Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Free The Children

Got a spare $128 million Racine? I didn't think so. But that is not stopping Racine Unified from asking, in the form of three separate referenda questions on the spring ballot.

Just say no. Anyone with half a clue knows that Racine Unified is likely the biggest obstacle to the fortunes of the Racine area. Over the years I have had countless conversations with folks considering a move to the Racine area. Not one of those persons ever put Racine Unified in the positive column. Anyone moving to Racine does so despite Racine Unified. It is time we frankly recognize this fact.

So why not pump money into Unified and make it a great school system? Well, if you have been paying attention, that is what we have been doing for the last 30 years. Per pupil spending has been increasing above and beyond the rate of inflation, yet the product is worsening. If money were the solution, we would have a first class education system in Racine and indeed, throughout the nation. We don't. The system is broken.

We have an expensive education system that serves to protect said system from meaningful reform and or competition. More money for Unified simply delays the inevitable day of reckoning.

Education reform will not come from within the public education system. Quite the opposite. It will come from people like you who demand better use of your taxes. The first step is rejecting the status quo which is quite obviously not working.

Voting no is one small step toward freeing Racine area children from the vice grip of failure that is Racine Unified.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Purchase Your Boccoli

The LA Times argues here that the Obamacare individual mandate is constitutional. Let us dissect the argument.

LA: The Constitution's commerce clause doesn't give Congress the power to force people to buy something against their will...That may be a fine boundary to set for lawmakers...but....

Me: Actually it is a fine boundary, already set. Thank you to our founders.

LA: Congress did not cross that line in the Affordable Care Act. That's because the mandate isn't merely an attempt to regulate the purchase of insurance. It's a vital part of a larger scheme to overhaul the healthcare industry, including the way medical services are delivered and paid for.

Me: So as long as an unconstitutional law is part of a "larger scheme," the requirements of our constitution no longer apply? Really, don't you folks at the LA Times have anyone capable of producing a better argument? Can I be required to purchase broccoli so long as it is only a mere part of a "larger scheme" to overhaul the food industry?

LA: There's no question that healthcare is a form of interstate commerce subject to regulation by Congress. Nor is there any question that the adults subject to the individual mandate participate in that market, whether it be buying aspirin at a drugstore, visiting a doctor for a checkup or rushing to an emergency room for treatment.... The individual mandate affects how people pay for the care they consume, but it doesn't force them into the healthcare market — they're already there.

Me: Well, you are already in the news and opinion business. Would you hold such a view if you were mandated to pay dues to the John Birch Society as part of a "larger scheme" to regulate the news business? On a more serious note, it is true that health insurance is a subset of the health business. But so are breast implants and sex reassignment surgery. Would it be OK to mandate prepayments for those services? You name the product and I will rationalize the forced purchase of said product as part of a "larger scheme." Is there anything our government can't force us to purchase, according to your reading of the constitution? The power to force purchases is the power to destroy is it not?

LA: In that sense, what's at stake isn't Americans' cherished "right to be let alone." It's whether they'll continue to be stuck in a system in which millions of uninsured people force those with insurance to pick up at least part of the tab for their visits to the emergency room and for the untreated diseases that they spread.

Me: So a system in which people are forcibly required by government to purchase health insurance and thereby pick up a part of the tab for others is better than a system where health care consumers pick up the tab for the uninsured. Why is that better? A wash at best.

LA: Shut up.

Me: No you shut up.

Thought of the Day

Just once I would like a political candidate to say he wants to spend less time with his family.

A New Deal, Replacing Raw Deal

The Scott Walker apocalypse is coming soon. Well, at least several state employees would have you think so.

In a letter to the JT today, one such employee argued that state employees are the ones who will stimulate the economy. Not the $9 per hour folks that can't afford to leave the home.

Why not have everyone be a highly compensated state employee. Now that would really stimulate the economy, right?

Of course not. The money for such largesse has to come from somewhere. It comes from the rest of us. If we pay to much for state employees, we are wasting the taxpayers money.

How do we know if we are paying too much for labor? One clue is comparisons with similar private sector employment. Another is to look at the attrition rate of state employees. My guess is that if we looked at these factors, we would find that state employees are compensated better than their peers in the private sector and that they hardly ever leave for better opportunities.

State employees should be paid fairly. Taxpayers should be taxed fairly. The best indicator of fairness in trade for products, service labor or whatever is to observe what happens when things, such as labor, are traded freely. That is, to see what happens in the private sector.

Why not peg state employee compensation to averages in private sector employment of the same type? As a generous taxpayer, I would be willing to sweeten the pot and throw in the de facto tenure for no charge. What a deal for state employees!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Will The Truth Set Kay Free?

Per usual, I have been having a disagreement with Kay at Kay's Blue Racine. The difference this time is that our disagreement concerns a matter of fact, not opinion. I contended that the Employee Free Choice Act, which I called the Union Coercion Act, would end the secret ballot for unionization if enough (50%+) pro-union signatures were collected. Kay disagrees.

One of us is wrong. On the line for both of us is the trustworthiness of our news sources. I trusted among others Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. I don't know where she gets her misinformation.

So I went to the text of the legislation, HR 1409 and found:


(a) In General- Section 9(c) of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 159(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(6) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a petition shall have been filed by an employee or group of employees or any individual or labor organization acting in their behalf alleging that a majority of employees in a unit appropriate for the purposes of collective bargaining wish to be represented by an individual or labor organization for such purposes, the Board shall investigate the petition. If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative and that no other individual or labor organization is currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative described in subsection (a)

Pretty much a slam dunk for me but I am not sharing this to gloat. OK, maybe a little. It will be interesting to watch Kay's reaction. She has said that secret ballots are un-American etc... and she obviously has been mislead by her sources of news. Will the truth open Kay's eyes or will she dig in her heals and go on the attack to protect her discredited notions/ideology? I'm guessing the latter.


Three illegal immigrant advocates were arrested here in Racine for...... trespassing. I guess we can't call them hypocrites. Read story here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fighting the Scourge of Censustractism

I went to the Racine Finance and Personnel Committee meeting tonight as a proposal to change the Racine First program (see previous post) was on the agenda. It was quickly decided to refer the matter to the Public Works committee.

Even so, the committee allowed comment from three proponents of the program, all of whom discussed the merits of the proposal without mentioning racial implications.

Then Mayor Dickert chimed in. He noted that the subject would be discussed in greater detail at the Public Works meeting complete with a presentation etc... But what I found most interesting was the mayors emphasis on getting more minority or women-owned businesses in the city of Racine.

The proposal in question says nothing about race or gender. Rather it is about geography. The stated intent is to get more people from census districts 1-5 to get jobs working on city projects.

My understanding with respect to affirmative action is that its purpose is to combat or mitigate the effects of discrimination. My hope is that before requiring contractors to hire people from census tracts 1-5, the city will document the number of complaints and or convictions stemming from Racine's apparently pervasive problem with geographic discrimination. Just how many licensed electricians have been denied jobs because they live in census tract 4? How many experienced carpenters have been shown the door with a "call us when you've moved to census tract 9, then we'll talk."

You see, I just don't believe anyone in their right mind discriminates against tradespeople because of where they live. But perhaps I am just a bit naive. Still, if the city is going to fight censustractism, (or is it geographism, or addressism?) they should at least have to prove that the problem really exists.

And if there are no examples of such discrimination, as I suspect, then there is no reason to create an ordinance to address a phantom problem.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Racine's Human Wrongs Commission

Racine's misnamed Affirmative Action and Human Right's Commission is recommending that the city "force contractors to hire more residents from the city's poorest neighborhoods for work on city projects", according to this Journal Times article.

The poor neighborhoods in question are census tracks 1-5, an area with chronically high unemployment and a large percentage of black residents. The Racist Action/Human Wrongs Commission is trying to get the city to hire black people but that would be illegal racial discrimination so they are attempting an end run around the law by requiring hires from predominantly black neighborhoods.

Still we have discrimination - against Racine citizens not in census tracks 1-5 - though the RAHWC will play it off as benign, well intentioned discrimination if they even are asked to address the issue.

Racine contractors should at the very least demand "discrimination waivers" from the city such that they are protected from the legal liability when they are sued by a Racine resident victimized because he lives outside census tracks 1-5.

It is too bad that Racine doesn't have a human rights commission that could do something about this proposed discriminatory legislation.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Assuaged Guilt Sale

Allow me a bit of a rant. I just read this commentary/advertisement by Mary Beth Danielson and I would like to share a few thoughts.

Danielson owns a business wherein she sells items produced by poor Guatemalan women. Good for her. That was not a sarcastic "good for her." I mean it.

But I have a few problems with her approach. Though she notes that a young Guatemalan man is able to attend school because of her sales activities, she nonetheless blasts away at banks, investment firms, the rich and the pursuit of profits. Why does she think that only her business ventures are virtuous while more successful business people are vaguely evil?

Danielson has a habit of sharing heart wrenching stories followed by opportunities to purchase her products. This strikes me as a bit manipulative and self serving. Why the Journal Times and now the Racine Post don't charge her for advertising is beyond me.

I have never seen the products that Danielson is selling. I don't know whether they are worth buying or not. But it is rather obvious that there is more than just knit gloves and hats being sold. You also get the Danielson compassion stamp of approval with a side of guilt assuagement. Don't buy it cause you don't need it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I also sell products produced in developing nations. I don't know who is being saved from starvation or a life of prostitution because a family member is working to produce things that I sell in my store. But trade works. It helps all sorts of people without our even realizing it.

