Foxconn’s Venture Capital Fund

Bruce Murphy has a solid assessment of Foxconn’s much-touted (by Foxconn) venture capital fund in About That Foxconn Venture Capital Fund. It’s well worth reading in full. A few key points: Unfulfilled: Louis Woo of Foxconn had promised this venture fund for startup companies would naturally connect to Foxconn’s innovation centers in Eau Claire, Green Bay…

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…

UW-Whitewater’s Administration Covers Crap with Catsup

For months, UW-Whitewater has publicized on its website a sham study from a burglar-alarm company as confirmation that Whitewater has the safest campus in Wisconsin. The study is a shabby fraud, with a methodology so far below proper academic standards that it taints the serious work of faculty and students at the school, in the UW…

For UW-Whitewater’s Administration, Talking Points Won’t Be Enough

Yesterday, I posted on The Marketing of Misinformation: UW-Whitewater’s Use of a Counterfeit ‘Campus Safety’ Study. Today, here is a look at some of the university administration’s talking points in response to long-standing acts of sexual harassment and assault on campus.  (They’re from the new university chancellor’s recorded interview with a local newspaper.) From the video…

Fact-Checking is an Active, Ongoing Effort

Laura Hazard Cohen explains that “First-generation fact-checking” is no longer good enough. Here’s what comes next: “Fact checkers need to move from ‘publish and pray’ to ‘publish and act.’” “The idea that fact checking can work by correcting the public’s inaccurate beliefs on a mass scale alone doesn’t stack up,” write representatives from Full Fact…

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…

Wasting Money on Whitewashing Marketing

Old Whitewater – a state of mind and not a person – loves little more than a one-size fits all boosterism plan. This kind of approach was tired even in print – it’s next to worthless in a diverse digital world. And yet, and yet, along comes a public relations man and his assistant to…

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.