The only way to make an ill person truly and permanently better is to see her condition for what it is; genuine recovery requires an honest diagnosis. Despite my doubts about their program, I respect Roosevelt’s New Dealers’ for their willingness to call a problem a problem. If they had lived to see contemporary Whitewater, they would have been shocked and furious. (See, along these lines, On the Upcoming 2011 Whitewater, Wisconsin Municipal Budget.)
From 2003 to 2010, the Whitewater area has grown poorer, a decline in economic health that threatens personal health, and brings us yet closer to a permanent underclass.
This truth is inescapable, and has hit already-vulnerable residents hardest. In 2003, 9.2% of the children in the Whitewater area lived in poverty. In 2007, that number was 9.9%, and in 2010, the number of impoverished children had soared to 16.6%. (See, data in spreadsheet format.)
These are children, aged five to seventeen, who face hardship each day. One of every six children in the Whitewater area lives this way. This proportion might be even worse if one were to add children under five.
Far from economic gains, the actual circumstances of young residents in our community are worse than earlier in the decade.
Hundreds of Wisconsin communities are doing better than we are.
In fact, local child poverty increased even from 2003 to 2007, a time of economic growth for America. While America was gaining, long before the Great Recession, Whitewater was already slipping behind.
There’s a way to reverse this dark trend, one that will produce greater opportunity for all our residents.
Drastically cut or eliminate restrictions and fees on businesses, cut sharply from so-called leadership posts, and return the money to taxpayers or as services in emergency poverty assistance. At a minimum, hundreds of thousands should be cut or transferred this way, each year, until government is properly limited and responsible to actual needs.
We will not be made prosperous — and for some, the problem isn’t unrealized prosperity but actual hunger — in the myriad empty ways Whitewater’s bureaucrats have tried repetitively.
We’ve grown poorer despite (often because of) big-ticket federal grants, Tech Parks, government-run renewal schemes, ersatz national and international awards, showy celebrations, dishonest and dodgy community surveys, the slanted use of statistics, special breaks and exceptions for insiders, rights violations against workers new to the community, and frequent bumbling through silly project after project.
These problems are not the fault of the many thousands of common people of the area; a few selfish and self-promoting municipal bureaucrats and their apologists have held Whitewater back, and have made her poorer than she would have otherwise been.
Yet, for it all, they will have a legacy, those who strutted about so proudly during these recent years. Prosperity will remember them as the feckless and fumbling clique that presided over a seventy-seven percent increase in child poverty — to one-in-six Whitewater-area children — in just seven years.