Class warfare, on the other hand, is a dangerous and destructive force in our society. Don't buy it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Representative Government?

I learned a few interesting tidbits about city government yesterday from Alderman Eric Marcus.

#1. There is a committee (name escapes me) with a $10 million budget that does all the buying, selling and rehabbing of properties for the city of Racine. The problem is that there are no elected officials on this committee.

#2. There is no ordinance on the books authorizing the city and the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team to do what they do. Rather, it was simply put into a recent budget.

Re #1, I don't think city government should be in the property speculation business because they are terrible at it but more importantly because they are competing against the private sector with an unfair advantage.

Re #2, I have railed against UNIT in the past because it deprives citizens of a constitutional right to due process. The city thinks they have found a way around our nuisance of a constitution by reclassifying a fine as an inspection "fee." To discover that the city, with the approval of our aldermen, just stuck this in the budget...

I will have to take a look at my sons social studies text book. I thought I had a pretty good idea about how a bill becomes a law. Now I realize that there is an open process for popular legislation, like resolutions condemning George Bush for torture, and another for less popular measures. We will just stick it in the budget and hope nobody notices. Unreal. And these people claim to be our representatives?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Imaginary Losses

A debate is underway concerning the federal income tax rate. On January 1st tax rates are scheduled to increase for all taxpayers. Democrats want to keep the current lower rate for those with incomes of $250,000 or less while Republicans want the current lower rate extended for all taxpayers.

"How will you pay for the lost revenue?" asked the interviewer of the Republican politician.

This seemed to me a funny question. How will I pay for having lost the $100,000,000 Powerball lottery?

There really isn't any lost revenue. The tax rate would remain the same. Revenue would increase or decrease a bit based on total economic activity.

A liberal might say that there is a loss of anticipated or hoped for revenue. But can you really lose what you never had to begin with? Apparently liberals think so.

Enough blogging. It is time to lament the losses of my mistress Cindy Crawford and my NBA contract.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Embarrassed Millions

Tomorrows election is a referendum on President Obama's progressive agenda. Millions of people who voted for Obama will now vote to stop him. It is shaping up to be a historic rebuke of a sitting president.

But where are these millions of voters who are switching sides? Why are there no news stories about them? Media bias I am sure plays a role. But there is more to it than that.

You have all heard of the Nigerian money wiring scams. You probably have gotten an e-mail or two promising you thousands of dollars if you could only help the Nigerian prince get his money to the US. But you didn't fall for it.

If you did, you might be reluctant to come forward. You wouldn't want newspapers writing stories about how you were duped.

I think a similar phenomenon is at play with many Obama supporters. They are embarrassed. They were duped. They would rather not announce that fact to the world.

But announce it they will, silently, tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Concerns, Unestimated

"The taxpayers in my estimation are concerned about layoffs, furloughs and services."

That quote was from Mayor Dickert and can be found here as part of a larger discussion about a 2.7% tax increase.

I am just one Racine taxpayer who would prefer not to have my concerns estimated. I prefer to be direct.

Here are my concerns Mayor Dickert: As you know, Racine continues to have high unemployment. Also, our properties have lost value. What this means is that Racine taxpayers have even less money and or net worth than they did a year ago. I am concerned about those people, many of whom will have great difficulty paying their taxes. I am less concerned about city employees. They have jobs with benefits that no longer exist in the private sector. They are doing just fine. But alas, something must be done. Sacrifices must be made. My concern is that all the sacrifices are being made by the taxpayers. I am also concerned about your apparent view of the role of government. It is not to ensure full employment for city workers. Rather it is to provide for the needs of taxpayers, constrained of course, by their ability to pay. I am concerned that we have reached a point in Racine where the tax burden is simply too high for many individuals and businesses to thrive in Racine. I am concerned that this burden will lead to more unemployment, more foreclosures and a weakened private economy. If you were to introduce layoffs of city employees, or furloughs, or reduction in city services with a commensurate savings to taxpayers, you would show Racine taxpayers that you understand their struggles. My final concern is that my concerns will not be shared, expressed, or represented by any Racine officials.

Friday, October 22, 2010

No to Corporate Welfare

I'll be glad to have 189 new jobs in Racine if they ever materialize (read story here). That said, isn't $5.7 million in corporate welfare from the state an admission that Wisconsin has a burdensome tax and or regulatory environment? Do we want government using our money to pick business winners and losers? My answers are yes and no respectively. Let us level the playing field and make life easier for the only people who can actually grow our economy, entrepreneurs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Be Afraid

'I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Juan Williams was fired from NPR (National Public Radio) for making this statement on the O'Reilly show the other day.

Note that Williams was not advocating any kind of different treatment of apparent Muslims. He was simply nervous and worried. Some Americans might recall that several years ago some Muslims hijacked airplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Might that historical event have contributed to Williams anxiety?

It is not clear whether the fireable offense was being nervous or speaking about said nervousness, but I suspect the latter. After all, being nervous is not something we can easily control. I am often a bit nervous when flying, usually on takeoffs and landings. I suppose now I should be careful not to share my anxiety lest I offend all airline pilots. But somehow I don't think Williams would have been fired if he merely offended pilots.

No, Williams was fired for speaking truthfully about his anxiety about Muslims and airplanes. Obviously, speaking truthfully is not something that one should be punished for. Therefore, the answer is to address Williams' fears.

I suggest nationwide reeducation camps. We all need to learn about the benign nature of all adherents to Islam. We need to pretend that 9-11 had no connection to Islam whatsoever. The culprits were extremists. All extremists are equally dangerous.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Just don't tell anyone.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

WW Sean Cranley Do?

Whenever you challenge the pro abortion crowd, as I have been doing recently at Kay's Blue Racine, they inevitably bring up the small percentage of abortions that pose genuine moral quandaries, such as when the pregnancy is caused by rape or if the life of the mother is at risk etc...

So I figured I would present an atypical abortion decision and see if abortion is acceptable to Sean Cranley et al under the following hypothetical circumstance:

Husband and wife are expecting their fourth child, a boy after three girls. Everything is going just fine with the pregnancy until wife discovers that husband had an affair. She files for divorce and tells anyone willing to listen that she will not give that good-for-nothing husband the boy he wanted. She even posts on Facebook her intent to abort the baby to spite her husband. Should this be legal Sean?

Husband files suit, wife makes appointment for the abortion. The fateful day arrives only the little fellow doesn't cooperate. Actually, he's just a little lucky. The abortion doc only crushes the jaw and shoulder and misses the brain. He's still alive when the husband rushes in with a duffle bag filled with cash accompanied by the world's most reknowned pediatric surgeon eager to save the boy. The abortion doc doesn't know what to do so he calls the Chief Ethicist at Burlington Secular Progressive Hospital, one Sean Cranley.

We already know what our president would do. He would nudge the little boy (or delegate the task) into the red biohazard bin. But WWSCD? Go ahead Sean, play god.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kay's Bad Religion

I have been making the point, at Kay's Blue Racine, that dehumanization is the intellectual foundation upon which the pro-abortion argument is built. Which prompted this challenge from Kay:

"Denis, the thing about being human involves, for most people, the concept that all humans have souls. Another widespread belief is that God is omnipotent. If God is omnipotent then why would he put a soul into a cellular mass or a fetus that is not destined to be born? Are you questioning God's wisdom? Can you explain why a soul would be created not to have the ability to experience a single breath on Earth?"

Allrighty then. Let's break down Kay's theology here. Humans have God given souls. God knows all. God will not give a soul to a cellular mass that will be scooped out and discarded in the garbage bin behind the abortion clinic. Therefore, that cellular mass, without a soul, is not human. Therefore again, it doesn't matter what is done with said cellular mass. When abortion occurs, it is because God wanted an abortion.

Now that does rather convincingly prove my original point about dehumanization does it not? According to Kay's religion, a pregnant woman is carrying a soulless cellular mass. When you make that appointment at the clinic, you are doing God's work.

Kay's is a truly scary religion. Everything is known to God and part of the plan. Anything whether good or evil is part of the plan. Basically, anything goes in Kay's world since it is part of God's plan.

Ironically, Kay goes on to accuse me of playing God, as follows:

" I firmly believe that people like you are trying to play God by taking away free will from women who may die from a forced birth, lose the ability to have more children in the future or have been told that their fetus is so deformed that it will either die inside them or within minutes to days after taken from their bodies. Who are you to make those decisions for another person? What about women who cannot mentally cope with giving birth? Do you claim to be able to see into their hearts and minds? Is that not playing God? Or at the very least assuming you have a God like ability? "

Kay's accusations are ironic because, if you believe in Kay's religion, if I am indeed playing God, it would (like abortion) be known and approved by God. And I am accused of "taking away the free will from women." What free will? There is no free will with predestination. We are all going to do what we are going to do and it is because God wants it that way.

Now who is playing God here, Kay or me? In Kay's world, a woman who does not abort her child gives birth to a human with a soul. The child, oops I meant soulless cellular mass, that is aborted didn't have a soul anyway. Note that gift of a soul is entirely dependent on the woman's abort or not decision. It is the woman that decides whether the soulless cellular mass becomes a human being. The woman is playing God.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Spoiling for a Dog Fight

Kay at Blue Racine has a lengthy diatribe about aggressive dogs that morphs, predictably, into the dangers posed by Sarah Palin and her followers.

