Monday, November 25, 2013

Right Before Our Eyes

Interesting report on what's before our eyes. As the country argues over the relative merits of progressive vs regressive (i.e. Tea Party) visions, there's actually a side by side set of laboratories in which the two divergent approaches have been playing out. Rather than speculate, prevaricate, and gesticulate, we have only to look at the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The former has an uber-teabagger governor and a right wing legislature, and has implemented spending cuts, demonized unions, stopped paying for infrastructure, cut spending on schools by 15%; the whole ball o'wax. Bag o' tea. The latter has a progressive governor and legislature, has implemented targeted tax increases to pay for those things abandoned in Wisconsin. Guess which state is seeing significant job growth and economic expansion. Here's an article by a poli-sci professor that addresses, and answers, that very question:

... A month after Mr. Walker’s inauguration in January 2011, he catapulted himself to the front ranks of national conservative leaders with attacks on the collective bargaining rights of Civil Service unions and sharp reductions in taxes and spending. Once Mr. Dayton teamed up with a Democratic Legislature in 2012, Minnesota adopted some of the most progressive policies in the country. 
Minnesota raised taxes by $2.1 billion, the largest increase in recent state history. Democrats introduced the fourth highest income tax bracket in the country and targeted the top 1 percent of earners to pay 62 percent of the new taxes, according to the Department of Revenue. 
Which side of the experiment — the new right or modern progressivism — has been most effective in increasing jobs and improving business opportunities, not to mention living conditions?... 
... Three years into Mr. Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000. Wisconsin ranks 34th for job growth. Mr. Walker’s defenders blame the higher spending and taxes of his Democratic predecessor for these disappointments, but according to Forbes’s annual list of best states for business, Wisconsin continues to rank in the bottom half.
Along with California, Minnesota is the fifth fastest growing state economy, with private-sector job growth exceeding pre-recession levels. Forbes rates Minnesota as the eighth best state for business...
[California, by the way, mentioned above, has a D governor and legislature, too; and they've managed to balance their budget and get the economy growing after years of R deficits and stagnation.]

There's lots of supporting info in the article, well worth a read. None of this is really surprising, since such experiments have been done time and again, on the national and state level, always with the same results. And yet, we remain divided pretty much down the middle; and the advocates of Wisconsin-type austerity and draconian cuts to their future are in Congress in great enough numbers to block a progressive -- and effective -- agenda.

So, in yet another context, one must ask: at what point will the Tea Party people who elect these regressive legislators who push a pre-failed agenda stop and look at the evidence? There's no mystery as to what works. The only mystery is why so many people who'd benefit from progressive legislation refuse, or are unable, to see it. And yet again we see the real reason for teabaggRs' devotion to destroying public education: the more people know, the more they learn to think, the more likely it is that they'd figure it out. And they might even recognize how they're being played for fools by Fox "news" and the Rushosavbeckian scream machine.

[Image source]

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