30 March 2008

Glenn Grothman attacks Wisconsin values.

Hi everyone,

Glenn Grothman finally shows his hand. I wrote him last week but, so far, no explanation. I think he must be embarrassed.

Last week in his "From the Hill" editorial in the West Bend Express News Glenn said two things that floored me.

  1. He said the university was the enemy of middle class values and, then
  2. he claimed that the UW Board of Regents is raising tuition in order to squeeze out middle class Wisconsinites.
The technical term for the style of argument in Glenn's claim is called "Three Card Monty" or, more popularly, the Shell Game [btw, if you click on the Shell Game link there's a picture of Glenn with his hair done up in corn rows taking money away from some kid.]

Okay, by the numbers:

1. Is the university an enemy of middle-class values? Uh, no.

For most people, (me and Glenn included!) the university is how Americans get into the middle class in the first place. If the university were opposed to middle class values, it wouldn't produce middle class people.

From Glenn's point of view, then, I must be an enemy of middle class values -- but if that were true, then how come I spend every day helping people acquire the skills they need to move into salaried, professional, and traditionally middle class positions? (These people are mostly from farm and blue collar families -- and refugees from once good jobs now sent overseas by the same economic system to which Glenn pledges his allegiance.)

Glenn even ignores the hard facts -- the dollars involved. Economically speaking, the university is a major engine for development in the state of Wisconsin and thus, one of the major contributors to the economics that make our middle class lives possible. The UW trains the people who run our economy. Remove the university and everyone in Wisconsin would end up working for people from other states -- or, these days, other countries.

Want to know what makes this worse? Glenn knows all of this.

Which leads us to the heart stopper --

2. Do the UW Regents keep raising tuition because they too hate middle class values?

No. Senator Grothman himself is the reason the Regents are forced to raise tuition.

The vaporous sloganeering in Glenn's article is hypocritical in ways I can barely describe.

Here's how it works. Keep your eye on the ball.

The Regents raise tuition because the Legislature cuts the UW budget and the money has to come from some place. It isn't going to our salaries (we're among the lowest paid faculty in the country) and it isn't going into slick new offices (the computer in my office is 5 years old, and it works just fine). There isn't enough waste in the system to make up the difference (the UW administration is famously -- and I hate saying anything nice about administrations -- one of the most efficient and least wasteful university administrations in the entire US).

So the money has to come from increases in tuition.

And again, Glenn knows all of this, too.

Oh, but wait... there's more.

The hypocrisy goes even deeper (I've dealt with this before): when Glenn was in college the taxpayers subsidized nearly 75% of his tuition. This was a good deal for the students, but also for the state's economic profile. But Glenn has undone this economic dynamo. After the last 10 years of budget cuts, compliments of Mr. Grothman, the taxpayer now subsidizes only 25% of our students' tuition and now Wisconsin produces fewer Bachelor's degrees than Mississippi.

I guess Glenn didn't mind having the taxpayer subsidize his education, but the kids in school today?... or the adults who have had to go back to college in order to compete in the new, globalized, economy?

Nope. Glenn's votes say "screw 'em."

Glenn's votes demonstrate he doesn't believe todays taxpayers should have the same level of access to the university he did.

Were you able to follow the ball on that one?

Let's review: 1) Glenn claimed the major route to a middle class life (the university) is opposed to the middle class.

[the theme from Dragnet plays]

Dumb da dumb dumb.

And 2) he blames the university for raising tuition when it's really his fault, and the fault of his fellow travelers in the legislature who continually vote to limit access to the university system and, thus, to the middle class life every American deserves.

Dumb da dumb dumb dummmmmmb.

Glenn himself, through his voting record, has limited the ability of hard working, economically threatened Wisconsinites to attend the University of Wisconsin. First he votes to cut the UW budget, which tightens access to moving into the middle class and then, in order to duck the blame himself, he blames the university.

This isn't rocket science: the real enemy of the middle class in Wisconsin is a state senator who votes, every single time, to keep Wisconsin residents out of the middle class.

Did Glenn think his tax cuts would be free? Didn't his dad tell him TANSTAAFL !

Glenn is taking away more than a free lunch, however. He's taking away the economic future of this state. He's taking away your children's future.

...in Wisconsin, at any rate. They can always move to Chicago or Minneapolis.



clyde winter said...

Well, I could follow your argument ok, and I don't even have a masters degree - in anything.

Nice clear, simple two punch combination.

Mpeterson said...

Thanks Clyde,

Sometimes Glenn says things that are so wacky that sometimes I imagine I must've hallucinated them...

-- eventually the awful truth rises up on its hind legs and I realize he actually did say them.

clyde winter said...

My latest column (appearing this week in the Ozaukee News-Graphic and on GMToday.com) focuses on environmental issues. The title is "How Wisconsin Legislators Voted on Conservation Issues". I have just posted it on my "Hearts and Minds" blog.

Thought you'd like to know and check it out. I think it's pretty important for constituents of Wisconsin's dirtiest state legislators to be aware of how "their" representatives are voting. Many would be shocked and appalled.

Guess who wins top honors with my zero percent conservation voter award.

Brooke said...

I found a wav file of the Dragnet theme... it's even more effective if you play it while reading the last bit of your blog.