been allowed far too much of a megaphone. And when me and hundreds of thousands of my fellow Wisconsinites were ignored, I got mad.
I didn't think these dimwits at WisGOP could top themselves in incompetence and bubble-thinking, and boy was I wrong. I guess it's on, now.

I went from writing 2-3 posts a month to 2-3 a week, and then 20 a month. Yes, the Uprising and its aftermath angered and radicalized me on certain things, and sometimes that comes out in my writing. Yes, it's a great way to keep from unloading on these lying, evil people in person and having my life get upended in an undesirable way. But the biggest reason I do this was illustrated in last month's Marquette Law School poll which Craig Gilbert reported on a couple of weeks back, and it's why I feel I must continue to speak up.
Take Wisconsin. The state trails the nation in job growth, only you’re a lot less likely to think so if you’re a Republican than if you’re a Democrat.

Wisconsin was 44th in private-sector job creation in the last quarterly census of employment. But in a statewide poll this month by Marquette Law School, just 26% of Republicans said Wisconsin was lagging behind other states in job growth -- compared to 70% of Democrats.
Now that tells you 3/4 of Republicans are simply ignoring reality, because you could not chart the jobs numbers for the state and the U.S. for the last 28 months (as I have done) and say Wisconsin was pulling its weight.

The constant spin job that this administration continues to try to put out to misdirect and explain away its economic failures also means the good guys have to keep responding in kind (which I do often to somewhat unhealthy levels), because I see the media willing to allow clear contradictions and falsehoods go in the name of maintaining "objectivity" (and/or the good graces of WMC and MMAC corporate oligarchs). This is destroying my state's economy, its competitiveness, and it's regard in the rest of the nation. It is making what was previously an awesome place to live a depressing and horrifying place to live for all of us with any shred of decency and compassion for our fellow citizen. And that saddens and disgusts me.

So this is why I've been doing this, and intend to keep doing this, even in a state of happily wedded bliss. And thanks to all of you for reading, following along, and most hopefully, learning something. We'll crush 'em sooner than later, I'm just tired of waiting on the inevitable.


  1. Thank you Jake for keeping us all well informed. Hopefully my tweets bring in some traffic for you. I certainly try as what you are writing, is well worth the read. Thanks again for your continued hard work here in Wisconsin!

  2. Thanks for the good words, and your Twitter work certainly is a help for me as well as many others throughout the state.

  3. Thanks for doing what you do, Jake. I have never commented, but read your blog frequently. I learn something new every time I do.