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.


Anonymous said...

Certainly some wonderful sideline comments.
Now jump in - what do you suggest?
More police activity to snuf out the black market?
100% school vouchers?
What else?

Denis Navratil said...

Well anon, the first thing I would say is that a serious effort to confront crime coupled with increased competition in education would have an enormous positive impact on our community. So when you write "what else" I interpret that to mean that you don't think that attacking crime and expanding education options would have much impact. If I have correctly assessed your viewpoint, then I strongly disagree with you.

Consider crime. Obviously, if some able bodied individual has not had a job for a decade or so and has not left Racine, that person is either leaching off of family and friends or taxpayers, or he/she is engaged in illegal economic activity of one kind or another. So some people obviously have concluded that Racine is a nice place to be for a career in criminal activity. Now why might that be? Well, I suspect that there are established institutions (gangs come to mind) that support and nurture criminal activity. Gangs will set up shop where they get the least resistance from the population at large and from the justice system. Now if we collectively recognized this obvious truth and did something about it, then the criminal element might find Racine to be a less hospitable location. They would either move on or clean up their act. Now if Racine were a safer place to live and work, legitimate economic activity may well begin to replace the illegal variety.

As for education, we all know that the public schools are a mess. This does not mean that there aren't good teachers or eager students. But the test scores and dropout rates are impossible to ignore. Is this all Unified's fault? No, there is a cultural problem among a sizeable percentage of Racine residents wherein education is not valued or supported. Now Unified has had decades to fix the problems and ample financing ($12,000 or more per student) to get the job done, but there has been no improvement and quite likely an ongoing regression. So if Unified can not address the problems, why not give students an opportunity to attend the many private schools that are adequately teaching students to read and write? Yes, it is true that some private schools will reject those children who are not prepared or interested in learning. So what. Must our interested students be constantly subjected to students who aren't interested in learning? What purpose does that serve?

Now getting serious about crime and getting serious about education will not happen without a shift in thinking. Now this proposed shift in thinking carries some risk. Among the greatest risks for some is to say, out loud, that Racine has to try to get rid of some people and that some of them are black. Yes, you might get called a racist. Can you handle it or do you prefer to sit by and watch the same obvious problems fester year after year?

So anon, I think we should do more to discourage criminal activity, and we should increase educational options for children. In order to do this we have to address problems honestly and fearlessly. I doubt we have the resolve as a community to do so at this time, but it is worth a try.

Wow, I almost forgot. Lowering taxes and have a less onerous regulatory climate would foster more legitimate economic activity as well.

What are your suggestions anon?

Pete Karas said...


You have written a lot here, but let me choose one subject and ask a question about crime.

What would be your choices for ways to solve the higher-than-average crime rate in the City of Racine? I believe most understand that if the local economy flourished, crime would decrease as a result. I am asking about specific crime polices that you would implement if you had a chance.

Would you increase the police force size? Be more aggressive in arresting people who are in possession of small amounts of illegal substances? Large amounts? Arm the citizenry? (I had to ask that one, for fun.) Change sentencing and sentencing laws that would incarcerate people longer? Institute better reform programs in jails and prisons? Shift the burden by requiring private entities to install video cameras, etc.? Keg registration? (okay, that last one was for fun, too.)

Obviously, this is not an all inclusive list, but they are serious questions that deal specifically with crime and enforcement.

I've always respected yoour opinion because you base them on your core philosophies. We both realize we difer on our vision of government's role, but we most likely have very similar personal value systems and certainly share the goal of reducing crime in Racine.



Anonymous said...

Each block in the city of Racine should be allowed to vote for which nearby municipality they want to be apart of. It should be a rank vote. There should be a first choice, second, etc.
A computer program would align contiguos blocks based on the vote. The nearby municipality would vote up or down, to annex the willing set of blocks. All else should be dissolved. Racine would become the first city to cease to exist.
Then the same group of companies that are in favor of KRM can be given the remaining land. They can decide to develope the land as they think the market will support.

Denis Navratil said...