According to Kay:

Their problem is that at some point she may take that group of people to the point of no return in regards to behavior. How soon before we see a surge of shootings of gays? Afterall, Sarah thinks they're sinful and immoral. Abnormal. Is it easier for someone who might not want to kill someone they can identify with to kill someone they believe is born of Satan and isn't even "normal"?

My response to Kay:

Yes, probably. However, the best justification to kill is to claim that the victim is not even a human. I have heard them called "potentials" on this site (Kay's Blue Racine). You don't have to worry about a wave of such killings because we are already awash in their dead bodies.

I now await the gnashing of teeth, baring of fangs etc... in keeping with the aggressive dog theme.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Having It Both Ways

Have you ever noticed that Racine Unified supporters are quick to blame parents for the school children that fail? Have you also noticed that Racine Unified will point out to critics that many students do quite well, graduate, go to college etc...?

It took me a while to figure this out, but notice that Unified and their apologists take credit for successful outcomes while placing blame for lousy outcomes. In short, the education profession can do no wrong. Forget about reform, just give those heroes anything they ask for and more.

This is a great marketing strategy by Unified. But we don't have to buy it. Either we should expect Unified to own both the success and failure of its students or own neither. If they choose the former, they need to hold them accountable for poor results. If they choose the latter, it will be a de facto admission that teachers can't impact students and they should all be fired. Let's not let them have it both ways any longer.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Waiting Forever

What are the odds that RUSD teachers will show Waiting for Superman in any of their classes that deal with current issues?

For those of you not yet aware, Waiting for Superman is a documentary produced by Davis Guggenheim of An Inconvenient Truth fame. The committed liberal takes an honest look at our public schools.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Clash of Perverts?

A recent post of mine entitled Universalist Truth has generated some interesting discussion so I thought I would reintroduce it here. Sean Cranley maintains that when religious folks do some crazy things, like fly airplanes into buildings, they are perverting their religion. Maybe so in some cases, but certainly there are religious (or philosophical) differences between people such that it isn't so easy slap on the "perversion" label and walk away. For example, Christian denominations disagree on the issue of homosexuality. Which ones are perverting their religion and who decides? Sean responded as follows:

"We all make those judgments and we arrive at a general consesus on the big issues. It's called civilization. Clearly threatening or inflicting phyical harm crosses the line of reasonable people in all cultures."

Oh really? This ranks right up there with Sean's "schools can't fail" theory. Note the moral relativism in arriving at a general consensus. But clearly inflicting physical harm crosses of reasonable people in all cultures, says Sean. What about war Sean? Can civilizations clash? Was England being unreasonable in declaring war on Germany?

Lets move beyond war. For thousands of years slavery was, by consensus of non slaves, an institution that was commonplace across many civilizations. Was that consensus OK Sean, or are we correct today in our revulsion of slavery? Lest you think we are in an uninterrupted march toward greater civilization, consider that at one time Muslim women were able to work, reveal their faces, drive cars, keep their clitori and what not, yet, in some Muslim civilizations, by consensus of those with power, well, those rights don't exist.

Write them off as perversions Sean, pretend it is just a handful of crazies, bury your head in the sand. As for me, I will recognize it for what it is. It is a clash of civilizations. Some things are right, others wrong, irrespective of consensus. But I suppose that makes me one of the perverts, eh Sean?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Profiling Double Standard

A Racine man carrying a firearm was arrested in Madison after refusing to produce identification that the police demanded to determine whether or not he was a felon.

In other words, the man was profiled as a potential felon because he was engaging in the legal act of carrying a firearm.

Not to worry folks. Any minute now President Obama will scold the State of Wisconsin. Soon the federal government will sue the state for profiling. Demonstrations will break out throughout the country for the unfairness of it all. States will refuse to do business with Wisconsin. And finally, we will plead guilty to the United Nations civil rights commission and beg for forgiveness.

RUSD Dreams

The following is a sentence by sentence rebuttal of Al Levie's letter to the JT. Levie is a teacher at Horlick High School.

Al: RUSD supporting the DREAM Act is the right thing to do.

Me: How so Al?

Al: Our country was based on the guiding principal of liberty and justice for all.

Me: For illegal immigrants as well? Do you really teach this nonsense to your students?

Al: Students who work hard in school should be given an opportunity to pursue their dreams of a college education.

Me: Really Al? I had to pay for my college education. Besides, are the illegals really prevented from attending our universities or are they just required to pay the out of state tuition rate?

Al: As a society, we tell our children if you work hard in school and do the best you can will be rewarded with a good education and a bright future.

Me: I don't recall society ever saying such a thing to me.

Al: RUSD needs to advocate for those students who society has made false promises to.

Me: Who are they Al?

Al: Undocumented students do not have access to student loans and in many states have to pay out-of-state tuition.

Me: When did society ever promise in-state tuition to people who have broken our immigration laws?

Al: Upon graduation in order to get a good job they must lie about their status.

Me: What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

Al: Do we really want to put our best and brightest in that position?

Me: Our evil society didn't put them there Al, their parents did.

Al: Is it fair?

Me: Its more than fair Al. Despite breaking our immigration laws, they were given a free elementary and high school education. This costs the rest of us in the neighborhood of $12,000 per illegal immigrant.

Al: Is it just?

Me: Yes, but let me tell you what would be unjust. It would unjust to subsidize the college education of illegal immigrants with in-state tuition while legal residents of other states have to pay the full amount. Giving more rights to illegal immigrants than to legal citizens is very unjust.

Al:There are those who qualify their application of the ideals embodied in our Pledge of Allegiance by not extending the rights of citizenship to hardworking students.

Me: The Pledge of Allegiance reads: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Now if the pledge read: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice and in-state tuition and citizenship for hard working students who have disregarded our immigration laws" .... well, then I would concede the argument.

Al: RUSD do not be pressured by them. They need to be educated, not catered to.

Me: RUSD does catering? I'll have sloppy Joes, tator tots and sugar free desserts for our next tea party planning session. Want to join us Al?

Al: If the mission of RUSD is to educate all children, then we need to advocate for them and help them realize their dreams.

Me: Educate all children Al? Even citizens of foreign countries? Better double check that RUSD mission statement.

Al: Support the DREAM Act.

Me: Dream on.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just Trust Us

The Journal Times has a commentary today warning readers to be aware of impending political spin as November 2nd approaches. As an antidote they suggest, you guessed it, reading the Journal Times. Who needs The Onion?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Universalist Truth

The Racine Post has a little article centered around a statement issued by Racine's Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church. Read the article here. The church issued the following statement:

“We, the undersigned members and friends of the Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church, along with Unitarian Universalists throughout the country, stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters and their right to the free exercise of their religion in these United States. We deplore the senseless destruction of their places of worship and we denounce all acts of intolerance against Islam and other religions. We support the right of Muslims and those of all religions, as affirmed in the U.S. Constitution, to worship in their faith tradition.”

Should read:

We, the undersigned members and friends of the Olympia Brown Universalist Church, along with Unitarian Universalists throughout the country, stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters and their right to the free exercise of their religion in these United States. We will continue to pretend as though there are serious efforts to curtail the free exercise of religion by Muslims in this country. We will continue to actively ignore the real issue at hand, that is, whether it is highly insensitive of Muslims to build an enormous mosque so near to the former World Trade Center grounds and the national tragedy inflicted upon us by radical Muslims. In taking this difficult and courageous stand, we will demonstrate once again our moral superiority to the unenlightened masses.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tea Party Protesters Lack Diversity

I just came back from Racine's Tea Party gathering. I will leave it to the mainstream press to accurately characterize the event and the participants. I want to focus on the protesters.

I was struck by the complete lack of diversity among the five protesters. They were all young white males. There was absolutely no representation from women, blacks, or Latino's - can't be sure about gays- I'm a don't ask kind of guy. Speaking of homogeneity, their hand held messages were uniformly devoid of original thought. "If you can read this, you're smarter than Sarah Palin" and "go home racist sexist homophobes" and similar deep thoughts.

On second thought, they did use a variety of bright and cheery colors for their hateful messaging.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Free Merchandise Offer

Regular readers of Free Racine probably know that I own a business downtown and that I rarely mention it by name on this blog as I prefer to separate my business interests from my political interests as much as possible.

Today however I am faced with an awkward dilemma. There is a rather large Tea Party rally scheduled for downtown Racine tomorrow and merchants have been asked to give a symbolic tax break (note to WI Department of Revenue, I really mean a discount) of 5.1% to customers.

I normally participate in any and all downtown events but this one has a decidedly political tone about it despite claims to contrary. Additionally, the attendants are regularly met with scorn and accusations of racism, sexism, homophobism, Islamaphobism etc... from a good portion of the electorate. I would rather not have my business associated with those disgusting attributes.

So what to do? I am damned if I participate and damned if I don't.

I think I have a solution. Yes, I will offer a 5.1% discount to any and all customers on Saturday. But in an effort to distance myself from the ism and phobia crowd, I will make an even better offer to their detractors. I hereby announce, in a spirit of nonpartisan inclusiveness, free merchandise, yes you read that correctly, free merchandise, 100% off, to anyone and everyone who can prove that they are not, pick one, a racist or a sexist or an Islamaphobe or a homophobe.

Dimple's LLC is located at 416 Main Street, downtown Racine.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

License to Discriminate

I walked by Gingers (local bar in trouble with the city) today and noticed a sign that went pretty much like this:

Must be 25 or older to enter. 21 to 24 must be members.

Pretty straightforward example of age discrimination it seems to me. Now lest there be any misunderstanding, I think Gingers ought to be able do business with whomever they please. But I am not so sure the law is quite so accommodating.

