Wednesday, December 01, 2010

THIS IS YOUR FUTURE. The new Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, wants us to know that Wisconsin is now "open for business," and Remapping Debate wants us to know what he likely means by that, focusing on Walker's pledge to "require state agencies to review [business] permit applications within 60 days of receipt and approve or deny them within 180 days or else they will be presumed approved":
Wisconsin’s Commerce Department currently insures that businesses meet the regulatory standards the state sets before issuing them a permit to do business in the state. Walker would transfer the regulatory functions of the state Commerce Department to the relevant state agencies for the specific industry -- the norm, actually, before former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson incorporated many regulatory functions into the Commerce Department’s granting of permits.

But the Commerce Department wouldn’t be stepping out of the process. It would be changing hats. Walker would reconfigure the Department as an advocate for private industry in negotiating the regulatory demands of state agencies. Instead of the Commerce Department acting as a gatekeeper -- protecting the public interest in, say, workplace safety -- before issuing permits to do business, the new agency would advocate for the business, becoming, potentially, the adversary of state agencies seeking to insure compliance with government standards.
Remapping Debate also gives us a taste -- sometimes tinged with animal excrement -- of what this could mean for neighbors of the state's factory farms, which "account for only 2 percent of Wisconsin’s farms, but 50 percent of its output from animal-based agriculture," and one of which, per Midwest Environmental Advocates, is "the state’s fourth largest source of sewage, lagging only behind the cities of Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay."

Who knows, maybe the new state administration (Republicans now run both houses of the legislature) will wind up balancing community interests in a thoughtful manner. But with jobs everyone's #1 issue (Wisconsin unemployment is at 7.8 percent), large-business interests have a tremendous advantage over environmental interests, as citizens (as suggested by their votes) increasingly acknowledge. The Republicans react accordingly ("the House Appropriations Committee will be exercising its prerogative to withhold funding for prospective EPA regulations and de-fund through the rescissions process many of those already on the books").

The Atlantic has today a slideshow of the "30 Most Dynamic Cities in the World" as found by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. Only one U.S. city, Austin, is on the list; the winners are mostly in places like India and China -- which make things foreigners want to buy, and which also have less exacting standards than we do at present, to put it mildly, when it comes to balancing community needs against commercial growth. They are slowly moving in our direction, while we appear to be moving rapidly in theirs. Wisconsin is exporting less milk these days, but they and the rest of America seem to be importing ideas about growth from the developing world at a fast rate.


  1. Matt T.8:42 PM

    You've done something different with your hair, haven't you.

  2. Anonymous8:43 PM


  3. Don't worry, working on it.

  4. Xecky Gilchrist10:51 PM

    Hey, I like it!

  5. Wooo! At first I thought it was the gin...

  6. Hey, what the hell happened to alicublog? I could swear it was over here. Christ, I go away for awhile and everything gets all bright and cheery.

  7. BigHank5311:18 PM

    I must be buying the wrong gin, Doc, because all mine does is bend my liver. Name a brand with some decent psychoactive components...please. I'm thinking it'll come in handy soon.

  8. Hank, you need to spike it with absinthe. I recommend St. George's Distilling's product.

  9. Leeds man11:35 PM

    Shackleton would weep with shame.