Hey Pete, thanks for your comments. I know I risk avoiding your specific questions, but I have not been thinking about specific crime fighting policies so much as thinking about how we can change the permissive attitudes about crime. Or, to put this another way, I don't think we can "crime fight" our way out of our crime problem without a shift in thinking among large segments of our population, especially those in crime ridden areas and their enablers, the modern liberal. We could have the most phenomenal police force with all the bells and whistles, aggressive prosecutors and crime intolerant judges (all of which would help) and still have huge problems without the support of the average citizen. So we have to ask ourselves some tough questions and answer them openly and honestly despite the possibility of offending someone. Why do we have more criminals and criminal activity in Racine than most other places? Do we produce more criminals, attract them from other places, or both? And why? Are our young criminals from solid intact families? Do most have a solid upbringing which includes a proper education about morals, ethics, and right and wrong?
In Racine and other liberal communities, the answer to the above questions is to blame the larger society (racism, joblessness, yada yada) thereby allowing guilt free criminality to fester. If I commit a crime, why it must be the fault of society. It can't be my fault. I have no free will. I have no choice but to commit crimes, etc, etc...
Can we really expect a change in behavior if we foster a "blame society first" mindset while giving bad behavior a pass.

So we need to recognize that permissive liberalism ultimitely fosters a narcissistic entitlement mindset that eventually will result in irresponsible and sometimes criminal behavior.

In short Pete, it is all your fault. OK, I am only half kidding. Crime will occur where it is most tolerated. Liberals not only are more tolerant of crime, they also provide harmful intellectual support for the criminal. Until this changes, I don't think we will see much change.

I hope my respose will stimulate some vigorous debate. Thanks Pete.

Anonymous said...

As a 47 yr old, white, life long Racine resident, I see the well-off Racine folks as the problem to all Racine's problems. As a friend of mine says, who is a Constitutional Law instructor, and who grew up in the black/white ghettos of Racine, (paraphrase)' accomplish anything of importance, one has to leave Racine, because of the racial bigotries, the old money/boys network, and the rampant class system. Anyone who challenges the entrenched whit power structure are marginalized and vilified. As an example, Racine's white slumlords get federal rent assistance checks by the bushelful...for way of the poor white and black folk in Racine. The white landlords GET the money...and they blame the poor!...'

Denis Navratil said...

anon, thanks for your comments. Does the white power structure that you describe cause people to commit crimes? Also, you mention landlords getting federal rent assistance checks, as though they are doing something wrong by providing a place for poor people to live. Do you have similar hostility to grocery stores that accept food stamps?

Denis Navratil said...

anon, I had another thought. You say that well off folks are the problem in Racine. Can you describe what would happen to Racine if all the well off people were to leave?

Anonymous said...

Providing housing to the disadvantaged poor so that you can get the federal housing subsidy check...what a great service! That is an example of the rational of ALL people who are the priviledged in any society; 'we' do the poor a service.

As for the well off they have had the priviledge of getting the fruits of this land, they also had the responsibility of giving ALL folks those same breaks.

The crime of the underclass was created by a segregated, selfish actions of the white elites who, of course, loved the poor for their low-wage labour as to profit of of.

Denis Navratil said...

anon writes:

"Providing housing to the disadvantaged poor so that you can get the federal housing subsidy check...what a great service! That is an example of the rational of ALL people who are the priviledged in any society; 'we' do the poor a service."

Perhaps you can lead the way anon in ending the public housing subsidies so the well off can't sponge off of the poor. I would readily agree to that policy change. But then you would complain that the poor have nowhere to live. You can't have it both ways anon.

anon again:

"As for the well off they have had the priviledge of getting the fruits of this land, they also had the responsibility of giving ALL folks those same breaks."

Note that the well off citizens "get" the fruits and therefore should give all folks the same "breaks." Question for you anon, has any well off person ever earned their money through hard work, intelligence, and honesty, or do they just "get" all the "breaks"?

anon again writes:

"The crime of the underclass was created by a segregated, selfish actions of the white elites who, of course, loved the poor for their low-wage labour as to profit of of."

There you have it. The crimes of the underclass was "created" by white elites. How racist is this? People in the underclass have no free will. They commit crimes because of the "white elites." This would make the "white elites" the real criminals, would it not?

So long as the attitudes and world view of anon and others like him/her prevail in Racine, we will see a continued regression. We will not solve the crime problems, the unemployment problems, or our education problems.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Free Racine:

Obviously you desire to believe some bootstrap or American exceptionalism or other form of mythology. These are the folks that blame the victims of structural issues which lead to owner/slave demographics.

You won't solve issues at this blog.

Try this article:

This professor's opinions have 'street cred'

"Bill's (Cosby) message is simple. He says, 'Sure, there's racism, but so what?' " Anderson said. "I think that's fine. But you can't ignore history and structure when you're talking about these issues. Poor people here are competing with poor people in China. The jobs just aren't there."

