Monday, December 31, 2007

FreeRacine Fest #2

FreeRacine readers and contributors are cordially invited to meet at 7 pm, Thursday, January 10th at the Ivanhoe in downtown Racine. We will solve all the worlds problems by, say 7:30, after which we will celebrate. One and all are welcome, even my detractors. Please let me know if you will be attending. Thanks.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Howling at the Moon, Indeed

If you want some insight into the reasons for the decline of education in our country, read "Howling and other tips for educators" by retired elementary school principal Mike Schutz. You can find it here:

Shutz maintains that the "good schools," those with high standardized test scores, "are made up of students who come from families with well-educated parents who value education." Shutz adds that schools have no control over this variable.

But schools can control other factors. Many of these factors "are intangible and not measurable by a standardized test, according to Shutz. Shutz has "no expectation that these will raise test scores. But they just might make a child's learning experience more meaningful."

Shutz believes that we need kindness in schools. We need playfulness. We need to slow down. We need to let kids be kids. We need good relationships in school. And we need to let teachers teach.

Now there is nothing obviously wrong with Shutz's suggestions. It is not what Shutz wrote that bothers me. It is what he didn't write.

I think the most important job of a principal at an underperforming school is to accept no excuses. You know, like the one Shutz and so many others offers, the one that goes like this: "We can't help it if these kids have parents that don't care about education."

Poor children and children with imperfect parents can learn. And it is the schools job to teach them. If you can't do it, let another school give it a try. Stop making excuses. And teachers who continue to make excuses should be fired. Not transferred to another school. Fired.

Shutz used to lead his school in "howling at the moon" for no apparent educational purpose. That might be fun, but our schools need more than pointless futile gestures.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Just Wondering

Why does Racine have a Housing Department and a Fair Housing Department?

Comments on Mayor's State of City Speech

I just read Mayor Beckers state of the city speech at and thought I would offer a few comments.

First the good news. The city has eliminated 100 full time positions. Normally politicians don't list increased unemployment as an accomplishment, but I am with the mayor on this one. Has anyone noticed a decrease in services? I haven't.

The mayor is proud of the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team, noting that we now have only 12 boarded up buildings whereas before there were 50. Fewer boarded up buildings is good, of course, but how much did it cost us? Did it take six full time staff members at $80,000 per year for four years? Would it have been cheaper to condemn the properties, bulldoze them and then call it a rain garden?

The mayor acknowledges that the city is not growing and the major initiative to reverse that trend is the uptown artist initiative where they hope to have a thriving artist center. I am still waiting to hear from the mayor about the specifics here, but early indications are that it will cost a fortune. Would it be wiser to spend the money on more police officers or to lower the tax burden on the productive members of Racine?

But my basic problem with the speech is a philosophical one. Government can solve all our problems was the general theme. If that were true, the last fifty years of liberal rule in Racine would have resulted in a thriving and growing population with little crime and much employment. What we actually see is just the opposite. Look for more of the same.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thought of the Day

Nothing polarizes quite like the truth.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I was out and about yesterday, having a cup of coffee, when I heard a most interesting conversation nearby. Two people who evidentally are involved with or well aquainted with the uptown artist initiative were talking. They indicated that the cost of rehabbing one of the uptown buildings will be almost $1 million. They also indicated that the city would sell the two units for $200,000 each. If these people are correct, the city is planning on a loss of $600,000 to bring two artists to Racine, or to relocate two artists already in Racine. I have called Mayor Becker's office to confirm, deny, or clarify. I will update this posting if I hear from the mayor.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Problems Solved

Finally, our local government has solved all the serious problems, such that we can now turn our attention to our total lack of public rain gardens. Yes, a rain garden in the works for Racine, as part of a larger, unspecified environmental education program, this according to a recent Milwaukee Journal article. My question: what is a rain garden and how have we managed so long without one?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Union Costs

"A decision to outsource the work of one of the city's smallest departments could end up costing Racine big, union officials said."

That was the first line in a Journal Times article concerning the city's decision to hire a private company to handle the Management Information System department.

The "big cost" of such a move would not be because the private company is more expensive or less competent but rather because the city could lose money in arbitration. City officials are willing to take that risk as "we don't have the resources or the stable of qualified employees" to get the job done according to City Administrator Ben Hughes.

The dispute it seems centers around the city employee's pensions, their job security, their pay etc... and while that is no doubt important for them, it is worth remembering that government's purpose is to serve the public in the most efficient manner. It is not the function of government to ensure good jobs and high salaries for government employees.

It is my hope that the city's decision will not cost us big. If union officials and current state law prevents city officials from acting in the best interests of the public, then the public, on this issue at least, will be ruled by unelected union leaders. Now that is a big cost.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Illogical Atheists

Our local atheists must be getting spooked by Christmas. Mike Ursu has a letter to the editor today arguing, among other things, that "mindless indoctrination in religious fantasies" is dangerous and that "The church can't offer proof to support their claims so they have to resort to indoctrinating children before they gain the ability to think critically." Now these are legitimate concerns that religions should have an answer for.

But Mike seems to want to exempt his own atheism from scrutiny when he writes "Atheism isn't detrimental to children." Mike assails religions for their lack of proof. Very well, but I don't recall his proof of the non-existence of God. Wouldn't then the teaching of atheism to children also involve the dangerous indoctrination of unproven assertions?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Atheist Principles?

You have got to love a good old fashioned debate on the public square. What could be more American? Today we have Christians versus the athiests and dueling monuments. Read about it here:

Now I do not wish to debate the theology, rather, I wish to explore the reasoning and the behavior of the atheist.

If I understand the atheists argument, it is that there ought to be seperation between church and state, and that religious displays should not be on public property as this amounts to shoving religion down other's throats. Presumably the atheists would also want laws which forbid their own beliefs, or lack of them, from being expressed on public property. Lead atheist Al Sorenson said as much; "if that (nativity scene) wasn't here, then this pyramid wouldn't be here either."

Thus, Sorenson holds the principle that expressions of belief should not occur on public property. But he is willing to abandon his own principle, by displaying a monument to atheism, in order to demonstrate what exactly? That two wrongs make a right?

I am not impressed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Debate Over, I Win

If you are getting tired of all the global warming posts here on FreeRacine, I have great news. This will be the last one. Why? Because the debate is over and I have won. Oh sure, there are still some anonymous bloggers and a few "scientists" that may still wish to debate me, but their time is up and they lost. Besides, by now everyone realizes that the losing "scientists" were bought and paid for by desperate environmental organizations looking for attention and money. Their greed makes me ashamed to be an American, but that is a topic for another day. Now, if your not so sure about my victory, consider the following: there is not one peer reviewed article, not even one, that disputes my victory. But just to be charitable, let us consider the possibility that I am wrong. Even if I am wrong, the economy and the environment will be better for it. Why is that you ask? Because meddling governments will not be regulating and redistributing for lost causes anymore. And this renewed appreciation for freedom will have a positive effect on our environment as well because governments that protect private property have better environmental records than socialist countries. So the debate is over folks and I have won. I now await my Nobel prize.

Shifting the Burden of Proof

If person A is advocating policy changes based on an alleged impending crisis, and person B doubts the claims of person A, upon which person should the burden of proof fall? In any sane society, the burden of proof would fall on the person A.

Imagine if the burden of disproof were to fall to person B. Our society would be a mess. If I wanted new windows, I could hurl rocks through them and then blame it on my neighbor. It would be all but impossible for him to prove that he didn't throw the rocks, and I could get my neighbor to pay for my new windows.

It is plainly obvious upon whom the burden of proof should fall, but the global warming alarmists want to shift the burden of disproof to the skeptics. You have seen it recently on this blog, and now the JT is getting in the act. "What counts is that predictions of global warming have not been refuted by strong evidence" says the JT.

True enough, but will shift the burden of proof at our own peril. Or perhaps we could use this new standard for a worthy cause.

Did you know that a giant Easter Bunny will be arriving from Mexico in ten years to eat up all of our crops and our children? We must act now and build a fence.

Shut Up, Fork It Over

Leave it to the Journal Times to capture the essence of the leftist/statist/socialist position on global warming. Read it for yourself if you like at:

The editorial is entitled Stop talking, start spending. The JT argues that "the whole country has missed some economic opportunity" as "US companies could right now be selling carbon dioxide-control equipment or advanced solar cells to the developing world instead of fighter jets-and could be making a lot more money." "Even if (global warming) skeptics are proven true," the nation will gain "new industries to employ the manufacturing workers whose livelihoods have fled overseas; and an economy that is overall more efficient and has more capital to invest because it's spending less to but energy."

A few thoughts. Is there something preventing US companies from "right now" selling environmental products overseas? Unless the product sales are discouraged by import tariffs or the lack of free trade generally, then no, nothing is preventing our "whole country" from this glorious "economic opportunity." More likely, the products in question are themselves economically inefficient, thus requiring a massive taxpayer subsidy to create this new "industry." The money required to "start spending" will be yours and it will be used to prop up an industry that would not exist without it. And the JT then argues that subsidizing an inefficient industry will somehow result in more capital and a more efficient economy. How so, I wonder? Capital, your capital, will be transferred from capital investments not requiring government subsidy to an industry that can't make it without government subsidy. This is called waste, not efficiency, and it will harm our economy. Someone, anyone at the JT should read an introductory economics textbook.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Truth or Victory

There are two approaches that one can take into an argument/debate/discussion, it seems to me. One is to seek victory at all costs. The other is to seek the truth. Let us consider the likely outcomes of these two approaches.

