FREE WHITEWATER

Marketing

From Festival to Alleged Felony

One now reads – sadly, any normal person might have expected – that the promoter of Jefferson Wisconsin’s shabby Warriors & Wizards festival faces the prospect of felony charges for theft and misrepresentation. See Warriors & Wizards Fest organizer Cramer charged with theft. 1. Unfortunate, All Around.  I’ve been a critic of this festival, and those…

What Can Be Done About Rural Newspapers (Even Though It Probably Won’t Be)?

Yesterday I wrote that Another Local Paper Changes Hands. With the failure of legacy publishing, what are rural communities to do? (Obvious point: FREE WHITEWATER is not an online newspaper – never aspired to be, never will be. This is a website of independent commentary: aligned with no faction, beholden to no faction.) A few…

The Myth of a ‘Backfire Effect’ to Fact Checking

When someone debunks a claim or article through fact-checking,  does doing so generally produce a backfire effect where others commit even more strongly to the debunked notion? No, not generally. Laura Hazard Owen writes The “backfire effect” is mostly a myth, a broad look at the research suggests: The growing stream of reporting on and…

On a Campus with Genuine Hunger, ‘Hungry’ Shouldn’t be a Marketing Tool

One reads in an announcement from Assistant Vice Chancellor Sara Kuhl (that’s her title, truly) that a marketing firm is looking for students’ opinions, and will provide a free lunch or dinner. They’ve got quite the hook: Wanted: Opinionated and hungry students In a place of genuine hunger, with students using an on-campus food pantry,…

The Two Questions that Haunt Old Whitewater

Two questions haunt Old Whitewater (where Old Whitewater is a state of mind rather than an age or a particular person): What does it mean to be a college town? and What is meaningful community development? (There are other serious questions, but one can be sure – at the least – that these two have Whitewater…

Redefining Reality

Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction and candidate for governor, has a new video about a political effort to redefine reality. The video is about Scott Walker, but it might as easily have been about any number of local politicians in Whitewater or other small Wisconsin towns, with tax breaks for out-of-towners and cronies…

Coerced Beauty Isn’t Beautiful

 

For a thousand years, some men in China insisted that a woman wasn’t beautiful, desirable, and worthy unless her feet had been bound into an unnatural and distorted form.

Rather than allow women to develop normally, these men insisted that their own imposed desires were superior to the natural feminine form.  The price of this imposition was a woman crippled and dependent for life.

If it should be true – and it is – that big-ticket projects in Whitewater have failed the fundamental test of community development (improvement of widespread personal and household economic well-being), then what shall one say of a generation’s efforts in that regard?

If it should be true – and it is – that unfettered demand heavily favors rental housing over single-family units in Whitewater, then what shall one say of a generation’s obsession with promoting a less favored arrangement over a more popular one?

It’s fair to say that some in Whitewater have supported these efforts in the belief that such programs might somehow make life better here. Such support, running contrary to the free, voluntary consumer demand in the whole area, might have been well-meaning, but was no less misguided.

For others, however, there must have been – and must be – some awareness, either partial or complete, that their efforts could – and can – neither meaningfully improve individual well-being nor change appreciably the overall housing stock of the city.

Empty programs attract notice that diverts attention from actual needs, and send resources in the wrong direction.

Community development in Whitewater, as it has been publicly advanced for the last few decades, looks nothing like the development of personal and household economic well-being.  Time and again, public resources have been directed at the bidding of a private business lobby.  Indeed, Whitewater’s Community Development Authority looks as much like a private 501(c)(6) business league as anything else.

Perhaps some in this city can’t imagine otherwise, in the way that years ago some men in China couldn’t imagine beauty unbound.

When the Whitewater CDA’s executive director rattles off an alphabet soup of public agencies to meddle in the marketplace, he’s parroting the sham capitalism so popular among fast-talking officials statewide.  State &  crony capitalism have the same relationship to free-market capitalism as pig Latin has to genuine Latin: they share some of the same letters, but mean very different things.

For a fraction of the public funds wasted on sketchy tech ideas and out-of-town businesses wandering nomadically for a handout, our city might have developed directed programs for the poor, and for in-town enterprises.

If it’s ‘community-minded’ to spread economic myths and reinforce empty boosterism, then to be community-minded has an unworthy meaning.

There is, of course, community happily to be found now in Whitewater, but it rests in private undertakings, apart from those who have directed public institutions to narrow and futile ends.

PreviouslyTwo Truths of Whitewater’s Economy.

Two Truths of Whitewater’s Economy

  There are two truths of Whitewater’s economy, each fundamental and each a refutation to the last generation’s myth-making. For today, it’s enough to list the two fundamental truths.   Large Public Projects Haven’t Overcome Weak Household-Income Levels in Whitewater. This is true both in aggregate, and for age brackets (children, adults 35-64) not representative…

About that Trump Tax Plan

In Whitewater, by press release (twice), one can read about the supposed benefits of the Trump tax plan. The Whitewater Community Development Authority’s executive director, Dave Carlson, was quick to push a portion of the plan as good for Whitewater. In doing so, he conceded what anyone observing Whitewater with care and concern already knew:…

Whitewater Listed as the Poorest City in Wisconsin

Samuel Stebbins and Michael B. Sauter, from 24/7 Wall Street, report Which town in your state is the poorest? Here is the list @ Gannett’s USA Today. For Wisconsin, they contend it’s Whitewater: Town median household income: $30,934 State median household income: $54,610 Town poverty rate: 38.2% Town population: 14,840 Whitewater has both the lowest median household income and the…

A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA

Sometimes, however rarely, even in places with the most stubborn boosterism, an official admits – wittingly or unwittingly – the failure of longstanding policy. Dave Carlson, executive director of the Whitewater Community Development Authority, is such an official. In a press release from March 27th, lauding a provision of the Trump tax bill, Carlson quotes…

Romancing Whitewater

Embed from Getty Images A man walks into a party, and sees a woman universally acknowledged as intelligent, knowledgeable, and beautiful. He’s instantly smitten, and decides that he must – simply must! – declare his admiration that very evening. The man approaches, introduces himself, and tells her that he’s wholly captivated. He proclaims a commitment…

Hey, CDA: What About the Existing Marketing Plan?

At tonight’s Community Development Authority meeting, agenda item number 14 surprisingly calls for “Discussion and Possible Action on Community Collaborative Marketing.” Perhaps this means a change to Whitewater’s existing community collaborative marketing plan. Our city leaders have been clear, for many years, about how to market the community. Indeed, other parts of the municipal government…