Denis Navratil said...

anon writes:

"These are the folks that blame the victims of structural issues which lead to owner/slave demographics."

Can you rephrase this sentence so that I can understand what you are talking about, please?

Moving on, thank you for the link to Eugene Kane's article. I don't know that I am in substantial disagreement with professor Anderson, based on what I learned from the article. If there is a difference, it is on the "jobs just not being there." Our economy has been creating millions of jobs, millions more than we are supposedly losing to China. The problem is that some people lack the skills neccessary to land and keep the jobs. I think improving our education system through greater competition would help alleviate this problem.

Anonymous said...

Sir, your comment is merely right wing ideological talk which, for decades, has blamed those at the lower rungs.

CLASSIC example of privilege talking down to everyone else.

'Structural Issues' are those structures in a social/economic system which either impede or help human beings as they navigate life. Systemic structural poverty arises from structures in our social/economic system which create a owner/slave one easily sees by the last prime rate mortgage fiasco, where renters finally thought that they had a way to own something, and had the little they did own stripped from the. Look where the largest foreclosures in Milwaukee were...poor neighborhoods.

Racine is also a CLASSIC example of a class structured city. Having my roots in the inner city, that is easily understood.

Sir, to NOT understand that, you obviously have had silver spoons given to you, by family, inlaws, or others.

Pete Karas said...

Denis, I'm sorry I have not responded sooner, but I've been out of town for most of the last two days. It's late and I'm tired, so I'll have to be brief now and hope to expand on my thoughts soon.

First, I'm not sure it is helpful to use the word liberal so often in your arguments as it is very broad and is defined by different people different ways. I'm most certain that you and I have different definitions of the word.

You ask some very pertinent questions that need to be asked if we are to make a long-term dent in crime (and other community concerns.) Ultimately, the members of a community must make it the sociological norm that crime and other "bad" things are unacceptable.

I do not buy your argument about the "no free will" excuse for crime, though. Remember that the people in the community are all human beings and as such, they are a product of their environment, upbringing, and history. What they have learned has an effect on how they act. Many times, under the "personal responsibility" argument it is stated that one can just change from an unproductive, harmful member of society to a hard-working, beneficial member by "just doing it," and if they don't it is only themselves to blame.

But what about the person who has not learned the way to be "good" from their personal environment. Or the person who tries, but there are discriminatory barriers that do not give them equal opportunity? Is it their fault that some people today and people in the past created an environment that did and still allows this sort of thing to exist in our society?

Or can the blame be put on the actions of the past that led to this sort of inequity? Going one step further, from these practices, the people in the above scenario have been put at a disadvantage. Simple economic graphs can easily show that since some people were not allowed in the labor market because of discrimination, etc., then the supply of labor is restricted with the demand the same, creating a higher wage (cost of labor) for those who were not discriminated against. Those who were not discriminated against, as a result, benefited from the discrimination. (and still do.)

Do the better off (even if not intentionally) then owe those who were repressed or restricted something since they benefited from practices that were wrong?

I believe they do. The tough part comes when finding what they owe and what will work.

See? I'm a supply and demand type of guy. :)

Time for bed.


Denis Navratil said...

Anon accuses me of talking down to everyone else when he/she writes:

"CLASSIC example of privilege talking down to everyone else."

Anon, I may disagree with you, in fact I do, but I am writing in plain English, unlike you. You wrote:

"These are the folks that blame the victims of structural issues which lead to owner/slave demographics."

As this seems like some gobblydegook borrowed from one of your sociology textbooks, I asked you to explain yourself in plain English and you wrote this:

"'Structural Issues' are those structures in a social/economic system which either impede or help human beings as they navigate life. Systemic structural poverty arises from structures in our social/economic system which create a owner/slave society..."

And I am talking down to you? Please.

So one of these unfair structures is apparently the recent increase in mortgage forclosures? Lets take a look at this issue while considering our social economic system which creates an owner/slave society. Poor people finally had a chance to own something, as you say. Why? Because they were going to get loans that were previously unavailable to them. Since many of these people have since defaulted on their loans, they are back to where they were before, as renters. Who is the owner and who is the slave in this scenario anon? The money lenders were careless with their loans and they got burned, losing billions of dollars. The defaulting homeowners just walk away from their financial obligations.

If the recent mortgage problems are your example of our social structures and economic system causing an owner/slave society, I would rather be the slave.

pete karas said...

Okay, I've both slept and read the comments from the other posters now.