If the reason to debate is to achieve victory, truth is a secondary consideration. The primary concern being winning, there must also be a loser. In order to avoid being the loser, one must be prepared to cling to a losing argument even in the face of truth. It is at this point when the victory-at-all-costs debater may need to engage in some unscrupulous tactics like the personal attack, changing the subject, creating straw man arguments and so on. This kind of debater will sometimes accept a false assertion but think that they have won the debate.

The truth seeking debater seeks truth first and foremost. This debater is willing to accept his opponents argument if it is shown to be true. This debater may lose the debate but will more likely arrive at the truth in the process. In this kind of debate, there really is no loser. It is a win win situation as both participants arrive at the truth.

I see far too many of the win-at-all-costs debaters and too few truth seekers.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pope Benedict and Global Warming

Read it here, prophets of doom:

Here is my favorite line from the article: "The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering."

I wonder why the Journal Times didn't cover this story.

Hungry Kids?

Are too many Wisconsin Kids starting the day hungry? Pete at Racine Post thinks so. His evidence is that, of the children eligible for a free breakfast, many are not receiving the free breakfast. Shame on us, we are even behind Arkansas in feeding the children.

Of course there is no actual evidence offered to suggest that the children in question are actually hungry. The "evidence" is that they are not being served breakfast at school.

Is it evidence of my hunger if I didn't eat a Happy Meal this morning? No, it is evidence that I didn't eat a Happy Meal, but it is not evidence that I didn't eat.

Could it be that the children are being fed at home by their parents before school? And if so, wouldn't this suggest that Wisconsin parents are more responsible that those in Arkansas who prefer to shift that responsibility to the state?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Global Warming Hot Air

Let's try this again. I watched a film, The Great Global Warming Swindle, which asserts, that while there is a correlation between CO2 in the atmosphere and global warming, the CO2 does not cause the global warming. If anything, the film asserts, the global warming might result in increasing levels of CO2, as it is the global warming that occurs first, followed by increases in CO2. The film also advances the notion that the sun might be the culprit.

But rather than address that question, here is what we got instead:

Michael Gibson came closest to addressing the question. Congratulations Michael! But rather than address the films basic assertion, he got into the minutiae, getting sidetracked by some minor point about a chart used in the film. He uses the authors alleged and minor error as the reason to dismiss the entire theory.

Another contributor enlightened us with a stirring albeit irrelevant quote from John F. Kennedy who was no doubt talking about something other than global warming.

Another anonymous genius similarly sidestepped the question but gladly offered a lengthy dissertation on population and energy consumption.

Yet another offered a still longer post, copied from who knows where, that addressed the dangers of global warming.

Another poster avoided the question but assured us that scientists worldwide accept the global warming facts, except those that don't of course who are obviously paid by coal producers and who think the earth is flat.

What we are seeing on this blog is a microcosm of the problem. Rather than debate the issue, global warming alarmist instead prefer to monopolize the discussion, change the subject, declare that the debate is already over and that they won, or insult the infidels. Anything and everything other than actual debate.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Correlation and Causation and Global Warming

I listened to the Great Global warming Swindle movie today and was intrigued by one point especially. The narrator noted that there was agreement with Al Gore concerning a correlation between CO2 and global warming. Where there is increased CO2, there has been increased global temperatures. Where they part ways with Gore et al is that they don't confuse correlation with causation. Rather, they have concluded that, if anything, global warming causes an increase in CO2 rather than the other way around. They offered evidence to that effect, suggesting that the global warming comes first, followed hundreds of years later by increases in CO2. I am no scientist so I will not weigh in on the accuracy of that claim, but it is an intriguing point. It is a common mistake to confuse correlation with causation. Perhaps Al Gore has done so.

On Clarence Thomas

I lived in Chicago in the early 90's when Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court. I was swept up in the excitement and I assumed that Thomas was guilty of the sexual harassment claims levelled by his former staffer Anita Hill. In Illinois, Carol Mosely Braun won her race for the US Senate in part because many voters, including yours truly, were disgusted by the cross examination of Anita Hill by her haughty all male inquisitors. I can recall Thomas's angry outburst about the confirmation process which he described as a high tech lynching. A part of me wondered if he was telling the truth. I pushed that thought out of my mind.

I just read Thomas's book called My Grandfathers Son. He has lead an interesting life, quite apart from the Anita Hill drama. He was raised by his grandparents who raised he and his brother in a very strict manner. These kids worked all the time and had no time or inclination to get in trouble as they would have to deal with their grandfather if they did. They went to Catholic schools where the nuns neither made or accepted excuses. Clarence Thomas worked very hard and he was very successful academically even as he went on to nearly all white schools.

There are probably some who could never believe that it was the liberal lying and not the conservative. And we can never know for sure, but I am more inclined to believe Thomas after having read his book. His grandparents had instilled some solid values in Thomas. He strayed from those values from time to time, as he has openly admitted, but the Anita Hill smearing now seems like a typical "ends justifies the means" character assassination.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Silly Season

There were some strange letters to the editor today.

"If we build the train and leave the highway at 6 lanes, and the highway is congested, lots of people will take the train, saving tons of carbon emissions" argues Mary Spengler. But congestion will mean that more cars will be on the road for longer periods of time, spewing even more CO2.

In another letter, Sarah Kangas takes on Kimberly-Clark and All-Saints Hospital, arguing that tissue paper should be made from recycled materials rather than the trees that they apparently use. But aren't trees a renewable resource?

But this one takes the cake: Karla Olinger argues that it is a "gross understatement" to describe our health care system as a "national disgrace" that is "pathetically behind Cuba." Why would anyone present an argument and then declare that their own argument is grossly understated? Tell us how you really feel Karla, don't understate your hatred for your country!

And Karla, I don't think I am overstating anything when I suggest that many FreeRacine readers would be willing to chip in to purchase for you a one way ticket to Cuba.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bag Your Skepticism

The Journal Times warns us today that "blogs are not automatically more serious or believable than the flyers one used to find stapled to utility poles" and that they are "merely the newest medium through which dubious old messages can be passed..." and that we should "keep a bag of skepticism handy to leaven the assertions which you find."

Good advice. One should also carry "a bag of skepticism" when reading the assertions contained in the Journal Times.

But there are exceptions to every rule. All material offered here at FreeRacine, excepting the comments section, is unequivocally true an should be unquestionably accepted as such by all readers. Got that anon?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

On Predators

I am about twenty pounds overweight and I have a mild headache. I blame predatory grocers and a predatory bartender, respectively. Can't pay back your loans? Find a predator to blame.

The word predator is taking on a whole new meaning before our eyes and I intend to embrace the new and expanded meaning of the word.

Your property taxes will soon be arriving. If your bill increases, you can blame our predatorial politicians.

Friday, December 07, 2007

On Greatness and the Left

Yesterday I described the great Thomas Sowell as great and I was taken to task for doing so by an anonymous lefty blogger. I did so for two reasons; one, Thomas Sowell is a great economist and a great thinker, and two, I enjoy tweaking the left at every opportunity.

Now why would describing someone as great tweak the left? Well, greatness and egalitarianism, a tendency of many on the left, are very much at odds with one another. If equality is your goal, then greatness is your enemy.

It is this mindset that spawns the leftist attacks on greatness that we are seeing with greater frequency every day. This is why everyone gets a trophy instead of just the champions. It is why some schools are doing away with valedictorians and honor rolls. It is one of the reasons why WalMart is under constant attack.

Some no doubt are unable to enjoy the greatness of others as it reminds them of their own shortcomings. For the healthy among us, enjoy a great person today!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

On Watching "Louder Than Words" or Not

Is there any point in watching the 9-11 Truther's movie "Louder Than Words"? An anonymous poster thinks I should. I think this is the movie being shown repeatedly on Racine's access chanel. I read the Wikpedia account of the film. That suggests to me that I have better things to do with my time. But go ahead anon, tell me why I'm wrong.

Assignment for Walden Students

The great Thomas Sowell asks a timely question:

"Now that the British television documentary, "The Great Global Warming Swindle" is available on DVD, will those schools that forced their students to watch Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" also show them the other side? Ask them."

And so I will. So how about it Michael Gibson, Sam Braun, Katrina, 12 year old, etc... Your assignment for today is to ask your teacher to show you "The Great Global Warming Swindle." Please report back.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Planning To Fail

People are not exactly lining up to live on the 1000 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. Apparently even the homeless don't want to live there-the last owners were a homeless shelter who lost the property in forclosure. And City Development Director Brian O'Connell acknowledges that the cost to build on the property will exceed what houses could sell for there, according to a recent article in the Journal Times. So naturally the city wants to invest your money in this losing proposition. They have already spent $190,000 to buy the property and they project that the demolition cost will be another $110,000. Developers, all of them with their hands out, will cost taxpayers even more.

Do the leaders of our city realize that Racine is declining in population? As such we have excess housing in all likelihood. Do we really want to attract still more people to our city that can't provide for themselves? Is this the kind of planning we want for Racine?

Monday, December 03, 2007

An Excellent Question

I have never done one of these hat tip things, but Caledonia Unplugged asks an excellent question concerning Metra and KRM. Suppose Metra, with all their financial difficulties, decides to cut service to Kenosha? What assurances do we have/will we have that our Milwaukee to Kenosha train will continue on to Chicago?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Move Over Shakespeare

Parkside Theatre will soon be performing "The Laramie Project." The play is "the most frequently produced play on college campuses since its 1999 debut" according to the article in the Journal Times. The play explores the impact of the gruesome murder of a gay student named Matthew Shepard.