Now I don't think for one second that Gingers wants to discriminate against young people. Rather, this is a preemptive move to please the city council that is threatening to take away their liquor license.

Just another example of the city forcing or at least nudging businesses to discriminate.

Maybe its time to revoke the city's discrimination license.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Plan B

Mayor John Dickert has released his ten year plan for the city of Racine. You can read it here. Clearly Mayor Dickert has confidence that he and our local government can dramatically transform Racine for the better. I don't share his confidence that government will lead Racine's transformation.

So I got to thinking what my plan for Racine would be. It would not be anything like Mayor Dickerts.

For starters, my plan would reflect my pessimism about centralized planning by elites and my optimism in free people acting in accordance with their own interests. In other words, Racine government should do the basics, namely police, fire, courts and little else. The role of government is not to create a wonderful city but rather to ensure the conditions that make the spontaneous creation of a wonderful city possible.

So the city government must be small and focussed. Canceling whole departments like the development department, UNIT, and the Fair Housing Department would be a good place to start. Put all non-essential city owned properties for sale and vow to get out and stay out of the housing/real estate business. Use the money to lower property taxes.

Don't pay too much for labor. Privatize trash, snow plowing, parks and as many other operations as possible. This will result in private sector jobs and will decrease the looming and crippling health care and retirement obligations. Yes, the unions will fight this with everything they have. Explain to voters that ensuring lifetime labor for union members is not part of the city's mission.

To spur investment, place a tax increase moratorium on investment in Racine. Presently, there is almost zero investment in Racine because investors know they will get slammed with tax increases. If the city would wait 5 or 10 years before they cash in on someone else's efforts, we will get more entrepreneurialism and hence more jobs. This might require law changes at the state level, so lobby the state loudly and often.

These are just a few examples of what needs to be done in Racine. It will never happen if we keep electing people with an unshakeable faith in government. Feel free to offer your own ideas and or your reaction to mine.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Buffaloing Readers on Stimulus Impact

When I see a letter written by a union representative, I expect muddled thinking on economic issues. Steven Buffalo of Operating Engineers Local 139 does not disappoint. Read it here.

To paraphrase his point of view, hundreds of members of his union are working this summer on road projects, thanks to the stimulus. These jobs are proof that the stimulus has created jobs and those who suggest otherwise are lying or believing a lie. In his industry they "measure how much work is getting done by counting hours worked" (a rather disturbing means of measuring work IMHO) and his members hours have been in decline in recent years. According to Buffalo, building construction and underground utility work is down 64 and 26% respectively, but road building has increased by 4%. He thanks Reps Cory Mason and Bob Turner and Senator John Lehman for the road work.

I won't quibble with Buffalo's stats. For the sake of this discussion, let us assume they are correct. What Buffalo misses of course is that the money for road projects comes from taxing current or future profitable activities. Do a bit too much of that and you get less entrepreneurial activity. This might help explain the 64% decrease in building construction. And it might help explain the high and getting higher unemployment numbers conveniently overlooked by Buffalo. But his members have jobs and perhaps that is the extent of his concerns. For those of us concerned about the general welfare, we need to judge the stimulus by a different measure, namely, the employment numbers. And by that measure, the stimulus is a failure. And that is no lie Mr. Buffalo.

On Feingold's Snub

The Racine Post has a story, read it here, about Senator Feingold's visits to some of Racine's downtown businesses.

From the article: Feingold's staff had been well-briefed: Although he walked Main Street from 3rd Street to 5th, and back, he skipped past Eye-OpenerZ, whose owner, Ken Brown is a TEA Party organizer, and Dimples, whose co-owner, Denis Navratil has a blog that frequently criticises Democrats. (Navratil was on vacation anyway.)

I am not sure how to interpret Feingold's decision not to visit my store. Was he really "well-briefed" by his staff? If he was accurately briefed, he would know that I am a politically active with a principled conservative/libertarian bent. As such, it is true that I frequently criticize Democrats. But I also criticize Republicans. In short, I am critical of bad ideas no matter from whom or what political party they emanate. You could say that this makes me something of a maverick. Hey, isn't that what they call Senator Feingold?

Anyway, it is true I wasn't at my store and it is unlikely he would earn my vote. I vote according to the actions of politicians, not their words or promises. Though I have at times had a grudging respect for Feingold, his vote for Obamacare was something I can't overlook, insofar as it is blatantly unconstitutional and passed only with the help of a corrupt process. It is time for a new senator.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trash for Sale

Owe the city of Racine money? Have some garbage? If you answered yes to both questions, the city of Racine might just take both off your hands.

According to this Journal Times article, the city is accepting four houses, two of which need to be destroyed, to "clear up the debt" owed by the Racine Mutual Housing Association. RMHA had borrowed $380,000 to rehab 19 properties but they can't make ends meet, so the city is accepting the homes in lieu of the remaining debt of $194,000.

Now it would be one thing for the city to suggest that these losses are a necessary consequence of their efforts to help the less fortunate. But keep in mind the city in general, Mayor John Dickert in particular, are touting their real estate forays - buying houses, fixing them, selling them - as a major economic development initiative.

Last time I checked, buying liabilities is not a sure fire path to profits. But what do I know? Next Monday, I will be leaving some trash in the alley behind my building. I will give it to the city in exchange for my property tax obligations.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Smearing 101

I was reading a lefty newspaper the other day because I didn't have anything better to do. I can't remember many of the particulars, but the article was a hatchet job on a conservative running for some office or the other. I was struck by one sentence that went something like: Bill Jones is linked to Joe Blow who reportedly advocates violence against women. Missing was the nature of the link and any details of the report or the reporter.

Is there a person in the world without "links" to someone who "reportedly" is this or that? Democrats in Racine for example are linked to Gary Becker who advocates having sex with children. I have spoken with Gary Becker numerous times and, before my political awakening, I even helped him pass out campaign literature. So I too am linked to a known pedophile. I am linked to a man who bilked Chicago's CTA pension fund out of millions of dollars. There is no doubt that in some way I am linked to drug dealers, drug users, wife beaters, international terrorists, rapists, racists, murderers, even climate change deniers. And so are you.

Without any discussion on the nature of the link, the link argument is just another technique used to unfairly smear a person with whom you disagree.

Now I can't take the high road here. I am linked to someone who does this kind of thing quite often. His name is Sean Cranley.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Calling Nemo and Sean Cranley

Normally I prefer evenly matched contests, but today I invite Sean to an intellectual beating at the hands of Nemo. Have at it boys!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Group Think

I have been stewing over a commentary written the other day by Racine's Fair Housing Director Morris Reece. Read it here.

Morris was reacting to an incident in Raymond where racist graffiti was "inscribed" on the fence of an interracial couple, he African American, she Asian. Morris wrote "We know these types of racist groups do not exist in a vacuum."

To the best of my knowledge, there is not a shred of evidence that the vandalism was committed by more than one person, much less a group. But Morris is convinced apparently that not only was this the act of a group, but that there must be other groups since such a group does not operate in a vacuum. In other words, there are multiple racist groups operating in and around Raymond. This is an irresponsible smear on the good citizens of Raymond, who, according to a previous JT article on the subject responded appropriately to the incident, condemning it while offering support to the victims.

Why would Morris suggest, absent any supportive evidence, that there are multiple racist groups operating in our area? I can't be sure but I will note that Morris would not have a job as Fair Housing Director if not for the perception of persistent mistreatment of minorities. As such, Morris has a financial incentive to promote the notion that we are plagued by racist groups. Moreover, I am troubled that someone who must evaluate racist intent for a living, and dish out penalties accordingly, would reach such a conclusion absent any supporting evidence. His essay ought to disqualify him from his job.

And finally, has Racine solved all its problems? Is an isolated racist incident in Raymond worthy of comment when we hear little or nothing from him concerning more serious problems in Racine's black community? We know there are problems with "groups" in Racine. They are called gangs and in addition to vandalism they are engaged in selling drugs and shooting at each other.

All in all, I think Morris should focus more on real groups that are operating in Racine and less on those operating in his imagination.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Discriminate or Else

In the past week or so I have talked to numerous "deciders" of the fate of Park 6 owner Thomas Holmes and his liquor license. I will concede that the city has a very tricky problem on their hands. Among the problems is that Holmes himself has not been accused of any violations of liquor or other laws. Even so, Holmes may lose his liquor license because of problems that his customers are causing in and around the bar. Almost without fail, the "deciders" note that Holmes is literally inviting trouble to his bar and the area via his marketing efforts, and that this is enough of a reason to revoke his license. Ultimately though, it is not who you market to that matters but who shows up, and it is rather obvious that the "deciders" are not altogether thrilled with Holmes' clientele. For the record, the "deciders" have a point here, as Park 6 customers are a drain on the city's police resources. Here is why I have a problem with some of the "deciders": they don't like Holmes' customers but they won't publicly define and identify the people they consider problematic. The reason is rather obvious because the problematic customers (as well as the benign ones) are virtually all black. If the city were to create an ordinance wherein they attempted to identify and define the type of people that they don't want in or around Racine bars, well, we all know that this would soon be national news and the City of Racine would be slapped with a discrimination lawsuit by the federal government. So instead the city is using liquor license leverage to hand the problem over to the bar owners. Instead of having an official city policy that requires bars to refuse "problematic/often black" customers, the city has a wink wink nudge nudge policy that requires bars to discriminate or lose their license. If I were Holmes, I would argue that the city has created a de facto policy that requires bar owners to discriminate against "problematic" customers, many or all of whom are black. The city is putting bar owners in an impossible position. If they refuse to serve a thuggish looking black person, they risk getting sued. If they serve thuggish looking people and said thugs cause problems, they risk losing their liquor license.

