20081122

An example to be emulated

If it works in a car centric place like Charlotte, NC; it can work in Milwaukee.

Reconnecting America's Jeff Wood presents a slide show about Charlotte's transit system

Slideshow

20081120

International monetary policy -- thinking out of the box.

One of the problems that contributed to the Great Depression was a breakdown in international trade. One boost to international trade, as shown in the Euro zone, is a shared currency and the elimination of exchange rates. One achievable possibility would be to synchronize monetary policy between the Euro, Canadian Dollar, US Dollar and the Yen. I.E. 1 Greenback = 1 Loony = 1 Euro = 100 Yen.

This would increase trade between the participants and build a exchange rate free trade zone among relative equal nations.

Recent world events have shown us that our economies are truly closely linked. The myth of separateness is refuted by the daily interactions between our stock markets, exchange rates, and banks.

Auto Makers

20081118

The talk show unfairness doctrine.

Bruce Murphy throws rhetorical punches at Sykes in his recent posting on MilwaukeeMagazine.com.

Sykes doesn’t directly address or deny that conservative talk radio hosts
(1) perpetuate the notion that listeners are victims and the host is the vehicle by which they are empowered;
(2) use an us-versus-them approach that regularly targets Democrats, “Republicans in Name Only” and the mainstream media;
(3) refuse to do an even-handed discussion of issues;
(4) belittle callers when the argument can’t be won on the merits;
(5) strategically find occasions to disagree with the Republican leaders or conservative doctrine to give the impression of being an independent thinker;
(6) won’t risk their credibility by backing a Republican candidate who has no chance of winning;
(7) rely on the “you know what would happen if this was a liberal” line of attack;
(8) use the “pre-emptive strike” to immediately accuse the media of overplaying a budding news story that might make conservatives look bad;
(9) selectively use facts to support their position and ignore any that don’t; (10) pound away on an issue, hour after hour, day after day, to motivate listeners to contact their public officials in support of a particular policy;
(11) use a double standard on such issues as the line-item veto, perjury and activist judges (all three are great if they help Republicans or conservatives, but bad if used in support of Democrats).

More evidence that Milwaukee's anti-rail talking heads are wrong.

This You-Tube video was posted to The Overhead Wire.


20080918

The laissez-faire meltdown.

Look at our economic history. The regulatory regime put in under FDRs New Deal managed to smooth out the boom and bust cycle that plagued the U.S. economy in the century prior to the 1930s. The post FDR America had recessions rather than depressions. The economic cycle of boom and bust that ravaged this country between the civil war and the great depression was tamed by regulatory oversight of both Wall Street and the banking industry.

In the 1980s and 1990s a rabble of post-Reagan economic ideologues emerged from the right wing of the Republican Party. These self proclaimed Neo-Conservatives or ‘Neocons,’ sought the dismantling of FDR’s regulatory regime and a return of America to laissez-faire policies.

The Neocons apparently snoozed through history class during the lecture on the “Gilded Age,” an often glossed over period in American History; a time when laissez-faire economics so destabilized American society as to cause labor revolts and wild swings in the economy. The social, economic and political disruption was so extensive as it nearly destroyed the system of capitalism in the United States and contributed to the rise of the Bolsheviks in Europe. We did that laissez-faire experiment and it proved disastrous.

A country dominated by large unregulated monopolies is little different from a country where the state is the monopoly. Be it Corporatists or Communists; the centralized control of the populous by a corporate elite or a single political party, inevitably tends to drive countries down the path toward endless war (cold or hot) and suppression of both political and economic freedom.

Unregulated capitalism tends to destroy itself. Market capitalism works best when many independent producers and providers of goods and services, openly compete. Thus unregulated, laissez-faire capitalism, which allows the aggregation of capital, political, and economic power into the hands of the few, is destructive of the system that spawns it. Regulation is necessary.

The regulation of large business, when properly done, is good for small business. Small business can be defined as places where the owners work side by side with the workers. Somehow the Neocons managed to cleave small business people, independent consultants, entrepreneurs, and the working middle class away from progressive politics. They have successfully propagandized the idea that what is bad for the large corporation is bad for anyone seeking economic improvement. The Neocon economic illusions build on cheap energy and cheap labor, forces us now to drive past the abandoned row of walking distance neighborhood owned stores, the few cents saved at the big box alternatives taken away by declining wages and rising fuel prices. Big box stores suck the oxygen out of small town business districts and neighborhood commercial strips.

For workers, economic diversity allows many places where talent can be plied and provides many opportunities for self-improvement. Economic diversity, allows social mobility, monopoly, locks workers in. Access to education and capital allows the big brewery worker to open a micro brewery, or the big electronics company's young engineer to start a computer company. This is that story of Randy Sprecher and Steve Wosniak. Economic diversity brings opportunity, monopoly brings servitude. The domination of our country by big businesses has transformed the once proud American working class into hamburger flippers and big box store greeters.

The Neocons sold a bill of goods to the American people; they linked Liberty and personal freedom to laissez-faire economic policy. Ironically in the process they managed to strip our country of fundamental Constitutional guarantees such as the right of habeas corpus and judicial review of place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized; making a person’s, houses, papers, effects and self, open to unreasonable searches and seizures at any time or place. History evidences that the maintenance of our national Liberty is more the stead of the small shopkeeper than of the corporate Robber Barron.

Our current economic and political condition, the ill-defined and endless war on terrorism, and the deplorable erosion of our constitutional rights are the product of the Neocons.

Desperate to retain power, they fall back on doublespeak. So now these defenders of the laissez-faire resort to nationalizing lending institutions, suppressing investigation of their VP candidate’s past, and engaging in blatant voter suppression. These are the acts of desperate ideologues, desperate to retain power.