Reviews of the play and scrutiny of the plays supporters suggest that it is highly political, with pro gay and anti Christian themes as well as advocacy for hate crime legislation.

My point here is NOT to diminish the horror experienced by Matthew Shepard, nor is it to criticize homosexuals, or to advocate for Christianity, or to weigh in one way or the other on hate crime legislation, or even to criticize Parkside for their choice of plays.

My point here IS to wonder aloud about the political culture on college campuses across the country, assuming the truth in the claim that the "Laramie Project" is indeed the most produced play on college campuses. Is the point of theatre to advance political causes? Must every aspect of a college education be politicized?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Liars Club?

I was teasing Kay from the other day, wondering when she, an admitted hunter and SUV driving WalMart shopper, would be expelled from the Democrat Party. They had a big tent was the response, more or less. Could I join, I asked. Yes of course was the anwer. I then explained that I stand for, among other things, less taxation, fewer regulations, school vouchers, and that I think that thing growing inside a pregnant woman is a human life. Her response was that my views were not aligned with those held by Democrats and that, technically speaking, I could not join if I were honest about my views. On the other hand, if I was a liar...

And now a disclaimer for the perpetually outraged. Kay did not say that I could join only if I lied about my views. I inferred that from her response. Furthermore, I don't think that Democrats are any more dishonest than the general public. This entire post is intended to be funny. Decide for yourselves if I have succeeded.

On Liquor Licensing, Objectivity and Subjectivity

I know this is not a sexy subject, but I wanted to explain to Greg Helding and others what my objections are to the current method of issuing liquor licenses in the city of Racine. And for the record, I have no interest in obtaining a liquor license.

My previous concern/complaint is that the process for obtaining a liquor license is highly subjective in nature. Applicants must endure a political process which includes input from nearby residents and other concerned citizens. This may sound like a fine idea to many people, but it certainly allows for any of the isms to taint the process and make it profoundly unfair to some. Often the "some" will be black, as there is often fear, reasonable or otherwise, associated with large numbers of black people at a club or bar.

Greg Helding responded to my concern by noting the dangers of government that attempts to remove subjectivity from the process. He noted problems with OSHA, the ADA, and equal opportunity laws that try to take subjectivity out of the process. His examples were good ones and I agree with his assertion that common sense/subjectivity must play a part in government.

However, we must distinguish between branches of government. Legislators, such as Greg Helding, write laws. The executive branch enforces them and the judicial branch interprets them. The subjectivity should be a key component of the latter two branches but not so much the former. Laws should be clearly written such that any liquor license applicant would know if he or she could obtain the license.

With regards to liquor licensing in Racine, it seems to me that the legislators, or alderman, are taking on executive and judicial functions in addition to their duties as lawmakers. Often their wrangling over prospective licensees includes discussions and or requirements to aid local law enforcement with security cameras, off duty policemen etc... and rejecting certain applicants often involves judging the likelihood that an applicant will one day run afoul of the law.

If our alderman were omniscient, this would be fine policy. Until such time, we should have an objective process for obtaining liquor licenses, coupled with a degree of subectivity in enforcement of the liquor laws and the judgements rendered against those who violate the laws.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Random Thoughts on KRM

I have pretty much stayed on the sidelines of the KRM debate. That may have to change.

Proponents of KRM are now proposing another funding method, a sales tax that would fund a regional transportation system. At least we will have the opportunity to shoot this down in a referendum.

KRM proponents were always telling us it is now or never when they were trying to get state funding and approval of a massive tax increase on car rentals. Well now is passed and the never never happened. They are back. It seems they are taking a page from the RUSD referendum playbook.

Racine's Regional Transportation Administration rep Jody Karls likes the sales tax idea because "You're making somebody else pay for it." Evidentally Jody Karls doesn't pay sales tax for his purchases in Racine. Perhaps there should be an investigation. On the other hand, if Karls can really get someone else to pay for KRM, he would have my full support. Perhaps he can convince the city councils in Denver or Miami to fund our train.

Once we agree to this RTA tax, we will have lost control forever. Does the Miller stadium tax ring a bell. Milwaukee is larger than us. I don't know the makeup of the RTA board, but I suspect it will be weighted towards Milwaukee. Do the citizens of Racine county really want to foot the bill for Milwaukee's bus system?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

On Tolerance

Last night I was at a gathering of twenty or so people. I was chatting amicably with a fellow, his wife and another couple. The subject of conversation centered on the work experiences of one of the men, a painter for the State of Wisconsin. After a while, the painter asked what I do for fun. I hesitated, then answered honestly, "I like to blog." He asked for the name of my blog. I hesitated again, having been through this before. I said something to the effect that he may find some of my views objectionable. But he persisted, asking why etc... until I had to explain my views on unions. My view, in brief, is that unions can be helpful for members but that they are often harmful to society at large. Though I delivered this viewpoint reluctantly, gently, and at his insistence, it soon became clear that he not only didn't like my opinion, but that he didn't like me. Like I said, I have been through this before. Oh well.

In recent years, I have gained greater clarity of my political views. I am comfortable holding them, discussing them, and defending them if neccessary. One of the consequences of this increased confidence is that a small minority of liberals will reject me personally because of the viewpoints that I hold. In other words, I am not only wrong, mistaken, naive etc..., but bad. Again, oh well.

Interestingly, when I was moderately left of center, I did not encounter a comparable rejection from conservatives.

My conclusion: conservatives are more tolerant than liberals, generally speaking.

Taking the Bait

I have been asked by my detractors to list my accomplishments here in Racine. No doubt they want to pick them apart, dispute them, or minimize their importance. I don't like to promote myself and if you look through my archives, you will see that I don't. I also don't like to dodge questions. So I either need to dodge a question or promote my accomplishments. I have chosen the latter. I will separate my accomplishments into two categories, professional and political. My personal accomplishments shall remain personal.

Professional accomplishments: My wife and I started a business from scratch about 14 years ago. When we moved to Racine, we rented a small storefront on Main street. We have sinced expanded significantly, nearly quadrupling in size. As part of our expansion, we purchased an eyesore in the 400 block of Main street, a block that was nearly dead at the time. That eyesore is now among the most attractive buildings downtown. The 400 block of Main street is now fairly solid, and we deserve some of the credit for that improvement. Part of our business is raising money for hospitals throughout the midwest. We have donated about $250,000 to hospitals in the last decade or so. We also employ people. At present we have four employees, among them a current RUSD student, an RUSD alum and college student, and a parent of an RUSD alum who happens to be a strong supporter of RUSD. I mention these RUSD connections and the contributions to hospitals so that you will understand that a successful boycotting campaign will result in collateral damage. Our economic activity generates considerable revenue for government. We of course pay state and federal income taxes, we pay local property taxes on two properties, we pay payroll taxes, and we generate alot of sales tax revenue. I don't even want to think about how much we pay in taxes, but I will say this to the boycotters; it is not wise for a parasite to kill its host.

Political accomplishments: I would consider myself a sort of freelance political activist. My first foray into political activism started when I began to explore the wisdom of having taxpayers foot the bill for an indoor ice arena. There were a multitude of reasons to oppose that idea, but among the most convincing is the notion that your average taxpayer should not be required to subsidize the activities of the rich. For this reason and others, I was aligned with many liberals in opposing this spending. Anyway, I had a hand in stopping that nonsense. I later wrote editorials in the Journal Times, at least two of which contributed to a fair outcome for oppressed people. In one I argued that the Lighthouse Church (I think that is the name), having purchased the former REAL school, renovated it, and gotten an occupancy permit form city hall, ought to be able to occupy their own building. Mayor Becker had other ideas, namely condos, and was using tactics of questionable legality to prevent the occupancy. My commentary may have helped the church. Church members think so and are grateful for my help. Another article may have helped a black couple get a liquor license. Our liquor licensing process deserves an overhaul, in large part because licensees are subject to a subjective process that includes, essentially, the blessings of neighbors. This may sound like a good idea to many, but it allows racism or any of the other isms to taint the process. Anyway, they got their license and subsequently botched their operation. It is harder to measure other political accomplishments, though I think that they are real. For example, my editorials in the JT, love em or hate em, sparked discussion of issues that need to be discussed. The same is true of this blog.

So go ahead anon et al, snipe away.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kids and Politics

When I was twelve, I spent my time fishing, playing kick the can, and dreaming of a major league baseball career. I was not lecturing adults on global cooling or the dangers of DDT or any of the other now discredited media driven hysterias of my youth. But todays youth are different. They are far more politically active. The question of the day is, is this a good thing?

My guess is that like so many issues, there will be the same liberal/conservative divide. Liberals will by and large think it a good idea. Conservatives, not so much.

Children, by virtue of their age, have limited formal education. What formal education they do have comes almost entirely at the hands of liberals. They have very limited informal education or life experience to draw from. For the most part, they don't get paychecks and they don't pay taxes. They have no experience with the sophistry of politicians. They are less stable emotionally. As they mature and explore their world, they will often need the comfort and support and sense of belonging that can be provided by groups and causes.

For all of the above reasons, children are far easier to manipulate than mature adults. So they are a tempting target for agenda driven individuals. Recruiting children is a great way to swell the numbers for your cause.