A better approach in my view would be to partner with bars in fighting crime. Don't penalize bars for the crimes committed by customers. Crack down on people who commit crimes, not on those that serve them. And lastly, recognize that there is no utopian solution to this problem. If you close down one bar, the people causing problems will simply move on and cause problems at the next one.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mystery Solved

Yesterday I heard that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was having a third hand surgery. Now I know how they (politicians) are able to shake hands, grasp your upper arm, and still reach for your wallet.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Education Talk

Channelling their inner Obama, the Journal Times has declared that the time to talk is over and that we must have action, now, to "fix the state's broken method of paying for public schools."

OK, does anyone really think the public education/media complex just wants the education funding method tweaked? Sorry folks, thats just code for we want to raise taxes even more, and then some. Besides, the "method" for funding schools is just fine. An abundant quantity of cash has been delivered year after year, raising at rates far in excess of the rate of inflation. But enough is never enough.

Rather than focus on the method for paying for schools, which isn't broken, the focus should be on the method of educational delivery, which most definitely is broken. Is a bloated, union dominated government bureaucracy the best method for education delivery? Hell no!

But the Journal Times doesn't want to talk about our broken education delivery system. Forget about action.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

PC Dangers for Blacks

Racine has a public health problem. In the summer months, large groups of people tend to gather during and or after bar time. Sometimes these gatherings get out of control, shifting from peaceful assemblies to dangerous mobs. And sometimes people get shot and killed. And it will happen again and again unless something is done.

Thus far, the city leaders, such that they are, have responded to this phenomenon by closing down bars that are in the proximity to these gatherings. Experience ought to tell us that this does not solve the problem, it merely foists the problem on another part of town.

Compounding this problem is universal cowardice on the part of our elected leadership and, it seems, our police. None of them are willing to actually identify, much less confront the actual problem. The reason is that these gatherings are, to the best of my knowledge, almost always entirely comprised of black people. My guess is that our leaders and police have succumbed to political correctness and are afraid to arrest people who are clearly disturbing the peace lest they be labelled "racist."

Thus, as I have personally witnessed, rather egregious behaviors are tolerated so long as the miscreants are black and part of a large crowd. Naturally, it is only a matter of time before that bad behavior, unchecked, escalates into behavior that can't be ignored. Of course, by that time, someone might be dead.

Our collective cowardice in confronting unruly crowds will end up with a few dead black people. I guess they can be sacrificed so we won't be considered racist.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Shut Down Unified

A business owner could lose his livelihood (see story below) because his customers break the law or otherwise create problems for the community. I don't think this is right, but if we are going to go down that road, let's be consistent and close down Racine Unified.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

City Discrimination

Two recent news stories. Park 6 might lose its liquor license for various problems in and around the club. And the city is considering an ordinance that would allow a local commission the power to investigate and punish perpetrators of housing discrimination. Unrelated stories?

Not in my book. To the best of my knowledge, the owner of Park 6, Thomas Holmes, has not committed or been accused of any crime or misdemeanor. Again, to the best of my knowledge, Holmes has taken many steps to protect his customers and the public. He checks his customers for weapons and he employs security guards. Even so, some of his customers have caused problems repeatedly such that the police are frequently called to the club. His customers are almost all young and black.

Holmes may lose his liquor license. His crime? He serves alcohol to young black people. Again, Holmes has not been accused of any alcohol related offense such as serving after hours, serving minors etc... No, he serves black people. And here is what nobody is willing to say publicly - large numbers of young black people are more likely to cause problems or commit serious crimes than say, the octogenarians bingo convention, or even the club or bar that has mostly white customers.

So Holmes' problems with the city result directly from his decision to serve young black people. By going after Holmes, the city is in effect enforcing a blacks only prohibition policy. Yes, the city essentially has a separate and unequal alcohol policy.

Now to the other story. The city is preparing to hammer anyone who they find guilty of housing discrimination. As a landlord, this is scary stuff. We need to be careful about who resides in our homes. I recently rejected a woman who wanted to rent an apartment from me. We had a bad feeling, confirmed by people who knew her. We rejected her, officially because she had pets. She has since died of a drug overdose. I remember thinking I was glad she was white, insofar as I would not likely be accused of racial discrimination.

Anyway, leave the discrimination business to the city. If you do it like the city does, you might wind up in jail or with a crippling fine.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

UNIT Review

New Racine Alderman Eric Marcus is taking a look at UNIT (unified neighborhood inspection team) and their fee and appeal process. The Racine Post has an article on the subject, read it and the comments here. My purpose here is to continue the conversation.

For starters, I give Marcus credit for taking a fresh look at UNIT. In a nutshell, it seems that he is looking for compromise, seeking to give property owners one warning per year. My problem with the UNIT fees is that they aren't fees at all but citations pretending to be fees. The city likes this semantic cleverness because they can generate revenue while bypassing the courts which tend to be costly.

Marcus suggests that we still have the right to appeal to the courts, citing a Milwaukee case. I disagree. We have no recourse to the courts concerning our fees. Our appeals go to the executive branch, and if Marcus' proposal becomes law, to the legislative branch, not to the courts. It is true that one could sue the city if you have a spare 50K. I hope that is not what Marcus means by the right to appeal to the courts.

Marcus also suggests the in-house appeal system he is advocating will be more efficient. I have no doubt he is correct. A summary judgement by city officials with a conflict of interest, coupled with a presumption of guilt by citizens denied the right to appeal to the courts, will no doubt be more efficient. But does it protect the rights of citizens?

Of greatest concern to me is Marcus' citing of the Milwaukee case. This case has been used previously by Alderman Greg Helding to justify the city's actions while ignoring the obvious - that these are not fees but fines. Can we replace speeding citations with vehicle speed "inspection fees?" Citing the Milwaukee case gives alderman at least plausible legal cover. Yes, you can probably get away with this legally. But should you?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Know Thine Enemy

In the comments section of a Racine Post article on KRM, read it here, author Dustin Block wrote:

"The problem is the people with the loudest voices don't benefit from KRM. They have cars and jobs, don't live off of State Street in Racine, and have little interest in the city's future success. Meanwhile, people with the most to gain can't organize their voice into a cohesive message, or aren't willing to take the risk."

I think Dustin Block is wrong insofar as the loudest voices are calling for KRM, such as the Journal Times, the Johnson Companies, the mayor and most Racine politicians as well as the Racine Post. I also think he is wrong in assuming that the poor in Racine will benefit from KRM.

But what is most striking to me is Block's self proclaimed omniscience about people who have cars and jobs and don't live near State Street. If your one of them, and you oppose KRM, then you obviously - to Block anyway - have little interest in the future success of Racine. You obviously don't care about the people living near State Street, who are, in many cases, black.

It must be wonderful to have the ability to read the thoughts of other people, even massive numbers of people whom you don't even know. I don't have that ability, sadly. But Block does. As a result, he needn't bother confronting their actual concerns and objections to KRM. He knows what is in their hearts; selfishness and racism I can safely infer. Stated concerns about cost overruns, high taxes, inflated ridership and development projections etc... are really just a socially acceptable "code" for "We got ours and we don't care what happens to the poor black people."

I think Dustin Block is well intentioned but mistaken in his KRM advocacy. But Block is not so charitable towards you or I. Not only are we wrong, but we are bad people with sinister motives. You may not know that about yourself, but Block knows you better than you know yourself.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Q and A on Racine Development Proposal

The JT has an article, read it here, about the city's plans for the Walker Manufacturing site just north of downtown Racine.

From the article; the city plans to spend up to $5.5 million in TIF funding and an additional $10 million in developer incentives to create $74 million in new housing. "Now we're putting the City in the role of general contractor" said City Development Director Brian O'Connell who added "We really believe this is what we have to do to bring this site to market in these economic times."

Is there a housing shortage in Racine? Isn't our population declining? Why isn't the private sector interested in building on prime lakefront property? Could it be that taxes are too high? How has the city performed on other real estate dealings? Why should big real estate developers get 21% of their projects cost paid for by others? Could "these economic times" be trying to tell us something? Would anyone other than the city hire the city to be their general contractor?

These are just a few of the questions that should but won't be asked or answered by city officials. So I will answer them. There isn't a housing shortage in Racine. In fact, there is a housing surplus. This is what happens when people move away and don't take their houses with them. Yes, Racine's population has been declining. The private sector will not foot the entire bill for a huge housing project in Racine for any number of reasons, chief among them that they can't make money because of a housing glut and high taxes in Racine. On taxes, Racine has the highest property taxes in the county, or to put it another way, the greatest building disincentive in the county. The city's dangling of $15 million should be acknowledged as evidence that they are aware that taxes are now so high that nobody will build in Racine without a handout. Regarding past performance on development ventures, the city has failed repeatedly and most of the city's TIF's are losing money. There is no reason to think this project would fair any better. Big developers are no more deserving of tax breaks than is the person that fixes his roof or remodels his kitchen, the difference is developers schmooze with politicians and give them campaign contributions and the regular Joe doesn't. "These economic times" are trying to tell us not to build additional housing and not to build a typewriter repair center either. And lastly, nobody in their right mind would hire the city as a general contractor. But then, I rarely accuse city officials of being in their right minds.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Trade Secrets Exposed

Free Racine readers may know that I own a retail business in downtown Racine. I tend to separate my business interests from my political interests, but on this occasion the two are somewhat intertwined.

