EDITORIAL: Challenged by limiting factors - Beloit Daily News: Opinion

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EDITORIAL: Challenged by limiting factors

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Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 4:00 pm

Dismiss the political noise. Wisconsin’s issues run deeper.


IF POLITICIANS deserve all the credit (or blame) for job creation (of lack thereof) then this is how it goes together in Wisconsin:

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson can take a bow, because Wisconsin consistently exceeded national job-growth rates in the 1980s and through the mid-1990s.

Former Govs. Scott McCallum and Jim Doyle can absorb a few boos, because Wisconsin began slipping and subsequently trailed national rates in the first decade of the new millennium.

And Gov. Scott Walker can join McCallum and Doyle, as Wisconsin continues to be outperformed by the national rate of job growth. Between June 2010 and June 2012 the United States experienced 2.8 percent job growth while Wisconsin came in at 2.3 percent. Wisconsin scored in the lower fifth of states in job creation. And in new business start-ups, Wisconsin ranked a dismal 49th, ahead of only Iowa.


THE STUDY WAS RELEASED by the respected Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. So what does it mean?

To begin with, politicians on both sides of the partisan divide grossly exaggerate their role in growing the economy and creating private-sector jobs. The fact that so many people put stock in such nonsense illustrates just how good politicians really are at flimflamming the public.

Think about it. When the economy is growing and jobs are plentiful — yes, there have been times like that — politicians from Washington to Madison and all points between rush to the microphones and cameras to take credit, claiming it’s all because of the wonderful and wise policies they pursued.

But when times are tough, layoffs abound and jobs are hard to find anywhere, those politicians get very camera-shy. When cornered they say their opponents policies were so bad, and the economic currents are so difficult, that even their wise and wonderful policies will take more time to succeed.

Silly us, the American people, we nod our heads up and down and agree with whichever partisan side we lean toward.


THE TRUTH, according to the Taxpayers Alliance study, is more complicated. While politics can influence the business climate, conditions outside the marbled halls of government matter most. Two factors stand out, the WTA says:

• We’re just too old. Wisconsin’s workforce is graying quickly. The working-age population is growing a full one-third slower than the national average. Businesses need workers — the right workers — if they’re going to create jobs. Here’s the scary part: Growth in the workforce is expected to slow even more, because of demographic trends.

• That anemic business start-up number — call it risk aversion, if you will — is a serious drag on growth. Job creation follows entrepreneurial activity.

It has long been said that Wisconsin’s number-one export is its educated young people, who get a world-class education at the University of Wisconsin system — or great private schools such as Beloit College or Marquette University — before being swept up by out-of-state employers. The WTA study shows just how much Wisconsin needs to turn that around.


AS FOR THE POLITICIANS, Wisconsin citizens need one thing out of them: Fight less and do more. Stop trying to take the credit or assign the blame. The constant bickering and prickly partisanship misses the point and, if anything, makes things worse by stirring the pot and fueling uncertainty and risk aversion.

That plainspoken gentleman from Missouri, the late President Harry S. Truman, said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Is it too much to ask that our politicians apply that principle to growth and job creation?


But we’ll ask anyway.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • 126337 posted at 9:53 am on Sun, Feb 17, 2013.

    126337 Posts: 143

    '1badboybub,' some people call me a 'progressive, ' but I agree with you  (I'm assuming that you are not a progressive), that too much regulation, and the wrong kind of reguation, can stunt job growth on both a national and local level.

    But government CAN foster economic growth.  On a national scale there is Roosevelt's 'New Deal ,' and on a local level 'Beloit's Facade Program' which put people back to work,  helped refurbish storefronts and apartments in downtown Beloit, increased traffic to create more demand for existing business and incubated a more attractive business district to woo new investment in the future.  

    "It can take a village to raise a building..to raise a village it can take one building at a time."

    Lack of government regulation can be deadly, look no further than the 2008 economic implosion, due in part to a lack of oversight of our financial sectors.

    The EPA exits to protect our environment and our health, but sometimes in practice this department is over zealous, short sighted and counter productive to the public's welfare.

    In the same way, a small town's  regulations, local taxes and  local inspections can be over zealous, even self righteous,  in exercising oversight that is onerous to existing businesses struggling to survive.  While the public's safety needs to be protected, too much caution will hurt a community's ability to attract new  investment, which is not in the public's best interest either.

    It's a balancing act.

    While liberals and conservatives don't share the same ideology on some issues, we CAN in this small community come together  to examine our local regulations to determine whether they are hurting, or contributing to our growth.   We don't need to wait for things to change other places, or not to change in other places...to change things here and now we need to examine what's worked here, what's worked elsewhere, and do more of the same.  We need to be proactive, demanding and self critical. 

  • billtinder posted at 3:01 pm on Sat, Feb 16, 2013.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    We can only hope! Or we can elect people that are willing to adjust trade agreements that will empower labor to command better wages here, while simultaiously making American businesses competitive with those firms in India and elsewhere. We are still a very wealthy nation of 330 million consumers in spite of the bad economy and that clout should count for something.
    That's part of the reason why I don't see the wisdom of demonstratiing. Public policy is more responsive to the directional flow of commerce, then it wil ever be to public opinion.

    Or to put it more directly:
    " The money talks and the BS walks!"

  • Delavan Mike posted at 11:27 am on Sat, Feb 16, 2013.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    I have heard from a private sector friend whose business employs many Indians that things are changing over there. It is costing more and more to hire Indians to do work that could be done here. If that trend continues, maybe in the future those jobs can stay here?

  • billtinder posted at 11:09 am on Tue, Feb 12, 2013.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    Well actually, we have regulated ourselves into job growth....

    Growth in China ;
    Growth in India:
    Growth in Pakistan, ( they're our buddies! )

    And now more growth in South America, Compliments of our latest President.

    Guess who cares about YOU!

  • 1badbubyu posted at 8:24 am on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    1badbubyu Posts: 1364

    Ridiculous regulations are a huge problem in Wi. and other states. You can blame alot of this on the completely out of control EPA. I once heard a progressive say we could regulate ourselves into job GROWTH! How backwards is that! If these people spent half as much time actually working on job growth instead of dreaming up more regulations for you and I, we would be in a much better situation.

  • 126337 posted at 8:44 am on Fri, Feb 8, 2013.

    126337 Posts: 143

    "Open for Business" is the motto the Walker administration uses, but try to get a commercial loan in 'this' community at an attractive rate?

    Also, call Madison to inquire about a Wisconsin bank that might be likely to discuss the matter?  My experience was unproductive.

    There's a choice in philosophy for institutions  between saying are we here to help people, or are we here to protect ourselves? For banks, are we here to encourage business by facilitating commercial loans, or do we shy away from loans no matter how good the business case;  for our government institutions, do we actively help businesses by providing services that help their viability, or do we over zealously apply regulations and hinder their growth? Sometimes too much security doesn't grow anything.

    When a municipality enforces electrical  regulations that are more restrictive than the (NEC) National Electric Code, which is the standard for electrical safety for most of this nation, this practice will probably discourage real estate development in that same municipality.

    Lead paint restrictions that are more strident than the same in other neighboring states, are probably something to examine.  Etc., etc.

    Public safety is important, but economic survival is vital to the public's health and viability.

    We might have an aging population, and other factors working against our state's growth, but there are things we can do to support investment.  Sometimes I think we need to be a little more self critical, a little less defensive, and a little mor excited about the possibilities out there.  

  • Delavan Mike posted at 3:33 pm on Thu, Feb 7, 2013.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295



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