Kids should be kids. There will be time enough later to confront adult issues. We shouldn't use them for our own political purposes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Response to Walden Green Supporters

My apologies for the delayed response to the many passionate comments on the solar panel issue. I was out of town on business for two days.

Anyway, the facts that I used for my blog entry were those that I gathered from the Journal Times newspaper article on Sunday. Since I am a conscientious recycler, I no longer have the article at home, and am unable to review the JT article at this time. However, I would not be surprised if the JT article contained factual errors or was incomplete. And I don't discount the possibility that I may have made some errors.

But, as always, I am most interested in arriving at the truth. As such, I would welcome any opportunity to discuss this issue with any or all of the respondents. Perhaps this could be a worthwhile educational exercise. Maybe I could meet with the students, teachers and parents who are active with this project. I am available to meet with any and all and I await your invitation.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mindless Idealism Causes Global Warming

Walden School is going green, according to an article in today's Journal Times. Students are getting involved, raising money for solar panels that will cost $232,000 and bring in annual revenue of $4,000. The "profits" will be used to "fund other projects, like improving the old windows..."

I hope the teachers at Walden will not let their zeal for environmentalism distract them from teaching core subjects like math. This project presents a unique learning opportunity for Walden students.

$4,000 divided by $232,000 = .0172413, or 1.7%.
$232,000 divided by $4,000 = 58.

The Walden project will earn an annual on return on investment of 1.7% and it would take 58 years to pay off the project and begin to profit from it.

Now suppose the Walden administration and students really wanted to replace those drafty, inefficient windows. Suppose they considered alternative uses for the $232,000. Lets say they found a bank willing to offer a 3.45% (double the return on the solar panels) annual return on the $232,000. They would have an annual return of $8,000 instead of $4,000. Using this conservative example, the cost of the mindless idealism being taught at Walden would be $4,000 per year.

But it is worse than that actually. Instead of placing solar panels on their roof, they could instead replace the windows. I suspect that they could save over $4,000 annually on reduced heating and cooling costs. And Walden is likely heated and cooled by using electricity, which is produced by burning coal, which we all know pollutes the air and causes global warming.

I wish the students at Walden would stop destroying our earth.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blissful Ignorance

I have had thousands of conversations with liberals in recent years. I understand their point of view, largely because I once shared their point of view. But it amazes me how ignorant liberals can be regarding conservative points of view. And when I say "ignorant" I don't mean to suggest that liberals are inherently stupid or anything of the sort. I mean to say that they have little or no exposure to serious conservative thought, and as such, are by definition, ignorant on the issue.

Unfortunately, it saddens me to report that this is often willful ignorance in the sense that they actively avoid exposure to conservative thought. An example of this tendency can be found at in a post entitled "The Other Side". Kay has signed up for some sort of conservative notice or something, it seems, for the sole purpose of ridiculing conservatives without having read their work. I challenged her to read an interesting book by the absolutely brilliant Thomas Sowell, which she promptly dismissed as propaganda. I suspect that the reason to avoid conservative thought is because one is insecure about one's beliefs and does not want them scrutinized.

Ignorance is bliss, they say. I disagree.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

City Business

I sat in on a city planning meeting this evening. If I had any hair, I would have pulled it all out.

A business on Rapids Drive wanted to put up a sign. Rapids Drive is a busy street with many businesses, many signs and no residences. However, there was a women there who lived on nearby Floyd Street but didn't want to be able to see the sign from her house. She wanted it moved down a bit so it would be out of her line of sight. I don't think city planners should set the precedent that people have a right to a particular view out their window. After all, the business may not like the look of that ladies house. This woman should have been told that the business has every right, per city laws, to have the sign there and that if she didn't like the view she could move or plant a tree. Next item!

Next item was a women who wanted to open a resale shop in a strip mall on Douglas avenue. Poor thing had to genuflect to the planners and agree to a number of conditions, some of which were outside of her control. Some of the conditions were landscaping, sign removal and consolidation, hours of operation and lots of other stuff. Now this woman does not own the property in question, she is a renter. The owner must make the adjustments that may well cost several thousands of dollars. My guess is that he/she will try to pass this cost along to his tenants. These additional costs will make it harder for this or any other business to survive. Look for more vacant buildings and fewer businesses on Douglas Avenue thanks to the city council and the planning department.

On a positive note, it looks like I will be able to put a deck on my building as I see fit. I happened to read the city ordinances and since my project will cost less than $5,000, I am exempt from having to prostrate myself in front of the taste police, er the downtown design review commission. What color should I paint the railings? I am thinking alternating pink and green railings would be quite a sight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Teachers and Principles

A conversation was relayed to me recently wherein my retail business was being discussed. The conversation included several Racine Unified teachers who stated that while they liked the offerings at my store, they could not shop there, as a matter of principle. They evidentally did not approve of my public criticism of RUSD and the series of spending referenda.

Now I was not there, but if I was, I would have asked what principle they would be violating by shopping at my store.

Now it can't be that the teachers object to my constitutionally protected right to speak. Certainly this is part of the curriculum at RUSD schools, so it can't be that.

Could it be that they oppose political activism in general? Would they boycott my store if I had an "IMPEACH BUSH" and a "VOTE YES" sign in my window? Somehow I doubt it.

I am at a loss. I can't for the life of me figure out what principle is at stake for these teachers. Do any of my readers care to speculate?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Owens Legacy Used By Racemongers

Thank you Ken Lumpkin of the Insider News for telling the story of civil rights activist Corrine Owens. You can read it at: I have often been amused by the constant stream of awards bestowed on Owens, as I had no idea what she has accomplished. But thanks to Ken Lumpkin, I have a clearer picture of Owens and her efforts. Owens has shown courage and resolve in taking on the blatantly racist institutions and practices that were common in Racine and elsewhere. For this, she deserves credit.

But part of me believes that Owens is being used. She is being used, via award bombardment, to perpetuate an outdated and unnecessary style of activism. If blacks were barred from teaching in Racine Unified, for example, as they were several decades ago, then Owen's methods of persistant confrontation of racist institutions would be entirely appropriate. But times have changed.

Rather than dwell on Owens and her contributions, we should be engaged in debate and discussion about the present day problems facing the black community. By trotting out Owens every other day to accept yet another award, her followers are in effect saying that the present day problems facing the black community are the same as they have always been, namely, racist individuals and institutions-end of story.

This false narrative of the struggle among black people in Racine may well be benificial for black activist and their cohorts, the guilty white liberal, but it is an open question whether it is helpful to black people in general and black children in particular. I can think of nothing more harmful than to poison the minds of black children by telling them that white society is oppressing them and that any efforts to better themselves will be fruitless in our hostile society.

I respect Corrine Owen's efforts in confronting racism. She deserves to be recognized for her contibutions. And Racine deserves an honest discussion concerning the difficulties confronting the black community.

Sleepless Nights

I saw Mayor Becker last night and took the opportunity to complain about the fact that the unelected Design Review Committee can effectively veto my idea of adding a rooftop deck to my building on the grounds that they don't find it attractive enough. Never mind that my wife and I, and many skilled tradesmen, have taken one of ugliest buildings in the city and turned it into one of the most attractive. We simply can't be trusted to make attractive additions.

Mayor Becker said this government intrusion is for my own good. "You can sleep at night knowing that your neighbor will not be putting ugly additions on his building" said the mayor.

It is not potentially ugly redevelopment that keeps me up nights. Intrusive and paternalistic governments on the other hand...

Retailers Union?

Two downtown Racine retailers are seeking to organize other downtown businesses such that they cooperate for the good of all downtown retailers. So far, the group has suggested that downtown retailers stay open later on Fridays during the Christmas season and to offer limited Sunday hours. I can support this initiative as I have been preaching, and practicing, the notion that we need to better accomodate our customers with longer hours. So far, so good.

Now I have a sneaking suspicion that this group may offer some suggestions that I will not be able to support. Perhaps it is raging paranoia on my part, but I will not be in the least surprised if they will initiate a program to increase cooperation between retailers by "suggesting" which products or product lines a retailer may sell. It is my sincere hope that they do not take this step.

I very much want to have cordial and cooperative relations with fellow retailers downtown. Yet there are limits to the kind of organized activities that I could support. As a firm believer in freedom, I would resist and oppose any efforts by a group of people to tell me how to run my business. The phrase "mind your own business" seems particularly appropriate in this context.

My hope is that downtown retailers who are struggling will take a hard look at their internal operations rather than mistakenly assume that there is a collective solution to their business concerns. Are your products interesting? Are they displayed in an attractive manner? Are they priced to move? How do you treat your customers? Do you complain to customers about business? Do you manage your employees well? What is working? What isn't?

I want Racine to have a bustling and successful downtown. As such, I want my neighboring businesses to succeed, as it is better to have a thriving business next door than to have a vacancy.

My advice to downtown retailers: Focus more on internal operations and less on collective action.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rate RUSD Cafeterias

If you want to know how the Racine Health Department rates local restaurants for cleanliness etc..., go to Not on their list are RUSD cafeterias. Given that tainted food may have caused an outbreak of food poisoning at some RUSD schools, perhaps parents would be interested in learning how their childs school rates in the cleanliness department. Maybe one of our local alderman could propose an ordinance to address this problem.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Nine Local Terrorists Arrested

I picked up the JT this morning and read the front page headline: "Third murder suspect arrested." Then I looked at the local section and found more good news: "Sixth murder suspect arrested." If the allegations are true, these people have been shooting up houses, breaking into homes, committing armed robberies, and of course, murdering people. There are now nine fewer terrorists on the streets of Racine. Good job RPD.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Law Could Sicken Economy

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Gregory Stanford wants to interfere with my business. In his Sunday commentary, "Don't call in sick at some firms", he calls for a law wherein employees would have the "right to earn up to nine sick days a year, to be used for actual illnesses."