Every so often I hear rumblings that I am engaged in unfair or at least unfriendly business practices. The allegation typically goes something like this: I send spies into other retail businesses, I steal their ideas (lines, prices etc...) then I carry the same line with a lower price. I have reason to believe this silliness is happening again and I will use this as a teaching moment.

For starters, the accusers in these situations have some explaining to do. In order to buy products and or lines and avoid duplication and or undercutting other retailers, I would need to know beforehand every product and line being sold and at what price they are being resold by every nearby retailer. This would be a full time job and a complete waste of my time.

So instead, here is my secret that I will freely share with other retailers. I base my purchasing decisions without any regard to other retailers. Instead, I try to meet the needs of my customers. This is a tried and true retail strategy - give the customers what they want.

More secrets: There are only so many ways to make your offerings attractive to people who may freely choose to spend their money elsewhere. Among them are good prices, quality, quantity, and good service. These tend to be our focus. Whenever possible, we will purchase from the source. This involves traveling to other countries and avoiding wholesale markups. The problem with this strategy is that you have to buy large quantities to make it worth your while. Sometimes it is hard to move enough product to make this worthwhile. So what we do is take our show on the road. We sell at festivals, fairs, we do fund raisers at hospitals throughout the midwest. We can't simply sit in our store and hope for customers.

I realize that not everyone has the resources or knowhow to jet around the world looking for good product. Not everyone has cultivated the relationships that we have over the years to allow us access to markets outside Racine. Not everyone had the foresight, resources and luck to buy a large building that allows us to implement our strategy. Now I am not apologizing here. We have worked hard, we have taken advantage of opportunities, we have made sensible decisions for the most part, we have created a store and an atmosphere that attracts customers who are willing to part with their money for our stuff.

My accusers are making a huge mistake. Instead of focussing on their own business, they are getting worked up and distracted over what I am doing. I can't help but think this will lead to internal neglect of their own businesses and possibly a toxic attitude and atmosphere that will negatively affect customer relations.

Another mistake I will call the static pie fallacy. It goes like this: There is only so much money being spent downtown, so any money spent at my store is money being taken from potential customers in your store. The mistake is the assumption that the pie, or the money being spent downtown is a constant. Not true, the pie can grow. And I am helping it grow by attracting customers to my store. The customers who in some cases drive long distances to come to my store might just notice yours as well. And this works both ways of course. In short, my business threatens no other businesses. Rather, it helps other businesses, and theirs mine. This is why businesses congregate near other businesses. If they were hell bent on avoiding competition they should open a business far away from potential competitors.

I want downtown businesses to thrive. It will help my business in turn. The best way to make that happen is to focus 100% on internal operations, honestly assess strengths and weaknesses, and forget about what your neighbor is doing. In short, we will all be better off if you, quite literally, mind your own business.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


President Obama recently said "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money."

I hope he feels the same way about accumulated political power.

Lack of Space Between Moving and Stationary Objects Causes Crash

A recent JT article about a helicopter crash cites a National Transportation Safety Board ruling that the crash was a result of pilot error. The pilot, according to the NTSB, "failed to maintain proper altitude in the moments before the crash."

Ya think?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Planning to Fail

I had a nice conversation with a City of Racine alderman yesterday. I expressed my concern about the hassles involved with opening a business in Racine. If I understand the situation correctly, Racine has an ordinance that requires most businesses to get approval from the city council before opening. This approval also involves the Racine County Economic Development Corporation which exercises authority over many of Racine's commercial corridors. Ultimately the council decides the matter. When opening a business, there is considerable effort, thought, and expense required. In Racine, you can undergo this process flawlessly - you can have a great idea, you can find the perfect location to buy or rent, you can complete a business plan, you can successfully arrange financing, and you can see that your business concept accords with zoning laws - only to be stymied and or rejected by bureaucrats and politicians that have other ideas for said property. We now have a top down economic model in Racine.

Anyway, back to my conversation with the alderman. On numerous occasions he said that I made a valid point. Not once did he suggest that I was mistaken or ill informed. The conversation was quite pleasant and there was evidently much that we agreed upon. Even so, I am discouraged. Why? Because, based on years of experience, I have no hope that this alderman or any others will make any attempt whatsoever to repeal the ordinance that makes the top down economic model possible. There are too many entrenched interests from RCEDC to city development personnel to city alderman who depend on maintaining control of economic decisions in Racine. If Racine residents and would-be entrepreneurs were free to make their own decisions, there would be no need for the economic development specialists and planners. They plan on keeping their jobs. The bondage will continue for the rest of us.

Monday, April 12, 2010

An Honest Referendum Question

There will be a kerfuffle tonight as the Racine County Board considers asking voters the following referendum question:

"Should any new tax to support transit or rail services, such as a sales tax or local vehicle registration fee, be permitted in any part of Racine County?"

KRM proponents are not in favor of this non-binding referendum, which is all you need to know.

Since both sides of this issue know that voters would reject the tax increases that would come with KRM, perhaps a better referendum question would be:

"Should we, as your elected representatives, knowingly reject the wishes of you, a member of the ignorant masses, and build a train that you won't use and can't afford, because we possess a superior vision for Racine County that you can't possibly comprehend?"

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Multicultural Message

Racine's Health Department has an ad in the Journal Times today. They were announcing three goals. Goal #1 caught my attention.

"Decrease infant mortality and improve birth outcomes in a culturally competent manner."

At the risk of exposing my cultural incompetence, I have a few suggestions. To improve birth outcomes, don't abort babies, don't smoke crack or cigarettes, don't drink, don't get knocked up at age 15. Do eat nutritious food, exercise moderately, rest, and listen to the advice of a doctor. To decrease infant mortality, don't sleep with your child, keep them away from violent people, feed them regularly and heed the advice of a pediatrician. And if you can't do that, give them up for adoption. If any of my suggestions hadn't already dawned on you, keep your pants on.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Death by Boyfriend Frustration

"Two 2-year-old boys have died in Racine in the past 18 months, possibly because their mother's boyfriends didn't know how to appropriately deal with the frustration of parenting a toddler." This is the first sentence of a JT article on March 22nd.

For the record, the toddlers didn't die from "boyfriend frustration." They died from suffocation and massive internal injuries, respectively, after being tied up and punched repeatedly, again respectively.

The article's subtitle seemingly is an attempted public service announcement of sorts. It reads: "Remember: when 2-year-olds act out, its normal".

So, apparently, is murdering them.

What Freedom?

I have been away for a while, in Hawaii to be exact. I haven't given much thought to politics lately. Anyway, we had a few hours to kill in the Honolulu airport, so we (me, wife, son) decided to have lunch. My wife breaks out a mini game of checkers and begins to set up the game. Suddenly our waitress hurries over and tells us that we can't play the game. I thought she was kidding, then I realized she wasn't. There is a law that forbids cards and other games at establishments where alcohol is served. The law is attempting to prevent gambling.

"Well, it used to be a free country" I said to my son, only half joking. So in an act of defiance, with the number one gambling event of the year (NCAA basketball tournament) on the TV, my son and I played a spirited game of rock, paper, scissors, for cold, hard cash.

I hate to teach my son to disrespect the law, but there is nothing whatsoever to respect about prohibition on checkers or Go Fish. I think it is only going to get worse.

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's For the Children

Want some insight into our local teachers union? Read this article from the JT.

Just days after a RUSD teacher was arrested for paying a child for sex, the teachers union sent this message to teachers: "Member reporting to administrators is typically not an appropriate course of action and can result in legal problems for the individuals making such reports" .... and "If teachers make comments to administrators (or to anyone else for that matter) that interfere with another teachers income or their performance evaluation, the teacher making such comments can be held liable. This is true EVEN IF THE INFORMATION IS ACCURATE." Caps were my emphasis.

So there you have it folks. Teachers are being threatened by their own union not to report TRUE information about teachers who are not performing on the job.

The good news here is that at least one teacher was disgusted enough to report this to the Journal Times. Given the evident bullying nature of the union, it is hardly surprising that the teacher did so anonymously.

The article goes on to include excuses by union members such as "we want to make sure when people say things, they fully understand there's implications" and "the newsletter was not supposed to discourage teachers from filing reports" but that the reports include "the facts and nothing but the facts" etc.... Note that these excuses directly contradict the actual words from the teachers union.

Anyway, not to worry. It's for the children.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quote of the Day

"If one person has a right to something he did not earn, of necessity it requires that another person not have a right to something that he did earn."

I love this quote from Walter Williams in a recent article entitled "Is health care a right?" You can read the article here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Musings on Property Taxes

Property taxes are quite a popular revenue source for politicians. The main reason is that it is rather unlikely that anyone will remove their property from a high tax area. The property and the taxpayer are quite literally stuck. As property tax rates increase, (Racine's property tax rate is 50% higher in Racine than in Wind Point-full disclosure- I own property in both locations) property owners calibrate their investments accordingly. The higher the taxes go relative to other communities, and if all other factors remain equal, the greater the likelihood that people will want to sell their homes and move to lower tax areas. With more people wanting to sell than wanting to buy, naturally there will be downward pressure on the price of property. High taxes actually steal value from homeowners. Another way to react to high property taxes is to gradually allow a property to deteriorate, lowering its value and the tax obligation. For some homes in some areas, years of deterioration renders a home more trouble than it is worth and the owner just walks away. In these situations, government policy has contributed to the end result of a home having zero value. So now the city ends up with the property and has a decision to make, raze or build. Lately the city has been getting more and more involved in the real estate business. The city plans to rebuild these homes with taxpayer money. Then they want to use more taxpayer money to get low income folks to "buy" the homes. I put "buy" in quotes because they are not really buying the home. Rather, they are minority investors in the highly risky sub prime real estate investment. The other investors are you the taxpayer who will be holding the bag when the new owners inevitably default on their obligations. Sorry, you don't get to default on your obligation to subsidize their home "purchase." Racine has been doing this kind of nonsense for years such that now much of the wealth has left Racine. There are fewer and fewer Racine folks to milk for these programs so now we go to the feds for help. Is it any wonder so many of our cities are such a mess?

