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Thursday, February 26, 2015  |   Madison, WI: 10.0° F  
EMILY'S POST: Thoughtful commentary on politics, current events and culture in Madison
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Emily's Post: Cooperation instead of privatization, ideals instead of ideology
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The Walker administration apparently dislikes the free market after all. A proposal by the Department of Public Instruction about to go up before the Joint Finance Committee illustrates this point well, as it would "designate one provider that all school districts statewide would have to use for their student information system services."

If the bill passes it would mean at least one company (and likely others) would be forced to leave the state, taking 250 jobs with it. Skyward, a business currently located in Stevens Point that provides such systems to half of the state's districts, has said it would have no recourse but to leave if the contract for this deal went to a different group. In the long run that also means the loss of 610 jobs the company had projected to add by 2021 if they remain a provider in the state.

Forcing every district to use just one vendor has several other downsides, too: A multivendor system encourages healthy competition, driving down costs and training time, and avoids snafus where a district already has a fully functioning system in place but is then forced to switch to something entirely different.

This is, unfortunately, all part of a privatization and non-competitive trend. We've seen it in the state handing over non-emergency medical transports to one private company, Logisticare, that has so far apparently failed utterly in its service to the people who rely on it.

Walker made a campaign claim that he could create 250,000 new jobs in the state by the end of his first term, but so far his policies of privatization and cuts have led to 3,298 people losing their jobs since he took office in January.

In fact, even a buried report by the conservative-led Greater Milwaukee Committee shows that Walker's time as County Executive (from 2002 to 2010) drove the county's fiscal situation into the ground. Not only that, but median household income in Milwaukee plunged 22 percent since 1999 to $32,911.

I could complain all the live-long day about the backwards policies of Walker and his allies, but what about coming up with a better plan?

Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan, appeared on The Daily Show last week and gave one of the more compelling interviews I've seen in some time. What she had to say didn't feel like more regurgitated talking points, nor did it pander shamelessly to any particular ideology. Rather, what Granholm is advocating seems to me like a commonsense, cooperative strategy for making America competitive on the global stage while actually creating good jobs here, respecting the natural environment, and fostering innovation.

We do it by actually having states work together, instead of constantly jockeying to take jobs and industry from one another. Our politicians often like to brag about taking jobs from Illinois especially, but Granholm argues that, instead of competing against other states, working cooperatively with them to develop a countrywide infrastructure that keeps work here would be the way to pull ourselves out of this big economic slump (well, that and reforming the heck out of the banking system).

It makes perfect sense: Employment in the U.S. has suffered more since it's become so appealing to simply offshore work. Other countries -- most notably China -- have created environments with little to no regulation for companies to operate in. Employees make a pittance working grueling hours, the natural environment takes a beating, and the multinationals that locate there make themselves a pretty penny.

Our trade policies have cost Wisconsin alone some 56,938 jobs to China, according to a report from the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

Meanwhile, the states are busy fighting amongst themselves, stalling any meaningful regulatory reform, or a decent national energy policy, or any number of other things that would make us more competitive while helping to ensure that workers across the globe are treated with respect.

Perhaps those people looking to stir up division, keep us at each others' throats, are doing it out of ignorance -- maybe they really believe that an each-state-for-itself attitude will save us all. Maybe they're doing it because real, meaningful reform would spell the end of the feeding frenzy happening at the very top right now. I don't know.

What I do know is that we can't continue on this path any longer. We're already suffering the consequences, and they'll only get more dire as time goes on.

Watch the complete Granholm interview below -- it's worth your time.

Worth watching

Wisconsin Right to Life, a hardcore anti-abortion advocacy group, is apparently under investigation for potential election bribery by the Milwaukee County district attorney's office. WRTL was offering rewards to volunteers for signing up anti-choice voters in this summer's recall races, including gift and gas cards. Subpoenas in the investigation are, according to Dan Bice's article in the MJS, being distributed "like candy."

The United States Postal Service is an essential part of the fabric of American society, and yet they're facing default if they don't make a $5.5 billion payment by the end of the month. Rallies being held in every congressional district in the country tonight will aim to educate the people about how Congress has been the main problem in allowing the organization to operate in the black. Allowing the USPS to fall on such hard times, forcing cuts in service and workforce, and giving private companies the most control over such a fundamental service, would be a major blow. Read more about the issue and find out about a rally near you here.

One more Emily's Post to go! See you Thursday for the big finale.

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