Anonymous makes some very valid points. Basically, it is to the economic advantage of those people who "have" to repress those who "have not." I'm not saying that all "haves" are not good people. But, there is an inequity that benefits them and, especially the "haves" in power, many, whose personal culture has resulted in a quest to "have more."

Fortunately, these people can relieve their conscience by giving to a charity once in a while. Again, I'm not talking about every individual, but in generalities.

Anonymous also hit the nail on the head with, "These are the folks that blame the victims of structural issues which lead to owner/slave demographics." I would expand on this and say that this started from the now illegal government-sanctioned slavery of a sesquicentennial ago.

Disclosure: I am of European-American heritage and also benefit from what I have written about.

Denis, we may agree on some of the next part: How do we repair what I have written about? The people have to take back such basic American institutions as the media (WE own the airwaves,) the government (by electing people who "get it",) and the voting system. Participatory government is the only, most basic, answer.

Other ideas: Allow fair access to third-parties, change to a parliamentary form of government, end corporate personhood, and work to put an end to the agriculture/military/prison/industrial complex.

All for now.


Ps: Some of what I have written is the reason I voted for you in the primary when you ran for County Executive. It is definitely the reason why, in my 48 years, I have never voted for a member of the two corporate parties in a general presidential election.

Denis Navratil said...

Hey Pete, welcome back.

You have a point regarding the use of the word "liberal" though I am pretty sure you know what I mean. I am referring to the category of people who typically see greater government involvement in the form of regulations and taxes as the proper response to problems. They often have a suspicion of individuals and or the private sector to solve problems. Yes, the definition has changed dramatically over the years, thanks to the liberals, many of whom no longer like the name and have now moved on to destroy another perfectly respectable word, progressive.

Regarding the "no free will" argument: It is true that we are products of our upbringing. And it is also true that if someone is brought up in an environment that minimizes the importance of education, glorifies criminality etc... then that person has a huge disadvantage because his/her culture is destructive. But we live in a multicultural society wherin, because of liberals, we can't criticize aspects of any culture, excepting of course, white male dominated Western civilization. So the first thing we should do is reject the notion of cultural equivilancy, while noting that some aspects of ones upbringing can be harmful to oneself and society at large.

With respect to discriminatory barriers, I do not deny that racism exists, but I think it is overblown, it is a handy excuse for failure, and there is little that can be done about one individuals attitudes towards another. And racism goes both ways as well.

You seem to be making an argument for reperations. This would be a monumental mistake. Virtually everyone has some grievance or other that has held them back. It is impossible to correctly catalogue all the grievances and to deterimine who were the benificiaries, who were the perpetrators, or more properly, who's distant ancestors did what to whom, how is it presently impacting people today, and who today is benifitting from yesterdays injustices, how do you prove any of it, and how would it do anything but divide us further. Is there a point at which we just say stop complaining, grow up and take care of yourself and your family.

Pete, this would be a fun discussion to have over a beer or a cup of coffee. If you are interested, give me a call.

pete karas said...

Denis, I'd like that.

I'll give you a call soon and we can talk about this in person, especially fitting since we are posting at the same time.

As you may expect, I take my coffee without cream or sugar. :)


Pete Karas said...

okay, I can't stop.

I have liberal beliefs and what you write: "...the definition has changed dramatically over the years, thanks to the liberals, many of whom no longer like the name and have now moved on to destroy another perfectly respectable word, progressive..." is true (except for the destroying word.) The change is for marketing purposes only.

As for reparations, that is another word that creates some harmful connotations. Public perception is that if reparations were given that every person of color would receive a $20,000 check from the government. This isn't the only options to correct the wrongs of the past that affect is today. The first step is recognize that there is a big problem caused by slavery, etc.

I think we differ on how much racism suppresses people today. I do agree that it is used as an excuse at times. I also agree that what I believe you are referring to as political correctness has hindered effective public dialog. (aspects of PC does have its place, though.)

Lastly, your comment, "Is there a point at which we just say stop complaining, grow up and take care of yourself and your family." Back to what I said earlier: many people, for various reasons, don't have the tools or equal opportunity to do this.

All for this morning. Gotta trot.

Anonymous said...

1) Regarding mortgage loss, the poor lost what little equity they built up to put into a potential home...they now have NO savings.

1a) Like the money for home loss from Katrina; loan companies got the $$$, the poor had their equity lost AND are homeless...but loaners got paid.

2) Show all people an equal break...not the supply side prejudice that creates regressive taxation in this country, which, again, pinpoints the less well off.