Monday, March 08, 2010

An Artful Dodge

I went to Russ Feingold's listening session on Friday and was chosen to ask the first question. I stumbled a bit but I think got my point across. I noted that in order to sell the health care bill, the Obama administration had used 10 years of tax revenue but only 6 years of benefits payouts. I noted that, as a business owner, if I were to seek investors using 10 years of sales projections but only 6 years of expenses, I would be defrauding investors and would likely go to jail. You can go to Fred Dooley's site, Real Debate Wisconsin to see Feingold's non answer.

So criminal activity for you and I is business as usual in Washington. Hope and change.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Flipping Crazy

Does Mayor Dickert really think the city will succeed in flipping houses, in dicey neighborhoods, with union labor, in a crummy housing market, while selling to first time homeowners? On what basis? Certainly not past performance by the city.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Question for Liberals

Many folks, myself included, are concerned about big political spenders and their influence on our representatives. Bribery of the legal and illegal variety abounds. The problem exists on either side of the political divide though the clients may differ.

I suspect that just about everyone will agree with the sentiment expressed in the preceding paragraph. Now for some partisanship.

I can't fathom having a political philosophy that espouses bigger government given the rampant problem of legislation for sale to the highest bidder. If legal and illegal bribery is a huge problem, and none of our representatives out the criminals or aggressive influence purchasers, (when was the last time a pol contacted the FBI, set up a sting etc.... ) then don't we have a symbiotic relationship between big interests and our elected representatives? On what basis then should we hand over more power and authority to folks that we suspect are corrupt?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Inconvenient News Wished Away

Al Gore is back unflinchingly addressing recent inconvenient news about global warming.

"In addition, e-mail messages stolen from the University of East Anglia in Britain showed that scientists besieged by an onslaught of hostile, make-work demands from climate skeptics may not have adequately followed the requirements of the British freedom of information law."

Yes folks, this is all that Al had to say about the e-mails from East Anglia. Some scientists harassed by skeptics just might have inadequately "followed the requirements of the British freedom of information law."

Al's entire essay is called "We can't Wish Away Climate Change" and can be found at the New York Times.

We can't wish away climate change but we CAN wish away substantive challenges to climate change orthodoxy.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Have a Cow

Mayor Dickert is just the latest of folks who mistakenly elevate the importance of home ownership. Home ownership is definitely correlated with good stuff like reduced crime. Study after study is cited to prove the correlation. The mistake is to conclude that government should try to see to it that people should own homes. I think I can best make this argument via example.

I have an idea that is way better than home ownership. Cow ownership. Cows are cheaper than homes so government subsidy or outright purchase of cows for Racine residents will save lots of money.

Let us consider cow owners. I have no study to cite, but I suspect that cow owners break the law (with the possible exception of bestiality) at a lower rate than your average homeowner, not to mention renters. Cow owners have jobs and work longer hours than the public at large. Compared to non-cow owners, cow owners tend to stay in the same home for several generations in a row, adding stability to cow owning neighborhoods. Cow owners do well in school, have jobs, don't commit crimes, all while owning homes. I am sure there are other societal benefits to cow ownership that I haven't even considered, oh like milk. Can a house feed a family?

Let's face it. Cow ownership is much better for society than home ownership. But even if you are skeptical, realize that cow owners also own homes. So if your goal is home ownership for Racine residents, it will be far wiser and cheaper to buy a cow for every Racine resident. Then sit back and watch the unemployment and crime rates drop to zero, while the graduation and home ownership rates climb towards 100%.

Levie's Revenge?

There is an interesting article at the Racine Post concerning a policy proposal dealing with police/student interaction.

A Horlick social studies teacher named Al Levie was arrested a few years back for obstructing a police officer who wanted to question one of Levie's students. Levie fought the charges, won, then lost on appeal.

A previous Racine Post article quoted Levie on the incident. "This is an incident between the union and the administration" and "I'll have input into that issue" and "We as a district have to decide how we'll use police in the schools." The Racine Post also notes that Levie indicated that he "would start a discussion within Unified about the role of police in schools."

Now the recent Racine Post doesn't indicate whether this policy proposal was initiated by Levie, but Levie's own words suggest that he would initiate a Racine Unified policy response. As the president of Racine Horlicks teachers union, he would have every opportunity to do so.

The question before Racine Unified is whether to allow a radical teacher with a conflict of interest to determine RUSD policy. Al Levie is known to actively support in state tuition for people who illegally reside in the State of Wisconsin, a policy change that would favor lawbreakers over legal citizens from other states.. Additionally, he organizes his students to support this and other political objectives.

One response by Unified to this incident is the one possibly authored by Al Levie. Another would be to issue a set of guidelines for firing teachers who break the law at our public schools.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shotgun Bipartisanship

A man approached me in the street and said he wanted my wallet.

Go %$#@! yourself, I said.

"Look, this negotiation will be more pleasant and productive if you don't force me to use my gun" said the man.

If you haven't already guessed, the preceding incident never happened. As it happens, I was thinking about President Obama's supposed bipartisan health care summit with Republicans. The president is bringing a gun to the negotiations. That gun is reconciliation, a procedural maneuver never before used to enact major legislation. To be sure, it is a concealed gun, the cameras won't see it and the newsies won't mention it, but everyone in the room will know it's there. If the Republicans don't act in good faith, ie handing over their wallets, and yours, then Obama et al will pull out the rec. This is not a negotiation. It is a political mugging.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Discriminating Thoughts

Some Carthage students attempted to prevent a speech on campus because, in their view, the speaker opposes homosexuality. The Carthage administration has, wisely IMHO, decided to allow the speech. Some Carthage students are protesting, claiming discrimination.

I am not weighing in here on the morality of homosexuality. Rather, I find it disturbing that large numbers of college students are unable to recognize the difference between disagreement and discrimination.

Free Racine readers who disagree with may assessment will be banned as I will not be discriminated against by the likes of you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Joke of the Day

A debate on stem cell research at Kay's Blue Racine included the following exchange:

Sean: Is a brain dead 80 year old's life as valuable as that of a vibrant 25 year old mother?

Nemo: Your 80 year old person example is strange. Is a brain dead person less of a person? Well, yes. A Brain dead person is dead. Dead people are not human...unless you count the President's "corpse-men" helping in Haiti...

Economic Effrontery

I watched President Obama's press conference today, the one year anniversary of TARP/The Recovery Act. TARP has created or saved some millions of jobs he said, and if you don't believe him, ask Will the windowmaker who had to start a second shift at his factory. Or ask Rob the roadbuilder who had to hire two new engineers. Or Sally the schoolteacher. You get the idea.

I don't know whether to be embarrassed for the president or insulted by him. Does the president really think these are persuasive arguments or does he just think we are stupid?

No mention was made about where the money came from to enrich Will, Rob and Sally. The money of course comes from borrowing and thus has to be paid off some day by Holly the hypothetical hygienist and Elsa the eventual electrician.

Now it may be that TARP was a huge success. But to make that claim, you need to acknowledge that the money borrowed from some to enrich others has been or will be worth the tradeoff. And supportive evidence would be nice. But instead the president just pretends that anything that has helped Will, Rob and Sally must be self evidently good.

I don't think President Obama is economically illiterate. I think he is just trying to pull one over on Americans.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On Group Speech

The recent Supreme Court decision concerning corporate speech has liberals up in arms. "Corporations are not people" is the bumper sticker phrase that is used as a substitute for a substantive argument on the issue.

True enough, corporations are not people. But then again, lots of things are not people. Newspapers are not people. Unions are not people. The Chamber of Commerce is not a person. Neither is the PTA, the Republican Party, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Planned Parenthood.... you get the idea.

Do liberals really think that only individuals should have the right to affect elections and or policy decisions via advertisements or campaign contributions? Or is it OK that some groupings of people, such as those who own newspapers, have the right to try to sway public opinion, but that other groupings of people, such as those who own a technology company, have no such right? If so, which groupings of people have rights and which ones don't, and who decides?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Council Vote Theory

I have been away for a while and was unable to comment on the church/conditional use permit vote in the city council. For starters, they voted correctly in my view, and the vote was nearly unanimous. Of most interest to me was the vote of Alderman Greg Helding who just a day earlier was the spokesman for the city's position - throw the church to the curb, we've got better ideas. But when it came time to vote, Helding voted against his own stated position and the position of the economic development committee.

So what happened? Were Helding et al persuaded by the speakers during the public comment period? Are we witnessing a shift in principles away from government edicts and towards greater economic freedom? Was the council feeling pressure from media sources outside the area?

My own theory is that there is no shift in principles. The council responded to pressure and pressure only, as they always do. Nothing has changed. If they can get away with it the next time, they will.