Stanford predictably tells only half of the story by sharing anecdotes about people who became sick but had to come to work anyway. But no mention of the difficulty posed to businesses when employees decide to take a day off for the hell of it, as some surely would, or do.

I don't offer sick pay at my small business. My employees understand the reality that apparently does not dawn on Gregory Stanford. Small retail businesses, and I suspect many other businesses, don't have piles of extra money to throw around.

But I do the best I can to keep my employees happy. I am as flexible as I can be with requests for time off. I offer significant discounts to employees who may wish to purchase our items. I have given bonuses and this year a few of my long time employees were given a weeks paid vacation. If someone needs more hours, I try to accomodate them.

I do all this in part because I am a swell guy, but there is more to it than that. I want to keep good employees as happy as I can, so they continue to work for me. But I am constrained by reality as are most people. I can't offer health insurance, sick days, or six figure salaries. I do the best I can by my employees.

But my best is not good enough for Gregory Stanford.

The cruel irony is that Stanford's proposed law would be harmful to the very people he purportedly seeks to help. If our legislators pass new laws that undermine my business, I would probably manage to survive. I could make no such promises to my employees.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Accomplishments I'd Like To Know

I believe I have blogged once before on the subject of serial award collector Corinne Owens, but I feel compelled to do so once again. Owens is in the news again and like last time, I am still left wondering what it is that she has accomplished and why it is that she receives so much recognition. She was interviewed in the JT's "People You Should Know" series.

When asked "Why is what you've done important" Owens answered "Because it's all designed to help others."

Very well. My questions are as follows:

1) What has she designed?
2) Was it designed well?
3) Did it help others?
4) Who did it help?
5) How did it help them?

I know it is heresy in Racine to ask questions about Corrine Owens, but I will keep asking until someone can answer.

Racism and the Left

I just read an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel entitled "Minority professors rare in sciences."

The article sites a study that stated "Minorities are less likely to enter and remain in science and engineering when they lack mentors and role models."

Now I have not read the study and as such I may be fairly accused of being intellectually lazy. That aside, I have a problem with the above quote.

The quote assumes that people of one race or gender are incapable of mentoring or role modeling for someone of another race or gender.

I know that there are some for whom anything said or done in the name of diversity must be good. Do any of my readers wish to take a crack at defending the notion that a member of one race can't mentor someone of another race? Or do we all agree with me that this notion, emanating from the left, is quite obviously racist?

Friday, November 02, 2007

9-11 and partisanship

I was talking to someone the other day who believes that 9-11 was a cooperative effort between the Bush administration, CIA, oil buddies etc... and Osama et al.

There is a documentary out there that alleges that the buildings were cleared out and timed explosives were put in place. There are theories about the impossibility of melting steel causing the collapse of the buildings. There is apparently a CNN reporter on film stating that building #7 had collapsed, though it was pictured behind her at the time, only to collapse later. Someone who owns one of the buildings apparently has ties to the Bush family. And on and on.

In order for this conspiracy to be true, one has to believe that Bush, his family, and no doubt hundreds of others would be willing to incinerate a few thousand Americans in the hopes of cashing in later with war and oil profits. I simply can't believe (given the evidence that I have seen thus far) that hundreds of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the world would take the risk of getting caught, disgracing themselves, their family and their country to get rich. They are already rich.

Anyway, my question. Do you think that, given the exact same set of facts and theories, the 9-11 conspiracy believers would still be believers if you substituted Clinton for Bush as the main villian?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Lefty Lit

I was talking to a customer in my store some time ago and she made it abundantly clear that she was quite proudly liberal. We had an enjoyable conversation- it is possible by the way. I can't remember how the conversation went exactly, but I remember asking her what book or which intellectual most succinctly articulated the liberal political philosophy. Her answer and I am not making this up: Al Franken. I almost lost my drink through my nose. Now I am offering an opportunity for anon, CTW, Concrete Katie, Pete or anyone else primarily on the left to provide for me the book (a book is preferable to a person who may have written numerous books) that best explains your way of thinking. I just may read it if I haven't already. I thank you in advance for your suggestions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

FreeRacine Gathering?

It was suggested to me that we have a second FreeRacine gathering. Some of you may remember the first gathering about this time last year. A good time was had by all. Who would have thought that plotting a capitalist revolution could be so much fun? And anon was a big hit with the paper bag over his head, or was it her head. Anyway, please weigh in. Should we do this again?

Conflict and the Left

This was going to be a comment on my previous post but I think it merits seperate consideration. I had a new insight that I would like to share with readers. As I have observered the increasingly hostile tone of some of the participants on the left, I often wondered how this style of debate could be helpful to their cause. Certainly discriminating readers would be less inclined to agree with a hostile and condescending responder than with a fair and thoughtful one. So what purpose does the hostility serve other than to create needless divisions?

EXACTLY! This is exactly the reason to behave in this manner. You see, the left needs conflict, real or imagined, to further their agenda. Theirs (at least the far left) is an us against them philosophy that thrives on conflict versus the cooperation that is valued by most people. So you see the left playing up conflict between whites and blacks, between rich and poor, gay and straight, worker and management, female and male etc... The left needs people to buy into these trumped up conflicts. They need to foment conflict where none exists. They need to villify their opponents. Conflict and vitriol are necessary to create the divisions that they need in order to advance their agenda. So the hatred from the far left makes perfect sense after all.

Vitriol and the Left

I would like to extend my apologies to readers who have been subjected to the recent barrage of irresponsible rhetoric from some of my ideological opponents. Though I encourage participation from those who disagree with me, I did not intend for this blog to deteriorate into a mudslinging contest. That said, I believe it is of some value to observe the behavior and dissect the arguments of people who would have you believe that they are kind, caring, tolerant and smarter than you.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Part of the Solution

Racine Unified interim superintendent Jack Parker and interim CFO David Hazen collaborated on a commentary in today's JT entitled "Racine Unified faces immense challenges." In it they ask for "supporters and critics to come together and help" and to be "part of the solution." How to help they didn't say.

I think I can best help by offering a dissenting opinion.

Hazen and Parker contend that the success of Unified is essential to our community. "Whether you live in the city, the district, or the county, the success of RUSD and your future are tied together." And "Indeed, the future prosperity of the community, the county, and the region rests to an important degree on the success of RUSD." And "For the community to thrive, RUSD's success has to be a priority for everyone." Even County Executive Bill McReynolds apparently stated, "explicitly" that "student success in RUSD is essential to the long term social and economic viability of the county."

Few would argue the importance of a quality education, and I am not among them. Education ranks right up there with food in importance to our society. But I don't know anyone who would suggest that McDonalds is essential for the viability of our county, or that success of Piggly Wiggly and your future are tied together, or that the future prosperity the community rests on the success of Pick'N Save. Food is essential. McDonalds, Piggly Wiggly, and Pick'N Save are not.

Likewise, education is essential while RUSD is not. It doesn't matter what entity educates the children in our community, be it parents in a home school, RUSD, charter schools, or private schools. What matters is that the entity that attempts to educate our children succeeds in doing so. If that can be RUSD, fine. If RUSD is not up to the task, perhaps we need to look to other educational establishments.

This is the mistake made by Dave Hazen, Jack Parker and countless others in our community. They assume that RUSD must be the critical educational institutional around. Presently, it is, to the detriment of our community, because so many of our children are being undereducated there. Rather than flailing endlessly to fix a broken school system, perhaps it is time to look outside that system. We should do this for the children.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

National Taxpayers Day

I was out last night and happened upon Micah Waters (manager/partner/owner? I am not sure) of Porters. He had a good idea. How about a new national holiday called Taxpayers Day?

Micah suggested that on taxpayers day, everyone has the day off except government employees.

We started to run with the idea. Taxpayers don't have to pay taxes that day. Additionally, government workers have one day where they don't get paid and they don't have benefits, as the taxpayer is taking the day off from providing these benefits. Wouldn't there be some value in having government employees shopping around for a one day health insurance policy?

Not only would this be a joyous day for taxpayers, it would serve as a much needed reminder to government employees just who it is that is paying their salaries and providing their benefits.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Did You Know?

The US economy has added jobs for 47 (or was it 49) consecutive months, a record for our country. Remember all that talk about a jobless recovery a few years back?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Confess

The demise of KRM has caused the Journal Times editorialists to wonder what has become of our "sense of common good."

"This is where the glib may blame television or video games for promoting isolation and self-absorbtion, or blame our desire to help private companies make money by charging low income people for the help they need, or blame our desire to keep more money by ignoring the needs of the other people. The cause is likely to be a combination of those varying with each person."

So if you don't share the vision of the Journal Times editorial board, you are either self-absorbed, greedy, or capitalist, or a combination thereof.

