Barb Caffrey's Blog

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Archive for June 13th, 2012

Just reviewed Maxton’s “The End of Progress” at SBR

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Folks, if you haven’t read Graeme Maxton’s new book THE END OF PROGRESS: How Modern Economics Has Failed Us, you should.  While it’s one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read — and while I pointed out, a few days ago at this blog, that Maxton has a few beliefs of the odder sort regarding the Internet, blogs, and opinions — this is an important book that needs to be read and debated.

Put simply, one of Maxton’s most important premises is that the world’s finite resources (such as water, oil, and agricultural land) aren’t being husbanded well.  They also aren’t being valued properly on an economic level.  Worse yet, because of this undervaluing, there’s a real problem due to how quickly these resources are being used up.

Another of his important premises — that capitalism, per se, only works when ethics and restraint are involved, as Adam Smith pointed out back in 1776 in THE WEALTH OF NATIONS — needs to be pondered by many.  Because somewhere along the line, way too many of our business leaders and power brokers have completely lost our way.

Anyway, go read my review, then go read Maxton’s book.

Here’s the link:

http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/graeme-maxtons-the-end-of-progress-depressing-yet-necessary-look-at-world-economics/

Enjoy!

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Lehman Widens Lead, is Senator-Elect

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For those of you waiting for official Wisconsin recall news, here’s a news flash for you: John Lehman is still the Senator-elect from Racine’s state Senate District 21.

On Tuesday, June 12, 2012, the official canvass re-ran the numbers from the June 5, 2012 election.  The only thing that changed is that former Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) widened his narrow lead over incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) to 834 votes instead of the previous 779.

Please see this link from the Racine Journal-Times for further details:

http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/lehman-keeps-lead-in-recall-wanggaard-has-three-days-to/article_2a466a82-b4ab-11e1-ac84-0019bb2963f4.html

Here’s a brief quote from that article:

The results totaled Tuesday increased Lehman’s lead by 55 votes, but Wanggaard as of Tuesday afternoon had not conceded and had not ruled out a recount, with his campaign manager citing reports of voting irregularities.

The final total was Lehman with 36,351 votes and Wanggaard with 35,517 votes, Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen read Tuesday after finishing the canvass for the 21st Senate District at the Racine County Courthouse, 730 Wisconsin Ave.

Of course, the Democratic Party is calling on Wanggaard to concede, especially due to the analysis done by this Journal-Times article from June 6, 2012, that proves Lehman, a Democrat, won the Senate district while Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch, Republican incumbents, won the races for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.  Here’s the first three paragraphs from that article, which describes what happened:

While it appears Democratic challenger John Lehman led state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, in the 21st Senate District, in those same wards Republican Gov. Scott Walker won over his Democratic challenger Tom Barrett.

Walker had 36,505 votes to Barrett’s 35,744, and, in total, 916 more people in the senate district voted in the governor’s race than in the senate race, according to unofficial results.

Lehman said he couldn’t really explain the difference in the votes. But he said possibly he is better known in the 21st Senate District than Barrett. For instance, some voters may have had him as a teacher, Lehman said. Also he said, “I really think a lot of people have questioned Sen. Wanggaard’s representing them and the way he has gone about it.”

My analysis of this occurrence is simple: Wanggaard, as I’ve said before, is a past City of Racine policeman and a police union representative.  Everyone who votes in the City of Racine knew that, which is why Wanggaard lost there by a 2-to-1 margin; in the county, Wanggaard needed to win by a substantial margin to make up that difference.  Wanggaard couldn’t do it.

Now, what has to be extremely difficult for Wanggaard to swallow is this: going back to his vote on SB 10 last year, had Wanggaard voted with Dale Schultz of Richland Center to oppose that bill, the likelihood is that Wanggaard would not have been recalled despite the many other things the district did not agree with Wanggaard about (such as Wanggaard’s signing of the non-disclosure agreements regarding redistricting, or Wanggaard’s agreement with the rest of the sitting Republicans in the Senate that state education funding should be slashed, which substantially hurt the Racine Unified School District).  Wanggaard did support, along with Schultz, a proposed amendment that would have allowed for collective bargaining to be reinstated after two years — a “sunset” provision under the law — but procedural moves by the Republican leadership in the Senate kept that amendment from ever going to the floor.  Schultz’s opposition to SB 10 was largely due to the refusal of the R leadership to hear his amendment, which is why if Wanggaard had followed Schultz’s lead and voted against SB 10 — which would’ve meant the R Senators would’ve won the day with a 17-2 margin instead of 18-1 — Wanggaard likely would never have been forced to this recall election.

Ultimately, Wanggaard was done in by his own inexperience.  My guess is that he didn’t really know what was going on when he took that vote — at least, he didn’t realize the district would recall him over it (even though I, and others, wrote to him and told him bluntly that this would be the result).  And his own leadership, which perhaps forgot about the fact that former Sen. George Petak (R-Racine) was recalled in District 21 in 1996 for far less than this, may have believed that everything would “blow over” — if so, they were plain, flat wrong — or may have believed that due to redistricting, had Wanggaard just been able to get to November of this year, he’d be in a “safe” Republican seat that would not recall him.

But I have news — people in Racine County were upset with Wanggaard, too.  Not as many of them as in the City of Racine, demonstrably — but enough that Wanggaard could not make up Lehman’s lead.  And with this split-ticket voting (where some people voted for Walker/Kleefisch on the one hand and Lehman on the other), along with some people either writing their own names in or refusing to vote for Senate at all due to their disgust with Wanggaard’s hypocrisy, it’s obvious there were more than enough people in the entirety of District 21 to recall Van Wanggaard.

So, what does Wanggaard do now?  His options are two: request a recount by Friday, June 15, 2012, something he’ll have to pay for himself as the margin of Lehman’s apparent victory is large enough that the state of Wisconsin will not pay for the recount.  Or concede.

My belief is that Wanggaard will request a recount, which is sensible from his context.  He probably wants to know, for a certainty, the  hard data that backs up this “split ticket” phenomenon from a hand recount.  And he also probably wants to know, for a certainty, that the voters of Racine really did reject him, personally — especially as they retained Walker and Kleefisch.

But the hand recount won’t change the facts: Wanggaard has lost this race to Lehman. 

And ultimately, even though I do feel sorry for him as he’s the first one-year Senator in Wisconsin’s history to ever get recalled, Wanggaard has no one but himself to blame.  Because no matter what the Republican leadership in Madison told him last year, he should’ve remembered what happened to Petak in 1996 as he lived in Racine at the time and was active in Republican politics, and avoided this result by casting his vote with Schultz against SB 10.  Period.

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