Denis Navratil said...

I find the "legacy of slavery" argument very interesting. You write that we have a big problem caused by slavery, yet some black decendants of slavery are faring quite well. Others, of course, are not doing so great. Both have similar pasts yet one group is doing fine while another is doing poorly. It would be interesting to discern the differences between the blacks who are doing well and those that are not. My guess is that the ones who are doing well have rejected the some or all of the more destructive tendencies of the blacks who are not doing well. Some of those tendencies that lead to poor outcomes include rejection of education, achievement, and hard work as well as an excessive tendency to blame external circumstances for failure. I doubt that very many successful black people hold these attitudes, while clearly many unsuccessful black people do.

You also say that some people lack the tools or equal opportunity to be self reliant. True, as the nanny state has left too many of us reliant on the state for everything. The result is an entitlement mentality and irresponsibility, as I mentioned before. Liberals, er progressives, caused this problem.

pete karas said...

Denis, maybe another way to analyze this is to compare median incomes, etc., between groups with different demographics. This seems to serve as an objective measurement in most cases as opposed to anecdotal evidence.

I would contend that what you refer too as liberals or progressives caused what we have been discussing. It's an easy blame in the recent past, but historically, it was many of the oppressed European socialists who immigrated to this Country that fought for racial equality. The old school mostly Southern-minded "conservatives" from before 1700 through at least the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (and I would contend, still) would be more responsible.

That said, I can't stand using the the above labels. Oh well....

Which leads us to where we started: What do we do now? And we can solve that when we get together. I'll schedule the joint press conference for a couple of days after we meet. :)

Anonymous said...

"...You also say that some people lack the tools or equal opportunity to be self reliant. True, as the nanny state has left too many of us reliant on the state for everything. The result is an entitlement mentality and irresponsibility, as I mentioned before. Liberals, er progressives, caused this problem..."

This is more right-wing ideological nonsense. Follow thew stats. People fairly closely end up in the socio-economic percentiles of their families, because of $$$, benefits, and other privilege.

..I think right-wingers feel smart saying 'nanny state'...just like they lie, for instance, about Noam Chomsky's analytical observations of the socio-political order.

Denis Navratil said...

Pete writes: "Which leads us to where we started: What do we do now?"

Pete, I am of the view that political actions proceed from thought or philosophy. So what I am doing now is challenging the liberal/progressive orthodoxy that is in power in Racine, in the hopes that a change in that philosophy will result in a change in polical decisions. So that is what I do now.

You, on the other hand, are in power, locally, with a majority that also leans left. So you have everything you need to actually shape policy. So you can do something now. What are you trying to do? Has our left leaning politics of the last 50 or 60 years been a good thing? If so, why is Racine in such bad shape in many of the areas we have been discussing? If not, is it because our politics have not been left leaning enough? Or, is it as I assert, that our left leaning politics have failed and will continue to fail?

And anon, I should have known your confusing assertions were plucked from Chomsky. I have read several of Chomsky's books. He is an exceedingly articulate individual, but when you boil it all down in simple terms, it is not convincing to me. Might I suggest a clear and concise read to balance your readings. Thomas Sowell has written an excellent and very readable book called "Applied Economics: thinking beyond stage 1" Now I doubt you will read this because one characteristic I have found in many on the far left is that they don't want their assumptions or their world view challenged. The reason, I suspect, is that for many on the left, their politic define them. Their politics is so much of who they are, who they associate with, etc... that to risk having their politics influenced by conservative thought is too much to bear. Better to avoid the conservative arguments alltogether.

Just to expand on this theme a bit. Conservatives understand liberals better than liberals understand conservatives. Many conservatives, or libertarians like me, are former leftists. We understand the mindset, the arguments etc... Meanwhile, very few liberals are former conservatives. They don't understand conservative thought. Many spemd their time avoiding, ridiculing, or demonizing conservative thought. We would be better off if they would spend some time understanding it.

So suprise me anon or Pete. Read Sowell's book and get back to me. It is at the library.

Conscious Thought said...

Denis, its been interesting to see your knowledge of how successful black people think. Do you happen to be one of these successful black people? Last time i checked, you were Irish, its an amazing skill how you know exactly how successful black people think.

I had an interesting conversation about unemployment and the lack of minority owned businesses that the city does business with. Our conversation was about entitlement and set asides. Conservatives despise set-asides and entitlement programs, but isn't set-asides and entitlements just as bad if the beneficiaries of these initiatives are always overwhelmingly white? Which is better, set-asides for whites? Or open opportunity for every capable competitor?