Of course Greg Helding and the other aldermen may use this forum to offer an alternative explanation for the about face.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Church Gets Conditionally Screwed

Racine's City Plan Commission has voted to deny the New Life Christian Fellowship Church a conditional use permit; a move that, if approved by the full city council, would force the church to relocate from their present location.

As readers are certainly aware, cities accross the country have zoning laws. These laws are intended to allow cities the ability to designate certain areas for certain purposes. Racine has such laws on the books. However, a few years ago, under the leadership of former Mayor Becker, Racine passed a law requiring that businesses, churches, etc... get a conditional use permit. The full city council ultimately decides the issue.

The problem with the conditional use permit requirement is that in effect nullifies existing zoning law, at least that is how I see it, though I am not a lawyer. Alderman Helding more or less acknowledges as much. How so? Well, the City Plan Comission also recommends a "120 day moratorium on any new occupancy permits requested by noncommercial uses in commercially zoned areas," a move that would allow the city to "tune up" city zoning laws, according to Alderman Helding. Tuning up a law is just another way of saying that they intend to change the zoning law that presently exists so that the New Life Christian Church may be legally denied the use of their property.

I placed a call to the city attorneys office, hoping to learn whether the location in question is presently zoned for churches. No answer and I left no message but I will keep trying.

If anyone wishes to weigh in on this subject, you may do so tommorrow at city hall at 7 pm.

UPDATE: I talked to Matt Sadowski at the City Development Office today. If I understood him correctly, the city passed an ordinance pertaining to many of Racine's business districts, including the one in question. Under the ordinance, any change of use of a property could trigger the requirement of a conditional use permit. From the sounds of it, the ordinance transfers considerable power to the city development director Brian O'Connell, who may also waive the requirement.

My opinion is that this ordinance allows the city to repeal or enforce zoning laws arbitrarily. One reason to have laws is so that people can reasonably expect consistent treatment. So now, in addition to business plans, rental agreements and so on, add political favor to the list of requirements to opening a business. This ordinance needs to be repealed.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Joke of the Day

Question: Why does President Obama favor high speed rail?

Answer: Because the road to serfdom is too slow.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Obama Forgives

I was listening to President Obama propose things other than a takeover of the health care industry today. If I heard him correctly, he was proposing student loan debt forgiveness for some college graduates who choose to work in public service.

The first thing to realize is that nobody in their right mind would lend money under these circumstances. So, if it hasn't happened already, the student loan business will be taken over by the government. Or, to put it another way, taxpayers will be forced to provide forgiveable loans, or grants, to the art history majors who can't cut it in the real world.

I am also bothered by the bias in favor of public service employees, by which I suppose he means government employees. Does President Obama think that government employees are the only ones that serve the public?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lesson for Sean

I have been reading Kays Blue Racine lately, mostly to enjoy the hilarious explanations for the defeat in Massachusetts. One of her regulars, Sean Cranley, is especially unglued. He asked me, in a most childish manner, to offer my solution to the health care problems that we face. I gave a wise ass answer that you can read yourself if you like. I have link to her site on the right of this blog.

Anyway, I did begin to wonder how to explain my position to someone with such limited mental faculties. It is a real dilemma. Imagine trying to teach Calculus to someone who can't add and who thinks math and math teachers are evil. Not an easy task.

Step one needs to be a discussion about zero sum and positive sum transactions. A zero sum transaction is where one party benefits at the expense of another. A positive sum transaction is where both parties benefit.

Example of a positive sum transaction: Sean has two bicycles and I have two computers. We trade freely, I get one of his bicycles and he gets one of my computers. We are both better off, ie wealthier. Wealth has been created.

Example of a zero sum transaction: Sean steals my computer. Sean is wealthier by the amount of the value of the computer, while I am poorer by the same amount. This is a zero sum transaction. The total value of the transaction is zero. No wealth is created.

The problem with Sean is that he mistakenly thinks that mutually agreeable transactions (ie free trade/capitalism etc...) is an example of a zero sum game. The greedy business, stealing or exploiting etc..., gains at the expense of the consumer. He is wrong. The transactions are not forced on anyone, they are freely made by both parties for the purpose of mutual gain.

Another problem Sean has is an inexplicable faith that government, so long as it is run by liberals, is engaged in positive sum activity. Tax the productive, give to the needy and all will be well. To most thinking people, this more closely resembles a zero sum transaction. When you take from one person and give to another, one gains at the expense of the other, ie a zero sum.

So Sean has it exactly backwards. Until he gets lesson one, it will be impossible to proceed further. You can't teach Calculus to a person who can't add, hates math, and hates the teacher. Good luck Sean!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On Cancer and Islam

I attend a philosophy club meeting on Wednesdays. During the past two weeks I heard the same argument from two different people. We were discussing the treatment of women in Islamic countries and the argument went something like this: There is a much lower incidence of cancer among these women, this can be attributed to the reduced amount of stress because they are not working/competing in the labor market, so we should not presume that women are treated badly in Islamic countries.

I have a few problems with this argument. It assumes that stress is the primary cause of cancer. As an aside, I am a bit horrified to learn that this argument came from a person working at a cancer treatment center. Take some radiation, quit your job, call me in the morning. Another problem I have is the willingness to overlook mistreatment, so long as the mistreated don't get cancer. Suppose the incidence of cancer were found to be lower among the slave population in the south. Would we then have to conclude that slavery is OK and who are we to question another culture?

On Correlation and Crime

Alderman Wisneski thinks there is a correlation between alcohol sold at restaurants and crime. Maybe so, but I suspect the correlation is rather weak. On the other hand, I think there is a much stronger correlation between the following, and crime:

1. Being a male.
2. Being young, say between the ages of 15 and 35.
3. Being black.

Perhaps Alderman Wisneski, if he wants to be consistent, will propose punitive measures on the young, males, and black people who want to move into Racine.

I guess it is somehow OK to profile restaurant patrons but not OK to profile those people more strongly correlated with crime. A better idea in my view would be to get tough on the people with a 1 to 1 correlation with crime, ie criminals.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On Correlation, unemployment

Want to open a restaurant in Racine? Before doing so, understand that our elected officials think you will be contributing to Racine's crime problem in doing so. So to dampen your entreprenurial ambitions, and to counteract the harm you will bring to our community, they will tax you $10,000.

The issue here is liquor licenses. The city voted last night to reintroduce the $10,000 tax, or more accurately, to discontinue the $9,500 rebate that they had been issuing for the licenses.

According to a brief JT article, Alderman Aron Wisneski said it will help the city in that "people say the crime rate is too high and there is a direct correlation between alcohol and crime."

There may well be a correlation between alcohol and crime and if so, then there is also a correlation between criminals and alcohol consumption. Since alcohol will still be sold in Racine, criminals who wish to drink before their crime binges will still have every opportunity to do so. Reducing criminal activity will be accomplished by locking up criminals, not by discouraging business start ups with oppressive taxes.

On a positive note, it is good that Alderman Wisneski is interested in correlation. My suggestion would be to look into any correlation between policies that discourage entrepreneurship and unemployment rates.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Walden Outreach

Yesterday I met an impressive young lady from Walden High School. We had a conversation about Walden, my blog, my interactions with Walden students, political activism, etc... Our conversation was a bit disjointed because I was simultaneously trying to help other customers. But I realize that I need to clarify my thoughts on all things Walden, so here goes.

Walden students who read this should know that generalizations about Walden students are just that, generalizations, and therefore may or may not apply to a particular individual. Additionally, my opinions about Walden students have been influenced primarily by those most active in environmental politics. As such, I realize that my opinions have been influenced by a skewed sampling. Indeed, perhaps it is only a handful of Walden students who have influenced my views.

Moving on, I recognize that Walden students have the highest test scores among Racine's public schools. Given the dismal state of RUSD, this should be, and is, accomplished year after year.

Frequent readers of this blog have probably picked up on a general attitude towards elites. Generally I am not impressed. I find young elites to be among the most insufferable people on earth. By elites I mean people who behave as though they are so smart or accomplished and that because of their superiority they ought to have control over society's riff raff. I don't think that the most accomplished adult in the world should hold such an attitude, so naturally, children or young adults, with even fewer accomplishments, ought not to think they are bright enough to rule over others. Sadly, it seems Walden is something of a breeding ground for this type of elitism.

The only reason Walden students have come to my attention is because they have entered into the political fray. And they have entered it in such a way that I am concerned about the education that they are receiving. Invariably, young activists will claim that their activism has in no way been influenced by adults. I find this claim highly implausible. Inevitably, when weighing in on issues that divide us politically, our local youth activists always advocate for the leftist causes. If there was no influence by adults, the activism would more likely reflect the actual divide in our country, ie a more even split along liberal/conservative lines. My conclusion is that these students are unwitting victims of indoctrination. I don't blame them for this sad state of affairs, I blame the adults who are indoctrinating them.

So my mission is to help these students. I do so by challenging them concerning their activism. I understand that this does not always sit well with students, and that my approach or style might be a bit too combative at times. I have no interest in coddling students, nor do I want to provide an unwarrated boost to their self esteem. I will leave that to others. Rather, I think I can provide a service by challenging some of their beliefs. This is what good teachers should do.

The young lady I spoke to yesterday mentioned that the Walden student activists considered inviting me to one of their meetings. I would most definitely accept such an invitation if offered. I don't consider Walden students enemies in any way, shape, or form. I would thoroughly enjoy an opportunity to discuss differences of opinion on environmentalism, global warming, education, activism etc... with Walden students.