Now is the time for action. Both the Republican Party and the people of the Republic need to break the link to the Neocons. The GOP and McCain by maintaining their link to the Neocons have chained themselves a sinking ship. America needs to repudiate the Neocon philosophy and vote them out, or we, like the GOP, too shall assuredly find ourselves chained to that same sinking ship.

20080911

Palinoccio



"Palin's requests to Congress came at a time of huge federal deficits, while Alaska state revenue was soaring due to rising oil prices and a major tax increase on oil production that Palin signed into law in late 2007."
-- Palin's earmark requests: more per person than any other state

"Palin reduced the state government's requests for special projects this year to 31 earmarks totaling $198 million, about $295 person."
-- Despite cuts, Alaska earmarks still high

"Total 2008 earmark spending for Wisconsin is $182.5 million, or roughly $33 per resident, according to the database."
-- JSonline: Earmark spending has power to divide, unite

20080624

Voter ID - sans card

Nobody likes it when I say voter ID can be done in such a way as to not discourage voting. If the real goal is to insure the legitimacy of the voter, then we could simply take a digital snapshot at the time of registration and put the snapshot, with the registration information into a data base. This can be done with web based software and a laptop.

When you go vote the poll worker would then look you up on the database. If you need to register on site, the poll worker would use a laptop with a cheap USB camera to put your address and image into the database.

No fuss, no hassle, no waiting at the DMV.

The fact that this method is not under consideration speaks volumes about the intent to use voter ID for vote suppression.

20080208

Wisconsin: Forward in Railroad Electrification


Now is the time for Wisconsin to implement bold transportation alternatives. A recent Science Applications International Corporation study publish in November 2007 and entitled Public Transportation’s Contribution to U.S. Greenhouse Gas Reduction said:

“One of the most significant actions that household members can take to reduce their carbon footprint is to use public transportation. Today, 78% of commuters drive to work alone (ranging from 56% in New York State to 85% in Michigan). The annual use of an automobile driving an average of 12,000 miles per year and with an average 22.9 MPG consumption emits 4.6 metric tomes of CO2 per year. Households that have an SUV or light duty truck drive an average of 14,500 miles per year and have an MPG of 16.2 emit 7.9 metric tons per year. The average two wage earner and two vehicle owner household in the U.S. travels almost 24,000 miles per year. Households could reduce their carbon footprint by 25-30% by foregoing a second vehicle and using public transportation when it is available.”

In terms of public policy, electrification of transportation appears to have the potential for the quickest, the most permanent, and the most profound impact with the best ancillary benefits for human health, land use, pollution, and Global Warming. The most effective means of reducing the carbon footprint of mass transit is to use electric powered equipment, with power derived from non fossil fuel sources.

Wisconsin can become a national leader in moving our country back toward a sane transportation policy by upgrading its existing rail infrastructure through a bold public-private initiative. The major impediment to railroad electrification and use of existing rail for public transportation are tax policies that bias railroads against electrification and double track infrastructure.

As an example of a bold proposal, contemplate the ramifications of developing electrification under a state-wide not-for-profit cooperative. This would allow the sharing of construction and maintenance across all of Wisconsin’s railroads including short lines. Building the rail electrification system under the auspices of an open not-for-profit cooperative allows for inter-corporate cooperation under a non government entity that is in keeping with state and federal antitrust legislation.

Wisconsin should offer tax incentives for electrification, putting electrified double track lines on an equal tax footing with single track non electric lines. To preserve the integrity of a state-wide rail electrification program, the resulting electrification infrastructure, maintenance and revenues could be held by the above proposed not-for-profit Wisconsin cooperative. Rail infrastructure owners and operators (I.E participating railroads, regional transit authorities, Amtrak and WISDOT) would constitute the membership. Wisconsin could then offer a state guaranteed “green bonding” program that provides capital for the rail electrification cooperative.

The rail electrification cooperative should be given the right to sell any resulting carbon offsets on the CCX. Rail right-of-ways outside of urban areas should become part of the power generation system with placement of wind turbines at each mile marker. The power derived from these would be metered back to the local electric grid to offset the power used by the trains. The land leases for the power generators’ footprint would then be credited against the hosting railroad’s power consumption. The revenue from any excess power could then be used cover the interest, recover capital costs on the capital bonds, pay for maintenance and fund improvement of the electrification infrastructure.

In keeping with the Progressive Era Wisconsin Idea, the not-for-profit electrification cooperative could work with the University of Wisconsin system to develop means of storing energy so as to make wind power as reliable and constant as power from a power plant. This would help optimize the potential gains of electrification on three fronts by reducing our state’s carbon footprint, reducing our state’s transportation costs, and making us a leader in alternative power generation, storage and distribution.

For the railroads the incentives should be a no-brainer. Electric powered rail equipment is not only environmentally friendly, it can provide service at a higher frequency, and reduced maintenance and operating cost when compared with diesel-electric. Not only would the State of Wisconsin improve the commercial rail freight handling capabilities within the state, but at the same time it would decrease the cost of implementing commuter rail system in the KRM corridor and Madison. It can be a win-win on both the private and public side.

The best of all plans would be to develop a system that can work as part of a broader regional initiative so as to extend electrification to major freight and passenger rail termination points just beyond the state border such as Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul. An aggressive electrification program would not only make the Wisconsin economy more immune to oil price increases, it would propel Wisconsin into being the nucleus for a high-speed, intercity rail system, giving our businesses the market advantage in surrounding markets.

Electrification 101: A 10% Reduction in America's Oil Use in Ten to Twelve Years
Electrification 101: The Cost-Effectiveness of Electric Rail ... Examples from Real-World Experience
Electrification 101: Electrification of Transportation as a Response to Peaking of World Oil Production