Its well known that minority business owners will be more likely to hire the "undesireables" of the community. The "undesireables" make up most of the unemployed population. If these minority businesses are provided opportunities to compete with the majority white owned companies who recieve these set-asides, hiring of ex-cons willing to be productive citizens of society will increase, thereby decreasing the number of unemployed individuals.

I maybe running on a tangent here but i have yet to see one single black male employed in any downtown business, other than Wilbur's BBQ, (which happens to be black owned). And we wonder why unemployment is so high. Racine has a major phobia with ALL young black men, not just criminal-minded black men and this is one of the reasons Racine's unemployment is so high.

Denis Navratil said...

Welcome back CTW and I commend you on your clever effort to misrepresent what I wrote. I did not claim to have any special insight into the minds of successful black people, which is why I prefaced my statement with "I guess" and later wrote "I doubt", both of which should be interpreted as indicators that I am not claiming to "know exactly how successful black people think", as you mistakenly allege. I do, however, suspect that successful people of whatever color will often have some common characteristics. For example, they will tend to accept responsibility for their mistakes rather than blame others, they will work hard, and they will not let obstacles prevent their success, among other things. Forgive me for thinking so, but I suspect (rather than know definitively) that this is true of successful black people, white people, Sri Lankans, and gay Eskimos.

Moving on. I don't know exactly what you mean by set asides, but I suspect that I would be against them, regardless of the color of the recipient. As you should know by now, I am a consistent advocate for smaller government and I look with suspicion upon those businesses that cozy up to government for their livelyhood. But you write as though the only possible customer for a business is government. Why not find customers in the private sector and say to hell with government contracts?

Why would any business hire "undesireable" employees? That would be the kiss of death for my business.

As to your tangent, I don't see many male black employees around much either, downtown or elsewhere. I have had two black male employees, although one was half black and half white. That makes him black, right Obama. Anyway, I realize my experiences are just anecdotal, but one worked out just fine. He worked for us for a year or so and then went on to college. The other guy didn't last so long because he made certain assumptions and business decisions that he was not authorized to make and that hurt my business. Nice enough guy but I couldn't keep him on.

Nice to hear from you again CTW.

Conscious Thought said...

succesful companies remain in business by diversifying their offerings, not taking advantages of opportunities in any market when they arise is an ingredient of stagnation and complacency. Successful companies possess neither of these traits. Government has business opportunities just as the private sector does, Twin Disc, Modine, and every SCJ company can attest to these opportunities that they have obtained with the government. These companies dominate their respective private industry markets and also dominate their respective government contracting competition. Do you look upon these companies with suspicion too?

The main topic of this post was the workforce development initiative, and as I see it, another waste of money to tell us what we already know. Racine has experienced, and will continue to experience, a high rate of growth and development yhat the city has never seen before, multiple large scale real estate development projects that are all being constructed simultaneously all over the city. Well over $50 million in collective value. But we have an inner city construction apprenticeship program filled to capacity and the highest unemployment in the entire state. A city ranked in the top 10 in growth and development in the state with several resources to create jobs in the most poverty stricken areas in the city, already at our disposal,, but we still have the highest unemployment and a severe phobia of young black men. There is a major disconnect in this chain.

The other thing I take issue with is when all of these initiatives and decisions are made to help those in these adverse situations, the people making these decisions are usually, white, male, established "experts", or highly paid government officials with country club memberships and vacation homes. When will the people who we make these decisions for get a chance to actually have some input into the decision making process? Or is it because we say we care about them but we really don't ? Can the mayor, or micheal Batten really relate? I'd venture to say no.

Thanks for bringing my blogging enthusiasm back Denis.

pete karas said...

"political actions proceed from thought or philosophy." Agreed.

"What are you trying to do?" Excellent question and it has motivated me to write a paper on my vision for Racine, the failings and successes of the past, what I think needs to be done now, and what has to happen in the future to make Racine a better place. All will be my opinion, of course. Expect it in the next month or so.

" characteristic I have found in many on the far left is that they don't want their assumptions or their world view challenged..." You did qualify this with the word "many" and that is good. But it does not apply to this guy. I often read, mostly on-line, differing viewpoints. Also, look at my participation in this forum -- I believe I am listening and gaining a better understanding of an alternative thought process. An open mind is a good thing and I can say from experience that many who generally believe as I do also feel this way and read and listen to alternative viewpoints.


