April 30, 2012

Milwaukee Courier

Job Loss

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

New numbers released show that Wisconsin lost 4500 jobs in March, even while the rest of the nation slowly overcomes the worst of the Great Recession.  I have to ask myself, with anger and concern in my heart, why is Wisconsin lagging behind other states in job creation?  We could and should be climbing the ladder, but instead we are being left behind.  We have the right people and all the resources we need.  We only lack the leadership necessary to succeed. 

Instead of leading at home, Governor Walker has single-mindedly pursued national celebrity status among the conservative Right’s enthusiastic base.  In recent weeks, Governor Walker has been spending a lot of time out of state, consistently mobbed by adoring fans in places like Oklahoma City.  Clearly, Governor Walker has gained a great deal of support from certain interested outsiders. 

I believe these people, unfamiliar with the divisive, angry atmosphere weighing down public life in our State, respect Walker because he is a fighter.  And what a fighter!  Governor Walker has repeatedly shown willingness, even relish, in stubbornly buckling down and passing bill after bill pandering to the deepest, darkest conservative power fantasies. 

The far-right conservative base Walker has tapped into sees itself as victimized, angry that its way of life and values no longer reflect a sustainable path forward in the modern world. Governor Walker’s base feels threatened in its status as the favored children of America; Walker has shamelessly appealed to their anger and suspicion.   

So, Governor Walker attacked unions and bitterly divided our state.  Then he rejected a grant from the federal government for a high-speed rail connecting Madison and Milwaukee. But why? Because trains are too efficient and environmentally-friendly?  Because low-income Milwaukeeans who can’t afford or don’t desire a car deserve to be ignored?  That backward vision of Wisconsin has nothing to do with our future as an innovative world leader.

Most recently, Governor Walker decided to repeal the Equal Pay Enforcement Law, because God-forbid that women should threaten the profit margins of the businesses and corporations who have discriminated against them.  Supporters of the appeal say the Equal Pay Enforcement Law opened up businesses to frivolous lawsuits, but there is no evidence whatsoever that any frivolous lawsuit ever occurred.

Now, women seeking justice for workplace discrimination will have to use the far more expensive and convoluted federal judicial system.  There was no reason motivating the Governor’s support of the repeal, only fear!  This attack on women’s rights is just one more example of Walker attacking imagined troubles while ignoring the very real economic difficulties that Wisconsin faces going forward.

Now is not the time for Wisconsin to be divided, with one side or another relentlessly pursuing its pet projects at the expense of the greater whole.  Our difficulties are too great to number.  Though it will take time to heal the wounds that Governor Walker’s attacks have caused, the healing will be worth our time.  First, we must restore the public unions’ right to collective bargaining.  After that, we will be faced with more difficult decisions.  Once we begin the process, we can move towards a Wisconsin where the divisive Walker era is a distant memory.  We cannot afford to wait.