I am guilty. I believe that the owners of companies ought to be able to charge money for the products and services that they offer, which makes me a capitalist. And I believe that collective government action has typically been more harmful than helpful to people in "need", which makes me greedy. And I watch TV. Shame on me!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On Equality

If we take money from the rich to achieve equality, shouldn't we depress the happy and sicken the healthy for the same reason?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Question For You

Is it to the economic advantage of the "haves" to repress the "have nots?" Please include reasons for your answer.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

On Labeling Liberals

Pete Karas does not like labels. Like many of that segment of the population that show a consistent preference for more government intervention in our lives, in the form of taxes and regulations, and who minimize the importance of family, individual responsibility, and free markets to address our social problems, they don't want to be labelled. They don't want to be called liberals.

But labels are important shortcuts that make dialogue possible. Do we ask for a disc shaped slab of ground and cooked cow flesh wedged between two pieces of bread when we go to McDonalds (itself a label), or is it easier to ask for a hamburger?

Even the name Pete Karas is a label. Without his name, or label, we might have to describe him as "that politically active Racine alderman most noted for his opposition to guns and his support for a publicly owned power company."

Labels are not a bad thing. We need them. But labels should be accurate, and in this regard, Pete may well have a point. The term "liberal" has different meanings for different folks, because of the modern liberals, I would argue.

"Liberal", as it pertains to political philosophy, is defined as "favorable to individual liberty, social reform and the removal of economic restraints." Most folks that are commonly known as liberals today are more interested in imposing economic restraints (higher taxes, more regulations) than in removing them, so perhaps "liberal" is not the best label for Pete and for those who believe as he does.

Some known as liberals prefer the term "progressive." This term is defined as "favoring political and social progress and reform." But this term is far too broad as virtually anyone with even the slightest interest in politics would favor progress.

So how do we label them accurately? Here, Pete can be most helpful. Let us look at his policy preference, as this may help us to accurately label him.

Pete, as I have already mentioned, is most noted for his opposition to guns, or at least the right to carry them while concealed, and for his support for a publicly owned power company. I strongly suspect that Pete supports the public ownership of schools and education, and I suspect that he favors universal health care. I trust Pete will correct me if I have mistakenly characterized his positions.

Pete's positions demonstrate a consistent preference for the collective. Government should control the production and distribution of education, health care and power. Conversely, individuals should have less or no control in these matters, except that which they can garner through the political process. Even his position on gun control indicates the preference for the collective. Individuals would be prevented from defending themselves against predators with guns. That job should fall to the government.

Socialism is defined as "a political and economic theory advocating collective ownership of the means of production and control of distribution. It is based on the belief that all, while contributing to the good of the community, are equally entitled to the care and protection which the community can provide."

Given Pete's well known politcal positions, it would be more accurate to label him as a socialist, a statist, or a collectivist than it would be to describe him as a liberal or a progressive.

I therefore label Pete Karas a socialist, not in an effort to disparage or humiliate him, but rather to accurately describe his political philosophy. Should Pete or anyone else find this label offensive, I have but one question. Is it accurate?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Teachers Union Boss Has Sordid Past

Oh ya, I too can play gotcha politics. I have some incriminating information about the recently elected president of the Racine Education Association, one Pete Knotek. It seems that Knotek has associated with union opponents. It is true and it gets worse. Knotek once gather signatures at his school for an individual now known around town as a skeptic regarding the value of our local unions. I doubt that Knotek has been forthcoming about this association and I further doubt that he would have been elected had this association been well known.

I will now reveal the source of this scandalous news. The source is me. I came to know Pete a few years back. My son played with his boys on occasion. He later gathered some signitures for me when I ran for county executive.

Pete is a smart guy and I respect his integrity, even though I would likely disagree with his politics regularly. I suspect that my shift in political thinking has made our interactions a bit strained and uncomfortable, unfortunately. I wish Pete well in his new venture. Not too well, of course.

Smoking Ban Myth Smoked Out

I saw a handwritten sign on the door of a bar the other day as I was driving by. It read: We Are Not A Smoke Free Bar.

Obviously, the bar owner would like to dispell the notion that his/her bar is smoke free. But at the same time, he/she dispells the notion, frequently suggested by the anti-smoking zealots, that a smoking ban would be good for bars.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Saving Racine

The Racine County Workforce Development Board has announced plans to tackle some of Racine's most vexing problems, according to an article today in the Racine Journal Times. The Board, led by Twin Disc CEO Michael Batten, has identified the following as top challenges:

1) High unemployment in the inner city
2) Low educational attainment, especially in the inner city.
3) Long term decline in manufacturing jobs.
4) Historical difficulty in attracting businesses and residents to the Racine area.
5) Inability to fill the demand for existing jobs.

The board has hired two Washington D.C. area companies to complete a strategic plan. Your tax dollars will foot the bill for half of the $100,000 plan. Local companies will fund the rest.

I think the board has correctly identified the problems, though I would add high rates of crime to the list. But identifying Racine's problems has always been easy. Our unemployment rate has been among the states highest for some time. Our crime rates in certain areas are very high and our public school education problems are and have been patently obvious to anyone paying attention. So identifying the problem is very easy to do. The solutions on the other hand are the hard part.

So I will chime in with a few suggestions and questions for the D.C. companies.

1) Why would people stay in Racine if they are chronically unemployed?
Hint #1. Racine is losing population so some people are clearly leaving. Yet some are staying despite their joblessness. Their is little reason to stay in an area when you don't have a job unless the area supports the jobless or unless the area is a haven for black market economic activity.

2) Regarding education, if educational achievement is lacking at the public schools, would it make sense to expand the educational options for inner city students?
Hint #2. Rarely if ever are our local private schools cited as the problem, and for good reason.

3) Are some of the problems facing Racine internal or cultural problems?
Hint #3. Yes. We are now seeing the inevitable result of decades of mistaken policies, some local, some statewide, some national. Racine and Wisconsin became a draw some decades ago because of our lavish welfare benefits. These benefits marginalized men while offering financial incentives for out-of-wedlock procreation. Inevitably, we now have a multigenerational dependence on government and an entitlement mentality coupled with, as always, a decline in personal responsibilty and initiative. Crime, low educational attainment, and joblessness are the inevitable result.

4) What can be done?
Hint #4. If you actually want to improve Racine, then fearlessly address the problems. If you just want to collect the $100,000 in the easiest manner possible without ruffling feathers, well, just offer the usual "more government programs will save the day" policy suggestions.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

New blogger in town

Dustin Block, formerly of the Racine Journal Times, has started his own web site/blog called Good luck Dustin. Oh by the way, I am assuming that Dustin is no longer with the JT, as his blog indicates that he is a free lance journalist.

Desperate Dems

Some state Democrat Party leaders are proposing a new law which would compel state lawmakers to work on the budget impasse. The proposed law would call for lawmakers to meet for increasingly long sessions until a budget is passed. Police would be called upon to bring reluctant lawmakers to the table, by force, if necessary. Should any state lawmakers argue against universal health care, police are instructed to taze them repeatedly until they realize their error. OK, I made up that last part.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Intangible Wealth

"If all conditions for development other than capital are present, capital will soon be generated locally or will be available... from abroad... If, however, the conditions for development are not present, then aid... will be necessarily unproductive and therefor ineffective."

That quote comes from development economist Peter Bauer in a Wall Street Journal commentary about intangible wealth. The quote pertained to the macro development of nations, but it caught my attention and I think it can also apply to the micro development of children, particularly with regards to their education.

Of course here in Racine we all see the education problems faced by RUSD and other schools. Throwing more aid at the schools won't be helpful because too many children lack those intangible "conditions for development other than capital."

What are some of those conditions for development? In my opinion, the optimal non capital conditions for children are to live in a loving home comprised of a stable husband and wife who are able to take care of themselves and impart to their children the importance of respectful behavior and an understanding of the importance of education, among other things.

The bad news is that the government can't give our children the intangible wealth that they need to thrive. The good news is that there is no shortage of intangible wealth. It is available to anyone willing to take it.

Racine YWCA, NAACP to Merge

OK, I lied. They aren't planning a merger, not that I know of anyway. But maybe they should. The recent news of the YWCA closing its fitness center due to declining membership, coupled with the their newish focus on combating racism, leads me to think that a merger might be sensible. The NAACP is of course also very much focused on combating racism, and I suspect they could use additional members and resources. The two organizations appear to have remarkably similar agendas. Why not merge?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Headless Liberals Everywhere

If you want some insight into liberal thinking, read JT columnist Heather Gascoigne's article entitled "Headless women everywhere." Or just read my analysis.

Gascione became a "strident feminist" of the "women rule, men drool" variety before moderating her views to allow for "the gray areas of a lot of issues." But, "sometimes those strident feminist tendencies come up again. Usually in a heated moment. I try to hold them back until I can find a cogent argument for why I feel the way I do." Gascione also writes "if I believe something, you can be sure that I've thought about the reasons why I believe it. Even if, in the end, the reason comes down to "There is no reason; I just feel that way," I've thought about it."

Note the role that thinking plays for Gascione. First she reaches a conclusion of some sort or other, usually in a heated, or emotional, moment. Then she allows herself time to seek a cogent argument in order to validate her feelings. If that fails, she can simply revert back to "I just feel that way." The reason to think is to justify conclusions based on emotion. That is not thinking in my view.

The reason to think is not to justify conclusions already reached. We should think to seek the truth while entertaining the possibility that we might reach a new conclusion. But if you are a liberal, you get to avoid reason altogether and just say "I just feel that way."

