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Bad Ideas

The Lingering Problem of Local Exceptionalism

A common error in small rural communities is the persistent, false claim that local officials are examples of a local exceptionalism that makes them implicitly immune from the flaws and mistakes that beset the rest of humanity. Under this thinking, while there may be problems in the wider world, there are no local examples of…

The Janesville Gazette‘s Time-Share Stage of Decline

A nearby newspaper, the Janesville Gazette, part of an out-of-state chain (APG) owned by a family that made billions in billboard advertising, recently tried to position half-off advertising as a ‘community grant‘ program. See That’s Not a ‘Community Grant’ – It’s Half-Off Advertising. It’s an old – often true – adage that bad goes to…

Boosterism, ’30s Style

Although the Roosevelt Administration was (whatever its other mistakes) candid about the economic conditions it faced, there was in the ’30s, as there has been over the 2010s in Wisconsin, a delusional impulse to happy talk – regardless of economic conditions – among some politicians and some business groups. Margaret Bourke-White‘s Kentucky Flood depicts the…

More Deaths, No Benefit from Anti-Malaria Drug That Trump Pushed

A malaria drug widely touted by President Donald Trump for treating the new coronavirus showed no benefit in a large analysis of its use in U.S. veterans hospitals. There were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, researchers reported. The nationwide study was not a rigorous experiment. But with 368 patients, it’s the…

Foxconn’s ‘Innovation’ Centers: Still Empty a Year Later

 Over at the national tech website The Verge, Nilay Patel reminds that a year later, Foxconn has still done nothing with the ‘innovation’ centers that foreign corporation promised it would open around the state. They’re still empty:    See FOXCONN’S BUILDINGS IN WISCONSIN ARE STILL EMPTY, ONE YEAR LATER. In Whitewater, the ‘Greater Whitewater’ Committee…

If Vos & Fitzgerald Read More, and Spoke Less

So Speaker Vos and Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald want Gov. Evers to allow an exception to the Safer at Home order for Easter Sunday services. (They’ve also included Passover in their request, but they’re either too ignorant or too dishonest to concede that Passover is commemorated traditionally in a home setting. It’s obviously a certain…

An Empty-Headed Man’s Next Gig

Updated with a longer – and so more revealing – video of Kushner’s vapidity. When Jared Kushner is finished impairing America’s response to a pandemic, he’ll need something else to do. Wisconsin still has the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and in small Wisconsin towns like Whitewater one finds development hucksters, business leagues of landlords &…

Declines, Recessions, and Rhetoric

While yesterday was a bad day for the financial markets, it’s the underlying – and troubling – fundamental condition of the economy that matters far more. Places like Whitewater, that adopted business special interests’ “if-you-build-it-they-will-come” approach despite increasing poverty and stagnation in household and individual incomes, are especially vulnerable to a downturn. Market Declines. Steven…

Miscellany on Development Policy in Whitewater

There’s a significant difference between local, political calls for urgency and genuine need. Recent discussions about development policy in Whitewater only bolster this view. A few remarks (as I’ve been asked more than once what I think of the last two months’ events) — Independence. The best decision one could make when writing about policy…

Do Yorkshire Terriers Dream of Being Wolves?

Perhaps Yorkshire terriers dream each night of being ferocious wolves.  If that should be so, and if even tiny dogs imagine themselves as mighty predators, then there may be a natural explanation – in animals and people – for the yearning of smarmy local development men for gigantic corporate welfare schemes. Of those men and…

A Reminder About Opportunity Zones: Bad Policy Flacked Locally

Those following what passes for economic policy in Whitewater know that this website has been rightly critical of the economic opportunity zones that were part of Trump’s tax bill. See About that Trump Tax Bill, More About that Trump Tax Bill, and The Trump Tax Bill: That’s Not Reform. Jenny Schuetz, commenting on part of Trump’s…