Denis Navratil said...

CTW, I look with suspicion at all companies that do business with government. Now that does not mean that they are all guilty of corruption or anything of the sort. But the opportunity for corruption is quite evident, so citizens must be watchdogs.

And Pete, I look forward to your treatise on Racine. I do hope you will share it with me and my readers.

Anonymous said...

I don't see anything that this FR blogger brings to thew Racine community, except some store on Main...and a lot of ideological venom vented at some created enemy he calls 'the left'. BTW, where did the money come from to start it?

petekaras said...

I'd be happy to share my трактат with you and your readers when it is completed.

Denis Navratil said...

anon, I think that some of our public policies have played a large part in creating the public problems that we now face. I try my best to offer reasons and facts to support my viewpoints. What would you have me do as a citizen of the Racine area? Should I simply ignore the problems and their causes, as I see them? What do you have to worry about if my ideas are simply idealogical venom? If that is the case, they should be easy to refute. But instead, you want to drag my personal business into this. Though it is none of your business, I will answer your question about my present business on Main Street. My wife and I used to work in a school in Chicago. We used to enjoy the street festivals in Chicago. We noticed that many people were selling jewelry. We decided to look into buying jewelry from India. We payed for the trip with the money we earned by working. We purchased about $800 worth of earrings and we came back to the states and began to sell at small venues, church bazaars, flea markets etc... and our business grew over time. My wife's family in India did help us, though neither of us ever solicited any help or money. Sometimes families help each other out. So anon, do you have a problem with my business? Am I harming anyone? What does my personal business have to do with the public policy decisions that we face as a community?

pete karas said...

Denis, Denis, Denis,

I'm emotionally scared. No comment on the use of the Russian language in my previous post???

And to think how much time and effort we spent laughing when translating it last night. I guess we should have used the backwards K instead.

As my countrymen say,

ειρήνη, έρωτας, αλληλεγγύη!

Panigiotis Karavitis

Denis Navratil said...

Sorry Pete. I didn't get it. Still don't. Please explain.

Pete Karas said...

I should apologize. It was extremely tangential, but lighthearted. I will explain on Monday :)

Anonymous said...

Everything matters if it pertains to the truth of the current situation in Racine. For instance, African Americans are the same as the white guy, but unemployment of blacks is, what 30-40% in Racine. Why is that?

Denis Navratil said...

Anon, I have already answered that question, or at least I thought I did. I will give an abbreviated version for you though. I think that there is a cultural problem within Racine's black population. Now this does not mean that I don't like black people or that there aren't many many exceptions to the rule, but I have concluded that the problems are largely cultural. What we have in the black community in Racine, is a very destructive breakdown of families. Many (most?) children are born out of wedlock. Men have been marginalized by our welfare system. Children are brought up in single parent households. Related problems are low educational achievement, lousy schools, and a lack of emphasis on the value of education. Glorification of crime and criminality, seen in dress, music, and popular culture add further to the problem. Racism, a much smaller problem than most are willing to admit, is a useful excuse for generations of failure. This is perhaps the most damaging cultural problem of all. If you conclude that you have no chance, while demonizing those who suposedly benefit by your failures, you will stop trying, and you will indeed fail, now and in the future. To make this problem even more entrenched is the huge numbers of white folks who feel guilty about crimes committed a century and a half ago. This guilt is not helpful.

Anonymous said...

So denis. Your general sentiment about Racine's major problems that face the Racine community boil down to the laziness, criminal activity, and un-education of black people? The underlying theme in the majority of your responses to the original post reflect that. Would that be a correct assumption?

Denis Navratil said...

Um, no. Racine has more problems than those you described. And the problems are not limited to black people, not by any means. But I do believe that there are elements of what I would call a self destructive culture, and that it is more widespread and more harmful to the black community, not that it helps the larger community. It gives me no pleasure to reach these conclusions anon. I am not swelling up with white pride or anything, if that is how you are imagining me. But as I see it, it is impossible to help anyone if you can't honestly assess the problems that they face, whether on a personal level or on a societal level. If you can't do so, you are more likely to play the role of enabler. That will not help the alcoholic in denial or large segments of the population, white, black or whatever, who are in a similar state of denial.

Oh and by the way, it is not as though I am entirely enamored with the rest of our culture. Brittany, Paris etc.... need I say more.

Anonymous said... you even understand the concept of 'structural/systemic' problems?

Cause and effect?

Denis Navratil said...