Friday, September 21, 2007

On Housing Discrimination

I have an apartment for rent and I want to discriminate. Yes, you read that right. I have borrowed an enormous amount of money and have spent the better part of a year working on this project, and I would like very much to discriminate against people who will not take good care of my property and against those who will not pay the rent. The problem of course is detirmining who those people are or might be.

Now I have no desire to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientaion, religion, politics or any of those kinds of things, but I wouldn't mind discriminating against a person who doesn't have a stable job, or who has a history of evictions or criminal records, or even against someone who gives me the creeps.

Do any of my readers have any advice they might like to share? On what basis may I legally discriminate? For example, must I rent to a convicted rapist if he can afford the rent?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why Pass a Budget?

I am not sure why Republicans would even want a new state budget. I have no reason to believe that it would be any better than the one we have now, given what I have been hearing from our local Repubs, such as Robin Vos. Remember, if we don't pass a new budget, we just extend our current budget. If we don't pass a new budget, Republicans can accurately say that we have a budget that does not raise taxes. Furthermore, a new budget would allow Governor Doyle to make any budget changes that he pleases with his unchecked veto powers. Have we forgotten that Doyle raided the highway fund to fund schools all by crossing out large sections of the budget. Given a new budget, Doyle could include the Healthy Wisconsin nonsense, if he wanted to, by using the same trick. We shouldn't give him that opportunity. Don't pass a budget. Our current one is bad enough.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ethical Dilemma

This morning I played in an tennis tournament with my son. Aside from having fun, the purpose of the tournament is to honor two Racine area tennis players who have died of cancer. Participants are asked to pay $40 each to the American Cancer Society.

Until recently the American Cancer Society was a non-partisan organization seeking to bring about a cure for cancer and to educate the public about cancer causing substances. Lately however, the ACS has introduced a new initiative wherin, judging by their own web site, they are beginning to push for socialized medicine.

Of course I don't think that would be a good idea. The costs will go up and the quality of care will go down.

So I can't, in good conscience, give money to an organization who's efforts will hurt our economy while negatively impacting our collective health. However, I already implicitly agreed to pay this money when I played tennis this morning. What to do?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Liquor License Madness

Jim Spodick owns a rather large building on 6th Street in downtown Racine. He is working on the building and hopes to open a business there. I don't have nearly enough details at this point, but the club would include a large enough space for dancing and the business would feature Latin music. Spodick and or his tenant have recently been met with a decidedly unenthusiastic city council when applying for a liquor license. At this point I don't know if a vote has been taken yet on the liquor issue, but it doesn't look good, apparently, for Spodick and company.

I have frequently written about the insanity that accompanies liquor licensing. The city council seeks information with which they try to determine beforehand whether a licensee or licensed establishment will become problematic. Applicants understand this and adjust accordingly. That is why, when you go to one of these meetings, you will hear an applicant say something like "we will not be playing hip hop music or serving 40 ounce malt liquor in bottles" which is code for "you don't have anything to worry about, alderman, we will make sure not to attract any problematic black people to our fine upstanding establishment ." Of course Jim Spodick's establishment will include slasa dancing so there is no getting around the possibility that Mexicans might show up. As such, coded assurances to the council were not an option.

The city of Racine is going to get sued someday for this nonsense, and when they do, they deserve to lose. Licenses should not be issued or denied based on prejudiced assumptions about future customers. Rather, a licensee should get his license based on objective criteria (like whether he has a criminal record or has sold alcohol to minors) rather than subjective and potentially prejudiced opinions.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Steer Clear of Smears

Having been on the receiving end of political smears, I try my best not to automatically believe the horrendous things that are said and written about politically prominent individuals. My hope is that those who have witnessed the vicious smearing of General Petreus by will adopt a similar habit.

Oxymoron Commission

A reliable source informs me that Racine's Landmark Preservation Commission has voted against returning the Civil War cannons to Monument Square, the cannons original location. Now I have mixed feelings about the cannons on the square issue, but what is the point of having a Landmark Preservation Commission if it opposes the preservation of landmarks?

And while we are on the subject, what would you call a conservative preservationist? A preservative?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sky Is Falling

I was channel surfing this morning when I came upon MSNBC. They were asking whether the US economy was collapsing. Intrigued, I continued watching, wondering what it was that might be bringing down the strongest economy the world has ever known. And the apocalyptic news was the loss of 4,000 jobs.

Now that is not good news, of course, but it follows four consecutive years of job growth. The US economy has added millions of jobs in recent years. Furthermore, unemployment is at 4.6%, very near historical lows. So the answer is no, the US economy is not collapsing.

Now this is not intended as an econ thread but instead a media bias thread. So I wonder, if the loss of 4,000 jobs prompts MSNBC to ask whether the economy is collapsing, what did they ask when the US economy was generating millions of jobs? Or when tax revenue skyrocketed after the Bush tax cuts? Or when poverty decreases last year?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Water Politics

I didn't realize that one makes a political statement by drinking bottled water. Then I heard about a proposed tax on bottled water in Chicago. And this weekend I listened to two different authors tout their books on C-Span. One thought that bottled water demonstrated the superiority of the private sector, while the other author felt that bottled water was proof of consumerism run amuck and the cause of needless environmental damage. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Just Wondering

John Edwards has called for manditory medical procedures as part of his universal health care plan. Anything manditory, by definition, precludes choice. How would Edwards square his plan for manditory medical procedures with a woman's right to choose an abortion?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Indoctrination 101

McKinley Middle School students are learning the art of leftist political activism. They are out on the streets appealing to taxpayers to build a waterpark. Playing the victim and appealing to fadish causes is part of the playbook. "There's not enough stuff for kids to do" sniffed one student while also noting that "sustainabilty is using green space wisely and not polluting the land." What's more, a dip into a cool, clean pool will help us deal with the effects of global warming caused by greedy corporate Republican polluters. OK, I made that last one up. The students will forgo any efforts to convince the private sector to build a water park, and will instead be "contacing local officials and organizations to gather support for their vision." The effort is being led by public school teacher Larry Jozwik.

Stand By Your Man

RAMAC has offered their help in finding a new school superintendent, one just like Dr. Hicks. "We really want to make sure Dr. Hicks' educational initiatives continue" said RAMAC educational director Carol Barkow.

Yikes! I like Carol Barkow, but Hicks was here for six years and RUSD is no better than when he arrived. I think we should start with a clean slate and some new chalk.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Prediction Comes True

I was cleaning out my closet yesterday, discarding skeletons and such, when I found a copy of a commentary I had written for the JT three years ago or so. One paragraph in particular bears repeating. Here it is:

"And the big question in Racine is, will Superintendent Hicks' education plan work? And the answer is, no. This is not to say that Dr. Hicks doesn't have great ideas, he may. The problem is that Hicks ideas are being implemented within a system, a monopoloy, that always underperforms. Dr. Hicks will eventually be replaced by a new educational guru, who will bring new, equally unattainable promises. And when this happens, we should not blame Dr. Hicks, we should blame ourselves for perpetuating a doomed education delivery system."

Do we really want to make this mistake again, or do we rally around Robin Vos for school vouchers?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Your Turn

Twenty percent of US students can't identify the US on a world map. What are your thoughts on the subject?

Random Thoughts on Dr. Hicks Departure

1. I don't feel like celebrating.
2. Financial shenanigans aside, Hick's should have been removed primarily for the districts academic failings.
3. There is not a person alive today that can turn around RUSD. It will take a village. Oops, that won't work either.
4. Will local voucher opponents now stop citing the Milwaukee voucher school principal with the dozen Mercedes? RUSD is obviously no better, and is conceivably far worse, at managing public money.
5. Will Racine's elites apologize for their misguided support of Dr. Hicks? In case you don't know who you are, you are the Racine Journal Times, The Johnson Companies representatives, and RAMAC, to name a few.
6. Will we try something different this time, like, say, openly and honestly addressing the multitude of issues that preclude the possibility of meaningful internal reforms at RUSD? Among those are disruptive students who get shuffled around to different schools, teachers that can't teach and can't be fired, and excellent teachers who can't be given the raises that they deserve.
7. If the same nonsense that happens routinely at Unified were to happen at private schools, parents would pull their children out and send them to a better school. Those children would be better off. Unified students won't be so lucky. Is it for the children or isn't it?
8. Will the next superintendent please speak plain English? I am tired of the purposefully confusing and meaningless eduspeak that comes out of the central office.
9. If we can't make Unified better, can we at least make it smaller?
10. There is little point in bashing Dr. Hicks now. Instead we should bash ourselves and resolve not to make the same mistakes again. Do we even know what those mistakes were?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Car Bombers of Collectivism

The Journal Times editorial board today advocates for the Democrats Healthy Wisconsin plan. No surprise there. But in the process, they lament the partisanship and the "ideolgues that are out in force again."

And the Journal Times presented their usual moderate, cautious, and balanced (sarcasm) look at the opposition. You know, the folks, like me, who are just a wee bit concerned about the doubling of our taxes, not to mention some concerns about the likely effectiveness of the universal health care coverage that they are advocating. We are described derisively as the "mujahideen of free market capitalism."

Well I hate to stoop to the level of the JT... oh who am I kidding... it will be fun to stoop to the level of the JT just this once. They are the car bombers of collectivism, the storm troopers of socialism, the Molotov tossing Marxists, the Taliban of tyranny....

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Teaching Leftism, er Peace

MPS teacher and MJS community columnist Thomas Biel "feels good to be part of a peace movement." The brightest MPS students, those enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program, will be subject to a curriculum that attempts to "develop students who will help create a more peaceful world." Sounds great.

