Thursday, June 9, 2011

Breaking the furniture - and the emergence of the psychopaths

In their hasty effort to do as much damage as possible before the end of the fiscal year, Repubs are really throwing stuff around, wreaking havoc, breaking all the furniture just in case anyone thought there was any part of our political culture and the state's well-being beyond their reach.

Really, I go away for a couple of days and look what happens.

The damage is mounting. Among my favorites: in yet another giveaway of public funds and employment to the private sector, the Repubs intend to ORDER, ORDER, mind you, counties and local governments to outsource road-building projects if they cost more than $100,000.

Good job, roadbuilders that contributed to Walker's campaign. You already got rid of high-speed rail, now you get this. Pretty good payback!!

These Repubs deceptively argue that they want to shrink government and save taxpayer money, but outsourcing schemes almost never do that. They end up costing us more because you hand what is public work without profit to companies only in existence to make profit - and they will drive up costs whenever they can get away with it, whereas public agencies will try to drive down costs to stay within budgets.

Get the difference?

Yea, and then the Repubs also voted to make government less transparent, creating new barriers to get access to financial disclosure forms of public officials, info that might indicate, among other things, conflicts of interest. If you just put these two things together - the outsourcing and the barriers on access to info - you could almost get the feeling that, as these guys hand out contracts, tax credits and subsidies to the private sector, there are things about these transactions that they don't want you to know.

Repub Robin Vos says he fears that he could suffer a disadvantage in his popcorn business if competitors had access to financial info. His popcorn business.  That's what he said. I wish I was making that up.

The Repubs are also going to void a program that allowed early release of prisoners based on good behavior or for health reasons. Dems passed it in 2009, but this kind of thing rankles the tough-on-crime crowd.  They want punishment, man, no matter what it costs. From the newspaper article:
Republicans say higher spending on prisons is justified, saying a prison building boom in Wisconsin in the 1990s has helped lower crime rates since then. Democrats counter that states with lower incarceration rates saw similar drops in crime rates.
Repubs love being tough on crime, even when their toughness doesn't actually have an impact on crime. For this, there's always money in the budget. Always funds in the budget to pay out private contractors to build more prisons. They'd like the private sector to staff them, too.

How 'bout this one: giving a $150,000 exemption from state sales tax for snow-making and grooming equipment for ski slopes and trails. How many jobs does this create? And who in the world lobbied for this?

But then there's my all-time favorite. I mean, from more than one person in recent weeks, I heard the comment, "What's next, child labor?"

Ha ha!! that's funny.

So, here's the most important furniture of all, our kids. The Repubs want to end a protection that prohibits kids under age 18 from working more than 40 hours or 6 days per week. Stunning. We're trying to keep kids in school, trying to keep their attention on learning, right? How in the world can a high school kid learn working 40 hours a week, and now these guys want to eliminate even that limit?

Okay, you know, the list is long, and a lot of this policy stuff got thrown in after the debates, after the committee work, sneaking stuff in at the last minute. We have learned that this is how these guys operate, not good for the prospects of our democracy.

So, what about those psychopaths in my headline? I didn't come up with that, a psychotherapist did. A friend sent me this article that appeared on CommonDreams, The Rise of the Second-String Psychopaths, by David Schwartz.  So, you know, tell me if it reminds you of anyone.

So expectations are that things will really heat up in Madison over the coming days. Lots of folks are pretty upset at what's happening to our state and are ready to make their voices heard as our legislature, now in the hands of the these psyh..., I mean, rightist Repubs prepare to put all this and more into effect, and let the chips fall where they may.  I think Schwartz got it exactly right.

From David Schwartz:
It is no secret that the Koch brothers and others of the super-rich seem to have undertaken a final push to consolidate control through the conversion of a marginally democratic to an essentially fascist state; extreme right-wing, authoritarian, and demagogic. This kind of government is ideal for control of a populace by the moneyed elite. To carry this out requires the employment of many ‘kept’ politicians to excite and misdirect scared and angry – and ignorant – voters. Lest the citizenry realize who stole their money and storm their castles with torches, the rapacious elite need politicians who will carry out the work of re-directing anger at teachers, or labor unions, or the poor.
 And this: 
They seem to be unaffected by the feelings of others, including feelings of distress caused by their actions. Straying from a decent way of treating people, or violating ethical codes causes no anxiety, the anxiety which is what causes the rest of us to moderate our more greedy impulses. If most children feel anxiety when they are pilfering the forbidden cookie jar, psychopaths feel just fine. They can devour the cookies, shatter the jar as evidence and stuff it in the trash can. When accused, they can argue with apparent sincerity that the cookie jar has been missing for at least a week. There suffer no remorse, no guilt, no shame. They are free to do anything, no matter how harmful.
 Yup, they can storm through the house and break all the furniture, and they could not care less.

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