Why not explain it to me anon, in plain English?

Anonymous said...

I thought that Eugene Kane's article about the prof. spoke plain English about it...he brought up structural and systemic issues on several occasions...

Denis Navratil said...

The article mentions structural poverty but does not define it, unless I missed it. I read the article last time you mentioned it but just skimmed it this time. So I will ask again. Why not explain the meaning of these terms and why they are relevant. By the way, as I indicated before, I agreed with much of what was written in the article.

Anonymous said...

Structural the have-nots could never get the asset means to become a have. The studies that show income mobility, and family/children income movement are illuminating...Peter Gottshalk of Boston U has done great studies on the structural issues over the past 30 years...

Denis Navratil said...

If I understand you correctly, structural poverty is defined as ... "how the have-nots could never get the asset means to become a have." If that is indeed your definition, then structural poverty is a myth. People can, have, and will continue to climb out of poverty. They will have to work and save for it like most people, and it certain that all of them will reject your conclusion that they can't make it.

concrete katie said...

I think a community like Racine would prosper if it at least listened to some of the people who come into the community. For example we now have the World Federation of Martial Arts in downtown Racine and a grandmaster in Sangho Cho. Martial Arts is a discipline, an activity that exercises body and mind. It is defense. It is an equalizer. It is better than guns and knives because it respects human life. It could be taught in the schools.

Jim Spodick and Margot Mazur (Historic Sixth Street Association) developed a green vision for this area that respects the natural resources here and gives people a reason to settle in this community. Green Power is also a business because more and more people recognize that we are all on one earth. So how come this Green Visioning got completely shafted and ridiculed for being not practical and too expensive by people who continue on with their failing policies of privatizing the natural resources and publicly assassinating those who disagree with them?

I have great respect for some of Racine's minority leaders. It is difficult being a minority leader in this community! How do you stay true to your ethnicity and succeed? Robert Turner is a fabulous example.

Racine is its own worst enemy.

I appreciate Denis because he expresses a point of view and I can then better understand why I don't agree with him.

And Pete Karas is rare. He is smart and he is kind, two qualities that many pols do not have.

Both Denis and Pete take positions that are heartfelt and not necessarily popular.

Anonymous said...

If that is indeed your definition, then structural poverty is a myth. People can, have, and will continue to climb out of poverty. They will have to work and save for it like most people, and it certain that all of them will reject your conclusion that they can't make it.


The statistics on income mobility prove otherwise.

You believe mythology instead of facts.

Denis Navratil said...

CK, is there anyone stopping you from pursuing your green vision?

And anon, which country has the greatest income mobility?

concrete katie said...

This is a test because I just tried to respond and it went into cyberspace.

concrete katie said...

okay, here goes again.

Yes. So I am about to put my building up for sale and move to where there is a respect for the kind of urban greening I had been led to expect was on the agenda for the downtown.

I know of no other city that has more potential for a beautiful green community because of the Root River watershed and the lakefront.

To me it is simple. It really is a matter of wheels vs. people. And DPW has just rammed through its pump 'em out plan and run over the greening concept. Road pots are not my idea of greening. And speeding cars is not my dream for Sixth Street.


Denis Navratil said...

Why not lead by example and green your own building instead of selling it? Wasn't "green" roofing part of the 6th Street vision? Have you "greened" your roof? If so, I would love to see it.

concrete katie said...

I have a deck and I have plants. From my roof (rubber, a complete tear off) you can see the river, the lighthouse, the churches, the lake. It is a beautiful view and there is no traffic. I have a water outlet too. Would you like to buy my building?

Denis Navratil said...

Sounds like paradise CK, but I am all tapped out. Now if I can only figure out how to take money from the poor, we could have a deal. By the way, how much are you asking for it?

concrete katie said...

I am in the process of talking to real estate people because I will need their expertise (there seem to be quite a few buildings for sale in Racine). Remember that picture of Keith Fair that was on the front page of The Journal Times a few months ago? (You know Keith was being excoriated for his support of green principles.) There stood Mr. Fair on my rooftop looking LIKE A GOD IN THE SKY with Lake Michigan and Sixth Street below him. It's a beautiful view of Racine - all directions.

I can wave to Mayor Becker if he looks out his window!

When the anti-violence march came around the bend on Washington/Seventh Street in 2005 I was on my rooftop and heard the chanting before I saw the marchers. It was soul music, rap music and tears. This chanting made me go to the steps of City Hall. Ubuntu, Denis.