This is not "some kind of left wing political agenda" Biel assures us. "The concept is not anti-military or so niave to think that we can somehow make war disappear." Great!

Biel continues in a fashion that would make Micheal Moore blush. "It is sad to think now of the many American soldiers... who are told they are liberators when they are pawns of the profitable business of war." And "It is sad to think of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died while our government insists they are being liberated." And "But under the Bush administration and due to the consequences of its war in Iraq, we have reached the point where the integrity of freedom and democracy has been put into jeapordy and risks becoming meaningless." And "Will we teach peace or continue to foster allegiance to an ideology that divides the world into the crusaders for freedom vs. the evildoers as justification for the continuation of military domination?"

OK then, we know where Mr. Biel stands. But don't worry. Certainly the students will be offered additional perspectives on peacekeeping. No doubt Mr. Biel understands that endless rounds of negotiating and appeasing Hitler, for example, resulted in the needless death of millions. And I am sure he appreciates the US Military for bringing that war to a successful conclusion. Certainly the students will be taught to identify evil, despite their immersion in a multicultural education, in order the muster the conviction to confront the bad guys of the world. I am sure that the concept of peace through strength will be thoroughly explored. The students are in good hands, right Mr. Biel?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Environmental Education?

I just finished reading one of my son's summer reading books, Phoenix Rising by Karen Hesse.

There is an accident at a nuclear power plant in a northeastern town. A boy, age 15, has been exposed to high levels of radiation and is quite sick. His father, the plant manager, died shortly after the accident. The boy and his mother, called evacuees, are offered a place to stay at a farm fairly near to the accident scene. The boy, at his death bed, is comforted by the youngish girl at the farmhouse. She reads to him mostly and he gradually recovers from the radiation poisoning. The girl is instrumental in his recovery and the two of them form a close bond. The boys recovery is fleeting, however. He gets sick again and dies shortly thereafter. But before he does, he tells the story of the fights that he had with his dad. "I told my father, if anything ever went wrong, if there ever was an accident, it would be his fault. For accepting nuclear money, for accepting nuclear risk. It would be his fault." And the girl had the following conversation with her grandma after the boys death: "You really believe that something will be done. (about nuclear disasters presumably)" said the girl. "Ayuh," Gran said. "But maybe you have to be the one to do it."

This was a nice, moving story. But my question is this: Is my son being groomed to be an environmental activists, or is dad hypersensitive about imaginary political agendas?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Eugene Kane Gets It!

It is not often that I am in substantial agreement with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane, but I am today. Kane's column today addressed the issue of the disproportionate numbers of blacks in our prisons. I was prepared for the usual pronouncements of racism, profiling, poverty, joblessness etc... as the primary cause, and he offered a bit of that, but mostly he touched on some unfortunate and often overlooked truths.

For example, he noted his visit to the Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility, where one of the inmates talked about a younger brother "who actually considered it a badge of honor to have an older sibling in prison."

Kane also noted that "a little time behind bars serves as a strong dose of truth serum for inmates", many of whom declined to offer excuses, knowing full well why they find themselves in jail. In other words, they are in jail because they are guilty of committing criminal acts, not because of profiling, poverty, racism, etc...

There is a serious problem when a sizeable subculture glorifies criminality while looking up to prisoners. It should be no surprise that criminal behavior and prison terms would flow from such a warped world view.

Thankfully, a prominent black columnist in Eugene Kane seems to understand this problem. And that is the critical first step in addressing the problem.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ethical Dilemma

My business is in need of two new employees, and I placed a notice to that effect inside our store. As it happens, two of the best applicants so far work at a nearby small business. I know and like the owners of said nearby business and I am certain that losing two employees would present a hardship for them. On the other hand, it would be unfair to deny two individuals an opportunity to change jobs, and, presumably, improve their lives, for the benefit of their employer. What to do?

Dear Diane

What would I do with the extra money not taken by government if our tax burden were lower?

That question was posed to me by blogger Diane in a recent post on that blog. Diane had implied that I was after power, control or perhaps a mansion devoid of loving occupants. To the best of my knowledge I have never met Diane, but she sure seems to have some pretty strong opinions about who I am. Anyway, here goes Diane.

My first inclination is to tell you that what I would do with my money is none of your business. But I am a good sport, so I will tell you a bit about myself. I ride a bike that I bought twenty years ago from a friend. I play tennis with second hand rackets. I have no toys beyond those. I could afford the toys if I wanted them, I just have little interest in stuff. If I had more money, my life would change very little I suspect. I might by the $15 bottle of wine instead of the $8 bottle. I would probably try to change careers and start a small local newspaper. I would not aspire to control anyone or gain power over others, as I am more interested in empowering others.

But alas Diane, my interest in a lower tax burden is not just about me, it is about everyone. People typically do one of two things with the money that is available after taxes. They spend it or save it. And unless they are stuffing it in shoeboxes, that money is being circulated into the economy, where it creates jobs, results in improved products and services etc... and more wealth and well being than if it were handed over to the government. The reason is that, on average, individuals will make better choices with their own hard earned money than strangers will with other people's money. This is not intended as a screed against government but rather as an acknowledgement of human nature. People will typically take better care of what is theirs, in this case money, than they will take of someone else's money. This natural human tendency is summed up beautifully in a quote I have read somewhere; " nobody has ever washed a rental car."

Diane, I suspect it might be difficult to shake your stereotypical and false impression of me and other fiscal conservatives. It is far easier to demonize others than it is to try to understand them. In my view, it is neither good for you or the larger society to behave in this manner.

Monday, August 13, 2007

On Appeasing Boycotters

From time to time I get threatened with the dreaded B word. B stands for boycott. And so it is again. First time blogger "Lisa" has declared that she will no longer patronize my business. I am highly suspicious of this "Lisa" and would not be the least bit surprised to discover that "she" is someone not enamored with my political persuasion, and is using the boycott threat in an effort to muzzle me. It won't work.

At any rate, "Lisa" apparently believes that I am not sufficiently concerned about poverty. I can understand "her" conclusion to a point, as I have written that I do not think about the plight of the workers who produce the products that I buy. I went on to explain that to do so would be impossible. How many workers from how many countries, for example, do you think contribute to the production and distribution my box of Roundy's Pancake and Waffle Mix? Where do they get Aluminum Sulfate from? Are the Aluminum Sulfite workers properly compensated? Are the folks who produce Thiamine Mononitrate earning a living wage? Do Niacin producers have a decent health care plan?

Thankfully I am not burdened by these questions every time I purchase something. The reason is not that I don't care, but that I believe, after much consideration, that people are generally better off if they are able to sell their legitimate products and services freely than they would be if their production and distribution were overseen by "Lisa" or other elites that think they are smarter or more compassionate than you. Thus I am reasonably assured that Niacin producers, though they may not have an adequate health care plan, are marginally better off if I buy their product than if I don't. Thus purchases off all types are not guilt inducing experiences for me.

But alas, this is not the main point of this blog. I wonder what "Lisa" expects of me. Does "she" wish that I would substitute my judgement and thoughts for hers in order to make money? Must my thoughts and beliefs be calculated purely for profit maximization? What would I do if two customers held fervently opposite viewpoints on an important issue? Do I side with the one who spends more money at my business? What would I become if my every thought and action were calculated to please the maximum number of customers?

The very thought of whoring my mind and soul to the highest bidder just sickens me. It is not going to happen "Lisa".

Friday, August 10, 2007

Killer Taxes

I frequently visit, a fringe left web site run by a Kay from Burlington. Recently she was lamenting the loss of life caused by Republican attitudes towards taxes that leave people to die due to lack of medical care. So I posed the question as to whether high taxes might also be fatal to some. She seemed never to have contemplated the question.

To her credit, she asked me to elaborate, which I did, in the following manner. High levels of taxation leave us with less money in our pockets, all other things being equal. As such, we may well end up purchasing used tires instead of new, we might forgo an alarm system in our home, we might drive instead of fly. Each of these decisions that we might make because of higher taxes will leave us marginally less safe. Multiply these increased risks by millions of people and certainly some will die as a result of higher taxes. Also, I explained, high taxes decrease the incentive to take financial risks. Why risk millions to develop a life saving medicine if the government will take most of your profits. There is a reason why life saving innovations come from mostly free countries like ours and not Cuba and North Korea. Freedom, including economic freedom, are needed in order to have the mind boggling array of products and services that most of us take for granted. And high taxes rob us of our freedoms as well as the great things that free people can produce. Yes, high taxes are deadly.

PC Photography

Racine County Supervisor Diane Lange complained yesterday, in a commentary concerning rental of excess jail space, about a photo in the JT of several black inmates playing cards. In her own words:

"The accompanying photo in the same issue with the smiling, card playing inmates contributes further to the racial bias and stereotyping that so frequently already fills up local blog sites. It may encourage the community to see crime as a code word for race in our political discussion sphere. This is not helpful for thoughtful discourse."

Now I am confused. I recently went to Governor Doyle's task force concerning the problem of overrepresentation of minorities in our prison system. Diane Lange was in attendance. So we want to bring attention to the problem, just not with photographs? Should the photographer have rounded up a few whites and Hispanics for the photo, or just add them later?

The truth is that there are too many black people in our prisons. To pretend otherwise would be dishonest and would not be "helpful for thoughtful discourse."