When agendas attack

Each year the Wisconsin State Journal lays out its editorial “agenda” — its top 5 points of emphasis for the coming year. Today was the day for 2012.  

We always read these agendas as a mix of Promise, Platitude, Threat and Errant Nonsense, today being no exception.

√ Let’s first acknowledge what they get right. They want to clean up both legislative redistricting and the Madison lakes. Non-partisan redistricting is a no-brainer for anyone except for the politicians who would need to give up this one precious power. The 99%™ doubtless agree with the Journal on this one point. (Or is it the other way around?)  And clean lakes? Yes, everybody‘s for that, too. The Clean Lakes Alliance is doing the lord’s work. So the Journal is on board for two things that everyone was already for.  Good.

√ Moving on to the ambiguous: The Journal wants to increase graduation rates for minority students. Laudable. Of course, everybody agrees. (Is there a trend here? We’re sensing one.) The problem, of course, is not the goal, but how to get there. And we can say with complete confidence that the State Journal editorial board has no more expertise in improving education than it does in building high performance race cars. Solutions, if they come, will come from elsewhere. We know this because the Journal sums up the bullet point with this worthless nugget:

Local and state leaders need new strategies — not simply more money — to narrow the racial and economic achievement gaps.

It’s always important to emphasize the vital role that ‘no more money’ (well, actually less money, billions less) is playing in our efforts to educate the kids. Always remember, as the Journal does, that education is not an area that benefits from money. CEO’s and investment bankers are incentivized by money. Teachers need “new strategies” from “local and state leaders.” Look for the Journal to publish more mush as the year goes on, although maybe someone will propose something worthwhile and the Journal will nod its approval. You never know.

√ Errant Nonsense: Continuing unapologetically with last year’s misguided agenda item, the board promises to argue for appointing rather than electing the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Yes, the court has suffered badly in recent years from what the Journal calls “nasty, money-soaked” elections. Everyone agrees, (hm…) but what to do? Get rid of the money-soaked nastiness? No, says the Journal. Get rid of the elections!

The Figure 5 in Gold

Fans of the Type 5 Unintentionally Hilarious editorial are guaranteed minutes of fun in the coming year as they quickly scan and ignore the State Journal editorial page, which here promises to CONTINUE ignoring THE fundamental problem of money corrupting our governance as they push instead for some right-angled bandage-work.

Dang this plague of bedbugs! We must all sleep hanging from ropes!


√ Finally, let’s consider the top of the 2012 agenda: “Improve Economic Competitiveness”. Jeez, did they hafta begin with this claptrap?

Government doesn’t create jobs. The private sector does.

A pure ideological word game. The government can of course create jobs, and it does, and it ought to when the private economy goes into a prolonged slump. Do socialist countries not have jobs? Do highway builders not have jobs? To say that highway builders only have jobs because private sector workers pay taxes is no more correct than saying private workers only have jobs because taxes built highways. They are both just childishly stupid and simplistic.  Is this kind of buffoonery actually bouncing around in the heads of the State Journal editorial board?

Well, they give us an idea of where they’re going.

  1. Support for a state venture capital fund championed by former State Journal associate editor Tom Stills (which might be fine if the state can participate in the wins as well as losses).
  2. Northwoods mining, with “smart, streamlined regulation” that will operate “without ruining natural beauty.” (no comment) and
  3. some darn nice buzzwords:

“continued focus on regional cooperation and shared goals for economic success.”

Well, then! You can bet we’re looking forward to the coming year now that we know, sort of, what to expect.